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Play Sudoku the Easy Way | Print |  E-mail
pen and numbers People have always been fascinated with puzzles. Deciphering codes, solving clues and finding answers are some of our favorite pastimes. If you enjoy crosswords, jigsaws or tackling a Rubik's Cube, you should try Sudoku.

Sudoku is the puzzle that's taken the world by storm. It's a relatively simple but extremely addictive mathematical puzzle that will test your patience and bend your brain. These days, Sudoku can be played on the Internet, and puzzles are easily found in magazines, newspapers and textbooks.

A Sudoku puzzle is based on a series of grids. There is generally one large 9x9 grid that holds nine smaller 3x3 grids. The main objective of Sudoku is to put the numbers 1 to 9 into each of the grid units. While it is a numerical puzzle, there are no equations involved. Nothing is added, subtracted, multiplied or divided.

Sound simple? Here are the basic rules:

However, there are three rules that must be strictly followed. And they are:

1. Every number from 1 through 9 will appear only once in each row.
2. Each of the numbers from 1 to 9 will appear only once in each column.
3. Each number from 1 through 9 must appear once in each small 3 x 3 grid.

These rules need to be followed exactly to make sure that each 3 x 3 grid has the numbers from 1 to 9 showing in the series only once. Being true to the rules increases the difficulty in completing the puzzle, and the challenge in solving it.

Sudoku game puzzles are available in different levels of complexity. The total of the numbers provided in the first level of the 9 x 9 matrix can differ. You might thing that the game would be easier to play if there were more numbers given at the first level. This is not necessarily true as it is the assignment of the numbers, rather than the quantity, that affects the level of difficulty.

If you'd like to play Sudoku, follow these steps to help you complete the puzzle:

1. This is not necessarily a guessing game. A Sudoku puzzle can be solved quite logically. Look carefully at the puzzle, think about it, and search for clues. Most Sudoku players begin by looking for the numbers that often appear in the first puzzle. For instance, you many you may have many 4s in the first puzzle. Look in the 3 x 3 box to see if the number 4 is also there. Now, look for other places where the number 4 can be found. Start looking up and down the rows and columns for 4s, as these will help you locate other 4s. Remember, the number 4 must appear just once in each of the rows, columns and in the 3 x 3 box. For example, if there is already a 4 in columns 1 and 3, then a 4 may not be placed in either of those columns. Thus, the missing 4 would logically be replaced in column 2. If you are able to successfully remove all the potentials in the box, you will have a better chance of solving the puzzle correctly.

2. When you have finished reviewing all of the 3 x 3 boxes, you need to fill in the numbers 1 to 9 in the rows and columns that hold most of the numbers. If only two numbers are missing from a row or column, you can use the elimination method to determine where to place the last two numbers. Check the rows and the columns to figure out which numbers are missing. Once you have eliminated the possibilities in each row or column, you will be able to fill the line you are playing.

3. Use Step 1 and Step 2 to help you play Sudoku in its simplest form. More difficult puzzles require advanced players who know how to look for the possibilities of the puzzle. Skilled players will solve and win the puzzle with all the given different choices in every square. There may be times when there is no way to remove a possibility. If this happens, the player will need to guess, and will have to remember where the chosen number was played, in case it was the wrong choice.

Sudoku is actually easier to play than the rules imply. Begin with a few simple puzzles, and gradually work your way up to more challenging games. It is definitely a game of wits, and may sometimes feel like it will never end. Be patient, follow the rules, keep practicing and you'll learn the techniques to help you play Sudoku successfully.
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