Beginning Sudoku solvers often ask the question, how do you play Sudoku? Is there a logical way to arrive at the answer? The answer is yes. Sudoku solving is all about logic and recognizing patterns.
Where To Start
Look for the number with the most solved cells. The more solved cells, the better. Use these solved cell numbers in a cross hatch fashion. By doing so, you are eliminating the columns and rows where that particular number can reside. This is a good way to find naked and hidden singles patterns.
Once you solve a cell, be sure to check the effect it has on other cells in the same row, column, or 3×3 box. Often, you will be able to use the solved cell and solve another cell.
Pencil In Candidates
Penciling in candidates is a very useful technique. You can choose to only enter pairs of candidates as you need them, or enter all the candidates for each unsolved cell. When you enter all the candidates, you need to use candidate elimination techniques.
This is where a knowledge of simple to complex patterns will help you solve empty cells. Let us say you have a matching pair of candidates 2 and 4 in two cells in the same row, column, or 3×3 box. You can use these two cells to eliminate the same candidates in any other cells in the same row, column, or 3×3 box.
The logic is simple. If two cells in a row, column, or 3×3 box are restricted to the pair 2 and 4, then one of the cells will be a 2 and the other will be a 4. At the moment you don’t know which, but it doesn’t matter. Therefore, you can safely eliminate the 2 and 4 candidates from the same row, column, or 3×3 box where the pair resides.
You can use this technique for many patterns including triples, and quads. Sometimes it will be hard to spot these patterns because other candidates in the cells hide the pair, triple, or quad pattern.
There are more advanced patterns and techniques you need to master in order to solve fiendish Sudoku puzzles. Learn them, and there will not be a Sudoku puzzle you cannot solve using logic and without guessing.
So how do you play Sudoku? By recognizing patterns, applying logic, and eliminating candidates you solve the cells one by one.
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