A Well-outlined Sudoku Strategy for All the Novices Out There

Sudoku Strategy
To solve a puzzle like Sudoku at a rapid pace, one needs the right strategy to begin with. In this article, I discuss basic tips for beginners, who wish to master solving this addictive puzzle game.
Puzzles are a great way to break the rut that we get into. Our minds crave for challenges and puzzles like Sudoku satisfy this need. It is an officially addictive game which is fast becoming a global pastime and phenomenon among puzzle enthusiasts. The puzzle has an appeal around the globe due to its simplicity and unique challenge.

About Sudoku

A standard Sudoku puzzle, consists of a 9 x 9 square grid, which is partially filled with any of the numbers from 1 to 9. The whole grid is subdivided into nine boxes of 3 x 3 each. The objective of solving it is to fill every line, every row, and every box, with all the numbers from 1 to 9. Sounds simple, doesn't it? You have to keep filling in numbers, in the right positions, by looking at the numbers that have already been filled.

This puzzle is a well-known mathematical object and is known as a 'Latin Square' among mathematicians. A Latin square has to be filled with an ordered set of symbols, in every row and column. A Sudoku puzzle has the extra condition that every box be filled with those symbols, only once.

Strategy For Beginners

Strategy is a methodology of action, optimized in such a way, that the problem easily yields to a solution. Here are some principles that will give you an insight into how you can go about solving these puzzles at lightning speed.

Loners Are the Easiest to Lick
Solving this puzzle is like solving a jigsaw puzzle. Every piece here, is a number and it needs to be placed according to the rules, by observing the squares that are filled before. Every square can be filled with any of the numbers from 1 to 9.

'Loners' are unfilled squares which can be filled quite easily as all number choices, except one, have been already eliminated. These loners are usually found in boxes, rows, or columns that are almost totally filled. At the beginning itself, you'll find some loner squares. Find such squares and fill them up quickly.

Go for One Square At a Time
Once you eliminate the loners, next go after one square at a time. Observe the row, column, and box associated with every square. All the numbers that have been filled in that row, column, and box, can be safely eliminated. This strategy is the most basic. All you have to do is decide what number to fill into a square, at a time. Go for squares in densely populated regions of the grid first.

Keep a List of Possible Choices
There will be squares for which the number choices are difficult to eliminate. Make a list of these numbers for every square. It will help you in eliminating choices later.

Every Filled Square Reduces Uncertainty
Every filled square eliminates choices for other squares and decreases the uncertainty. Check if filling any square reduces the choices from the list, which you make for every square. These simple strategies will make it easy for you to solve Sudoku. As you keep solving and graduate to tougher grids, you'll develop your own advanced strategies from experience.

All it takes is a watchful eye for number patterns and a zest for completing this number jigsaw puzzle.