By Terry Solomon
Sudoku puzzles are the newest puzzle craze currently sweeping
across many parts of the United States. The game has only one
basic rule, that is, every row and every column on a 3 by 3
of Sudoku puzzles has to contain the numbers 1 through 9, but
only once with no one digit repeating itself.
Sudoku puzzles, also referred to as Number Place in the United
States, are said to be deceptively simple, since a player can
start the game quite easily only to find himself later on
getting stuck in the middle of the game with no clear puzzle
solution in sight.
Good Sudoku puzzles ideally should ultimately have only one
solution, using only one's logic skills, meaning guesswork is
not an effective method in solving the puzzle.
However, solving Sudoku puzzles on pure logic alone can prove
to be a difficult task. For logic to be effective, a puzzle
should be able to move progressively. This simply means that
every stage in the solution of the puzzle, there must be at
least one square or block whose value can be determined
Determining that one value should then uncover at least one
other fully determined value, and so on and so forth. Yet,
process can best be achieved by applying guesswork. By making
speculative or guessed entry in one block, a player can
eventually determine if the other block has a logical entry or
maybe none at all. This can be quite confusing, but the
implication here is that while Sudoku claims that it can be
solved by logic alone, it is not a good starting option. A
player has to first make a guess or even guesses on his or her
While Sudoku puzzles appear to continue boggling the minds of
many puzzle addicts, it is interesting to note how the puzzle
can be solved with relative ease by many computer programs.
question of logic and guesswork again comes into play in this
particular aspect because most computer softwares are often
programmed to make use of the trial-and-error concept, making
quick corrections when an errant entry is made in a particular
square or block.
Playing against a computer in a game involving Sudoku puzzles
thus tends to be a futile endeavor. Your opponent can easily
make the necessary corrections, using purely trial-and-error,
and ultimately finding the right solution. You, on the other
hand, are stuck in logical thinking, trying to justify the
entry of a particular digit in a particular square or block.
Nevertheless, the beauty of Sudoku puzzles is that while the
rules involved are quite simple, they do not necessarily solve
the puzzle by themselves alone. The game also requires the
application of a certain degree of analytical method that is
not entirely written in black and white, but often can be
discovered only by mere guesswork. A few of these in fact have
been given interesting names such as "swordfish" and "x-wing".
In this regard, it is no great wonder that Sudoku puzzles have
become a popular pastime in many parts of the world.
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