Lessons to learn how to solve sudoku puzzles

Lessons to learn how to solve sudoku puzzles

Lessons to learn how to solve sudoku puzzlesLessons to learn how to solve sudoku puzzlesLessons to learn how to solve sudoku puzzles


Attention all teachers looking for valuable resources for the classroom. These are lessons using PowerPoint, videos and printable activities designed as a step-by-step approach to teach students how to do sudoku puzzles. 

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1 Q What is the goal of Sudoku?

A All rows, columns and blocks need to have the numbers 1 to 9. You cannot have a number repeated in a row, column or block.

2 Q What are the values of solving Sudoku puzzles.

A Sudoku offers relaxation and fun while enhancing brain fitness. It improves memory and encourages logical thinking. With patience and a touch of humility, players can tackle increasingly difficult puzzles. The challenge is satisfying and a positive way to use spare time. Solving a puzzle correctly motivates you to try another and to move from easy to ever harder levels.

3 Q  Can I guess?

A Not a good idea. You may be lucky; however, usually it doesn’t work. Avoid guessing. Sudoku is based on logic.

4 Q Can you suggest a book to purchase?

A   I don’t recommend any specific book because publishers use different guidelines for what they term easy or hard. One book may call certain puzzles easy that are actually medium or difficult according to another publisher’s standards. If you purchase a book, use its designations of difficulty with caution.

5 Q I use the puzzles in the local newspaper and find the grids so small I end up with a mess.

A Yes, you are right. Here are 3 suggestions. First, copy the puzzle onto a large grid that you make up your self. Second, as you solve numbers, erase the small numbers instead of just crossing them out. Third, look for books with only one puzzle per page. I find these less messy. 

6 Q   Today I solved a puzzle. It was hard. I think it has more than 1 solution. At the end, I had four matching 4/5 pairs, two in one column, two in another. They lined up like a rectangle. It didn’t matter where I put the first 4, the others worked out perfectly. Is that possible?

A You have a good question.  That situation is possible but so rare. It is more likely you overlooked an earlier mistake.  Purists claim only a mistake or a poor puzzle allows for that scenario.   If you have 4 matching pairs, of the same numbers, which make up a rectangle, something is likely wrong.  Technically this type of puzzle is not a true puzzle. That should NOT happen in a legitimate puzzle. Watch a future tutorial on this topic.

7 Q  Is it true that a puzzle with more starting numbers is always easier than one with fewer numbers? 

A Generally, the more numbers, the easier the puzzle.  However, this is not always the case.  It depends on the algorithm used to create the number configuration. One book I am familiar with has an average of 26 numbers per puzzle, which should be difficult but not overly so. The puzzles in the book are fiendish.

8 Q Why do you underline all pairs? 

A As you progress towards more difficult puzzles, an underlined pair reminds you that only those 2 numbers can go into that cell.

9 Q What should I do if I get stuck.? 

A Go over the steps I cover in the course in order. If you don’t see any solution, take a break and come back later. It is amazing how often you come back to the puzzle later and suddenly see something you missed earlier.

10 Q  Is the aim to complete the puzzle quickly? 

A Not necessarily. Some online programs encourage you to time your performance and compare your time with others. However, the choice is yours. Rushing often leads to mistakes. Competitive players try for speed, which can be fun. It’s up to you.

11 Q What do TMB and LCR stand for?

A TMB Top Middle Bottom. This refers to horizontal blocks. Each block has a top, middle and bottom row of numbers. The three horizontal blocks have a top, middle and bottom row which correspond to each block as well. In a horizontal set of blocks you should NEVER have a number repeated. That is, you cannot have any number in a top middle or bottom row twice within a horizontal set of 3 blocks.

LCR   Left Centre Right. This refers to vertical blocks (3 blocks) Each block has a left, centre and right column of numbers. In a vertical set of blocks you should NEVER have a number repeated. That is you cannot have any number in a left, centre or right column twice within vertical set of 3 blocks.

This is a fundamental technique and procedure of my course. It is used throughout the whole course extensively. And now it is used worldwide. Makes me feel good seeing it was me who developed it.

12 Q When should we look at the answers? 

A Hopefully never!!! If you complete the puzzle you can check yourself easily whether it is correct. The only time I look at the answers is to check to see if when trying new logic I am correct. This is dangerous.

Why? It is so easy to look at another number nearby, which is really cheating and the temptation to put that number in is great. You need lots of self-discipline. Avoid entering any number you have seen until you have worked out the logic for it.

13 Q What do you suggest to do if you have only 2 or 3 numbers left to solve and realize that you have made a mistake.

A You have several options.

1 Put a line through the puzzle . Try another puzzle. Above all SMILE. It’s not the end of the world.!!!

2 Erase all the answers and try again. This can be messy.

3 Look over what you have done and see if you can find a number repeated in a row, column or block.

4 Take a blank grid and transfer the original numbers. Try again.

5 Look at the answer sheet.

14 Q   Is it possible to solve a puzzle different ways?

A. Yes. The more techniques you learn the more the possibility of you missing a procedure or a technique. 5 people doing the same puzzle can come up with the correct answer, but each may have gone a different route depending what they did or didn’t see or what procedure they used or missed out. It is possible that you can solve a puzzle without doing certain techniques. E.g. You may be able to solve a puzzle using the Xwing technique while someone else solves the same puzzle using another technique.

My course gives you a basic procedure to get going, then as you get into more difficult puzzles you may go a different direction.

The procedures I suggest are such that you can avoid missing opportunities and at the same time self correct as you go by using another technique.

15 Q Does it always happen that if you solve a new number that will enable you to complete the puzzle?

A Not necessarily

16 Q Lesson 6. Can you elaborate more on the Rule of Exclusion.

A If you are using the technique of only putting small numbers in only 2 cells of a row, column or block, then you can exclude any other small numbers that may appear in that row, column or block. I have prepared an addendum to show this more clearly.

17 Q In lesson 7 is there a discrepancy. Re 3 small similar numbers in a block?

A  No there isn’t. I may have not made it clear. If a small number can go in a block in a line. (either vertical or horizontal) then it is OK. If the small  number can go in a block but it is not in a line, then I suggest you don’t put any small numbers in. One of the powerful features of Sudoku solving is keeping small numbers to 2 cells. The advantage is that if you solve one number then you know the other number. If there are more choices once you have solved one cell, it may become more difficult to know what the other 2 cells should be. There are times when you get to the very difficult puzzles where you will need to put in more than 2 small numbers in a row, column or block.

18 Q In lesson 21, is it possible to solve that puzzle without using Xwing?

A. Yes. There are many ways to solve a puzzle once you have many procedures and techniques.. I suggest Xwing as only an option if you get stuck. Xwing , skyscraper and swordfish patterns are hard to spot.

19 Q I noticed that you missed several ramifications. Is this deliberate?

A Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I some cases I want to show that you can miss something but find it later, and sometimes you simply miss it by mistake. It is not the end of the world. Everybody does it including me. Later in the course I show you techniques to check yourself to see if you did miss something.

20 Q Do you cover every technique possible to solve Sudoku puzzles.

A. No I don’t. There are many ways to solve these puzzles. For example: you can use another similar “When all else fails” technique.  I’ll explain….if you have a small number, which can only go in 2 cells in a row column or block, you can chose one cell with that number in one of the 2 cells and see if it works. If it doesn’t work, then the other one should, providing all your numbers solved so far are correct. This is another “if not this then that” scenario. Thanks to my friend Margaret for showing me this technique.

At the advanced level, you will find some quite complicated techniques. These are for the fiendish level puzzles and are seldom needed in puzzles that are “just” very difficult. These techniques are easier to identify if you use a computer program that enables you to put in all the possible numbers with a click. 

One of the skills of Sudoku solving is to correctly work out all possible numbers in a cell. This takes time in the advanced puzzles and can be tedious, and messy. Having the computer software program fill them in for you keeps the puzzle neat, but you lose the chance to learn why each number is needed. The purist will say do your own small numbers.  It is your choice.

21 Q From your experience what do you see as the biggest problem of beginning Sudoku players?

A They try harder puzzles too soon.

22 Q Can I do ram (ramifications( if I see them when doing the first step, which is horizontal blocks.

A Yes you can. The reason I introduce ram in the second lesson is that this is a step by step course and beginners do not need too many steps at once, and they also need to understand the LCR principle as well.

Once you have had plenty of practice using ram, then by all means if you see the opportunity to get a number put it in, and then look for more ram.. Now you need to remember where you were in the procedure and go back to it where you left off. For me that is a test of memory!!!

23 Q How many different Sudoku puzzles are there? 

A 16,930,529,280. This has been refuted by others, however the number is still very high

24  Q   Can you solve Sudoku puzzles without putting in any small  numbers?

A. Yes you can. In fact it provides a good system for you to  use your memory.

25 Q, Do the video tutorials cover the same techniques and  hints as you provide in the other courses.

A. Yes and no. I cover the same techniques and procedures,  however I add many more techniques, scenarios, hints and  procedures. 

26  Q Can you do the “video tutorials without having done the   other Sudoku Guy courses?

A Yes you can, however having had the previous courses will  help. It does cover more sophisticated solving however an  experienced Sudoku player would find it no problem.

28 Q Why should I avoid putting all possible numbers in an  empty cell

A Thanks Guys, Just taught Jeanette not to put all possible  numbers in a cell but to put small numbers in only if they can only  go in 2 cells in a row, column or block. If a small number can go  in more than 2 cells in a row, column or block then DON'T put  them in. In the advanced puzzles this may not be the case. I use  this procedure for all puzzles to begin with. Why do I suggest  this?..... 1 it can become very messy particularly if the grid has  small cells.....2 when you do solve a number you need to be careful  to eliminate all of those numbers in that block, row or column.  

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Graeme McGregor "Those who say they can do sudoku without putting in small numbers are either geniuses in which they don't need your help or they have not yet got into very difficult puzzles."

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Grace Smith "Very good teaching on how and where to place numbers in rows, columns and blocks."

Barbara Cronkite " Great job explaining"

Van Ster " your techniques got me interested in Sudoku again."

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