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Start here: How to get better at Sudoku?

Jul 2022

sudoku hide and seek

I guess that if you are reading this, then just like me you love solving Sudoku puzzles.

I also guess that you feel that you don't really get any better at solving them, or that you are very good at a certain difficulty level, but once you approach the really-hard sudoku puzzles, things just aren't working as smoothly.

Well - I have good news and bad news.

The good news is YES just like anything in life, if you put your mind and will to it you will get better at solving sudokus eventually.

The bad news is that it's going to take time and effort and that in the following article I will try to explain why it will take time, and suggest 5 ways to improve at solving sudoku.

Why does getting better in Sudoku takes time?

Let's start by saying - Sudoku seems to be a simple puzzle.

Three are only 3 simple rules to follow, the game board is very clear, and as a beginner, you don't see how things can get very difficult...until you face a board that looks something like this:

hard sudoku board?

But the same as when teaching a kid to first ride a bicycle with training wheels is wrong - it helps them not fall but in the same time teaches them different physics compared to 'real' bicycle without training wheels - In beginner and easy sudokus the solving strategy is very different than with medium or hard sudokus.

If you want to learn about easy vs hard sudoku solving strategies, continue to the next paragraph.If you wish to skip to my 5 tips to get better in sudoku click here

Easy Sudoku Strategy

In easy sudokus you have enough of the board revealed so that you can always find an empty cell to fill with 100% confidence - that is only 1 digit can fit there and the remaining 8 digits are not valid.

So you can just keep moving on the board cell by cell until you have found a cell to fill, and then repeat, going over cells you previously checked knowing that with each cell that you solve - others that were ambiguous before, can now be filled with confidence.

Once you face a board where that '100% confidence' strategy isn't working anymore - you finally meet the real challenge of the Sudoku, and you need to change your sudoku strategy and tactics.

Hard Sudoku Strategy

Solving a sudoku board without '100% confidence' cells to fill is a very hard and intimidating task to do when you face it for the first time.

Just like the kid without the training wheels - it all seems wrong. All the sudoku skill set you acquired from solving the easy sudokus is now useless.

Well - now you learn that the sudoku game is all about taking chances, and a lot of educated skills, and also a pen and paper (even if you play online).

So how do you start?

This is the system you should follow:

  1. Fill in all the cells that you can fill with 100% confidence.
  2. For cells that you are not confident about, take note of all of the available digits per cell.
  3. Take an educated guess on one of the options you have from point no.2 and fill the rest of the board the same way.
    Each time you don't have a confidente cell to fill, take an educated guess.
  4. Reached a dead end? one of your previous guesses was wrong.
    Undo your actions and choose a different path.
  5. Repeat until the sudoku board is solved.

The above task can be done by everyone and even robots, but where your own sudoku-solving skills will shine is when your educated guesses become better.

How you are asking?

  1. Like in chess, the more steps ahead you can calculate in your mind before deciding on a solving path, the better the chances that your guess is correct.
  2. The more Sudoku boards you will solve, the more you will recognize patterns and will intuitively know how to fill the board. - that's your Sudoku instinct!
  3. The more Sudokus you will face, your step calculations and conclusions will become much faster and your sudoku solving times will decrease.

Think you are ready to face a hard sudoku? maybe try the medium sudoku first?
Next, you'll find my 5 tips for getting better at Sudoku solving!

5 Steps To getting better In Sudoku Solving

Step 1 - Practice Sudoku every day

It seems like a cliché, but it's true, and even more true if you are like most people and lacking free time in your day-to-day.

If you will devote 5 min a day to a sudoku puzzle, doesn't matter if you finish it or not, by the time a month passes, you have declared more than two and a half hours only for sudoku.
These two and a half hours a month more than most people and you will surely feel the improvement within 5 days of starting this habit - I'm the best example for this to work!

Step 2 - Try harder sudokus

The human brain wants to keep interested and challenged at all times. This is why we are curious creatures and this is how we get smarter and learn new things.
Solving Sudoku, just like other skills, needs to be pushed to the limits (or close enough) to create challenges and stimulate learning.

Whatever Sudoku difficulty level you feel comfortable with, you should face a harder sudoku at least twice a week.
Like the old folks say "If you want to learn how to swim, you need to jump in the water" or something like this...

Step 3 - Learn from the best

Do you like Sudoku? it's interesting to you? Do you want to get better at it?
You don't have to invent the wheel!
Lots of smart and interesting people have developed great methods, tips, and systems that can help you improve your sudoku skills - all you need to do is find them!

Step 4 - Take breaks

Taking breaks from solving Sudokus can benefit you in a few ways.
First, the human brain needs breaks to eternalize new material better, that's been proven in many studies before. So once in a while, take a break from Sudoku for a day or two and get back to it when you feel fresh and can't wait to solve that Sudoku!

The second way is to sometimes take a break for an hour or two from a sudoku that you feel stuck with, going back after a break can help you look at the board from a fresh view, and find solutions and creative ideas to solve it that you wouldn't have found if you kept digging on it none stop.

Step 5 - Share your passion

Don't do it alone! Share your sudoku passion with close friends and family, and get them hooked on it as well!
Creating a close community around you that enjoys this game as much as you will only inspire and challenge you, as you would do for others, and this will make your Sudoku journey much more fun and fulfilling.

A few more words

I hope that you enjoyed reading this, and that one or two of my tips here will help you get better at sudoku, or enjoy it much more.

If you're looking for a quick sudoku game now, click here