### A Sudoku Strategy Or Just A Puzzle

I never realized that I had a Sudoku Strategy until I looked around the Internet. It is surprising to think how such a simple game has built up such a huge following and is taken so seriously. Just a 9 square grid, where you place the numbers 1-9 without repeating them horizontally, vertically or in any of the 9 squares. It sounds easy but the puzzles come with varying difficulties.

Apparently I use more than one Sudoku Strategy. I start out by looking for the 3 x 3 grids or lines with the most numbers already entered and then find the missing numbers by a process of elimination across the grids or lines. That is called 'scanning' and works well for the easier Sudoku puzzles. When I reach a dead end with the more difficult games I use a strategy called 'marking up'. If I have a choice of more than one number I pencil in the numbers in a corner and delete them as used. That works well for the easier and medium difficulty Sudoku puzzles. The hard ones I do not attempt unless I am feeling particularly masochistic.

Howard Gamms from the US who sold the rights to Dell Publishing in 1979 developed the modern Sudoku puzzle. Howard Gamms called the puzzle 'Number Game' and the 'Sudoku' title came about because it became popular in Japan before it rose in popularity worldwide. If you go back further into history you find that 'Magical Squares' were around in the eighth century and figured to be a strong medical talisman. As with modern day Sudoku diagonals, rows and columns all have to add up to the same amount and no single number can be repeated.

If you do puzzles on or offline it is said to help with anti-aging. The theory is that games and puzzles exercise your brain and help to slow down the normal aging process of loss of memory and other age associated declines. The theory is not scientifically backed but I can see the reasoning behind it. I know that I have always felt sharper after doing any type of puzzle and as I am now into middle age I would like to think that I can do something to help myself to stay sharp and it has got to be a good thing if you enjoy doing it.

There is even lots of money to be made from Sudoku. Our newsagents now carry several different publications for Sudoku puzzlers, and unlike most magazines and newspapers they are not funded to any great extent by paid advertising. There are Sudoku products including electronic games and you can win money in contests on and offline.

Recently the first ever US National Sudoku championship was held in Philadelphia. The winner of the most difficult level Dr. Thomas Snyder from California won \$10,000 and will represent the US in the 3rd annual world championship in India next year. \$10,000 seems an awful lot to win for such a simple game but I doubt I would have a chance. Dr. Snyder completed the advanced number puzzle in just 7 minutes 9 seconds. I think that I would have to practice an awful lot to get anywhere near that speed for an easy puzzle never mind an advanced one.

You can now get Sudoku games for your iphone, Palm Smartphones and handheld PDAs. Online games are plentiful, ranging from basic puzzles of ranging difficulty to flash games. I have come across different variations such as Top Hat Sudoku, Magic, Sumdoku, Addoku, Kakuro, Samurai, Wordoku and Killer. The last one was self explanatory and I doubt I would be up to it.

My Sudoku Strategy techniques would be severely tested if I attempted all of the possible 5,472,730,538 uniquely different Sudoku puzzle grids mathematicians Frazer Jarvis and Ed Russell have counted. It does not seem much but if you just do one puzzle a day it would take you just over 14,993,782 years to complete all of them. Not possible of course, but I wonder if the huge amount of variations has something to do with the growing popularity of Sudoku.

Submitted by:

### Patricia A. Jones

For a free online Sudoku puzzle visit http://www.gameskill.co.uk Sudoku tutorials: http://sudokustrategy.tumblr.com/ Website hosting: http://www.bb-space.co.uk

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