Recently, I became interested in the simple yet complex game of Sudoku. The simple looking puzzle can really strain the mind to great lengths. While many people think of this as a math game, Sudoku actually doesn’t involve knowing math at all and is mainly a test of your logic. The game of Sudoku is actually very straightforward. You start off with a 9×9 grid that is divided into 9 blocks (each block is a 3×3 grid). Each block must contain a number from one to nine, only once however. Each row and column must also contain a number from one to nice, again, only once.

Pretty simple right? Nope! What makes Sudoku so confusing is that there is only one correct number for each of the 81 boxes for each puzzle you work with –each puzzle already has a few numbers already included. So one mistake and you’re done!

So even though Sudoku might seem hard and confusing, here are some tips that can help crack the puzzle.

- Fill in the obvious boxes. If you see a row, column, or block that can only contain one number and must belong in only one space, you can instantly solve that box quickly. This step is very important because you are able to fill in several boxes and therefore lessen the real confusion that will soon begin.

- Take notes of possible choices. At this step, you need to scan each box individually and “pencil in” any possible choices for a number. Make sure you keep in mind the rules that every row, block, and column can only contain one of each of the nine digits. After completing this step, you will be able to see if there are any boxes with only one choice.

- Work off your notes. Remember how each row, block, and column can only contain one of each digit. Now scan each of these three features of the puzzle and see where there is only one option based off your notes. Usually this step will solve half of you puzzle if you are working with easy to intermediate level puzzles.

- Use logic to figure out other tricks. The reason Sudoku is called a logic puzzle and not a math puzzle is because most of the advanced tricks to solve this game are simply logic-based. One of the advanced tricks to help you complete the puzzle is commonly called “Naked pairs”. This basically says if there are two boxes in a row, column, or block that only contain two same digits from your notes, no other box in that respective row, column, or block can contain those two digits. Simple logic. For example, if two boxes in a row are the only ones that contain “2” and “5”, then if one box is “2” the other one must be “5”. Using basic logical thinking, more and more tricks to solve the Sudoku puzzle can be created.

Even though there are many more tricks and tips, you can now solve or nearly solve almost all Sudoku puzzles now. I highly recommend you print the puzzle if you can as most of the time you cannot take notes on your puzzle from your computer or laptop. Also, I recently learned playing Sudoku frequently can help improve brain activity, including memory and keeping you mind “fit”. Now you should be able to impress your parents when they see you completed that annoying Sudoku puzzle in their newspapers.

Now that you have learned these basic skills, test your skills by trying out this Sudoku puzzle.