In the early 2000s, a seemingly new puzzle game involving numbers took the world by storm. Soon enough, this puzzle game became all the rage, and it began appearing in pretty much every newspaper and even in a lot of magazines. This puzzle was known as sudoku, and its popularity has only grown ever since. As a matter of fact, the game is so popular it is played both on paper and online on mobile phones, tablets, and computers. And even on modern-day gadgets, it is possible to play sudoku online as well as offline.
Sudoku is a logic-based number puzzle game. The name of this game comes from the Japanese phrase ‘sudoku,’ which translates to ‘single number’ or ‘number place.’
The sudoku puzzle consists of a large 9 x 9 grid, and within it are nine 3 x 3 mini-grids. The game’s objective is to fill the entire grid with numbers from 1 to 9 so that every row, column, and 3 x 3 mini-grid has each number appearing only once. In the standard version of sudoku, no mathematics is involved, only logic.
Of course, sudoku puzzles come in several difficulty levels, ranging from unbelievably simple to fiendishly difficult. Each sudoku puzzle has some of the squares already filled in with their respective numbers. The number of numbers filled in a sudoku grid also varies, contributing to the puzzle’s complexity and difficulty level. Many sudoku solvers often tend to assume that a higher number of initially provided numbers in a puzzle means it will be easier to solve. This is not the case as it is usually not how many numbers are already present in the grid but their placement that directly impacts the difficulty level of a sudoku puzzle.
Sudoku is said to be a derivative of Latin Squares, which was invented by the renowned mathematician Leonard Euler. Latin Squares are a significant part of discrete mathematics. A Latin Square is essentially a n x n grid in which numbers, letters, or symbols are filled in, and each number, letter, or symbol can appear only once in each row and once in each column. Sudoku essentially follows the same format but with the additional constraint of having all the numbers appear only once in each 3 x 3 mini-grid.
In addition to the standard format of sudoku, which features a 9 x 9 grid, there are numerous other variations of the game. Most notably are Sudoku Classic (also known as Hyper Sudoku), which features four additional shaded 3 x 3 mini-grids. Alpha Doku, which substitutes the numbers 1 to 9 with letters from A to I, and Super Sudoku, which features the numbers 0 to 9 and the letters A to F in a 16 x 16 grid featuring sixteen 4 x 4 mini-grids.
There is also a version of sudoku that features basic arithmetic, called Killer Sudoku, in which the grid is divided into clusters of squares outlined in grey, with each of these clusters featuring a number on top. The number on top indicates what all the numbers in all the squares in the cluster must add up to. This constraint is applicable over and above the standard sudoku rules.
In all variants of sudoku, the general rules remain the same, with a few additional rules or conditions included to make the game more challenging and thrilling and add an element of novelty to it.
This is a question that a lot of beginners to the game have in mind. The short answer, unfortunately, is no. Guessing the placement of numbers in a sudoku grid will not improve one’s chances of getting to the solution, leave alone getting to the answer quicker. Nor will guesswork improve a person’s skills at solving a sudoku puzzle.
Sudoku is not like card games or games involving throwing dice where there is an element of luck. Sudoku is a game built entirely on logic. Even though it is sometimes possible to guess a number’s correct placement, mere guesswork alone cannot solve a sudoku puzzle.
To solve sudoku, patience, observation, and logical thinking are essential. Scanning the grid to ascertain which row, column, or mini-grid requires which number to be filled in is what helps to get the game off to a good start.
Once again, the short answer is no. Since sudoku puzzles come with specific numbers already filled in, and since the rules of the game state that all numbers must appear only once in every row, column, and 3 x 3 mini-grid, there can be only one solution to a particular sudoku puzzle. Sometimes, in the case of printed puzzles, it may so happen that the publisher made a mistake, or the solver completed the puzzle incorrectly. However, if a sudoku puzzle is completely blank (i.e. there are no numbers filled in), the puzzle can have several possible solutions.
Unless indicated (as in the case of Killer Sudoku), sudoku does not require the use of arithmetic to solve a puzzle. Sometimes, people who are new to the game often ask what the squares or grids must add up to in order to complete the puzzle, but the fact of the matter is that sudoku does not require any addition, subtraction, or multiplication, or division to play.
In general terms, sudoku is a game that can be played using nine letters, symbols, or numbers. It just so happens that numbers are the most popular. Even shapes could be used, and they would still fulfill the purpose of sudoku.
However, it should be said that solving a sudoku puzzle does require mathematically logical thinking. So even though no numerical calculation is involved, sudoku is solved by applying reasoning, logic, and concepts deeply rooted in mathematics.
Sudoku is a puzzle game that is not only fun and thrilling to play in all its forms, but one that is extremely helpful in improving one’s concentration and focus, boosting memory, and enhancing problem-solving skills. It is also a game that requires no specialized training. All one requires is a logical mind! But most importantly, sudoku is a fun and mentally stimulating way to spend time!