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Sudoku is a numbers puzzle game played on a grid, with the aim to fill out the empty squares so that every line consists of the same numbers. On a nine-by-nine grid, the aim is to have numbers one through nine on every vertical and horizontal line. Grids can vary in size and there are also some Sudoku variants to be aware of.
Sudoku appears to have its roots in late 19th century France, but the game as we know it today is credited by many as being invented by American Howard Garns in the 1970s. Sudoku has achieved a huge surge in popularity over the last two decades, and become a mainstay of many national newspapers.
How is Sudoku played?
Sudoku players can access and play the game the following ways:
In newspapers and magazines that feature daily or weekly Sudoku games, using a pen or pencil to fill out the missing squares on the grid.
In specialist Sudoku publications that come filled with grids to play.
Online at gaming websites or Sudoku specialist sites, and by using computer keyboard controls to input numbers in the missing spots.
Via Sudoku apps for mobile and tablet, which can be downloaded and installed with ease. Some are free, some you have to buy.
What is the aim of Sudoku?
The aim of Sudoku is to complete the grid so that each line, both horizontal and vertical, contains every number in the set. The grid size determines the range of numbers, so a six-by-six grid will only involve numbers one through six. A nine-by-nine grid will include numbers one through nine.
The starting point for a game of Sudoku is a partially filled board – the less numbers filled, the harder the game. The board carries enough information for the necessary calculations to begin on where to place your first numbers. It's then a quest of logic to work towards completing the lines and achieving the end goal of a full board.
What Sudoku variations are there?
Aside from variations in the size of the grid, there are also Sudoku variations that pull in different elements. Here are a few examples:
Alphabetical Sudoku incorporates mini grids inside a larger grid, so you have to not only get your lines filled, but also make sure each grid consists of every number in the game.
Word Sudoku simply switches out numbers for letters.
To make things harder, some Sudoku grids also require that diagonal lines contain every number.
Can I win prizes playing Sudoku?
Yes. There are many Sudoku tournaments around the world and some give out prizes to the best places. You also play for real cash at online Sudoku sites.
How do you learn to master Sudoku?
A logical brain is a great place to start, along with a love of numbers and the challenges of problem solving. The key to mastering Sudoku, as with most things, is practice and more practice. The more you play, the more you begin to learn the workings of the board and the processes that need to run in your brain to solve it.
It's a good tip to play as many variants as possible. This will sharpen your Sudoku brain and have you ready for the next big challenge.
How do I get started playing Sudoku?
Online Sudoku is great way to get introduced to the game. There are a lot of sites to choose from and free play games are the best way to learn the ropes. You should with smaller boards and work your up, as diving straight into a big board can be overwhelming and a frustrating introduction. We'd recommend visiting an online Sudoku portal for advice on the best sites to visit.