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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Not to be confused with Sodoku or Sudeki.

A typical Sudoku puzzle

The same puzzle with solution numbers marked in red
Sudoku (数独 sūdoku
, Digit-single)
/suːˈdoʊkuː/, originally called Number Place,
is a logic-
number-placement puzzle. The objective is to fill a 9×9 grid with digits so
that each column, each row, and each of the nine 3×3 sub-grids that compose the grid (also called
"boxes", "blocks", "regions", or "sub-squares") contains all of the digits from 1 to 9. The puzzle setter
provides a partially completed grid, which for a well-posed puzzle has a unique solution.
Completed puzzles are always a type of Latin square with an additional constraint on the contents of
individual regions. For example, the same single integer may not appear twice in the same 9×9
playing board row or column or in any of the nine 3×3 subregions of the 9×9 playing board.
The puzzle was popularized in 1986 by the Japanese puzzle company Nikoli, under the name
Sudoku, meaning single number.
It became an international hit in 2005.

 1 History
 2 Variants
o 2.1 Mini Sudoku
o 2.2 Cross Sums Sudoku
o 2.3 Killer Sudoku
o 2.4 Alphabetical Sudoku
o 2.5 Hypersudoku
 2.5.1 Duidoku
 3 Mathematics of Sudoku
 4 Recent popularity
 5 Competitions
 6 See also
 7 References
 8 Further reading
 9 External links

From La France newspaper, July 6, 1895. The puzzle instructions read, "Use the numbers 1 to 9 each nine times to
complete the grid in such a way so that the horizontal, vertical, and two main diagonal lines all add up to the same
Number puzzles appeared in newspapers in the late 19th century, when French puzzle setters
began experimenting with removing numbers from magic squares. Le Siècle, a Paris-based daily,
published a partially completed 9×9 magic square with 3×3 sub-squares on November 19, 1892.
was not a Sudoku because it contained double-digit numbers and required arithmetic rather than
logic to solve, but it shared key characteristics: each row, column and sub-square added up to the
same number.
On July 6, 1895, Le Siècle's rival, La France, refined the puzzle so that it was almost a modern
Sudoku. It simplified the 9×9 magic square puzzle so that each row, column and broken
diagonals contained only the numbers 1–9, but did not mark the sub-squares. Although they are
unmarked, each 3×3 sub-square does indeed comprise the numbers 1–9 and the additional
constraint on the broken diagonals leads to only one solution.

These weekly puzzles were a feature of French newspapers such as L'Echo de Paris for about a
decade but disappeared about the time ofWorld War I.

The modern Sudoku was most likely designed anonymously by Howard Garns, a 74-year-old retired
architect and freelance puzzle constructor from Connersville, Indiana, and first published in 1979
by Dell Magazines as Number Place (the earliest known examples of modern Sudoku).
name was always present on the list of contributors in issues of Dell Pencil Puzzles and Word
Games that includedNumber Place, and was always absent from issues that did not.
He died in
1989 before getting a chance to see his creation as a worldwide phenomenon.
It is unclear if
Garns was familiar with any of the French newspapers listed above.
The puzzle was introduced in Japan by Nikoli in the paper Monthly Nikolist in April 1984
as Sūji
wa dokushin ni kagiru (数字は独身に限る
), which also can be translated as "the digits must be
single" or "the digits are limited to one occurrence." (In Japanese, dokushin means an "unmarried
person".) At a later date, the name was abbreviated to Sudoku (数独) by Maki Kaji (鍜治 真起 Kaji
), taking only the first kanjiof compound words to form a shorter version.
Sudoku is a
registered trademark in Japan and the puzzle is generally referred to as Number
Place (ナンバープレースNanbāpurēsu
) or, more informally, a portmanteau of the two
words, Num(ber) Pla(ce) (ナンプレ Nanpuré
). In 1986, Nikoli introduced two innovations: the
number of givens was restricted to no more than 32, and puzzles became "symmetrical" (meaning
the givens were distributed in rotationally symmetric cells). It is now published in mainstream
Japanese periodicals, such as the Asahi Shimbun.
The Times of London began featuring Sudoku in 2004.


A nonomino or JigsawSudoku puzzle, as seen in the Sunday Telegraph

Solution numbers in red for above puzzle
Although the 9×9 grid with 3×3 regions is by far the most common, many other variations exist.
Sample puzzles can be 4×4 grids with 2×2 regions; 5×5 grids with pentomino regions have been
published under the name Logi-5; the World Puzzle Championship has featured a 6×6 grid with 2×3
regions and a 7×7 grid with six heptomino regions and a disjoint region. Larger grids are also
possible. The Times offers a 12×12-grid Dodeka sudoku with 12 regions of 4×3 squares. Dell
regularly publishes 16×16 Number Place Challenger puzzles (the 16×16 variant often uses 1
through G rather than the 0 through F used in hexadecimal). Nikoli offers 25×25 Sudoku the
Giant behemoths. Sudoku-zilla,
a 100×100-grid was published in print in 2010. In 2009 Len Loullis
introduced Koudus, a straightforward substitution of the letters A to I instead of the numbers 1 to 9.
Using letters instead of numbers creates a harder puzzle. as the mind's eye is more accustomed to
seeing letters in small groups that form words. The books was published by Melrose Books of Ely.
Another common variant is to add limits on the placement of numbers beyond the usual row,
column, and box requirements. Often the limit takes the form of an extra "dimension"; the most
common is to require the numbers in the main diagonals of the grid also to be unique. The
aforementionedNumber Place Challenger puzzles are all of this variant, as are the Sudoku
X puzzles in the Daily Mail, which use 6×6 grids. The Sudoku X4
family of iPhone/iPad apps
combine this "X" variation with the Sunday Telegraph-style interlocking
colored nonomino or Jigsaw shapes of nine spaces each instead of the 3×3 regions, providing a total
of four different kinds of puzzles.
Mini Sudoku[edit]
A variant named "Mini Sudoku" appears in the American newspaper USA Today and elsewhere,
which is played on a 6×6 grid with 3×2 regions. The object is the same as standard Sudoku, but the
puzzle only uses the numbers 1 through 6. A similar form, for younger solvers of puzzles, called
"The Junior Sudoku", has appeared in some newspapers, such as some editions of The Daily Mail.
Cross Sums Sudoku[edit]
Another variant is the combination of Sudoku with Kakuro on a 9×9 grid, called Cross Sums Sudoku,
in which clues are given in terms of cross sums. The clues can also be given by
cryptic alphametics in which each letter represents a single digit from 0 to 9. An example is
NUMBER+NUMBER=KAKURO which has a unique solution 186925+186925=373850. Another
example is SUDOKU=IS×FUNNY whose solution is 426972=34×12558.
Killer Sudoku[edit]

A Killer Sudoku puzzle

Solution for puzzle to the left
Main article: Killer sudoku
The Killer Sudoku variant combines elements of Sudoku and Kakuro.
Alphabetical Sudoku[edit]

A Wordoku puzzle

Solution in red for puzzle to the left
Alphabetical variations have emerged, sometimes called Wordoku; there is no functional difference
in the puzzle unless the letters spell something. Some variants, such as in the TV Guide, include a
word reading along a main diagonal, row, or column once solved; determining the word in advance
can be viewed as a solving aid. A Wordoku might contain other words, other than the main word.

Hypersudoku puzzle

Solution numbers for puzzle to the left
Hypersudoku is one of the most popular variants. It is published by newspapers and magazines
around the world and is also known as "NRC Sudoku", "Windoku", "Hyper-Sudoku", and "4 Square
Sudoku". The layout is identical to a normal Sudoku, but with additional interior areas defined in
which the numbers 1 to 9 must appear. The solving algorithm is slightly different from the normal
Sudoku puzzles because of the leverage on the overlapping squares. This overlap gives the player
more information to logically reduce the possibilities in the remaining squares. The approach to
playing is similar to Sudoku but with possibly more emphasis on scanning the squares and overlap
rather than columns and rows.
Puzzles constructed from multiple Sudoku grids are common. Five 9×9 grids that overlap at the
corner regions in the shape of a quincunx is known in Japan as Gattai 5 (five merged) Sudoku.
In The Times, The Age, and The Sydney Morning Heraldthis form of puzzle is known as Samurai
SuDoku. The Baltimore Sun and the Toronto Star publish a puzzle of this variant (titled High Five) in
their Sunday edition. Often, no givens are to be found in overlapping regions. Sequential grids, as
opposed to overlapping, are also published, with values in specific locations in grids needing to be
transferred to others.
Str8ts shares the Sudoku requirement of uniqueness in the rows and columns but the third
constraint is very different. Str8ts uses black cells (some with clue numbers) to divide the board into
compartments. These must be filled with a set of numbers that form a "straight", like the poker hand.
A straight is a set of numbers with no gaps in them, such as "4,3,6,5"—and the order can be non-
sequential. 9×9 is the traditional size but with suitable placement of black cells any size board is

An example of Greater Than Sudoku
A tabletop version of Sudoku can be played with a standard 81-card Set deck (see Set game). A
three-dimensional Sudoku puzzle was invented by Dion Church and published in the Daily
Telegraph in May 2005. The Times also publishes a three-dimensional version under the name
Tredoku. There is a Sudoku version of the Rubik's Cube named Sudoku Cube.
There are many other variants. Some are different shapes in the arrangement of overlapping 9×9
grids, such as butterfly, windmill, or flower.
Others vary the logic for solving the grid. One of these
is Greater Than Sudoku. In this a 3×3 grid of the Sudoku is given with 12 symbols of Greater Than
(>) or Less Than (<) on the common line of the two adjacent numbers.
Another variant on the logic
of solution is Clueless Sudoku, in which nine 9×9 Sudoku grids are themselves placed in a 3×3
array. The center cell in each 3×3 grid of all nine puzzles is left blank and form a tenth Sudoku
puzzle without any cell completed; hence, "clueless".

Duidoku is a two player variant of Sudoku. It is played on a 4×4 board (i.e. 16 squares or four
clusters each containing four squares). The game is followed using the rules of Sudoku. Four
numbers are used, and each player consecutively places one number out of the four such that he or
she makes no illegal moves. The first player to make an illegal move loses.

Mathematics of Sudoku[edit]
Main article: Mathematics of Sudoku
A completed Sudoku grid is a special type of Latin square with the additional property of no repeated
values in any of the 9 blocks of contiguous 3×3 cells. The relationship between the two theories is
now completely known, after it was proven that a first-order formula that does not mention blocks
(also called boxes or regions) is valid for Sudoku if and only if it is valid for Latin Squares (this
property is trivially true for the axioms and it can be extended to any formula).

The number of classic 9×9 Sudoku solution grids is 6,670,903,752,021,072,936,960
(sequence A107739 in OEIS), or approximately 6.67×10
. This is roughly 1.2×10
times the
number of 9×9 Latin squares.
Various other grid sizes have also been enumerated—see the main
article for details. The number of essentially different solutions, whensymmetries such as rotation,
reflection, permutation and relabelling are taken into account, was shown to be just
(sequence A109741 in OEIS).
Contrary to the number of complete Sudoku grids, the number of minimal 9×9 Sudoku puzzles is not
precisely known. (A minimal puzzle is one in which no clue can be deleted without losing uniqueness
of the solution.) However, statistical techniques combined with the definition of a new type of
allow showing that there are approximately (with 0.065% relative error):
 3.10 × 10
minimal puzzles,
 2.55 × 10
non-essentially-equivalent minimal puzzles.
The maximum number of givens provided while still not rendering a unique solution is four short of a
full grid (77); if two instances of two numbers each are missing from cells that occupy the corners of
an orthogonal rectangle, and exactly two of these cells are within one region, there are two ways the
numbers can be assigned. Since this applies to Latin squares in general, most variants of Sudoku
have the same maximum. The inverse problem—the fewest givens that render a solution unique—
was recently proven to be 17.
A number of valid puzzles with 17 givens have been found for the
standard variation without a symmetry constraint, by Japanese puzzle enthusiasts,
and 18 with
the givens in rotationally symmetric cells. Over 49,000 examples of Sudoku puzzles with 17 givens
resulting in a unique solution are known.

The arrangement of numbers in Sudoku puzzles have greater Shannon entropy than the number
arrangements in randomly generated 9×9 matrices. This is because the rules of Sudoku exclude
some random arrangements that have an innate symmetry.

The general problem of solving Sudoku puzzles on n
× n
boards of n × n blocks is known to be NP-

Recent popularity[edit]
In 1997, New Zealander and retired Hong Kong judge Wayne Gould, then in his early 50s, saw a
partly completed puzzle in a Japanese bookshop. Over six years he developed a computer program
to produce puzzles quickly. Knowing that British newspapers have a long history of
publishing crosswords and other puzzles, he promoted Sudoku to The Timesin Britain, which
launched it on November 12, 2004 (calling it Su Doku). The first letter to The Times regarding Su
Doku was published the following day on November 13 from Ian Payn of Brentford, complaining that
the puzzle had caused him to miss his stop on the tube.

The rapid rise of Sudoku in Britain from relative obscurity to a front-page feature in national
newspapers attracted commentary in the media and parody (such as when The
Guardian's G2 section advertised itself as the first newspaper supplement with a Sudoku grid on
every page).
Recognizing the different psychological appeals of easy and difficult puzzles, The
Times introduced both side by side on June 20, 2005. From July 2005, Channel 4 included a daily
Sudoku game in their Teletext service. On August 2, the BBC's program guide Radio Times featured
a weekly Super Sudoku with a 16×16 grid.
In the United States, the first newspaper to publish a Sudoku puzzle by Wayne Gould was The
Conway Daily Sun (New Hampshire), in 2004.

The world's first live TV Sudoku show, July 1, 2005, Sky One
The world's first live TV Sudoku show, Sudoku Live, was a puzzle contest first broadcast on July 1,
2005 on Sky One. It was presented by Carol Vorderman. Nine teams of nine players (with one
celebrity in each team) representing geographical regions competed to solve a puzzle. Each player
had a hand-held device for entering numbers corresponding to answers for four cells. Phil Kollin of
Winchelsea, England was the series grand prize winner taking home over £23,000 over a series of
games. The audience at home was in a separate interactive competition, which was won by Hannah
Withey of Cheshire.
Later in 2005, the BBC launched SUDO-Q, a game show that combines Sudoku with general
knowledge. However, it uses only 4×4 and 6×6 puzzles. Four seasons were produced, before the
show ended in 2007.
In 2006, a Sudoku website published songwriter Peter Levy's Sudoku tribute song,
but quickly had
to take down the MP3 file due to heavy traffic. British and Australian radio picked up the song, which
is to feature in a British-made Sudoku documentary. The Japanese Embassy also nominated the
song for an award, with Levy doing talks with Sony in Japan to release the song as a single.

Sudoku software is very popular on PCs, websites, and mobile phones. It comes with many
distributions of Linux. Software has also been released on video game consoles, such as
the Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, the Game Boy Advance, Xbox Live Arcade, the Nook e-book
reader, Kindle Fire tablet, several iPod models, and the iPhone. In fact, just two weeks after Apple
Inc. debuted the online App Store within its iTunes Store on July 11, 2008, there were already nearly
30 different Sudoku games, created by various software developers, specifically for the iPhone and
iPod Touch. One of the most popular video games featuring Sudoku is Brain Age: Train Your Brain
in Minutes a Day!. Critically and commercially well-received, it generated particular praise for its
Sudoku implementation
and sold more than 8 million copies worldwide.
Due to its
popularity, Nintendo made a second Brain Age game titled Brain Age
, which has over 100 new
Sudoku puzzles and other activities.
In June 2008 an Australian drugs-related jury trial costing over A$1 million was aborted when it was
discovered that five of the twelve jurors had been playing Sudoku instead of listening to evidence.


Sudoku competition at SM City Baliuag
 The first World Sudoku Championship was held in Lucca, Italy, from March 10 to 12, 2006. The
winner was Jana Tylová of the Czech Republic.
The competition included numerous

 The second World Sudoku Championship was held in Prague from March 28 to April 1,
The individual champion was Thomas Snyderof the USA. The team champion
was Japan.

 The third World Sudoku Championship was held in Goa, India, from April 14 to 16,
2008. Thomas Snyder repeated as the individual overall champion, and also won the first ever
Classic Trophy (a subset of the competition counting only classic Sudoku). The Czech Republic
won the team competition.

 The fourth World Sudoku Championship was held in Žilina, Slovakia, from April 24 to 27, 2009.
After past champion Thomas Snyder of USA won the general qualification, Jan Mrozowski of
Poland emerged from a 36-competitor playoff to become the new World Sudoku Champion.
Host nation Slovakia emerged as the top team in a separate competition of three-membered

 The fifth World Sudoku Championship was held in Philadelphia, USA from April 29 to May 2,
2010. Jan Mrozowski of Poland successfully defended his world title in the individual competition
while Germany won a separate team event. The puzzles were written by Thomas
Snyder and Wei-Hwa Huang, both past US Sudoku champions.

 In the United States, The Philadelphia Inquirer Sudoku National Championship has been held
three times, each time offering a $10,000 prize to the advanced division winner and a spot on
the U.S. National Sudoku Team traveling to the world championships. The winners of the event
were Thomas Snyder (2007),
Wei-Hwa Huang (2008), and Tammy McLeod (2009).
In the
most recent event, the third place finalist in the advanced division, Eugene Varshavsky,
performed quite poorly onstage after setting a very fast qualifying time on paper, which caught
the attention of organizers and competitors including past champion Thomas Snyder who
requested organizers reconsider his results due to a suspicion of cheating.
Following an
investigation and a retest of Varshavsky, the organizers disqualified him and awarded Chris
Narrikkattu third place.

See also[edit]
 36 cube
 Algorithmics of Sudoku

Zebra Puzzle
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The puzzle's first known publication, in a 1962 edition of Life Internationalmagazine
The zebra puzzle is a well-known logic puzzle. It is often called Einstein's Puzzle or Einstein's
Riddle because it is said to have been invented by Albert Einstein as a boy.
Some claim that only
2% of the population can solve it.
The puzzle is also sometimes attributed to Lewis
However, there is no known evidence for Einstein's or Carroll's authorship and the Life
International puzzle cited below mentions brands of cigarette, such as Kools, that did not exist during
Carroll's lifetime or Einstein's boyhood.
There are several versions of this puzzle. The version below is from the first known publication
in Life International magazine on December 17, 1962. The March 25, 1963 issue contained the
solution below, and the names of several hundred solvers from around the world.
 1 Text of the Life International puzzle
 2 Solution
o 2.1 Step 1
o 2.2 Step 2
o 2.3 Step 3
o 2.4 Step 4
o 2.5 Right-to-left solution
o 2.6 A different method of solving the puzzle
 2.6.1 Alternative approach using a more narrative style
 Step 1
 Step 2
 Step 3
 Step 4
 Step 5
o 2.7 Sudoku like solution
 3 Other versions
 4 References
 5 External links
Text of the Life International puzzle[edit]
1. There are five houses.
2. The Englishman lives in the red house.
3. The Spaniard owns the dog.
4. Coffee is drunk in the green house.
5. The Ukrainian drinks tea.
6. The green house is immediately to the right of the ivory house.
7. The Old Gold smoker owns snails.
8. Kools are smoked in the yellow house.
9. Milk is drunk in the middle house.
10. The Norwegian lives in the first house.
11. The man who smokes Chesterfields lives in the house next to the man with the fox.
12. Kools are smoked in the house next to the house where the horse is kept.
13. The Lucky Strike smoker drinks orange juice.
14. The Japanese smokes Parliaments.
15. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
Now, who drinks water? Who owns the zebra?
In the interest of clarity, it must be added that each of the five houses is painted a different color, and their
inhabitants are of different national extractions, own different pets, drink different beverages and smoke
different brands of American cigarets [sic]. One other thing: in statement 6, right means your right.

— Life International, December 17, 1962
It is possible, not only to deduce the answers to the two questions, but to figure out who lives where,
in what color house, keeping what pet, drinking what drink, and smoking what brand of cigarettes.
However, it is not possible to deduce the answer without making an assumption that is not part of
the original rule set. This is the weak point of the riddle, as assumptions are not logic based rules but
arbitrary supposition.
Since the clues mention neither water nor a zebra, a reductive solution exists—namely that no one
owns a zebra or drinks water. If, however, you read the questions as, "Given that one resident drinks
water, which is it?" and, "Given that one resident owns a zebra, which is it?"—the puzzle poses a
significant challenge to inferential logic. (A frequent variant of the puzzle asks "Who owns the fish?".)
This is the weak point of the puzzle and makes it impossible to solve without making an assumption,
which is a break in the logic chain. Rule 12 leads to a contradiction, and should strictly have been
written as "Kools are smoked in a house next to the house where the horse is kept," as opposed
to thehouse—since the implies that there is only one house next to the house with the horse,
meaning it is either the leftmost or the rightmost house. Similarly, the solution is unique even if we
don't assume there is only one house next to the fox in clue 11. However, in this case, it is extra
unnecessary information, rather than a contradiction, as in clue 12.
House 1 2 3 4 5
Color Yellow Blue Red Ivory Green
Nationality Norwegian Ukrainian Englishman Spaniard Japanese
Drink Water Tea Milk Orange juice Coffee
Smoke Kools Chesterfield Old Gold Lucky Strike Parliament
Pet Fox Horse Snails Dog Zebra
Here are deductive steps that can derive the solution. A useful method is to try to fit known
relationships into a table and eliminate possibilities. Key deductions are in italics.
Step 1[edit]
We are told the Norwegian lives in the first house (10). We count from left to right.
From (10) and (15), the second house is blue. What color is the first house? Not green or ivory,
because they must be next to each other (6 and the second house is blue). Not red, because the
Englishman lives there (2). Therefore the first house is yellow.
It follows that Kools are smoked in the first house (8) and the Horse is kept in the second house (12).
So what is drunk by the Norwegian in the first, yellow, Kools-filled house? Not tea since the
Ukrainian drinks that (5). Not coffee since that is drunk in the green house (4). Not milk since that is
drunk in the third house (9). Not orange juice since the drinker of orange juice smokes Lucky Strikes
(13). Therefore it is water (the missing beverage) that is drunk by the Norwegian.
Step 2[edit]
So what is smoked in the second, blue house where we know a Horse is also kept?
Not Kools that are smoked in the first house (8). Not Old Gold since that house must have snails (7).
Let's suppose Lucky Strikes are smoked here, which means orange juice is drunk here (13). Then
consider: Who lives here? Not the Norwegian since he lives in the first House (10). Not the
Englishman since he lives in a red house (2). Not the Spaniard since he owns a dog (3). Not the
Ukrainian since he drinks tea (4). Not the Japanese who smokes Parliaments (14). Since this is an
impossible situation, Lucky Strikes are not smoked in the second house.
Let's suppose Parliaments are smoked here, which means the Japanese man lives here (14). Then
consider: What is drunk here? Not tea since the Ukrainian drinks that (5). Not coffee since that is
drunk in the green house (4). Not milk since that is drunk in the third house (9). Not orange juice
since the drinker of that smokes Lucky Strike (13). Again, since this is an impossible situation,
Parliaments are not smoked in the second house.
Therefore, Chesterfields are smoked in the second house.
So who smokes Chesterfields and keeps a Horse in the second, blue house? Not the Norwegian
who lives in the first House (10). Not the Englishman who lives in a red house (2). Not the Spaniard
who owns a dog (3). Not the Japanese who smokes Parliaments (14). Therefore, the Ukrainian lives
in the second House, where he drinks tea(5)!
Step 3[edit]
Since Chesterfields are smoked in the second house, we know from (11) that the fox is kept in either
the first house or the third house.
Let us first assume that the fox is kept in the third house. Then consider: what is drunk by the man
who smokes Old Golds and keeps snails (7)? We have already ruled out water and tea from the
above steps. It cannot be orange juice since the drinker of that smokes Lucky Strikes (13). It cannot
be milk because that is drunk in the third house (9), where we have assumed a fox is kept. This
leaves coffee, which we know is drunk in the green house (4).
So if the fox is kept in the third house, then someone smokes Old Golds, keeps snails and drinks
coffee in a green house. Who can this person be? Not the Norwegian who lives in the first house
(10). Not the Ukrainian who drinks tea (5). Not the Englishman who lives in a red house (2). Not the
Japanese who smokes Parliaments (14). Not the Spaniard who owns a dog (3).
This is impossible. So it follows that the fox is not kept in the third house, but in the first house.
Step 4[edit]
From what we have found so far, we know that coffee and orange juice are drunk in the fourth and
fifth houses. It doesn't matter which is drunk in which; we just call them the coffee house and the
orange juice house.
So where does the man who smokes Old Gold and keeps snails live? Not the orange juice house
since Lucky Strike is smoked there (13).
Suppose this man lives in the coffee house. Then we have someone who smokes Old Gold, keeps
snails and drinks coffee in a green (4) house. Again, by the same reasoning in step 3, this is
Therefore, the Old Gold-smoking, snail-keeping man lives in the third house.
It follows that Parliaments are smoked in the green, coffee-drinking house, by the Japanese man
(14). This means the Spaniard must be the one who drinks orange juice, smokes Lucky Strikes and
keeps a dog. By extension, the Englishman must live in the third house, which is red. By process of
elimination, the Spaniard's house is the ivory one.
By now we have filled in every variable except one, and it is clear that the Japanese is the one who
keeps the zebra.
Another method:
Now we are left with House number 4 and 5. For simplicity let's first check what are the possible
answers for house 4 and 5:
 Colors - Green, Ivory
 Nationality - Spaniard, Japanese
 Drinks - Orange juice, Coffee
 Smokes - Parliament, Lucky Strike
 Pets - Dog, Zebra
If we continue to follow our simple logic of deduction, by (6) we can say that the fourth house cannot
be Green-colored, as it must be next to the Ivory-colored house, which makes the fourth House
Ivory-colored. Therefore the only option left is that the House is 5 and color is Green. So the fifth
House is Green.
Similarly by (4) - Coffee is drunk in fifth House, the Green House. Therefore Orange juice, the only
drink left, must be drunk in fourth House. By (13) fourth House Person smokes Lucky Strike, which
implies that the fifth House Person smokes Parliaments. By (14), the fifth House Person is
Japanese, which makes the fourth House Person Spanish. By (3), the fourth House owner owns a
Dog, which makes the only remaining animal Zebra for the fifth house.
Right-to-left solution[edit]
The above solution assumed that the first house is the leftmost house. If we assume that the first
house is the rightmost house, we find the following solution. Again the Japanese keeps the zebra,
and the Norwegian drinks water. In fact, everything is the same apart from the characters' house
House 5 4 3 2 1
Color Ivory Green Red Blue Yellow
Nationality Spaniard Japanese Englishman Ukrainian Norwegian
Drink Orange juice Coffee Milk Tea Water
Smoke Lucky Strike Parliament Old Gold Chesterfield Kools
Pet Dog Zebra Snails Horse Fox
A different method of solving the puzzle[edit]
The above solution uses a trial and error approach in several places. It requires assumptions that
prove correct or incorrect. An alternate method does not rely on testing assumptions but can prove
each step from information already known.
First complete step one above.
Most of the items that have not yet been allocated to a house can be paired using the information in
the question. A few remain unpaired (Ivory, Zebra, Fox, Horse and Chesterfield).
It can be seen that there are three unknowns in house two, the nationality, drink and cigarette.
These unknowns must be either one pair and one unpaired item or three unpaired items.
Excluding pairs and unpaired items that contain a color or animal (as these are already known for
house two) we are left with:
Ukrainian – Tea (5)
Orange Juice – Lucky Strike (13)
Japanese – Parliament (14)
As Chesterfield is the only single, and there must be a single, Chesterfields must be smoked in
house two. Then, eliminating the pairs with a cigarette, only Ukrainian– Tea is left, so these must be
in house two also.
We are told that "The man who smokes Chesterfields lives in the house next to the man with the fox"
(11), therefore the fox must be at house one.
The only thing we know about house three is that milk is drunk there. The four unknown facts must
consist of 2 pairs. Nothing is known about houses four or five so they must each contain two pairs
and one single item. There are two single items that have not yet been allocated to a house (Ivory
and Zebra). Ivory must be to the left of Green (6) so house five cannot be Ivory. Therefore house
four is Ivory and house five has a Zebra.
As the Green house is to the right of Ivory the Green house must be house five. As coffee is drunk in
the Green house we know that Coffee is drunk in house five also.
House three is now the only house for which the color hasn’t been identified and so it must be Red,
and therefore lived in by the English man (2). Then, taking the four unused pairs and eliminating
those that contain one of the categories already known for house three we can see that house three
must have Snails and Old Gold.
The same procedure can be followed to complete the information for house five and the two
remaining pairs must relate to house four.
Alternative approach using a more narrative style[edit]
This method is similar in spirit with the one described in the enclosing section: use only the known
facts from the list and use deduction only to obtain the solution (no trial and error). But instead of
relying on reasoning about paired and unpaired facts, we use a more narrative style.
The only assumption (aside from the missing drink and animal being water and zebra, respectively)
we need to make is about the ordering of houses. We assume left to right ordering (i.e. the first
house is the leftmost one), but the reasoning can easily be adapted for the other way round.
Step 1[edit]
Same as step 1 above.
Step 2[edit]
Who can live in the second, the blue, house? First, we note that the Japanese cannot drink water (as
we deduced the Norwegian drinks this), nor tea (5) nor orange juice (13), as he does not smoke
Lucky Strike. So, the Japanese drinks either coffee (4) or milk (9), which also means he is either in
the green house or in the middle house - and we know the second house (the blue one) is neither
green nor in the middle. So, the Japanese cannot reside in the blue house, which leaves us only with
the Ukrainian.
So what does the Ukrainian smoke? It cannot be Kool (8 taken by Norwegian), nor Old Gold (7 we
now know the Ukrainian owns the horse), nor Lucky Strike (13, 5 the Ukrainian drinks tea), nor
Parliaments (14). Thus he smokes Chesterfields.
Step 3[edit]
We can now assign the remaining 2 cigarette brands to the respective nationality: Since Old Gold is
smoked by the snails owner (7), the Spaniard cannot smoke the brand (3 he owns a dog). Thus the
English smokes Old Gold (and owns snails) and the Spaniard smokes Lucky Strike.
Step 4[edit]
We deduced in the previous step that the Spaniard smokes Lucky Strike, which implies he drinks
orange juice (13). With this, the only unassigned drinks left are coffee and milk. Since the
Englishman lives in the red house (2), he cannot be the one drinking coffee in the green house (4).
Thus, the Englishman drinks milk in the middle house (9), which is red (2). And so, the Japanese
drinks coffee in the green house (4).
Now we assigned all the drinks, and we also can assign the missing houses. We just concluded that
the Englishman lives in the middle, red house and the Japanese in the green house. The ivory
house is the only one left unassigned, and it must be the Spaniard's. Furthermore, since the green
house is to the right of the ivory house (6) it is the last (i.e. rightmost) house, and we now have the
order of houses (from left to right): yellow, blue, red, ivory, green.
Step 5[edit]
What is left to do is to assign the remaining 2 animals (fox, zebra) to their respective owners
(Norwegian, Japanese) (we deduced in step 2 that the Ukrainian owns the horse, and in step 3 that
the Englishman owns snails, and we already know that the Spaniard owns a dog (3)).
We know that the "man who smokes Chesterfields lives in the house next to the man with the fox"
(11). The Ukrainian smokes Chesterfields and is neighbors with the Norwegian, but not with the
Japanese. Thus, the Norwegian owns the fox and the Japanese owns the zebra.
Sudoku like solution[edit]
There is one very simple, but time consuming solution. It looks like solving Sudoku. You have to
create a table for all possible parameters assuming the houses are in a line.
1 2 3 4 5 Order of the houses
N1 N1 N1 N1 N1 - nationality
N2 N2 N2 N2 N2 - nationality
N3 N3 N3 N3 N3 - nationality
N4 N4 N4 N4 N4 - nationality
N5 N5 N5 N5 N5 - nationality
CB1 CB1 CB1 CB1 CB1 - cigarette brand
CB2 CB2 CB2 CB2 CB2 - cigarette brand
CB3 CB3 CB3 CB3 CB3 - cigarette brand
CB4 CB4 CB4 CB4 CB4 - cigarette brand
CB5 CB5 CB5 CB5 CB5 - cigarette brand
... and you continue like this until you add all the remaining possibilities ( 5 rows for each ). After this
you just circulate through the rules until you delete all remaining conflicts.Example: You know that
nationality 1 lives in the first house, so you delete second to fifth N1s in the first row in the nationality
quadrant, and also since there can only be one nationality in one house, you delete N2 to N5 in the
first column of this quadrant. You continue this way, deleting possibilities proven not possible until
you know every position. This is simple, but time consuming.
Other versions[edit]
Other versions of the puzzle have one or more of the following differences to the Life
International puzzle:
1. Some colors, nationalities, cigarette brands, drinks, and pets are substituted for other ones
and the clues are given in different order. These do not change the logic of the puzzle.
2. One rule says that the green house is on the left of the white house, instead of on the right of
it. This change has the same effect as numbering the houses from right to left instead of left
to right (see section right-to-left solution above). It results only in swapping of the two
corresponding houses with all their properties, but makes the puzzle a bit easier. It is also
important to note that the omission of the word immediately, as in immediately to the
left/right of the white house, leads to multiple solutions to the puzzle.
3. The clue "The man who smokes Blend has a neighbor who drinks water" is redundant and
therefore makes the puzzle even easier. In the Life International version, this clue was only
in form of the question "Who drinks water?"
4. In other versions, the smokes are replaced by cars.
When given to children, the cigarette brands are often replaced by snacks eaten in each house.
1. The British person lives in the red house.
2. The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
3. The Dane drinks tea.
4. The green house is on the left of the white house.
5. The green homeowner drinks coffee.
6. The man who smokes Pall Mall keeps birds.
7. The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill.
8. The man living in the center house drinks milk.
9. The Norwegian lives in the first house.
10. The man who smokes Blend lives next to the one who keeps cats.
11. The man who keeps the horse lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill.
12. The man who smokes Bluemaster drinks beer.
13. The German smokes Prince.
14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
15. The man who smokes Blend has a neighbor who drinks water.
Question: Who owns the fish?
1. The Englishman lives in the red house.
2. The Spaniard owns the dog.
3. Coffee is drunk in the green house.
4. The Ukrainian drinks tea.
5. The green house is immediately to the right of the ivory house.
6. The Ford driver owns the snail.
7. A Toyota driver lives in the yellow house.
8. Milk is drunk in the middle house.
9. The Norwegian lives in the first house to the left.
10. The man who drives the Chevy lives in the house next to the man with the fox.
11. A Toyota is parked next to the house where the horse is kept.
12. The Dodge owner drinks orange juice.
13. The Japanese owns a Porsche.
14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
Random Sudoku
How to solve sudoku puzzles
Solving sudoku puzzles is easier than it looks, and all but the very hardest puzzles can be solved
using just a few simple techniques. You don't need any maths, and you don't need to guess. It's
all done by observation and logic, and the most important thing is to stay 100% accurate at all
This page covers techniques that will solve most puzzles up to (and including) 'fiendish' or 'very
hard' rating.
If you've arrived here direct from a search engine, you may like to - it's a web
page that creates puzzles, lets you solve them on screen (or print them out) and will even show you the
Click here for a printer-friendly version of this page.

For an expanded version of this guide, including more extreme solving methods, see SudokuXP's
Solving Guide.

1. The Rules.
2. Getting started.
3. Pencilling-in.
4. Serious solving!
5. Extreme puzzles.
6. Quick solving checklist.
1. The Rules.

Here's a 'classical' sudoku puzzle. It's a grid 9 squares wide and 9 squares deep. The lines of squares
running horizontally are called rows, and the lines running vertically are called columns. The grid is further
divided by the darker lines into nine 3 X 3 square 'boxes'.

Some of the squares already have numbers in them. Your task is to fill in the blank squares. There's only
one rule:
 Each row, column and box must end up containing all of the numbers from 1 to 9.
This rule has an important side-effect, which is the basis of all solving techniques:
 Each number can only appear once in a row, column or box.

2. Getting started.
Solving sudoku is all about eliminating the impossible. It's also about looking at the same thing in different
◊ The crosshatching and slicing/dicing techniques shown in the first part of this page are enough, on their
own, to solve most easy puzzles. If you're new to sudoku, it's worth generating some easy puzzles and
practising these techniques.

To solve more difficult puzzles you need to use crosshatching in combination with other techniques. These
are described in the second part of this page.

Crosshatching - finding squares for numbers.
The obvious way to solve a sudoku puzzle is to find the right numbers to go in the squares. However the
best way to start is the other way round - finding the right squares to hold the numbers.
This uses a technique called 'crosshatching', which only takes a couple of minutes to learn. It can solve
many 'easy' rated puzzles on its own.

Crosshatching works in boxes (the 3 X 3 square subdivisions of the grid). Look at the top-left box of our
sample puzzle (outlined in blue). It has five empty squares. All the numbers from 1 to 9 must appear in the
box, so the missing numbers are 1,2,3,5 and 9.
We'll ignore 1 for a moment (because it doesn't provided a good example!), and see if we can work out
which square the missing 2 will go into.
To do this, we'll use the fact that a number can only appear once in any row or column. We start by looking
across the rows that run through this box, to see if any of them already contain a 2. Here's the result:

Bingo! The first two rows already contain 2s, which means that squares in those rows can't possibly contain
the 2 for this box. That's all we need to know, because the third row only has one empty square, so that
must be the home for the 2.
Now let's see if we can place the 3 for this box. This time we end up checking the columns that run down
through the box, as well as the rows that run across it:

Again, we get a result first time - there's only one empty square that the 3 can possibly go into. You can see
from this example why it's called 'crosshatching' - the lines from rows and columns outside the square criss-
cross each other.
Of course you don't always get a result first time. Here's what happens when we try to place the 5:

There's only one 5 already in the rows and columns that run through this box. That leaves three empty
squares as possible homes for the 5. For the time being, this box's 5 (and its 1 and 9) have to remain
Now we move on to the next box:

Here we're crosshatching for 3, the first missing number in this box. Note how we treat the 3 we placed in
the first box as if it had been pre-printed on the puzzle. We still can't place this box's 3 though, so we'll
move on to the next missing number (5), and so on.
◊ In sudoku, accuracy is essential. If the 3 in the first box is wrong, we'll be starting a chain of errors that
may prove impossible to unravel. Only place a number when you can prove, logically, that it belongs
there. Never guess, and never follow hunches!
An important factor in crosshatching (and sudoku in general) is that the more numbers you place, the more
likely you are to place others - including ones you couldn't place earlier.
Placing numbers in the second box may well make it possible to go back and place missing numbers in the
first. It's good to get into the habit of looking backwards as well as forwards, re-checking whether the
numbers you've just placed have made numbers placeable elsewhere in the puzzle.

Slicing and dicing
In sudoku it pays to look at the same thing in different ways. By using crosshatching slightly differently, you
can often get quicker results.
Instead of looking at a single box and its missing numbers, you can look at a group of three boxes running
across or down the puzzle, trying to place each number from 1 to 9 in as many of the boxes as you can.
In this example we're trying to place 7s in the three right-hand boxes:

The stack of boxes starts out with just one 7 in place (bottom box). This solves the middle box's 7 (entered
in blue), and entering that immediately solves the top box's 7 as well.
This 'chain reaction' of solving wouldn't occur in single-box crosshatching. It happens here because we're
focussing on a single number across multiple boxes - looking at things differently.
Crosshatching and slicing/dicing are basically the same thing, but slicing/dicing can be more efficient, and
often feels less laborious than doggedly working through the empty squares in a single box (although that's
what you will have to do in order to solve tough puzzles, so be prepared!).
The right start...
It's a good idea to start any puzzle by slicing and dicing, perhaps switching to single-box crosshatching if
you get stuck.
Most easy (and many moderate) puzzles can be solved that way - just make a first 'pass' through the whole
puzzle placing all the numbers you can, then go back and start again, seeing if any more numbers can now
be placed. Keep doing that, and eventually you'll fill the whole puzzle.
In practice you'll soon find that you stop working in passes through the whole puzzle, and begin darting to
whichever area looks most likely to have solvable squares.
If you get stuck (i.e. you can't place any more numbers), then it's worth making another methodical pass
through the whole puzzle. This will often reveal a solvable square you've missed.
... but when the going gets tough...
On tough puzzles crosshatching and slicing/dicing will eventually run out of steam - you'll make a pass
through the whole puzzle without being able to place any more numbers.
When this happens it's time to switch to a different approach, using the solving techniques described in the
second part of this page.
The first step, however, is more crosshatching. This time you need to go through the entire puzzle, box by
box, crosshatching each box for all its missing numbers. As you do that, you make a note of which squares
each missing number can possibly go into. This is called 'pencilling in'.
3. Pencilling in.
The solving techniques needed for more difficult puzzles all depend on having an accurate list of the possible
numbers (called 'candidates') for each empty square. You can build this list by pencilling the candidates in
as you make a complete crosshatching pass through the puzzle.
Looking at the top-left box of our original puzzle, crosshatching produced three possible squares where the
missing 5 could go. Here's the box, with 5 'pencilled-in' to the corners of its three possible squares:

◊ (It's called 'pencilling-in' because on a printed puzzle many people use a pencil, so that they can rub
numbers out later (an essential part of the solving process). On my sudoku page, you click in the top-left
corner of the square, then type and delete numbers like a normal text box)
1 and 9 were also unsolved for this box. Here's the box with all its missing numbers pencilled into their
possible squares:

This list must be complete and accurate, otherwise you risk creating another chain of errors. That's why it's
essential to crosshatch every missing number for every box before starting the next stage of solving.
Candidate lists must also be kept up to date (the reasons for this will become obvious later!). Here's what it
On the left is is the top-left box, and the one below it. We've just
entered a 5 in the bottom-right square of the lower box.
Now we remove that square's candidate list. We also remove 5 from the
candidate list at the top of the same column, and the left of the same
row. Here's how the boxes look afterwards:

Whenever you fill in a square, remove the number you've used from all candidate lists in the same row,
column and box. Here are the areas we needed to check for candidate 5s after filling in this square:

Don't worry if that looks complex - in practice it's quick and easy to scan through the same row, column and
box as the square you've just filled.
When you're crosshatching the puzzle, remember to update any candidate lists that are affected by numbers
you place.
4. Serious Solving!
It's always worth starting the solving process with a quick slice/dice, because it might solve a square or two
even on the toughest puzzle.
However if the puzzle is rated 'hard' or tougher, crosshatching techniques will soon stop producing results.
It's best to cut your losses, do the full pencilling-in crosshatch, and move on to some serious solving.
◊ In difficult puzzles with 26 or fewer starting squares, the initial crosshatching run will produce few solved
squares, and long lists of candidates. Don't be put off by this - the lists will soon start to shorten as you
apply the rules described below.
This part of the solving process is where you switch approach and start finding numbers for squares instead
of squares for numbers. You do this by checking your pencilled-in candidate lists for a series of rules (or
'candidate patterns'), and acting on them.
There are lots of rules (and more being discovered all the time), but a basic set of five will solve most
puzzles up to 'really tough' or 'fiendish' level. It's worth practicing these until you find yourself recognising
the patterns instinctively (it doesn't take long), then adding more rules to your repertoire as they're
Always remember that all rules depend on your candidate lists being complete, accurate and up to
date. Get them wrong and you'll soon have big problems!
The first two rules let you solve squares immediately.
Rule 1 - Single-candidate squares.
When a square has just one candidate, that number goes into the square.
Here's the mid-left box again, as it was before we entered the 5:

The mid-right and bottom-right squares each have only one candidate, so we can put those numbers into
the squares.
Some squares will be single-candidate from the start of the puzzle. Most, however, will start with multiple
candidates and gradually reduce down to single-candidate status.
This will happen as you remove numbers that you've placed in other squares in the same row, column and
box, and as you apply the last three rules described below.
Rule 2 - single-square candidates.
When a candidate number appears just once in an area (row, column or box), that number goes
into the square.
Look at the mid-left box again:

The number 6 only appears in one square's candidate list within this box (top-middle). This must, therefore,
be the right place for the 6.
The remaining three rules let you remove numbers from candidate lists, reducing them down towards
meeting one of the first two rules.
Rule 3 - number claiming.
When a candidate number only appears in one row or column of a box, the box 'claims' that
number within the entire row or column.
Here's the top-left box again:

The number 1 only appears as a candidate in the top row of the box. This means there will have to be a 1
somewhere in the first three squares of the puzzle's first row (i.e. the ones that overlap with the box). That
in turn means that 1 can't go anywhere else in that row, outside of this box.
You can read across the row, and remove 1 from any candidate lists outside of this box, even though you
haven't actually placed 1 yet.

In this example, we can remove the 1 from the right-hand square's candidate list. This makes the square
single-candidate (7) - square solved!
Claims also work during crosshatching. Here we're crosshatching the top-right box for 1:

We can rule out the top row, because the top-left box has already claimed that row's 1. This lets us place
the 1 in the bottom-right square of the box.
Rule 4 - pairs.
When two squares in the same area (row, column or box) have identical two-number candidate
lists, you can remove both numbers from other candidate lists in that area.
Here's the second row of the puzzle:

Two of the squares have the same candidate list - 67. This means that between them, they will use up the 6
and 7 for this row.
That means that the other square can't possibly contain a 6. We can remove the 6 from its candidate list,
leaving just 9 - square solved!
The squares in a pair must have exactly two candidates. If one of the above squares had been 679, it
couldn't have been part of a pair.

Rule 5 - triples.
Three squares in an area (row, column or box) form a triple when:
 None of them has more than three candidates.
 Their candidate lists are all full or sub sets of the same three-candidate list (explained below!).
You can remove numbers that appear in the triple from other candidate lists in the same area.
Here's the fourth row of the puzzle:

Note the three squares in the middle, with candidates of 23, 23 and 234. These form a triple.
234 is the full, three-candidate list, and 23 is a subset of it (i.e. all its numbers appear in the full list).
Because there are three squares, and none of them have any candidate numbers outside of those in the
three-candidate list, they must use up the three candidate numbers (2, 3 and 4) between them.
This lets us remove the 4 from the other two candidate lists in this row, solving their squares.
It's worth looking hard for subset triples. In this example, the 23 lists make an obvious pair (see above), but
it's the triple that instantly solves the two outside squares (once you've dispensed with them, you can treat
the 23s as a pair again, and use them to solve the 234!). A subset (or 'hidden') triple is often the pattern
that will unlock a seemingly impossible puzzle.
Note - the squares in a pair or triple don't have to appear next to each other, or in any particular order. In
the example above, the triple could have occurred in, say, the first, third and fifth empty squares of the row,
with the 234 in the middle.
Perhaps surprisingly (OK, I was surprised!) the triple rule can be true even if none of the squares have three
candidates. Take these three candidate lists:
13 16 36
All three lists are subsets of the list 136. Between them, these three squares will use up the 1, 3 and 6 for
the area they're in. These triples can be hard to spot though, so it's probably best to start by looking out for
three-candidate squares.
(Special thanks to Edward for pointing out that the members of a triple can all be subsets of the full list!)
◊ If all-subset triples still don't seem right, think of it this way:

The crucial thing is that the number of squares equals the number of candidates in the full list (so three
squares all with subsets of '136' (a three-candidate list) makes a triple).

It doesn't matter if some (or all) of the squares don't have the full candidate list. What matters is that
between them they cover the list, the whole list and nothing but the list. That means they must use up all
three of the list's numbers between them.
In case all that's put you off, here's an example of a more obvious triple - they do exist!:

Pairs and triples are, in fact, variations of the same pattern, sometimes called 'disjoint subsets'. We can
express rule 5 in general terms, like this:
A set of N squares in an area forms a group when:
 None of the squares has more than N candidates
 Their candidate lists are all full or sub sets of the same N-candidate list.
Pairs (N=2) with subset members tend not to survive long, because a subset of a two-number list is a
single candidate and thus solvable.
However a single-candidate square can function perfectly well as a member of a pair, or even a triple.
This often has the same effect as solving the single-candidate square then updating its surrounding
candidate lists, but can be quicker.
On the left is an example (and from an 'easy' rated puzzle, too!)
The top three unsolved squares, with candidates of 26, 23 and 2, form a triple (N=3) with a full list of
That lets us remove the 3 and 6 from the bottom square's candidate list, reducing it to just 8 - square
You also sometimes see 'quadruplets' (N=4) - four squares, none with more than four candidates,
and all full or subsets of a four-candidate list.

And, er, that's it....
Using complete, up-to-date candidate lists and the five rules described above, you can solve all but the most
extreme sudoku puzzles (using these alone, it's normally possible to solve the 'fiendish' puzzle in the Times
newspaper on Fridays).
It's just a matter of scanning through the puzzle, looking for the claim, single-square candidate or triple that
will unlock the next stage of the solution.
The harder the puzzle, the harder they tend to be to find, and the fewer 'easy' pairs and single-candidate
squares present themselves. But the hard-to-spot rules are in there somewhere - you've just got to find
The keys to successful solving are:
 Total accuracy - never put a number in a square or candidate list unless you're absolutely sure it's

 Completeness - make sure to crosshatch every missing number in every box, so that you start the
second stage of solving with complete candidate lists.

 Maintenance - whenever you place a number in a square, update all the candidate lists in the same
row, column and box, straight away (this includes numbers placed during crosshatching).

5. Extreme puzzles.
If the rules described above won't solve a puzzle, then there are two possibilities:
 It's a genuinely extreme, but solvable, puzzle, which requires extra rules to solve. In very extreme
cases this may involve an element of guesswork (although many people don't regard such puzzles
as 'proper' sudoku).

 It's not a genuine sudoku puzzle, because it either:

a. Has more than one possible solution, requiring you to make guesses in order to find one of them.
(Note that this isn't the same as a single-solution puzzle that requires guesswork - although it may
seem pretty similar!)

b. Doesn't have a solution at all.
To check whether a puzzle has more than one solution, type or import it into my page (instructions on
page), then press 'Check My Answer'.
Note - if my page gives a puzzle a rating other than 'outlaw', then it's guaranteed to be solvable by logic
alone, with no guesses required.
Assuming the puzzle is genuine, a good place to start is with rules 6 and 7 (yes, there are rules 6 and 7!).
Here they are:
Rule 6 - excluded candidates.
Within an area (row, column or box), when a set of N candidate lists contain all occurrences of a
set of N candidate numbers, other numbers can be removed from those lists.
Note that N is the same both times, so it's three lists containing all occurrences of the same three
candidates, and so on.
Here's a (hypothetical) example:

The group comprises squares 1, 2 and 5. All three include the candidates 4, 5 and 7 (three squares, three
candidates), and those candidates don't appear in any other lists in this row.
This means that between them, these three squares claim the 4, 5 and 7 for this row. It also means they
can't possibly hold any numbers other than 4, 5 or 7.
This lets us remove the other candidate numbers from these squares, like this:

This turns square 6 (18) into the only square with candidate 1, thus solving the square. (Incidentally, there's
another way to solve square 6 in this row - can you spot it?)
This rule works with subsets. For example, if the row looked like this:

Square 2's list doesn't contain a 5, but squares 1,2 and 5 still form a valid group. This is because these
three squares will still, between them, have to hold the 4, 5 and 7 for this row. Groups like this are just a
little bit hard to spot though!
The important thing when looking for this pattern is to make sure none of the candidates appear anywhere
else in the area.

Rule 7 - box line reduction.
(Note - I found this rule at Scanraid'sexcellent solver site).
If all occurrences of a candidate within a row or column fall inside the same
box, then other occurrences of that candidate can be removed from that
In the right-hand column of this example (not from the sample puzzle), all the
occurrences of candidate 1 are in the top box.
This means that the 1 for this box must go in that column, so we can remove 1s
from other candidate lists in that box.
This rule is the reverse of rule 3 (number claiming) - instead of the box claiming the
number within the row/column, the row/column claims the number within the box.

What if I still can't solve it?
If the puzzle still won't budge, and you're confident that it's valid, then you'll need to enter the exotic world
of X Wings, Swordfish and Nishio.
X Wing and Swordfish are patterns that span multiple rows and columns, claiming a candidate number that
can then be eliminated from other lists in the relevant columns/rows. They're (fairly) easy to understand but
very hard to spot.
Nishio is controversial, as some people regard it as guesswork (you try a number and see if it leads to a
dead end) and therefore not proper, logical sudoku solving.
The best explanations I've seen of these patterns are in Simon Armstrong's and Angus Johnson's sudoku
solving guides. They describe all the other techniques too, and Simon's was where I discovered the excluded
candidates rule. Thanks!
One other (rare) possibility is the remote pair, which is surprisingly simple once you get to grips with it. It's
described at
It's worth remembering that spotting these patterns (or using Nishios) is only essential in a small minority of
genuinely extreme puzzles. Most puzzles, even 'really tough' and 'fiendish' ones, can be solved by finding
every last triple, claim and so on.
Yes, but what about guessing?
Guessing is, in fact, one of the quickest and simplest ways to solve a sudoku - if you're a computer. If you're
not, then it's best avoided if at all possible.
Guessing should only be used near the end of a puzzle, when there are 12 or fewer squares left to solve
(and preferably 6 or fewer). Any earlier, and it's more likely that either the puzzle is invalid, or you've
missed something.
If the puzzle is printed and you've got a photocopier, make a copy (including your solution so far) and work
on that. If you're using my page, press 'Save Bookmark' (or export the puzzle as text, copy it to the
clipboard and save it via a text editor).
Now find a square with just two candidates (any more and you're asking for trouble!). Choose one of the
candidates and pencil it into the square.
The first thing to do is check whether your guess has made the puzzle unsolvable. Update all the candidate
lists in the same row, column and box, plus any others that are affected as a result (for example, because a
pair or triple has now emerged). Then check the whole puzzle for the following:
 A row, column or box from which a number is still missing, but which now doesn't have that number
in any of its candidate lists.
 A triple which has now become three identical two-candidate squares.

 A square which is empty, but now has no candidates.
If any of these occur, then your guess was wrong. Restore your puzzle to its previous state (scrap your copy
or press 'restore bookmark'), then try the other candidate as your guess - it should be correct (if it's not,
then you've got bigger problems!).
Unfortunately the fact that a guess isn't immediately proved wrong doesn't necessarily mean that it's right.
You'll have to go on solving, keeping an eye out for the signs that the puzzle has now become unsolvable.
This is why guessing is best kept to the last stages of the puzzle, where the pathway to either a solution or a
dead end is relatively short.
Extra tips - checking that everything's still correct.
Sometimes you might suspect that errors have crept into your candidate lists. One way to check is to re-
crosshatch the box where you think the error is, crosshatching for all its missing numbers.
There is, however, another way to check how many candidates a square has. Just read through the row,
column and box it belongs to, crossing off all the numbers that appear in them (including any claimed
numbers, as long as you're completely sure of them). The numbers that don'tappear are that square's
Here's the whole puzzle, with the row, column and box relevant to the square at row 2, column 1

Check off the numbers that already appear in these areas, and you'll find the list reads 1,2,3,4,6,7,8,9 -
only 5 is missing.
This technique (like crosshatching) will only restore the starting value of a candidates list, not any
reductions you'd found by applying the rules described above.
Errors in candidate lists are relatively easy to deal with. Errors in placed numbers are much more
dangerous, because they can corrupt all the candidate-list calculations around them. Always double (or
triple) check that a number is right before placing it as a square's value. If you want to avoid serious
headaches, never guess!

6. Quick Solving Checklist
Here's a quick checklist of the solving plan for tough puzzles.
1. Try slicing and dicing to solve any easy squares. Don't spend too long on it though.
2. Crosshatch the entire puzzle box-by-box, pencilling-in complete candidate lists.
3. Scan the puzzle for the following rules:
 Single-candidate squares - solve immediately
 Single-square candidates within an area (row/column/box) - solve immediately.
 Claims by a box - remove the claimed candidate from the same row/column in other boxes.
 Pairs within an area - remove the pair squares' candidates from other lists within that area.
 Triples within an area - remove the triple candidates from others lists within that area.
4. Whenever you solve a square, immediately check and update all candidate lists in the same row,
column and box.
5. Whenever you've updated a candidate list, check to see if one of the rules now applies (e.g. you've
created a triple, or a box is now claiming a number).
6. Never guess! (Unless you're absolutely sure you have to!)
Have fun!
Paul Stephens, June 2005.
© Paul Stephens, 2005. All rights reserved.