Archive for the ‘Solving Tips and Tricks’ Category:

More Solving Tips and Tricks

The “Ask Dr. Sudoku” series is on indefinite hiatus. If you want to know how to solve our puzzles better, including tips on notations and good heuristics, we encourage you to become a supporter of the website. Since February 2014, we’ve been posting a written/video walkthrough of our puzzles to our high-level supporters.

Melon’s Tapa 5 Walkthrough

This week’s Friday Tapa was a tough one, with many questions both from readers and test-solvers on what the intended logic is. This post will answer that question completely.


Ask Dr. Sudoku #14 – Thinking in Groups

I knew when constructing puzzles for this past week that it would end up pretty tough across the board. I had certain themes in mind and when constructing for a particular goal you cannot always tailor the timing precisely. I believe — except for Monday’s puzzle — everything was rated for at least 5 minutes. It is probably asking too much to expect a full week to “feel perfectly balanced” when there are six different styles being presented.

So, while it may be impossible to avoid “hard” weeks in the future, this did seem an apt time to return to discussing some of these puzzles. I got a specific request to describe Saturday’s Battleships in logical terms, so that is what I’ll cover today.


Ask Dr. Sudoku #13 – Puzzle Hunting

A few weeks ago Giovanni P. asked what our visitors might think about “other puzzles.” His question was specific to word puzzles, but this week I put the question to the test when I posted our first “Puzzle Hunt” puzzle. The Monday puzzle was not announced as such. Instead it was meant to just look like an April Fools joke. But it already has the most FAVEs of any puzzle on the site. So what are “Puzzle Hunt” puzzles and what was really going on with that word search?


Ask Dr. Sudoku #12 – The line must be drawn here

To [guess], or not to [guess], that is the question:

Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer

The [Twists] and [the Turns] of outrageous [Logic],

Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,

And by [guessing] end them….

We’ve had a fair number of lively discussions in the last week, and if nothing else has come out of them at least the comment threading on the site is now noticeably improved. One question that has come up a lot has been around which puzzles need guesswork, here and elsewhere. A lot of solvers, for the sake of speed perhaps, will say they “had to bifurcate” during a solve here, but that has never been required for our puzzles. This week I wanted to (briefly) state my opinions on what I consider to be “logical” puzzles, since I mention frequently that all puzzles will have a single solution that can be reached by logic alone and it is worth contributors and solvers knowing what I mean by that.


Ask Dr. Sudoku #11 – About that hidden contest…?

For the last couple weeks Sunday has been a day where we’ve seen a huge increase in page views, strictly because a new hint was released for the site’s first Hidden Contest. This led a few dedicated solvers to scour the site again looking for something out of place.

This Hidden Contest was an experiment in having “other” puzzle styles here; I’m a huge fan of puzzle hunts and secret codes and the like and was curious to see if my more observant solvers would catch onto something odd.


Ask Dr. Sudoku #10 – The Known Unknowns

Tenth in a series with puzzle solving tips. This time with advice on Fillomino puzzles and hidden polyominoes.

Fillomino is one of my favorite puzzle styles, in part because it is one of the few where I think the author’s touch can come across in the puzzle in so many different ways. In the set of Fillominoes I’ve gotten from different authors, I think I can pick out some authors from others just based on how much they use visual patterns, one-option polyomino growth, crowding, counting, how well they conceal hidden pentominoes, and so on. While having a variety of puzzle constructors will improve most sections of The Art of Puzzles, Fillomino is hands-down in my mind the one where having many authors will have the greatest effect on quality.

I wanted to talk about one of my own constructing trends which I learned this week after writing 7 Fillomino puzzles (only a few that went online; some are going to GAMES and others are being saved). That is what I’ll call the “known unknowns”. The picture you should have in your head when considering a choice based on the hidden polyominoes you’ll leave behind. The contradictions in the “known unknowns” are the basis for the Saturday Fillomino.


Ask Dr. Sudoku #9 – No Time to Close the Loop

Ninth in a series with puzzle solving tips. This time with advice on Slitherlink and loop puzzles in general.

Even if you had a good time on the TIME Slitherlink, the following walk-through might offer you some new tips — besides just memorizing Slitherlink patterns — to get better at loop puzzles.


Ask Dr. Sudoku #8 – No Subbing

Eighth in a series with puzzle solving tips. This time with advice on battleships puzzles, particularly missing clues and subs.

Solving Battleships is an odd experience for me. I think I want to enjoy them, but I’m not sure I ever really do very much. See, they were the first logic puzzle type I ever grew to love. But that means they also became the first logic puzzle type to bore me, and I’ve now been in the “bore me” stage for over half my life. And there is so much sameness in the Battleships you can find in the world right now. ~99% are randomly generated, ~99% give all of the outside clues which limits the challenge, ~99% solve by placing the largest ship(s) in the only possible spots and being good at bookkeeping of seas afterwards. As a member of the puzzling 1%, I am looking for something more. This week I tried to vary the formula a bit to make some more interesting — or at least different — puzzles.


Ask Dr. Sudoku #7 – Twisted Geometries

There is no Doctor’s Note this week.

Seventh in a series with puzzle solving tips. This time with advice on exploring unusual puzzle geometries such as the Saturday Sudo-Kurve.

When you’ve solved enough 3d Sudoku or Sudo-Kurve puzzles or other unique geometries (as in Sudoku Masterpieces), you’ve probably recognized there are sometimes cells or sets of cells that are much more constrained than others in the construction. This Sudo-Kurve grid, which I used in Sudoku Cup 3 and only one other time since, has some secrets to observe before getting too deep into any puzzle.