Archive for the ‘Solving Tips and Tricks’ Category:

Ask Dr. Sudoku #6 – How to Build a City

Sixth in a series with puzzle solving tips. This time with advice on both solving and constructing skyscrapers puzzles.

I’ve gotten a lot of requests for tips on how to construct puzzles. I don’t offer many online as I have a monthly column in GAMES magazine that covers this and I don’t like competing with myself for less money. But Mike Selinker and I have improved on that content recently in turning our columns into a book, Puzzlecraft: The Ultimate Guide on How to Construct Every Kind of Puzzle. Please check it out.

This week, I thought I would give some insights into how I made this puzzle. Since I often construct a puzzle by thinking in the same way that I would solve the puzzle, the images below will show you both how I made the grid (and when I needed to use certain clues) and also how solvers likely completed the grid (and when they needed to use certain clues).


Ask Dr. Sudoku #5 – On the Parity of Loops

Fifth in a series with puzzle solving tips. This time, with some advice on global constraints that arise in loop puzzles.

Some of you have asked why I don’t put “general tips” up before I post any puzzles. I find that learning how to solve puzzles is more interesting than reading how to do every single step. I won’t post a list of the top 20 Slitherlink patterns you should memorize, for example, on the rules and info page. Most of you would probably get more enjoyment figuring those out for yourself. But, after you’ve solved a challenge, I do like highlighting some of the things as constructor I tried to include, perhaps as a lesson for the future. This is what I will do this week with parity constraints for the Friday Masyu.


Ask Dr. Sudoku #4 – Spelunking 101

Fourth in a series with puzzle solving tips. This time, basic steps to get through Cave puzzles.

While I’ve already written a good description of solving Cave (Corral) puzzles for the USPC, I’ve never drawn up some of the steps for more visual solvers. This week I hope to fix that by highlighting one of the more fundamental logic steps behind these puzzles.


Ask Dr. Sudoku #3 – Boxed-Into that Star Battle?

Third in a series with puzzle solving tips. This time, a dissection of Saturday’s Star Battle.

Jack Bross left an excellent set of starting tips for Star Battle in Dr. Sudoku Prescribes #14 so if you are struggling with these puzzles, start there. The hard Saturday puzzle required some unusual group recognition which I thought deserved to be highlighted.


Ask Dr. Sudoku #2 – Take Less Time for Nurikabe Time?

Second in a series with puzzle solving tips. This time, Nurikabe solving tips for last Friday’s puzzle.

A few simple Nurikabe rules will get you through most of the puzzles quite fast; but some of these rules are uncommon enough that you mainly learn them from solving rare puzzles like ours.


Ask Dr. Sudoku #1 – That 1/3/13 TomTom?

First in a series with puzzle solving tips. This time, TomTom solving tips for last week’s hard Thursday puzzle.

People always ask me how to solve puzzles and fast. My first answer is practice, practice, practice! My second is notation, notation, notation! After that, I say learn how to construct interesting puzzles and run through more involved logical deductions than most puzzles tend to have. In this column I intend to dissect some of our Grandmaster Puzzles with such interesting properties and at the same time reveal ways I look at puzzle styles that might help out in the future. This week’s topic is the Thursday TomTom, advertised at medium-hard difficulty, that few solvers beat in an expected time. While it shouldn’t need saying, SPOILERS AHEAD!