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How Is Sudoku Played?

Sudoku, a brain-teasing puzzle that has captivated millions worldwide, is more than just a pastime; it’s a test of logic and patience. This guide aims to unravel the mystery of how Sudoku is played, providing a step-by-step approach to mastering this intriguing game.

The Basics of Sudoku

At its core, Sudoku is a puzzle that consists of a 9×9 grid, divided into nine 3×3 subgrids or “regions.” The objective is simple yet challenging: fill every row, column, and region with numbers from 1 to 9, without repeating any numbers within each row, column, or region.

Starting Off

Every Sudoku puzzle begins with some pre-filled cells, serving as clues to help you complete the grid. The number of these clues can vary, significantly affecting the puzzle’s difficulty. The key to starting Sudoku is to look for rows, columns, or regions where the filling options are limited.

The Strategies

1. Scanning

Scanning is the most fundamental technique in Sudoku. It involves looking across rows and columns to identify where a certain number can go. By systematically scanning the grid, you can spot the obvious placements and gradually fill in the blanks.

2. Marking Up

For more complex puzzles, it’s helpful to note down all possible numbers for each empty cell. This process, known as “marking up,” allows for easier identification of which numbers can go where, based on the process of elimination.

3. The One-Place Rule

A cornerstone strategy is the “one-place rule,” which states that if a cell is the only place in a row, column, or region where a particular number can fit, then that number must go there. This rule is especially useful in breaking through when the puzzle starts to feel stagnant.

4. Advanced Techniques

As you become more adept at Sudoku, you’ll encounter puzzles that require more sophisticated strategies, such as “X-Wing” and “Swordfish.” These techniques involve identifying patterns that span multiple rows and columns, allowing for the elimination of certain numbers in specific cells.

Tips for Success

  • Take Your Time: Sudoku is not a race. The joy of the game lies in the mental exercise and the satisfaction of solving.
  • Use Pencil: Making changes is part of the process. Use a pencil to make it easier to correct mistakes or adjust your strategy.
  • Practice: Like any skill, proficiency in Sudoku comes with practice. Start with easier puzzles and gradually challenge yourself with more difficult ones.


Understanding how Sudoku is played is the first step toward mastering this intellectually stimulating puzzle. With patience, practice, and the strategic tips outlined above, you’ll find yourself progressing from a novice to a seasoned Sudoku solver. Embrace the challenge, and let the numbers guide you to victory.

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