Sudoku can be a great casual game we can all use to exercise our brains. However, to a beginner, Sudoku puzzles can seem like a complete mystery.
Previously, we covered how to solve Sudoku puzzles with some straightforward rules. However, there are some more obscure tips and tricks every beginner should know as they make solving Sudoku puzzles much more easy.
We’ve taken the time to compile a list of the most popular tricks for beginning players. It could be argued these are more techniques than they are tricks, but either way, if you’re just getting started, they are critical to Sudoku success. In short, they are the manner in which a skilled Sudoku players survey puzzles and make educated decisions about which candidates to commit to any given cell.
We’ve included examples for each tip so you can see what each situation looks like. However, the only real way to learn these tips is to play many games of Sudoku.
Naked Single Candidates (Naked Singles)
A Naked Single Candidate (aka Naked Single) is the easiest Sudoku trick to learn and apply. It involves a situation wherein a cell has only one candidate and therefore must be that number. The logic here is entirely straightforward. If a cell has only one candidate, that candidate must go in that cell.
The image below shows an example of a Naked Single. Notice the 5 is a candidate in one (and only one) cell in the row. Therefore, it must belong to that cell.
Hidden Single Candidates (Hidden Singles)
A Hidden Single Candidate (aka Hidden Single) is only slightly more difficult to spot than a Naked Single. Again, the logic is pretty straightforward. It doesn’t matter what other candidate are in a cell. If that cell has a candidate that only appears one time in the nonet, it must be committed to said cell.
The image below shows an example of a Hidden Single. Notice the 5 is a candidate in one (and only one) cell in the row. Therefore, it must belong to that cell.
Naked Pair Candidates (Naked Pairs)
A Naked Pair Candidate (aka Naked Pair) isn’t as conclusive as a Naked Single, but it is extremely helpful nonetheless. With a Naked Pair, we can conclude that anywhere else in the row / column containing the pair, the numbers making up the pair can be eliminated.
The image below shows an example of a Naked Pair. Notice the 6 and the 9 candidates. As these are the only candidates for those two cells, they cannot be candidates for other cells in the same row, column, or nonet.
Hidden Pair Candidates (Hidden Pairs)
A Hidden Pair Candidate (aka Hidden Pair) is more tricky to find, but the logic is still the same. The numbers making up the pair can be eliminated from the row, column, or nonet in which the cells containing the pair reside.
The image below shows an example of a Hidden Pair. Notice the 1 and the 8 circled in the image below. As these two candidates exist nowhere else within the given nonet, they constitute a Hidden Pair and can be used to eliminate all other candidates from those two cells (4 and 5).
Naked Triple Candidates (Naked Triples)
A Naked Triple Candidate (aka Naked Triple) is, as the name suggests, a situation where you have three numbers contained in three cells. What makes Naked Triples tricky to spot is the fact that not all three numbers need to be contained in each cell. In fact, this situation is most often served with the three candidates (let’s say they are 1, 2, and 3) that make up the triple being dispersed as follows: 12, 23, 13.
Notice in the image below how the number 2, 3, and 5 are the only candidates in their three respective cells. In such a situation you are free to remove those candidates from cells in shared rows and columns.
Hidden Triple Candidates (Hidden Triples)
A Hidden Triple Candidate (aka Hidden Triple), follows the same definition as the Naked Triple, but is much more difficult to spot as they typically have other candidates that camouflage them.
In the example shown below, you can see the candidates 3, 8, and 9 form the Naked Triple. Notice one cell contains all three numbers while the other two cells only contain two.
When a Naked Triple is spotted, you can eliminate the associated candidates from row, column, or nonet within which the cells that form the triple reside.
The Sudoku tips discussed in this post are in no way summarize the techniques available for solving Sudoku puzzles – especially more advanced puzzles. However, these tips should be enough to get you through most beginner and moderate Sudoku puzzles.
Ready to test your newfound tips? Check out our collection of Sudoku Puzzles.