SUDOKU: A number placement puzzle… 1-9 must be placed so that each row/column and square only contains ONE instance of each number.



Patterns,  Hooks, the Enabler and hopefully a useful gimmick are the basics.

Rule of two:  there can be no more than 2 pairs per line/column/or box.  Furthermore;  Two’s company,  three is a crowd - yes, even in Sudoku), and it TAKES TWO TO TANGO. 

Always proceed along the most tenable, obvious path and with the utmost care.

Measure twice; cut once; multi- check questionable moves.

The importance of “working outside the box” is paramount.

One match per move is enough; and  there is ALWAYS a possible move.  Every kill opens up a door of opportunity

Missing a trick could prove fatal.

 Don’t forget to pick up the DEAD BODIES,  the detritus, the no longer viable, the remaining pieces. ie don’t forget to finish the move.

Don’t anticipate,  jump the gun, or get swept away by momentum.

If you’re going to be brave use great caution and not a pen.

If you make a mistake – you’ve always got a “post-it” close at hand;  works perfectly.


PATTERNS- MAJOR****-----these are the most important singular characteristic of Sudoku, in my humble opinion.   The game is constructed  of and is essentially a collection of patterns.  I’d even go so far as to say it was the THEME or TUNE of the whole OPUS….YES,.now THAT’S fanciful.

Good patterns appear to be favored by the computer programmer so, by incorporating them in to your mental repository almost any puzzle becomes a breeze and strengthens your negotiating position immensely.

 Unfortunately describing particular patterns is formidable: I have envisioned diagramming a few of them – maybe to use as an illustration.  

SYMMETRY – a primary  principle)–.There is a distinct  element of the symmetrical present in this game. I can not emphasize the importance of its presence enough.   It serves  as a point of reference for double checking, for verifying, and keeping order, thus encouraging  accuracy.

ANOMALIESare a beneficial biproduct of those  PATTERNS.  The  presence of an anomaly usually can be considered a heads up, an alert to point out  a beneficial move;   It could also mean there’s a mistake somewhere.

MAJOR PLAYER.  This is my very own addition to the rules proscribed for the game of Sudoku and  my most original and functional invention;  it  may be exclusive as well.  I admit that even to me it seems to introduce a distinctly frivolous tone to my message,  but I think of it as being very serious indeed. 

Almost always in a game there will be a single number missing on the original grid:  this number automatically assumes the position of major impediment to the solution.  Absence of that number creates  a major uncertainty, an automatic vacuum,  and leaves all the others in limbo.

 After you have determined which number this is, the next step should be to locate its presence throughout the grid thus making any associated boxes complete in a sense, and gives you a strong step up to the solution. 

  I worked really hard to come up with a proper term I could use to designate this unique piece before its true significance came to me:  it’s the major KEY to the puzzle. 

As important as this position is it needs to be recognized and to achieve this it must have  an official name, a title,  an identifier of some sort.   That is needed  in order to even think about it.  

 IN SEARCH OF A WORD:  A descriptive title.

A description of its behavior in the action is a good place to start this search.:

It most frequently is generally absent  in the preliminary cast of characters.  A  most interesting thing about this so called STAR is that it is almost invisible;  not exactly a desirable factor for the primary player. This situation happily is reminiscent  of the wildly popular children’s book series “Where’s Waldo” where the major theme and  objective is to locate  the main character Waldo who is basically almost invisible.

It’s also often the last number to remain standing  therefore I started by calling it  THE WINNER.  But that only recognizes  a small part of its role.  How about “MOST VALUABLE PLAYER or MVP (must have been football season),  or perhaps  PROTAGONIST, LYNCHEPIN, or STAR.   I’m really not happy with any of those.   I really dislike FOE or ENEMY because basically they can be perceived  as being just the opposite of what I have in mind.   There is always MISSING PERSON or perhaps even PERSON OF INTEREST (truly dramatic but awkwardly wordy).

 I finally gave up and checked the Thesaurus which came up with:   PRINCIPAL, LEAD CHARACTER (too wordy), LEADER…hmmm: not bad choices…but definitely not exciting enough. Eventually I may adopt something.

Another difficulty  is the presence of A DUAL PERSONALITY; it can be either advantageous or undesirable therefore  full of surprises and very mysterious – delightful qualities indeed.  

This quest had gone on for quite some time when one morning,  as I was happily involved in musing or daydreaming  as I worked the puzzle,  from OUT OF THE BLUE shot the word “CONFEDERATE”.  And SHAZAM  I knew I HAD IT!  I’m especially of a energetic nature in the morning so it  could possibly have come from   almost anything- power of suggestion, out of desperation, whatever -but it did look good.

I started to contemplate the implications present  in that word; how very timely it is.     There is a current trend to negate history involving the removal of Civil War statues,  renaming schools, etc.. and it’s one I feel very strongly about.  Amazingly enough  I  actually didn’t know what the formal  definition was – and I should.  I QUICK went and looked it up in the  dictionary and found the word itself meant:  “AN ASSIST OUT OF A TIGHT SPOT”. That couldn’t be better for my purpose; In moments of gridlock, Zorro to the Rescue, etc.    But::::::: ACTUALLY HOW DOES THAT EQUATE with the Confederate Nations, the Confederacy? Good questions all.  Of course there’s a whole lot more to it than that and I plan on digging some more,  but in the meantime I need to finish this subject.

This incident  is a very good example of the benefits offered by Sudoku; it sent me to the dictionary.  It is an excellent VOCABULARY BUILDER and it also brought to my attention a subject in desperate need of reencountering. 

And that gave me another thought:   it  ENABLES you to think.  Here is another very plausible name. and here it shows that its personality can REALLY BE QUITE PROFOUND.

We now have THE CONFEDERATE in its role as AN ENABLER- in fact these may often become two numbers working together- a very useful arrangement.   I’m quite prepared to accept them; as being  quite  satisfactory and they surely cover all bases.

Now that we’ve got the identity I I should describe how  I use this most useful tool:  I run the number when identified  in as many directions as is plausible; that action will usually  produce at least the one HOOK sufficient to  move the action forward.

A few extra useful permutations to keep in mind: Discerning the primary player can be a real bear,  the presence of two is twice as nice – one supports the other.  More than two and you are certainly in for trouble but even worse  is total absence.   

LOGIC…  last but certainly not least, I must mention the existence of LOGIC. 

I try very hard not to indulge  but……as hard as it is, sometimes I can’t resist what I think is an obvious setup, a number arrangement which just screams “yellow brick road” – real easy path to solution.  But watch out; once you are settled into such a carefully worked out plan you are quite sufficiently, almost certainly,  stuck if you certainly,  stuck if you were wrong;  it simply won’t go away and it’s very difficult to DISLODGE it.

 A note in a Sudoku website expresses the opinion that  the solution is ALWAYS LOGICAL,  BUT all things logical not.  It also happily announces that it is possible for there to be more than one solution – big help that is, and I’d like it see that proved.

There’s a degree of worthiness in the effort I suppose,  being  useful for the purpose of learning and learning is always good.  You can also argue;  nothing ventured, nothing gained,  and nothing is lost either as when I launch into being logical I switch to pencil.

If, on the off chance, you really are interested in coming to serious grips with this game and for in-depth user- friendly instruction, I highly recommend  THE SUDOKU PROFESSOR, at  I found this website in my search for terminology, clarification, edification etc about the game and this proved to answer my needs neatly and expeditiously.  He presents a very good free visual tutorial involving  the basics;  if you want a more in-depth encounter and are willing to pay a modest fee, this is  followed by a series of l more advanced lessons. He will teach you procedures you can use to solve a puzzle consisting solely of one number - Well, maybe not quite but almost.  I found all of this advanced technology was too much work and  it  took the fun out of it so I quit.


Now that the basics of the game have been tended to, it’s time to introduce my personal interpretation.  

 I chose as my title an analogy which crops up frequently in my writing; I find it rather fitting for this long-term commitment.



SAMURAI SUDOKU from WashingtonPost