Sudoku is one of those games which has more or less completely seeped into general daily life. Even if you don’t play the game yourself, you are likely familiar with it through its inclusion in newspapers and other daily publications both in print and online. It’s a great game that is really fun in many ways—there’s certainly a reason it’s so popular! 

Today, we’re going to look at everything you need to know to play Sudoku, so let’s dive into it.

What Is Sudoku?

Sudoku is a logic-based number placement puzzle, with the aim being to fill a grid, typically 9x9 squares, with digits until every row, column, and 3x3 grid that comprise the overall 9x9 are filled with the numbers one to nine. The game will start partially completed, and it can be made more or less difficult through the amount of numbers you start with, as well as other aspects. With Sudoku online today, countless variations of the original game have cropped up over the years. 

So, Sudoku is a combinatorial number puzzle, then. Games like it originated in France, where in the 19th century numbers puzzles were first added to newspapers that approached modern Sudoku. Modern Sudoku, as we know it, was most likely designed in America by an architect and puzzle designer named Howard Garns, and first published in 1939, though it’s unclear if he was familiar with the puzzles of French newspapers that were so similar to his creation. 

The Sudoku puzzle was popularized in Japan in the 1980s, which is where it ultimately got the name Sudoku. The game would spread outside of Japan after being promoted, with a computer program that would rapidly produce new puzzles, to newspapers in Britain and subsequently the rest of Europe. 

So, with the history covered, let’s look at how to actually play the game.

How to Play Sudoku 

Firstly, today is easier than ever to find free online Sudoku, as there are lots of websites offering unique new Sudoku puzzles. Depending on the chosen difficulty, the grid will start filled with a certain number of positions already filled. Your goal is to then insert the numbers one to nine in every row, grid, and column, without repeating numbers in any of these. You’ll want to start with the easy solutions: there will always be a few numbers at the start that will be easy to figure out, so start with them. 

Keeping notes is always a good strategy for Sudoku. You might have an idea of what goes in a given square but can’t be sure until you’ve got more numbers filled in, so note things down as you go. 

As you carry on, more and more numbers should become clearer in terms of the positions they need to be in. As you complete more sections, other solutions to other parts of the puzzle will reveal themselves. The Sudoku game is one of patience, and you should always be looking for those more obvious numbers as they come up. It’s important that you don’t get too focused on one part of the grid. It’s easy to do, but you can find yourself stuck because you can’t pull your attention away from one grid or row. 

Sudoku is a fun and stimulating puzzle game, then—so are there real benefits to playing? 

Benefits of Sudoku 

There are lots of great benefits to playing Sudoku: 

  1. Improves your memory, concentration, and analytical thinking. Sudoku is a logic puzzle more than a numbers puzzle—there’s no real arithmetic involved. This is great for your overall cognition and will help you think and concentrate more clearly in your day-to-day life. 
  2. Regular play has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress. Quiet, contemplative, patient games like Sudoku are really great ways to unwind and relax, and regularly playing has a direct correlation with reduced levels of stress. 
  3. Aids in your overall analysis of the part and the whole. As mentioned, it’s easy to get stuck focusing on one part of the puzzle with Sudoku when you’re first playing. As you go along, though, you’ll find that you get a much better picture of the individual parts as they relate to the whole; this, again, is a great boost to your analytical thinking and one of the greatest benefits of Sudoku.