Focusing on Just One Place
One tendency of beginner Sudoku players is that they often hone in on one specific area of the grid – whether it’s one row, one column, or one square – and spend too much time trying to fill in the blank spaces in that one part of the puzzle.
It’s tempting to try to keep your momentum going by continuing to place numbers in blank spaces within a concentrated area of the grid, but you’re often going to be more successful if you learn how to jump around and focus your attention on different areas of the grid. If you develop the ability to scan around and spot opportunities wherever they might be, the whole grid will open up to you more quickly and you’ll be able to solve the puzzle faster.
Not Learning from Previous Success
Sudoku is a game of momentum. As soon as you have filled in the numbers 1-9 within a certain area of the grid – whether it’s a full row, column or square – you need to be able to use that new knowledge to figure out how to place additional numbers on the grid. For example, if you fill in the last remaining numbers in a horizontal row, you now have new information that can be useful to figure out the other blank spaces within the square or columns that this row intersects.
Every number is connected to many other possible numbers. So whenever you complete a row, column or square, start to look around in the immediate area to figure out which other numbers might be next.
Staring at the Grid Too Long
Sometimes when playing Sudoku, it’s common to get stuck. If you’ve gone too long without successfully placing a number on the grid, it’s understandable if you feel like you need to just sit there and keep focusing and trying to see new opportunities. But this approach is often misguided.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is to get up from the Sudoku puzzle, stretch your legs, clear your head, and go for a walk. Then you can come back to the Sudoku grid with a fresh perspective.
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