Are there any common denominators/common characteristics of Sudoku champions, and if so, what can we learn from these Sudoku champions that can help the rest of us get better at solving Sudoku puzzles?
While it’s hard to generalize based on a small group of Sudoku champions, when you look at the lives, careers and interests of some of the world’s best Sudoku players, a few interesting patterns tend to emerge.
Here are a few examples of common characteristics of Sudoku champions – and their lessons for the rest of us.
Study Math and Science
In general, many Sudoku champions have studied math or science at an advanced level. For example, Jana Tylova was a 31-year-old Czech woman who won the inaugural Sudoku World Championships in 2006. She works as an accountant for a construction company – so perhaps her skill with numbers translates to being better at solving Sudoku puzzles.
Another Sudoku champion who has studied science is Thomas Snyder, who won the U.S. Sudoku championships multiple times and won the World Sudoku Championship in Prague in 2007 at the age of 27. Thomas Snyder earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Harvard University, and works in a bioengineering research lab at Stanford University.
Another two-time Sudoku world champion, Jan Mrozowski, was a 23-year-old civil engineering student from Poland.
Is there some connection between being good at math and science and being good at Sudoku? Possibly. After all, Sudoku requires logical “left brain” thinking – it requires an orderly mind, and the ability to make sense of a mishmash of numbers. People who love to work with numbers, and who have a rigorous mental process to analyze problems under constraints, are more likely to be good at Sudoku – and many of these mental skills have comparable applications in the world of science and math.
Sudoku Champions are Born… and Taught
If you want to be a Sudoku champion, do you need to have some kind of superhuman talent that people can only be “born with,” or can you become a Sudoku champion by practicing hard and playing Sudoku everyday? The answer is probably a mix of both.
Thomas Snyder said in an interview a few years ago that he feels like there’s something “hardwired” in his brain that helps him process information and solve puzzles faster than most people – but he also says that he practices solving logic puzzles every day just to help get his brain going in the morning and to keep his skills sharp.
So while it’s probably true that the very best Sudoku players in the world have some kind of built-in biological advantage that makes them great at what they do, there is also the need to constantly practice. After she won the first ever Sudoku World Championship, Jana Tylova offered advice simply to “Practice every day and to follow websites where there are a lot of games available.”
We might not all be able to become Sudoku world champions, but any of us can get better at solving Sudoku puzzles by following the inspiration of Sudoku masters like Thomas Snyder and the other great Sudoku champions that make Sudoku one of the most popular logic puzzles on the planet.