Sudoku puzzles are an example of a superficially simple phenomenon but are actually surprisingly complicated. Sudoku is not just another game. It’s a way of thinking about numbers and place.

Actually, the Japanese word for Sudoku translates as “hundred thousand things.” You can think of it as a hundred thousand-item jigsaw puzzle, where each item has two digits so that you can fill in all the blank squares. You begin by choosing a number range, say 1–9, and then choose nine numbers from 1 to 9, none of them alike. You then repeat this process with nine more numbers. The aim is to make your puzzle so that every row, every column, and every 3×3 sub grid in your grid has one or more items that add up to your chosen number range.

If you do that, your puzzle is complete; if you don’t, you need to start over again. If you do this a lot of times, after about twenty-five games or so, you should have at least one complete puzzle. If you’ve done it right, it will look like an enormous jigsaw puzzle made up of hundreds of thousands of tiny pieces.

What it Takes to Play Free Sudoku Puzzles

The first step is to realize Sudoku free puzzles are not a test of intelligence. They are not even a test of skill. It’s possible to solve them without any real mental challenge, just by looking at them, and there’s no way to win every time. The puzzle is merely an exercise in logic. But ironically, because they’re so easy, people who don’t play Sudoku often criticize players who make mistakes as being too dumb to understand the puzzles.

Anyway, Sudoku puzzles are actually like speed-reading. They are useful for teaching the ability to scan text at high speed automatically. But that doesn’t mean getting good at Sudoku will improve your reading skills.

Sudoku puzzles are popular with people with good reasoning skills but no mathematical talent. They are an easy way to improve those skills because the puzzles themselves require a lot of logical thinking.

What You Need to Solve Sudoku Puzzles

Solving Sudoku is learning how to distinguish good logic from bad logic, and it is a skill that becomes increasingly useful as you learn more about the world at large.

Sudoku puzzles are a kind of symmetry problem. You can find them in books for young people, and the instructions start out “Let the numbers be ___.” So, you might think Sudoku is just for young gamers. And indeed, some people do play Sudoku for fun, especially if it helps them exercise their thinking skills. But there is more to Sudoku than that. 

Sudoku puzzles are not just games for young gamers. Some adults like them too. Essentially, Sudoku puzzles can help keep your mind positively engaged. They train your thinking skills in some basic skills. You need to look at a simple grid of numbers and cells and know how to fill in the gaps.