Marking up

Scanning stops when no further numbers can be discovered. From this point, it is necessary to engage in some logical analysis. Many find it useful to guide this analysis by marking candidate numbers in the blank cells. There are two popular notations: subscripts and dots.

In the subscript notation the candidate numbers are written in subscript in the cells. The drawback to this is that original puzzles printed in a newspaper usually are too small to accommodate more than a few digits of normal handwriting. If using the subscript notation, solvers often create a larger copy of the puzzle or employ a sharp or mechanical pencil.

The second notation is a pattern of dots with a dot in the top left hand corner representing a 1 and a dot in the bottom right hand corner representing a 9. The dot notation has the advantage that it can be used on the original puzzle. Dexterity is required in placing the dots, since misplaced dots or inadvertent marks inevitably lead to confusion and may not be easy to erase without adding to the confusion. Using a pencil would then be recommended.

An alternative technique that some find easier is to mark up those numbers that a cell cannot be. Thus a cell will start empty and as more constraints become known it will slowly fill. When only one marking is missing, that has to be the value of the cell.

When using marking, additional analysis can be performed. For example, if a digit appears only one time in the mark-ups written inside one region, then it is clear that the digit should be there, even if the cell has other digits marked as well. When using marking, a couple of similar rules applied in a specified order can solve any Sudoku puzzle, without performing any kind of backtracking.


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