Solving just the "good parts".

Everything about Sudoku that doesn't fit in one of the other sections

Solving just the "good parts".

Postby tso » Sun Oct 09, 2005 9:42 pm

Once one has solved a few Sudokus (or, depending on the person, a few dozen or a few hundred), filling in naked and hidden singles can become mind-numbing if not using pencil marks and mind-less if you do. Either way, any sense of cleverness in filling them in is gone and the experience no different than solving a word search. Often, the rating of a puzzle is determined solely by how many singles are available at a given time, with no higher tactics required. (For example, Pappocom VERY EASY is all Naked Singles, EASY will have fewer singles at a time, some may be Hidden, MEDIUM usually has both Naked and Hidden but fewer at a time. Even HARD may have nothing but singles (fewer still), though it may have higher tactics as well. Only the Very Hard will always have higher tactics.) Singles-only puzzles are all essentially the same difficulty level when solved with automatic pencil marks. Turbo-Sudoku users will find there is nothing to do other than point and click.)

The situation is worse with harder puzzles, especially if you can't trust the rating. You might circle around and around looking for singles that aren't there -- or look for something more complicated too early because you can't stay awake searching for needles in the haystack


What I've been doing recently is loading puzzles into Sudoku Susser or SadMan Sudoku and letting the software automatically do all the singles in an instant, solving the next step manually, without pencil marks if possible, rinse and repeat. The tactic required will always be unknown -- but it won't be a single. Both apps can be set to use only the logical rules you pick, leaving the rest for you. You don't have to waste two seconds on puzzle that's just a glorified fill in the blanks -- and you'll be awake for the hard parts.

Turbo Sudoku highlights all singles and will automatically fill in all "easy squares" (naked singles) and a simple click fills in each highlighted hidden single one by one. The software is of limited use for very hard puzzles, as you cannot remove individual candidates, let alone do any filtering.

Pressing F11 in Simple Sudoku will make the next logical step and describe what it was at the bottom of the screen -- when you get to something beyond a single, you can UNDO a step -- of course, you will know exactly what tactic to look for -- a plus or minus depending on your mood. You can save them at that point, choosing to include the name of the tactic or not in the name of the saved file to load and solve later when you might be in the mood for a Swordfish, etc.
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Postby PaulIQ164 » Sun Oct 09, 2005 9:50 pm

This all just strikes me as being a little... soulless. Where's the smug feeling of having a nicely finished puzze that you've solved, in its entirety? I imagine I'll have to do a lot more puzzles yet before the benefits outweigh all the romance this takes out of it. (Plus, I like my sudokus on paper.)
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Postby dukuso » Mon Oct 10, 2005 3:19 am

I wished you could do the same with minimizing the
solving time rather than the level of techniques needed.
Then walk through some puzzles the way you did
and maybe finding improvement-ideas for the algo.
Some high-comfort debugging, so to speak.
The program would display the expected solving time
for several placements so we can try to find ideas
which ways are more promising and why.
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Postby emm » Mon Oct 10, 2005 6:09 am

Oh no! It's the end of foreplay with one swipe of the F11! Call me old fashioned but I'm with Paul. Personally I blame the terminology for the current trend in mechanical solving - so wipe all previous crass references to naked doubles and hidden triples. From now on its the dreamy meandering links of x and y across the grid and the bashful blush of coloured candidiates for me. Viva lo romantico!
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Postby CathyW » Mon Oct 10, 2005 8:50 am

I much prefer to do Su Dokus on paper too - ideally one of just enough difficulty to get the brain cells charged up again at the breakfast table. I have to say I don't bother with the 'Simple' one in the Times any more but I still enjoy the Difficult or Fiendish and only dub them into software if I get stuck or make a mistake and can't work out where I went wrong. On paper, one has to be a candidate inputter (as required) as you don't have enough space to put all the candidates in to eliminate. But it's satisfying to see the pairs and triplets reveal themselves and to spot the locked candidates. Occasionally there's even an X-wing. Or to try and complete a puzzle without putting in any candidates - haven't yet managed that on a Fiendish.

I was given the Pappocom software as a Christmas present last year after getting the Su Doku bug from the first day they were published in The Times. I've recently downloaded other software to compare them - personally don't like those that by default put in all the candidates. It's useful to know what the next logical step would be sometimes but I still prefer pen and paper (or pencil and rubber if I resort to T&E though it tends to ruin the paper!)
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Feeling Smug

Postby coloin » Mon Oct 10, 2005 10:45 am

PaulIQ164 wrote:This all just strikes me as being a little... soulless. Where's the smug feeling of having a nicely finished puzze that you've solved, in its entirety? I imagine I'll have to do a lot more puzzles yet before the benefits outweigh all the romance this takes out of it. (Plus, I like my sudokus on paper.)


I dont think I have done an easy or a difficult Sudoku puzzle for a long time. I have got "Sad Man Software" [apt] which does it all quite nicely thankyou.

Yesterday I gave a work colleague a 19 clue puzzle that I generated. The chances of any one else having seen the puzzle are approaching infinitessamal.

"Copyrights ?" I hear Tso ask.
"You cant copyright beautiful stones on a beach." I answer.

If anyone wants to try my puzzle I am happy to "publish" it here - free.

I chose the inital numbers, decided on a final grid and "my" computor program [acknowledgements to Dukuso] with a little persusasion, whittled it down to a minimum, possibly there are less, of 19 clues.

I was pleased, perhaps too easily.
I will be even more pleased if I can get the SF grid with 3 clues less.

Regards
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Postby 9X9 » Mon Oct 10, 2005 11:54 am

I thought "Wham, bam & thank you m'am" was limited to two of life's pleasures, viz the playing style of the majority of the teams in the English soccer Premier League (come on you Chelski boys!) and the missing one in the trilogy "a drink before and a cigarette afterwards"!

Give me the gently soothing marking of a candidate here, another there, the frisson of pleasure as one clue after another seductively reveals itself and the final climactic joy when you and the puzzle are merged as one in the afterglow of success.
Last edited by FAST Enterprise [Crawler] on Mon Oct 10, 2005 3:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby udosuk » Mon Oct 10, 2005 5:34 pm

About simple sudoku, instead of pressing F11 and undo, one could simply press F7, have the program hinting the next move with highlighted cells and a message at the bottom of the window, and then one could try to figure it out, before typing in the numbers manually or pressing F11 to have the move automatically performed.

So, instead of "Wham, bam & thank you m'am" it's like having a coach giving instructions as needed. I use F11 extensively only when I'm trying to manually find the "key cells" of a diabolic/T&E-only puzzle.

Seeing all these creative/poetic replies and the analogies here has me thinking about writing a dirty joke about guys preferring naked stuffs and girls preferring hidden stuffs etc. but I'll refrain from it and focus on more serious projects, such as trying to crack the 27/9 djape killer with "pure" logic...
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