Sudoku – How This Numbers Game Benefits Our Brain
Sudoku is one of the most popular traditional numbers game that is strictly a logic-based combinatorial puzzle. It can become addictive in no time, but many players who are die-hard fans of the puzzle do not know how beneficial the number-placement game it is to our brain.
The word Sudoku means 'number allotted' or 'the number that is single' in Japanese and was first featured in a magazine called Nikoli in Japan of the late 80s. It had previously been published in the late 70s by the New York puzzle magazine 'Math Problems and Logic Puzzles' published by Dell, under the title "Number Place".
It may appear as a deceptive game, but it is easy to learn albeit very challenging. Of all the popular numbers games, it is quite 'brain-bending' and requires some logic but not any special math skills or high-level calculations abilities. All a player needs are concentration skills because it has a unique solution that can be reached logically without trying to guess.
There are 3 square rows x 3 square columns in the grid and each grid is subdivided into the same three rows and three columns called regions or sub-grids. There are a few pre-placed numbers which cannot be changed.
The player’s objective is to fill nine squares of rows and columns (grid) with numbers, so that each column, row, and the nine sub-grids that compose the main grid contains all the digits (1 to 9) and the player's goal is to fill in the empty squares (cells) until all are filled with numbers can appear in any order. Diagonals are not allowed.
How to Play Sudoku
To play Sudoku, the player must input numbers from 1 to 9 into the blank spaces also called grid cells. Every row and column must contain one of each number of 1 to 9, so that these numbers, (1 to 9) occur exactly once in each row, column, and 3 by 3 box. Remember that there are nine 3 by 3 boxes with each of the boxes split into nine squares.
Broken down simply:
- Fill the other empty cells with numbers between 1 and 9 (only one digit in each 3 x 3 cell)
- A number can appear only once on each row
- A number can appear only once on each column
- A number can appear only once on each region
A summary of these guidelines would be that a number should appear only once in each row, column and a 3 x 3 cell.
The game is solved by logic and reasoning alone as there are no requirements to be either symmetrical or asymmetrical, and it changes as you solve, this renders any symmetrical layout obsolete, unlike what you find in crossword puzzles.
Sudoku Tips for Beginners
How Sudoku Benefits Our Brain
Sudoku is a “true brain game”. Mental stimulation over difficult puzzles like Sudoku can help ward off the decline in the brain’s function, and because it involves problem-solving and spotting patterns, playing the game helps stimulate a player’s cerebral abilities, and gives the brain the satisfaction of completing a hard game. It is also fun to play.
The University of Edinburgh in Scotland did research to study the benefits of games like Sudoku and found that it can “trigger survival genes in the brain that normally lay dormant”. According to them, these survival genes “make brain cells live longer and resist disease, strokes, and the effects of hard drugs.”
The game is beneficial to all age groups, from the young to the elderly. Identifying symmetrical patterns draws on the addictive nature of the brain and numbers puzzle games like Sudoku offer a challenge to the brain and encourages a logical thought process using our short-term memory.
It is believed that Sudoku helps prevent the advance of Alzheimer's disease in the elderly, so, playing the game consistently as we age offers some comfort because of its therapeutic effects on the thought patterns that evolve while playing the game.
Sudoku puzzle game also:
- Increases concentration power
- Allows a player to think strategically
- Stimulates the mind
- Gives you a sense of achievement
- Helps you to learn how to solve problems imaginatively
- Helps delay dementia
- Protects the brain from decline
- Helps a player increase his or her sense of time
- Improves memory
- Keeps your mind sharp and alert
- Help to generate new brain cells
- Offers a form of exercise for the brain
Sudoku Enhances Problem-Solving Skills in Children
The game also enhances problem solving skills in children so the advantages of teaching Sudoku to children are many. A child will use logical reasoning appropriate to his or her age level in solving the puzzle.
For young children, the game for their age bracket comes with more clues which makes it easier to play. And as they get more skilful, they can play the numbers puzzles game constructed with varying degrees of difficulty. This ensure that a child will develop at his or her own pace.
This is how logic-based combinatorial puzzles are beneficial to the brain development of young children and why countries like Britain recommend Sudoku be played in the classrooms as brain exercises.
The History Behind Sudoku Puzzles
Variations of Sudoku Game
There are many other variations of Sudoku apart from the popular ones we are all familiar with which is the standard 3 x3 puzzle block mentioned above. Some other variations of the game are:
Mini Sudoku – This one is like the standard Sudoku, but the difference is that the mini Sudoku only uses the numbers 1 to 6. A similar puzzle for younger children is called the Junior Sudoku.
Samurai Sudoku – This genre of the puzzle is a 5 grid 3 x 3 variant. Within each of the five 9×9 Sudoku, every row, column and 3 x 3 box contains the digits 1 to 9. You need to solve the puzzle as a whole block. You cannot solve each individually.
Super Sudoku - 4 x 4 block variant where you must complete the grid so that every row, column and every four-by-four box contains all the digits 0 to 9 and the letters A to F. Solving this puzzle is by logic and reasoning only.
Alphabetical Sudoku – This is an alphabetical variation of Sudoku that you can play like Wordoku. There is no functional difference in the puzzle unless the letters spell something. It includes a main word that runs along a main diagonal, row, or column. Once the puzzle is solved, determining the word in advance can be viewed as a solving aid. Wordoku may contain other words apart from the main word.
Godoku – This type has 3 x 3 blocks with hidden words. You complete the grid so that every row, column and every 3 x 3 box contain the nine different letters. Solving this puzzle is only by logic and reasoning alone.
Killer Sudoku - 3 x 3 blocks with sums as clues. To play, you complete the grid so that every row, column and every 3 x 3 box contains the digits 1 to 9. Each "cage", a region outlined by a dashed line, has a cage total of all numbers within that cage. Numbers may not be repeated within a cage.
Finally, playing numbers games like Sudoku will boost your mental skills which translate to helping you get smarter. And the more you play, the smarter you’ll become. Try to cultivate the habit of playing as constantly as you can; like one game a day will suffice. Practice solving these logical puzzles for a sharper brain. A word is enough for the wise.
DO YOU FEEL PLAYING SUDOKU NUMBER GAMES CAN SHARPEN MENTAL SKILLS?
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