I’m also not a number oriented person but shortly after starting to do Sudoku several years ago, I realized that number skill has nothing to do with it at all. So those who are Math averse can do Sudoku as well as anybody else. If thats whats been keeping you away from it, take heart and dive right in. Absolutely zero math skill is required. IAs long as you can count to nine, you can do Sudoku. Thats the only number knowledge necessary. A first grader can do Sudoku with no problem. In that regard, it has far more in common with chess than with solving math problems. (And I have taught a 6 yr. old to play chess and could do the same with Sudoku)

Sudoku is basically a logic puzzle, hence its similarity to chess. Its all logic. The numbers are just a convenient way of finding nine different symbols with which to fill the squares. But the symbols could be anything really without a single number in sight.

You could replace the numbers with letters and it wouldn’t change anything at all. Or you could take pictures of nine different animals or colors or whatever else is a set of distinct entities. Using numbers as the nine symbols is just a whole lot easier to keep track of and easier to spot the ones missing.

As a matter of fact there are alternate versions which use other symbols. There used to be a version on the back page of TVGuide which used nine letters which spelled out related words. But numbers are far more convenient than anything else because its easier to spot which of the nine choices is missing in any given row or column.

Ive tried doing puzzles constructed with pictures but its just more tedious as you have to looking back at the list to figure out the missing entities in each row, line, etc. Much quicker to run through numbers one through nine in your head. No time waiting list to picture.

I hope this info encourages some other Math phobics like myself to give Sudoku a try.

To answer the specific Q, I never time myself so thats NA for me. I use pencil markings both in written form and computer form. I have a favorite App on both my iPhone and another on my Android tablet.

I really don’t do the easiest ones anymore. If It’s not at least above medium level, I just don’t find it challenging enough. In most systems either in books or Apps, I can usually solve without any help up to the next to last difficulty level.

Will Shortz’s books are the ones ill usually buy because he puts in enough challenging ones in to keep it interesting. Find the Dell Magazine ones to not be at the same level and no longer bother with them.

Both of the Apps I use most frequently have an option which teaches you the solution step by step after you’ve gone as far as you can and my skills really improved after using the iPhone one for a few years.

The terms you mentioned have only become familiar to me since using the App on my Android tablet and I’m in the process of learning about them as the program takes me through the solving steps on the higher levels. But I’m still not that familiar with how to apply them independently of the App teaching program.

But thats what I love about Sudoku and has kept me interested for all these years. Unless you’re at such a level of expertise that you can solve the toughest levels with ease, there is always room for improvement and new techniques to learn.