Sudoku Puzzle #66

By: Dan LeKander

Volume 15, Issue 6, June 2020

Hands down this may well be the most challenging Sudoku puzzle yet.  The “impossible” series continues.

Puzzle #66


Once you have  completed the puzzle, to the extent that you have filled-in all obvious  answers and have written all potential options across the top of the  unsolved cells (PUZZLE PREPARATION), Dan recommends the following Steps  to complete the puzzle.

Step 1:  Sudoku Pairs, Triplets and Quads – See September 2015
Step 2:  Turbos & Interaction – See October 2015
Step 3:  Sudoku Gordonian Rectangles and Polygons – See November 2015
Step 4:  XY-Wings & XYZ Wings – See December 2015
Step 5:  X-Wings – See January 2016

Step 8:  AN EXPANSION OF STEP 7Steps  1-5 are relatively common techniques and are explained in the TI LIFE  articles above. Steps 6-8 are covered in detail, in Dan’s book.

Prior to utilizing techniques first complete the 5 Steps of Puzzle Preparation …


First, we will look for obvious pairs.  C3R4 & C3R5 are the only two unsolved cells in box four that can have options 2 & 7, so mark your grid as such, giving you Example #66.1 below:

Example #66.1

Now we will complete all of the first 4 steps in the order we observe them, versus all step 1, then step 2, step 3, and step 4 in order, before we move on to step 5.
We will start with the 1’s and navigate through 2’s to 9’s, then repeat the process until we conclude all step 1-4 clues.

The first thing we observe is that C3R2 (cell in column 3, row 2) =6 (obvious answer).   Then, C3R3=8.

C2R1, C2R2 & C2R3 must have options 359.  There is already a 3 and 9 in row 2; therefore, C2R2=5.  Indicate that C2R1 & 3 must have options 39.

The remaining unsolved cells in column 2 must have options 1, 2, 4 & 7.  There is already a 1, 2 & 7 in row 9; therefore C2R9=4.

The remaining unsolved cells in column 2 must have options 1, 2 & 7.  There is already a 2 and 7 in row 4; therefore, C2R4=1, and the remaining two unsolved cells must have options 27.

Cells C3R7, 8 & 9 must have options 3, 5 & 9.  There is already a 3 and 5 in row 7; therefore, C3R7=9.

In box 9 the only cells that can have a 5 as an option are C7R8 and C9R8; therefore, a 5 cannot exist as an option in C3R8; therefore, C3R9=5.  And it follows that C3R8=3.

In box 8 the only cell that can have a 3 is C5R9.  C5R9=3.
Now the only cell in row 9 that can be a 9 is C4R9.  C4R9=9.

And finally, the only unsolved cell in column 3 that can be a 4 is C3R4.  C3R4=4.
Now your grid should look like Example #66.2 below:

Example #66.2

This concludes Puzzle Preparation except for filling the options for the remaining unsolved cells.  Now your grid should look like Example #66.3 below:

Example #66.3


Starting with Step 1, there are obvious pairs 68 in row 4 and in column 8.

Options 6 and 8 can be eliminated in all other unsolved cells in row 4 and column 8.  This also creates another obvious pair 47 in column 8.  Also, process the obvious pair 18 in row 2.

In box 9 only two unsolved cells have both options 59, a hidden pair.  You may delete all other options for C7R8 and C9R8.

Now your grid should look like Example #66.4 below:

Example #66.4

There are no other Step 1-5 clues.

We will now proceed to Step 6:  Dan’s Yes-No Challenge.  We will start by searching the 1’s to see if there is a potential Step 6 clue, and then navigate through the 2-9’s.

There are 3 circumstances that establish the potential for a Step 6 exercise:

  1. Look for just 2 unsolved cells in a box that contain the same option where these 2 cells are not in the same row or column.
  2. Look for just 2 unsolved cells in a column that contain the same option where these 2 cells are not in the same box.
  3. Look for just 2 unsolved cells in a row that contain the same option where these 2 cells are not in the same box.

In Example #66.5 below we find two unsolved cells in row 2 that are not in the same box having a 1 as an option, C6R2 & C9R2, which become our “driver” cells.  One of these two cells must be a 1.

We start with C6R2 and assume it is the 1 and assign a “Y”.  We then mark, as before, the cells which can and cannot be a 1 with the Y’s and N’s.  We then assume C9R2 is the 1 and assign a “y”.  We then mark the cells which can and cannot be a 1 with the yes’s and no’s.  Where we see a N, n indicates a cell that cannot be a 1 regardless of whether C6R2 or C9R2 is the 1 in row two.   You can remove the 1 as an option in C6R5.

Example #66.5

Now your grid should look like Example #66.6 below:

Example #66.6

That exercise did not benefit us much, and there are no other Step 6 productive clues.

We will move on to Step 7:  Dan’s Close Relationship Challenge.  In this exercise we will select any two-option unsolved cell as the driver cell.  My first choice is C8R3 with the sequence 1,2 as marked below in Example #66.7.  I chose this cell and sequence because the cell has multiple adjacent unsolved cells with 1 as an option and the 2 may track through the puzzle to give us significant information.

Example #66.7

We know that C8R3 must be a 1 or 2.  First, we will assume it is a 1.  If this is true, then C4R3, C5R3, C9R2, & C9R3 cannot be a 1 (hence the notation N1).
Next, we will assume C8R3 is a 2.  We will track the 2 through the grid to see the value of unsolved cells.   If an N1 cell is a value other than 1, then we know that it is not a 1 regardless of whether C8R3 is a 1 or 2.

We track C8R3 being a 2 through the grid above in the lower level of each unsolved cell.  C8R5=1, C7R2=7, C3R1=4, C8R8=7, C2R8=2, C2R7=7, C5R7=2 & C5R2=7.  This is an obvious conflict, as there cannot be two 7’s in row 2.  What does that tell us?  Quite simply, C8R3 cannot be a 2; therefore, C8R3=1.   C9R2=8.  C6R2=1.  C8R5=2.  C3R5=7.  C3R6=2, C5R6=2.   C6R7 & C6R8 now have options 48.  Take that into account in column 6 and box 8.  C1R6 & C6R6 now have options 39.  Take that into account in row 6.   Now your grid should look like Example #66.8 below:

Example #66.8

Note that in box 5 we have created an obvious triplet with 359.  You may eliminate the 5 and 9 as options from C5R5, giving us Example #66.9 below:

Example #66.9

Well, we made a heap of progress, but didn’t solve the puzzle.  Let’s try another Step 7.  Choosing C8R1 with sequence 4,7 we will use the same principles as before.  With our N4’s in place we will now track the 7 through the puzzle above.  What did we learn?  Four cells, C5R1, C7R1, C9R1 & C7R3 are not a 4 regardless if C8R1 is a 4 or 7, so we can eliminate the option 4 from those four cells.  The puzzle does not track any further, so that is all we learned.  (Your tracking the 7 through the grid may have produced a different conflict, depending on the direction you track the 7).  This gives us Example # 66.10 below.

Example #66.10

Looks like we will need to do another Step 7.   We will choose C7R4 with sequence 3,9 per above example.   Track the 9 through the puzzle.   We have a conflict in row 8.  This tells us that C7R4 is not a 9, and therefore, C7R4=3.  This leads us to Example #66.11 below:

Example #66.11

Next, we’ll try C6R1 with a sequence 5,9 per above example.   Tracking the 9 through the puz-zle leads us to another conflict.  You may discover a conflict in another area of the puzzle, based on how you tracked the 9.  In any event, C6R1 is not a 9.  C6R1=5.  It follows that C5R4=5, C1R4=9, C1R6=3, C1R5=5, C6R6=9, C6R5=3, giving us Example #66.12 below:

Example #66.12

Looks like we have to try another Step 7.   We’ll pick C7R1 with sequence 6,7.  As the 7 tracks through the grid, we have yet another conflict, indicating that C7R1 is not a 7; therefore, C7R1=6.  It follows that C9R1=3, C2R1=9, C2R3=3, C7R6=4, C5R3=9, C5R5=4 & C5R1=8, giving us Example #66.13 below:

Example #66.13

Hopefully this next Step 7 will be our last for this puzzle.   We will select C5R2 as the driver cell with sequence 2,7.  The 7 tracks totally through the puzzle without a duplicate number in each row, column and box.  We have finally solved the puzzle!

This puzzle is a great example of one which requires numerous Step 7 exercises to solve the puzzle!

May the gentle winds of Sudoku be at your back.

Bu Dan LeKander, Wellesley Island

Editor's Note:

It was back in January 2016, when we published a final article in Dan's Series of Steps to learn the logic of Sudoku – that he asked if we would like a puzzle to solve every month … this editor said an enthusiastic… Yes, please! Now we are several years later and on Puzzle #66.

If you have not already done so, I suggest you purchase Dan’s book: “3 Advanced Sudoku Techniques, That Will Change Your Game Forever!” Purchase of a book includes a 50-page blank grid pad, 33 black and two green tokens, to assist with Step 6.…

I also encourage you to write to Dan and tell him how his system is helpful!

The book is available online at

Most importantly, I ask that you leave comments on any part of his series and throughout the year.

We are already into the month of June 2020 and I, once again, want to thank Dan…and his proofreader… Peggy! I am  hoping you will enjoy our monthly Sudoku and, at the same time, join me in saluting Dan - Bravo to you both... Mainly because this editor takes Dan's material and turns tables into photographs and then inserts them in the proper places... That is NOTHING compared to the time and effort Dan puts into designing, computer drawing and then explaining each example to us.  We appreciate it!

Be sure to read the review of Dan's book by Jesse Kahn published in Jun 2015.

Here are links to all past Sudoku Puzzle Challenge beginning: February 2016, March 2016, April 2016, May 2016, June 2016, July 2016, August 2016, September 2016, October 2016, November 2016, December 2016, January 2017, February 2017, March 2017, April 2017, May 2017, June 2017, July 2017, August 2017, September 2017, October 2017, November 2017, December 2017, January 2018, February 2018, March 2018, April 2018, May 2018, June 2018, July 2018, August 2018, September 2018, October 2018, November 2018, December 2018, January 2019, February 2019, March 2019, April 2019, May 2019, June 2019, July 2019, August 2019, September 2019, October 2019, November 2019, December 2019, January 2020, February 2020, April 2020, and May 2020.

(Susie says.. this month is tough.  Let me know when you solve it.  OK)

Posted in: Volume 15, Issue 6, June 2020, Sports

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