Sudoku Puzzle #68

By: Dan LeKander

Volume 15, Issue 8, August 2020

August is in full swing.  What a great time to tackle another “impossible” puzzle.  

Print out the grid and give it a go, or follow my lead.

Puzzle #68


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 …


We will complete all of the first 4 steps in the order we observe them.

We will start with the 1’s and navigate through 2’s to 9’s, then repeat the process until we conclude all Puzzle Preparation Step 1-4 clues.

The first thing we observe is that C1R3 (cell in column 1, row 3) =1 (obvious answer).   Then, C3R1=5.  C6R4=9.  C8R8=9.

In box 9 a 1 can only exist in C9R7 or C9R8; therefore, a 1 cannot exist as an option in C9R2, C9R4 or C9R6.  Indicate this by placing a small 1 in the bottom of those cells.

In box 5 a 1 can only exist in C4R5 or C6R5; therefore, a 1 cannot exist as an option in C3R5, C7R5 or C8R5.

In box 9 a 2 can only exist in C7R9 or C8R9; therefore, a 2 cannot exist as an option in C1R9, C3R9, C4R9 or C6R9.

In box 5 a 5 can only exist in C5R4 or C5R6; therefore, a 5 cannot exist as an option in C5R2, C5R3, C5R7 or C5R8.

Now your grid should look like Example #68.1 below:

Example #68.1

This concludes Puzzle Preparation steps 1-4.  We will now fill in the options for the unsolved cells.  Remember, there is an obvious triplet in C2R1, C2R2 & C2R3.  Now your grid should look like Example #68.2 below:

Example #68.2


There are no Step 1-5 clues, so we will now proceed to Step 6:  Dan’s Yes-No Challenge.
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.

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.

Example #68.3

In the example above we find two unsolved cells in column 2 that have the option 3 (C2R6 & C2R7), and are not in the same box, thereby qualifying for a Step 6 exercise.  We will call these two cells our “driver cells” which drive the exercise.  One of these two cells must be a 3.  We will first start with C2R6 and assume it is the 3, to see what effect it has on the other unsolved cells with option 3.  Then, we will assume C2R7 is the 3, to see what effect it has on the other unsolved cells.  We will annotate C2R6 with a “Y” for yes, and annotate C2R7 with “y” to indicate yes.

If C2R6 is the 3, then C8R6 & C9R6 are not a 3, indicated by N.  Then C8R5=Y, C8R1=N & C8R3=N.  C9R1=Y.  C6R1=N.

If C2R7 is the 3, then C5R7=n & C6R7=n.  C6R9=y.  C6R1 & C6R3=n,  C5R3=y.

C8R3=n.You can see that two cells, C6R1 & C8R3 have N,n designations.  This means regardless of which of the two driver cells in column 2 is a 3, these cells cannot be a 3.  You may eliminate the 3 as an option from these two unsolved cells, giving us Example #68.4 below:

Example #68.4

In Example #68.4 above we also find two cells in column 2 that contain the option 8, and are not in the same box.   These will be our driver cells for this exercise.  Assign the values to the other unsolved cells that have the 8 as an option.  Again we generate two cells with the N,n designation.   You may remove the option 8 from those two cells, giving us Example #68.5 below:

Example #68.5

There are no other Step 6 exercises with productive results, so we will move on to Step 7.

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 C2R6 with the sequence 3,4 as marked above in Example #68.5.  I chose this cell and sequence because the cell has adjacent unsolved cells with 3 as an option and the 4 may track through the puzzle to give us significant information.  

We know that C2R6 must be a 3 or 4.  First, we will assume it is a 3.  If this is true, then C1R5, C1R6, C8R6 & C9R6 cannot be a 3 (hence the notation N3).

Next, we will assume C2R6 is a 4.  We will track the 4 through the grid on the next lower level to see the value of unsolved cells.   Tracking in this fashion preserves the original puzzle on the top level of each cell.   If an N3 cell is a value other than 3, then we know that it is not a 3 regardless of whether C2R6 is a 3 or 4.

We track C2R6 being a 4 through the grid above in the lower level of each unsolved cell in Example #68.5 above.   C2R8=8.  C2R4=7.  C2R7=3.  

We will pause here and look at column 5.  What do you see?  The 5 cells marked in green want to share only 4 options, 2456.  That would not work well.  

We see that this is a conflict.  It is not as obvious as, say, two 4’s in a column, but it is a valid conflict.  What does this mean?  It mean that C2R6 cannot be a 4; therefore, C2R6=3, giving us Example #68.6 below:

Example #68.6

Track the 3 in C2R6 and it follows that C2R7=7.  C8R5=3.  C9R1=3.  Now the only cell in box 3 that can be an 8 is C7R1.  C7R1=8.  C9R4=8.  C2R4=4.  C2R8=8.  C3R9=6.  C4R9=8.  C5R3=8, and so forth, leading to a conclusion for the puzzle.

Saved by Step 7 to see another day!

May the gentle winds of Sudoku be at your back.

Dan LeKander

Editor's Note:

Several years have passed since I met Dan when I went to interview him for TI Life, which in Sudoku terms that means 68 puzzles...

It was back in January 2016, when we published a final article in Dan's Series of Steps to learn the logic of Sudoku – thand he asked if we would like a puzzle to solve every month … this editor said an enthusiastic… Yes, please!

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.

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, May 2020,  June 2020 and July 2020.

Posted in: Volume 15, Issue 8, August 2020, Sports

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