Hot on the heels of The Indie 500 crossword tournament last weekend, the UK is also gearing up for a major puzzle event: The UK Sudoku Championship!
The event spans June 10 through June 13, and chairman Alan O’Donnell of the UK Puzzle Association sent out the Instruction Booklet for this year’s event a few days ago, which kicks off a string of major puzzle events in Europe and across the world, including the UK Puzzle Championship in a few weeks.
Although the UK Sudoku Championship is only open to competitors from the UK — with the top two earning a place on the UK team for the 2016 World Sudoku Championship — international players are welcome to test their puzzly mettle as guest solvers.
But even if most PuzzleNationers aren’t eligible to compete, you can still enjoy the challenge of some topnotch Sudoku puzzles. Let’s take a look at some of the diabolical puzzles they’ve cooked up for this year’s event!
[An Extra Regions puzzle, a variation on Classic Sudoku.]
In addition to some Classic Sudoku, Extreme Sudoku, Sum-Doku (or Killer Sudoku), Jigsaw Sudoku (or Geometric Sudoku), and Thermo Sudoku — all of which I explored in detail in my Wide World of Sudoku post — there are some variants I’ve never seen before, like this Linked 6×6 Sudoku.
In this puzzle, you have two grids to complete, but with the additional wrinkle that no number placed in the left 6×6 grid will occupy the same square in the right 6×6 grid. So you have more solving information than expected, but it’s spread out across two grids.
This Deficit Sudoku puzzle also uses the 2×3 box format, but arrayed in a 7×7 grid. This means that any of the numbers 1 through 7 can be in each 2×3 grid, which makes it slightly harder than if you were only using the numbers 1 through 6.
(Plus you have no information on what number goes in that solo square in the center of the grid.)
The curiously named Odd-Even-Big-Small Sudoku employs clues outside the grid to help you fill in some of the squares along the perimeter of the grid, telling you that two odd numbers, two even numbers, two small numbers, or two big numbers will occupy the nearest two spaces in that row or column.
This is a solving mechanic I’ve never encountered before in Sudoku, and I can see it posing an impressive challenge to the average Sudoku solver.
That unconventional style of cluing sets the tone for the rest of the unusual puzzles that competitors and solvers will encounter here. In the above grid, a Consecutive Pairs puzzle, those dots indicate that the neighboring numbers connected by those dots are consecutive numbers, like 5 and 6 or 2 and 1.
(You can also try Consecutive Pairs Sudoku in Will Shortz’s Sudoku and Sudoku Spectacular, both published by our friends at Penny Dell Puzzles.)
XV Sudoku works in similar fashion, with x’s and v’s instead of those little dots. The x’s mean the neighboring numbers add up to 10, and the v’s mean the neighboring numbers add up to 5.
This Eliminate Sudoku uses arrows to indicate that the number in the arrow box will not be repeated in any of the boxes that follow that arrow. So, for instance, if you place a 3 in that arrow box next to the 2 in the upper-right 3×3 grid, none of the boxes that arrow points at along that diagonal will contain a 3.
Like the dual grids in the Linked 6×6 Sudoku, this puzzle is interesting in offering more information on what’s NOT in a square than what IS.
The final new puzzle in the Instruction Booklet is my favorite, but that’s because I’m a sucker for palindromes in puzzles. This Palindrome Sudoku features gray lines that indicates spots where — you guessed it! — the chain of numbers reads the same backwards and forwards.
Similar to Thermo Sudoku in its solving style, Palindrome Sudoku takes advantage in the restrictive nature of Sudoku solving by adding a neat little twist.
You can check out the full Instruction Booklet here, and remember to keep your eyes peeled on June 10 when the actual puzzles go live!
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