Do you think Mother Nature was a bit confused this year at the River, by switching summer and fall?
Having arrived in Florida after hurricane Irma cast her anger, it occurred to me that Florida and the River both have the same start to their busy seasons. High water at the River dampened the economic outlook and cost property owners. Hurricane Irma will affect property owners and businesses for months, if not years, to come. Simply a coincidence in the same year, or are more extreme weather conditions the norm?
You might ask what this introduction has to do with Sudoku. One possible explanation is that Sudoku can be a “positive distraction”, much unlike the weather this year.
Puzzle #31 is another opportunity to hone our Sudoku skills, with the ultimate goal of being able to solve any Sudoku puzzle. So, give it a go, or follow along with me below.
DAN’S 8 STEP APPROACH TO SOLVING ALL SUDOKU PUZZLES
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.
See TI Life Puzzle Preparation:
Step 1: Sudoku Pairs, Triplets and Quads – September 2015
Step 2: Turbos & Interaction – October 2015
Step 3: Sudoku Gordonian Rectangles and Polygons – November 2015
Step 4: XYWings & XYZ Wings – December 2015
Step 5: XWings – January 2016
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Step 6: DAN’S YES/NO CHALLENGE
Step 7: DAN’S CLOSE RELATIONSHIP CHALLENGE
Step 8: AN EXPANSION OF STEP 7
Steps 15 are relatively common techniques and are explained in the TI LIFE articles per above. Steps 68 are covered in detail, in Dan’s book.
Also, see Sudoku Puzzle Challenge… February 2016, Sudoku Puzzle Challenge–March 2016, Sudoku Puzzle Challenge–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 and October 2017.
As a reminder, the basic rules of Sudoku are that the numbers 19 must be contained and cannot be repeated in a row, column, or box, and there can only be one solution to the puzzle.

PUZZLE #31

PUZZLE PREPARATION
Prior to utilizing techniques first complete the 4 Steps of Puzzle Preparation …
1. FILL IN OBVIOUS ANSWERS
2. FILL IN NOTSOOBVIOUS ANSWERS
3. MARK UNSOLVED CELLS WITH OPTIONS THAT CANNOT EXIST IN THOSE CELLS
4. FILL IN THE OPTIONS FOR THE UNSOLVED CELLS
OBVIOUS ANSWERS … Start with the 1’s, to see if there are any obvious 1choice answers. Then navigate the 2’s through 9’s.
The first obvious answer is C4R7 (cell in column 4, row 7) =5. C4R8=9.
NOTSOOBVIOUS ANSWERS … none.
NUMBERS IN CELLS THAT CANNOT EXIST …
In box 8 (bottom center grid of 3 x 3 cells) a 2 can exist only in cells C6R7, C6R8 or C6R9; therefore, a 2 cannot exist in C6R5 or C6R6. On your grid, mark the bottom of these two cells with a “2”, indicating that a 2 cannot be an option.
In box 3 a 4 can only exist in cells C1R1 or C9R3; therefore, a 4 cannot exist in C9R7 & C9R9.
In box 8 an 8 can only exist in cells C6R7 or C6R9; therefore an 8 cannot exist in C6R1, C6R3, C6R5 & C6R6. Now your grid should look like Example #31.1 below:
Example #31.1

FILL IN THE OPTIONS FOR THE UNSOLVED CELLS … after considering the options that cannot exist, your grid should now look like Example #31.2 below:
Example #31.2

STEPS 18 …
STEP 1 … PAIRS, TRIPLETS & QUADS
Can you spot an example? Carefully search each row, column & box.
Do you need a hint? Ok, what is different about row 4?
C4R4 & C9R4 are the only 2 cells in row 4 that have 1 & 7 as options; therefore, you can reduce the options in those 2 cells to 17. This is an example of a “hidden pair”. Now your grid should look like Example #31.3 below:
Example #31.3

There are no other Step 15 clues, so we will move on to Step 6.
STEP 6: DAN’S YESNO CHALLENGE
There are 3 circumstances that establish the potential for a Step 6 exercise:
 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.
 Look for just 2 unsolved cells in a column that contain the same option where these 2 cells are not in the same box.
 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 column 3 we find just 2 unsolved cells that contain #1 as an option … C3R1 & C3R9. These cells are not in the same box, thereby qualifying as a candidate for a Step 6 exercise. These cells are highlighted below in Example #31.4 below:
Example #31.4

One of these two cells must be a 1. We will consider them as “starter cells” which “drive” the exercise.
Here is the theory. We will perform two exercises. First, we will assume C3R1 is the 1, and see which other cells cannot be a 1. Then we will assume C3R9 is the 1, and see which other cells cannot be a 1. What happens if we find a cell or cells that cannot be a 1 regardless of which cell in column 3 is a 1? Quite simply it means that that cell cannot be a 1 and you can eliminate the 1 from that cell or those cells.
We will mark C3R1 with a “Y” and mark C3R9 with a lower case “y” to keep track of the exercise as per Example #31.4 above.
Starting with C3R1 we see that if it is a 1 (Y for yes), then C4R1 & C6R1 are not a 1. We will mark these two cells with a “N” indicating they cannot be a 1 if C3R1 is a 1 (see Example #31.5 below). The only other cell in box 2 that now could be a 1 is C4R2 so we will mark it with a Y. If C4R2 is a 1, then C4R4 & C4R5 are not a 1. The only other cell in box 5 that could be a 1 is C6R5, so we will mark it with a Y. Then C7R5=N. Then C9R4=Y. Then C9R9=N.
Now we will switch to C3R9 and assume it is the 1. Then C7R9 & C9R9 cannot be a 1 and we mark them with a “n”. The only other cell in box 9 that can be a 1 is C7R8 and we will mark it with a “y”. Then C7R5 is a “n”. Then C9R4=y. Then C4R4=n.
Now take a close look at Example #31.5 below. Cells C4R4, C7R5 & C9R9 have a “N,n” designation. We have proven that these 3 cells are not a 1 regardless of which starter cell in column 1 is a 1, so the 1 can now be eliminated from those cells as an option. Conversely, cell C9R4 has a “Y,y” designation, meaning it is a 1 regardless of which starter cell is a 1. Therefore, C9R4=1.
Example #31.5

Now your grid should look like Example #31.6 below:
Example #31.6

You can now clearly see that C4R4=7. Then C6R3=7. C2R2=7. C3R7=7. C7R8=7. C9R6=7. C1R8=1 (only cell in row 8 that has a 1 as an option). C3R1=1. C4R2=1. C6R5=1. C7R9=1. That retires the 1’s and 7’s. C8R8=6. C1R7=6. C6R6=6. C7R5=6. C3R4=6. C5R2=6. C9R3=6. C5R1=5. C9R1=4. C6R1=3. C4R1=8. C4R3=4. C4R5=2. C4R6=3. C5R4=8. C5R6=4. C5R8=3. C3R5=5. C8R5=8. C2R5=4. From this point the puzzle is easily solved, giving you the final version Example #31.7 below:
Example #31.7

May this Sudoku puzzle add to your future Sudoku success & may the gentle winds of Sudoku be at your back.
Editor’s note:
Do you tackle a Sudoku on your cottage veranda, sailboat cockpit, or at a campsite? TI Life is taking full advantage of Dan LeKander, from Wellesley Island, who is a Sudoku expert and author of “3 Advanced Sudoku Techniques – That Will Change Your Game Forever!”
In January 2016, we published a final article in his series – but many of us enjoy using “Dan’s Steps,” so when he asked if we would like a puzzle to solve every month … this editor said an enthusiastic… Yes, please!
I suggest you try this relatively easy puzzle and that you also purchase Dan’s book, “3 Advanced Sudoku Techniques, That Will Change Your Game Forever!”
Most importantly, I ask that you leave comments on any part of his series and throughout the year. Remember when your teacher said – no such thing as a silly question – as we can all learn together.
Dan’s book is available online, amazon.com and on ebay.com.
Purchase of a book includes a 50page blank grid pad, 33 black and two green tokens, to assist with Step 6.…
I want to thank Dan… what a lot of work he puts into our TI Life articles!

Dan LeKander, Wellesley Island
Dan LeKander and his wife, Peggy, have been seasonal residents of Fineview, on Wellesley Island, NY, since 1983. In addition to being a Sudoku addict, Dan explores the 1000 Islands to enjoy the wildlife, beauty and of course, Catchand Release bass fishing.
Editor’s Note: Wow; Number 31! How many have you completed?
[See Jessy Kahn’s Book Review, “3 Advanced Sudoku Techniques…” by Dan LeKander, June issue of TI Life.]