Funster Extreme 60 and 74 Go Together

Two brief advanced appearances are reported in this post in review of the Extreme section of Charles Timmerman’s Funster Hard to Extreme Sudoku.

In Extreme 60, the bypass starts with a 3-fill and uses them to solve a big wedge. The remaining line slink marking is easy.


The rest is easy too.  A type 1 unique rectangle is enough for a collapse.






In funster Extreme 74, a less decisive bypass, . . .

. . . is aided by a 6-wing, a form of fish directly signaled by line marking. Regular fish of all sizes are now explained in the Guide as  X-panel  methods, but the X-wing is often spotted in line marking as an alignment of slink marks.

This fish has no victims now, but the fish icons are left in, to exclude 6 candidates from r46c3 and r4c7 in the remaining line marking.







As basic is completed,  this XY-wing and naked pair triggers a collapse









Next in the review is Charles Timmerman’s funster Extreme 88. Next in the Guide is Coloring.


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Funster Extreme 46 Not So Much

The review of Charles Timmerman’s funster Hard to Extreme Sudoku continues with Extreme 46. It’s  entertainingly advanced.

Extreme 46 has its moments.  The basic trace is spread across the page with 3-fill after 3-fill. Two unusual events occur in box marking: three clues after the bypass, and the N 5-slink claim.

Here is the naked triple in c4.










Right out of line marking, a testimony to construction fun versus anxiety inducing search, a Rube Goldberg 275-wing. The grouped 7-chain wink places the third member of the toxic set out of sight of any victim, but hey, it’s an ANL. Celebrate.


On down the XYZ map, a regular 471-wing with an irregular victim. 1r3c1 sees the third toxic 1 via 1-chain.









That removal enables one of those long, rambling XY nice loops through the bv patch. The many victims include the single triumph of the Rube Goldberg 275-wing, but we don’t mind.






The follow up includes a shift of the nice loop to make another removal. The resulting naked pair grows the bv patch.







When I catch my breath and apply the crayons, blue is wrapped in c2, and the green army marches in.

Next time, we do funster Extreme 60 and 74. If you’re playing along, its mostly about comparing basics. The starting grids are below, 60 left and 74  right.

A new page on finned fish is up in the Guide.


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Early Coloring on funster Extreme 32

This post tries for a quick victory on Funx 32 with coloring, without the usual bv scan and X-panel preliminaries. That appears to flop, until three remote pair chains are connected into a long XY chain to wrap two clusters.

The Funx 32 staggers out of bypass alley with little reason to hold on, and not many candidates to dress up the wounds. Here’s the bypass trace, in case you’d want to compare basic notes.

One grid tells the story. There are three almost remote pairs, with bv values 17, 78, and 57. No two combine in a coloring cluster, but two XY chains on 78 and 57, the almost remote pairs, connect in c3, wrapping orange in the red/orange cluster.

Red 7r4c1 removes 7r1c1, expanding blue/green, while 7r5c4 confirms S7 and wraps green.  Red and Blue carry the day.







Next up for homework is funster Extreme 46.


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Funster Extreme 18 Stays in the Lines

After a brutal encounter with the bypass, what’s left of funx 18 is riddled with bv. A cluster covering  half the grid expands with a trap to wrap a color and finish the puzzle. The post concludes with an update on the Guide.

The 3-fill desolates Funster Extreme 18, leaving a very simple line marking.

The closure reveals a boxline eliminating two clues. Looking at the bv field, I get out the crayons.








9r7c7 is trapped, and the expansion of the blue green cluster wraps blue.

You can see it from here, following.





In the final snapshot, the elimination of 5r9c5 is going to put two blue 9’s into c5.

Green wins. Did you see the hidden dublex?


Next is Funster Extreme 32, after the bypass rocks it back, I choose early coloring.  It works out, but the alternative is the BV scan, especially XY’s. Maybe somebody will go there, and comment back for a later report in the review.

In the Guide, the sysudokie companion in progress, the menu page on X-panel methods is up, and from there, you can now drop off into a page on X-chains as weak links and X-loops, almost nice and completely nice.

That leaves a X-panel series of pages on fish, and pages on the coloring network, AIC hinges, pattern analysis, trials, and monster taming.

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Funster Extreme 4 has a Near BUG

The review of the Extreme section of Charles Timmerman’s Funster Hard to Extreme Sudoku is underway, with Funster Extreme 4. Funx 4 has a near BUG, but it gets to the doctor early and takes Dr. Stuart’s medicine dutifully. An extreme crisis is avoided.

This book has 134 Hard, 134 Very Hard, and 134 Extreme puzzles. For this review, I’ve preselected Extremes 4, 18, 32, . . . , 130. We’ll see them through the sysudokie process, allowing for comparison with the 28 earlier collection reviews. You’ll get to try them first, then compare results with mine. I show every step with traces and analysis, but you’re under no such obligation.

Before we begin to checkpoint your efforts on Funster Extreme 4 (funx 4 for short), let’s stipulate a friendly, but fundamental difference of opinion Sysudoku has with author Charles Timmerman. Under the jacket claim that the book is “Carefully designed for advanced Sudoku solvers” there is this quality claim:

Whoa! This claim ignores the human “solving analysis” that will now go to eliminating candidates that sysudokies never put in. It also overlooks the fact that the basic eliminations that have to be made could have been performed on a simpler, much less distracting grid. No one familiar with the challenges of the bypass and the critical role of strong links in advanced solving analysis would describe Sysudoku basic as “tedious”.

That said, if you just transfer the givens to a clean puzzle template like I do, the extreme section of this book is easier.

Here is the Funx 4 grid after Sysudoku basic. Count the added clues, the bv, the box slinks and the line slinks. Are they clearly marked? Now if you have the keypad grid of Timmerman basic, compare grids.

This one begs for XY chains and coloring.


Did your grid go less far or farther? Then read the trace and find out exactly why.





In my case, the 9 candidates were all connected by slinks. Adding a blue/green cluster to see how far it would go, I saw the black XY chain connected two of them. Nothing new there, but the red extension to connect blue 9 with blue 9 confirms blue,  wrapping green.

The  blue to blue ANL slink shows at least one terminal is true, so all blue are true.

The follow-up brings a near BUG, almost a Bi-value Universal Grave. Only one cell holds three candidates. A second cluster demonstrates this, and wraps orange with two orange 1’s asserted in r7 and c1. Andrew Stuart’s Logic of Sudoku rule, to place the twice repeated candidate in the 3 – candidate cell, also works here, eliminating all orange candidates.

Sometimes, being this close to a multiple solution makes a puzzle very difficult. But no puzzle this easily managed by coloring should be considered extreme.

Next is funster Extreme 18, another opportunity to compare working with “printed candidate numbers” and DIY with Sysudoku Basic.

Also, for  Guide readers, the page on XY ANL and remote pairs is up.

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A Guide Update and a Funster Kick Off

The threat of a “The World’s Hardest Sudoku” now relieved, this post starts a review of the “extreme” section of Charles Timmermans Funster Hard to Extreme Sudoku. But mostly, it’s a progress report on the Guide, a set of pages on the Sysudoku approach to humanly practical Sudoku solving.

The Guide is a linked set of pages accessed from the bar menu above. The hierarchy of the menu tree organizes solving techniques according to the Sysudoku template tools they use. Free ©PowerPoint and ©Word template files are available from Sysudoku (see Solving Tools above), but solvers can easily construct their own versions on their own systems, on paper, or in their minds.  When completed, the Guide may be available in book and reading tablet format for travel.

Here is the plan for the completed Guide: three primary pages for purely logical solving, and forth for trial methods. On the Sysudoku site, each section is represented by a lead menu page, covering general principles and with side menu links to method descriptions and examples.

Sysudoku Basic

This is about determining possible candidates of every cell, based directly on the given clues, and about slink marking, the explicit marking of strong links by candidate placement within cells. The replacement of the keypad style candidate list of most Sudoku literature is a major feature of Sysudoku. A three stage process incorporates slink pointing, box/lines, and subsets in this task.

Sysudoku Advanced

The lead page summarizes and illustrates elements of advanced methods, including the weak link, alternate inference chains, almost nice loop elimination and confirmation, nice loops, toxic sets, fish, coloring, and patterns.

It’s also the menu page for sections of methods based on the templates used.

Slink Marked Grid

This section includes advanced methods working with the candidate grid enhanced only by slink marking. It includes Uniqueness methods, Sue de Coq, APE, Bent n-set, and ALS methods. A second look at these techniques can occur as AIC hinges are added after coloring.

BV Map

These methods use a table of bv cells taken from the grid, the bv map.  A XY Railway is drawn on one copy. It is a connected set of curves along all possible routes of XY-chains.  The XY-chain is the simplest and most natural form of Alternating Inference Chain (AIC).  A copy of the bv-map isexpanded to accommodate XYZ and WXYZ hinges. This table is combined with the grid to find regular wings, and “irregular” wings constructed with forcing chain weak links and/or having forcing chain “seeing” victims.


X -Panels are 9 by 9 tables showing only the candidates of a single value on the grid. Each panel is examined for X-chains and loops, including grouped nodes, that produce toxic sets.  Then the same panel is examined for regular or finned fish. A fish is a competition between lines, and sometimes boxes, among candidates of the same value, for placement locations. Candidates that prevent resolution of such conflicts are eliminated.

Medusa coloring

Coloring marks each network of strong links, a cluster, by shading its candidates by two colors. Candidates alternately connected on a coloring network logically divide into two colors, one true (in the solution), and the other false (entirely eliminated from the solution).  This property is used to eliminate single candidates that see candidates of both colors (traps) or to eliminate all candidates of one color (a wrap) when the expanded network reaches a contradiction

Pattern Analysis

Pattern analysis eliminates candidates that prevent resolution of another kind of conflict, that like fish, is not directly defined by links between candidates. A pattern is a selection of remaining candidates of the same value and not seeing each other, that leaves one candidate in each box remaining.  The line marked grid generally leaves a large number of possible patterns for each of nine values, but in the solution there is only one pattern for every value. A humanly practical form of pattern analysis,  in Sysudoku named Limited Pattern Overlay, uses X-panels and a graphical freeforms to represent competing patterns.

Second Round AIC

Since advanced methods come in easier and harder-to-spot forms, it makes sense to  invest a reasonable amount of effort on each before intense pursuit of any. Solvers do make subjective decisions about when to move on.  For some methods, the Guide may suggest and illustrate a version “for the second round”, meaning after giving all the methods above a go at it. But in the case of inference chains, there is a second aspect to this.

An important fact that no one seems mention: The role of any link in any method can be filled by an AIC.  A first round example is the XYZ-wing, where wings and victims are made possible by using inference chains for weak links.  Even here, there is room for a second round, because I only looked at grouped X-chains for that purpose. I could use XY-chains and coloring links as well.

To open up possibilities even further, the Guide suggests beginning the second round with a grid enhancement,  the AIC hinge. In every cell, place an explicit wink between every pair of candidates that are slink partners with an outside candidate. That creates a 3-candidate slink chain that can carry a Medusa slink inference in a longer AIC. It allows the bv a second role in AIC.

Trial Methods

A complete guide must address the problem of being stuck. Sysudoku  places no value in guesses which reveal nothing.  However, there are many benefits to trials. A trial is an assembly, by logical means, of a set of candidates that are in the solution or eliminated together. The Sysdudoku trial trace is a way to document which and why.  It can be a safeguard against multiple solution puzzles.  I hope to stay with this long enough to determine for myself if methods in use for monster puzzles are logical methods or trials, but in any case, they are justified.

That’s the plan for the Guide. Thanks for reading through it. I welcome comments.  As of now, Sysudoku Basic, and Sysudoku Advanced through the Slink Marked Grid and the XYZ wing are in the Guide. Next comes the XY chain strong link and its Almost Nice Loop

The most recently added page is on ALS Death Blossoms. The general definition accounts for stems of all sizes, but it’s evident that the stem is rarely above two values. The typical rectangular shape of the DB is illustrated, and the possibility of overlapped petals is addressed as well.

All of the Guide’s DB examples are from a browser search, since I found no comparable examples in the reviews. My problem seems universal among human solvers, since many earlier examples are repeated on different sites.

A notable discovery for me is an ALS DB which eliminates candidates of value other than the common value between the ALS. In this particular example, there is no common value victim. This case was presented as a typical ALS DB, but it is actually a rare special case. For the details, you’ll have to consult the Guide.

Now about that next review. Here’s Funster Extreme 4 in case you don’t have Charles Timmerman’s  Funster Hard to Extreme 400+ Puzzles. The book provides the givens screened candidates, but IMHO you’re better off to ignore them in favor of the bypass and slink marking basic of the Guide. More progress and more fun.

Most of selected funster extremes make it to advanced, but none are truly extreme. There are good, simple examples, so I’ll take a slow leisurely trip through them. There will by good bypass challenges, and you may well find alternatives to share in comments. It looks like a hot summer.

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Painting a World’s Hardest BARN

This post ends the review of World’s Hardest Sudoku Book with its Very Hard 134.  The puzzle is not all that hard, but does allow solution in a very pleasing way, for me, at least.

Right after a basic with many 3-fills in the bypass, and a hidden dublex in box marking, . . .




. . . the 8-candidates in the West box fall victim to the unrestricted 8’s in the BARN at Wr5 via a grouped forcing chain. This removal creates a boxline removing 8’s in the East box.

The BARN, or Bent Almost Restricted n-Set, is a spotting technique for the  Bent n-Set Type 1 (BNS1) now described in the Sysudoku Guide.


Next, the 5-panel gives up an almost nice loop ANL (black) which extends to another ANL (red).








Upon adding a blue/green cluster, a trap of 5r7c2 adds just the right bv to an XY chain linking two green 7-candidates. That in itself would wrap blue,  since at least one green being true means all greens are. But having blue 7’s that see both of the green 7’s makes it more obvious. That’s enough to collapse 134, and the review is done.


Next is a report on the most recent page added to the Guide, illustrating ALS Death Blossoms.


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