Chess Sudoku

by Arne Kaehler
6/10/2020 – Can you get better at chess by solving Sudoku puzzles? After all, Sudoku requires you to calculate several moves ahead and some variations of Sudoku make use of chess which makes these Sudokus even more fun to solve. But the question remains: can Sudoku really help to improve your chess?

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Classical Sudoku

For those of you who don't know how Sudoku works, here is a quick explanation.

On a 81-square grid divided into nine blocks of nine squares each, the player has to fill out the nine squares of each block with the digits 1 to 9. But each digit can only appear once in a row, column or box. On top of that, the vertical and the horizontal lines of the entire grid must also contain the digits 1 to 9, without repetition or omission.

Chess Sudoku

There are many chess variations of the original Sudoku. Some of them include chess pieces, others use the way the pieces move. 

The chess variant which caught my attention is called "The Miracle Sudoku" and was designed by Mitchell Lee. The rules are as follows:

Normal Sudoku rules apply. Any two cells separated by a knight’s move or a king’s move (in chess) cannot contain the same digit. Any two orthogonally adjacent cells cannot contain consecutive digits.

And here is the Miracle Sudoku:

With only two digits to start with you might understand why this is often called Miracle Sudoku.

Keep in mind that cells which are connected by a ♘ or ♔ move cannot not have the same digits. Maybe you want to try to solve this Sudoku on your own – but it is a really hard one.

The puzzle on video

The YouTube video that shows the solution of this Miracle Sudoku by now has more than one million views and thanks to host Simon Anthony it is highly entertaining and charming. His Sudoku puzzle channel is extremely successful and also features other variations of "chess" Sudoku.

Getting better at chess through Sudoku

A 2018 video from the "Cracking The Cryptic" channel also wonders about the connection between Sudoku and Magnus Carlsen's skills at blindfold chess:

Master Class Vol.8: Magnus Carlsen

Scarcely any world champion has managed to captivate chess lovers to the extent Carlsen has. The enormously talented Norwegian hasn't been systematically trained within the structures of a major chess-playing nation such as Russia, the Ukraine or China.

I am actually not too big a fan of Sudoku puzzles, but I tried to solve some chess Sudoku puzzles and played a couple of online chess games afterwards. Interestingly, in these games I played much better than usual and I wonder if that was due to my Sudoku chess training? Did I indeed play better because I had been exercising my brain with Sudoku before playing chess?

I wonder – does anyone have similar experiences?

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Arne Kaehler, a creative thinker who is passionate about board games in general was born in Hamburg and learned how to play chess at a very young age. Through teaching chess to youth teams and creating chess content on YouTube, Arne was able to extend this passion onto others and has even made an online chess course for anyone who wants to learn how to play this game. Currently, Arne blogs for the English news page of ChessBase and focuses on creating promotional and entertaining articles.

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