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10 Traits of Great Sudoku Players (Do You Have What it Takes?)

Last Updated on January 7, 2024 by Gamesver Team and JC Franco

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While 3-time Sudoku World Champion, Thomas Snyder is the epitome of a great Sudoku player, there’s every reason to believe that you could be one too. Are you good enough to climb the ranks and make a name for yourself as a “great” Sudoku player? What does it take to be a great Sudoku player and earn the same type of success as Thomas Snyder?

By taking a look at champions like Thomas, one can deduce which traits and skills a person needs in order to excel in much the same way. Do you know what it takes to be a World Champion Sudoku player? Perhaps you already have all the traits!

These are 10 traits of great Sudoku players:

  1. A meticulous, methodical thinking process,
  2. The ability to handle pressure,
  3. Unbreakable concentration and focus,
  4. Unfailing determination (to solve the puzzle at all costs),
  5. Patience,
  6. The ability to learn & recognize patterns quickly,
  7. A competitive nature/mindset,
  8. Versatility (to change the area of focus fluidly as needed),
  9. Relaxed, calm demeanor,
  10. Good organizational skills.

Do you have any of the above-mentioned traits? Do you think that you have what it takes to become a great Sudoku player? Even if you don’t, there is a good chance that you can develop these traits with time and practice. You do not have to win championships, but with the right mindset and by honing a few skills and traits, you could certainly progress through the ranks (even personal ranks) with ease.

Read on to learn more about the traits of Sudoku pros.

What does it Take to Be a Great Sudoku Player?

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Let’s take a closer look at each of the 10 traits of great Sudoku players.

1. A meticulous, methodical thinking process.

The game of Sudoku is pretty clear cut. There is nothing whimsical or creative about a Sudoku puzzle. To solve the puzzle, a player must be able to apply the rules and have a methodical approach to finding the right numbers to fill the blocks that are blank. There’s no room for creativity and no room for error. As well-formed Sudoku puzzles only have one unique solution, great care must be taken to get it right. That requires methodical, meticulous thinking.

The puzzle-solving technique is a meticulous process of elimination. Not everyone has this type of thinking process, but the good news is that it can be learned or acquired with practice. The more you scrutinize Sudoku grids, the more you will learn to be a meticulous, methodical thinker (as no other type of thinking or mindset will work).

2. The ability to handle pressure (or ability to perform under pressure).

In a competition scenario, there is a time crunch at play, and that can place a great deal of pressure on a player. Of course, logical thinking under pressure is not easy for anyone, in any situation. Pressure can cause mistakes to happen. In fact, pressure can cause a panicked feeling, which can make it impossible to recognize patterns or think clearly when you have to.

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A great way to practice performing under pressure is to play Sudoku puzzles in your own time with a timer set. By doing this, you can get used to the process of working and thinking under pressure. There is a theory in psychology that states the more you are exposed to something, the more natural or normal it will start to feel (desensitized). This theory could work very well for a Sudoku player who wants to perform well, even in a pressured or nerve-wracking setting.

3. Unbreakable concentration and focus.

You will not get very far as a Sudoku pro if you are distracted by everything that happens around you. Some Sudoku puzzles can be extremely difficult to solve, and without proper concentration and focus, you might not be able to solve it.

Learning to cut out the background noise in your head and around you will help you to develop better concentration and focus. Most people won’t be sensitive to the fact that you need to concentrate, so it’s best to develop better concentration and focus skills while you can. Once again, this is not easy for everyone, but if you apply yourself and practice, you can certainly get it right.

4. Unfailing determination (to solve the puzzle at all costs).

If you are the type that throws in the towel at the first sign of trouble or difficulty, you are not going to make it as a great Sudoku player. Sudoku can get tough, and it takes serious determination to stick to it and keep working even if the solution seems impossible, the first few tries. With a determined and enduring approach, all Sudoku puzzles can be solved. Great Sudoku players such as Thomas Snyder have a “never give up” approach and mindset when it comes to solving a Sudoku puzzle.

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5. Enduring patience.

For beginners, patience is a crucial element in solving Sudoku puzzles. Without it, most beginners would simply give up and move on to easier puzzles or forget about Sudoku completely. For competitive pros, patience is absolutely essential.

Some Sudoku games are big and time-consuming. The player has to have an enduring personality and the patience to keep going, even when the brain gets tired. There should be no “getting over it” when it comes to Sudoku. If you start to lose your patience, practice taking a breath, and giving your brain some time to think the puzzle through. Patience is a lot more challenging to learn than other traits, but not impossible.

6. The ability to learn & recognize patterns quickly.

One of the most common traits of Sudoku pros is quick-learning ability and of course, the ability to pick up on a pattern quickly. Being able to immediately recognize patterns means that a player can spot an opportunity with ease, and can almost predict or anticipate the number needed on the grid. If you struggle with patterns and find it hard to learn new things, you might struggle to get ahead as a pro Sudoku player.

7. Competitive nature/mindset.

It takes a competitive nature or mindset to want to compete against other players. If it is your dream to enter Sudoku competitions or the World Championships, you probably possess this very trait. What if you have no desire to compete in competitions and championships? What if you simply wish to buy the newspaper or an exercise book and solve Sudoku puzzles for your own enjoyment?

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It also takes a competitive nature to want to keep beating your own best times and techniques – or beat the puzzle itself. Without a competitive mindset, a player would have no desire to keep playing and keep winning or succeeding.

8. Versatility (to change the area of focus fluidly as needed).

Sudoku players sometimes need to change their area of focus on the grid fluidly or at a moment’s notice. As a great Sudoku player, you cannot get stuck on one section of the grid without making progress for too long, and in addition to that, every number that you place on the grid should present new opportunities elsewhere on the grid.

As a result, the game maintains pace and momentum. And this is essentially what keeps the game moving and the player’s focus continually changing and moving too. If you find it overwhelming jumping from one area to the next – the only answer is practice, practice, practice. It will get easier with time – the more you play the game, the more natural the process will feel.

9. A relaxed, calm demeanor.

Being calm and relaxed is both a requirement and an outcome of playing Sudoku. Players who get flustered easily and lose their cool very rarely get ahead in the world of Sudoku – especially in a competitive environment. It’s not just Sudoku players that might experience frustration. Players of many games often feel overwhelming frustration, which leads to giving up, violent reactions or outrage. These are not traits of great Sudoku players.

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Those who make it all the way to the top remain relaxed and calm, regardless of how persnickety the game might get. Luckily, solving Sudoku puzzles tends to be therapeutic (or meditational), so this trait is easier to acquire or hone than some.

10. Good organizational skills.

Unbeknown to those who do not play the game, Sudoku actually requires minimal mathematical knowledge and skills. This is made evident by the fact that it can be played with numbers, letters, pictures, or even symbols. What it does require is logical thinking, organizational skills, and meticulous, analytical skills.

If you can recognize a pattern and quickly organize the missing numbers to suit or match that pattern, you will solve the puzzle every time. With these types of organizational skills, you can become a world-class Sudoku Player, just like Thomas Snyder.

In closing

If you want to have what it takes to be a great Sudoku player, try practicing and honing the above-mentioned traits. With time and dedication, you too can become the type of Sudoku player that wins competitions and championships with a smile on your face, just like Thomas Snyder.

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This article was co-authored by our team of in-house and freelance writers, and reviewed by our editors, who enjoy sharing their knowledge about their favorite games with others!

JC Franco
Editor | + posts

JC Franco serves as a New York-based editor for Gamesver. His interest for board games centers around chess, a pursuit he began in elementary school at the age of 9. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Business from Mercyhurst University, JC brings a blend of business acumen and creative insight to his role. Beyond his editorial endeavors, he is a certified USPTA professional, imparting his knowledge in tennis to enthusiasts across the New York City Metropolitan area.