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alanr555



Joined: 01 Aug 2005
Posts: 193
Location: Bideford Devon EX39

PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2007 1:46 am    Post subject: Forum Topics Reply with quote

This section of the forum is about the Daily Puzzles.

Looking through recent topic headings, I find that the vast majority
relate to the "Very Hard" puzzles - with virtually no submissions
on those graded at a lesser level.

This contrasts with the situation in 2005 and early 2006 when this
section was used much more widely. In particular, David Bryant
offered a genuine "help" service to all-comers.

The danger is that this forum could become "elitist" - leaving the
new user or those not "into" VH with no real opportunity to learn
from the experience of others. Already there has been a recent
post which suggested that those tackling VH are implicitly assumed
to know about various wing formations.

From a psychological vantage this may be inevitable. It is akin to
the consolidation which occurs as a market matures and the
many players at the beginning reduce to a much smaller number
as the resources needed to stay in the game increase - whilst only
those already in the game have access to such resources!

I do not know for how long this implicit elitism has been occurring
but it suggests to me that there may be a need to split this section
of the forum into a "VH" group and a "general DS puzzles" group
as otherwise one of the original merits of the site may get lost.

Of course, it may be that there are NO new players nowadays - that
everyone is an "old hand" or has found pastures new!

In the ultimate, it does not matter - EXCEPT that there needs to be
an awareness of the position in case it is an unintended consequence
and there is motivation to restore the original intentions.

Clearly a lot has changed during my year and a half away. If the
motivating principles have changed then so be it - but I would be
sad to see this site abdicate some of its educational functions (or
are we all self-taught now?).

This is NOT a criticism or a gripe - just a suggestion that there is
value in an awareness about what is happening.
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Marty R.



Joined: 12 Feb 2006
Posts: 5166
Location: Rochester, NY, USA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2007 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alan, your point is well taken, although I don't know that I'd use the term "elitism." I made a similar point a week or two ago, that we're not seeing newer players posting their questions, whether because they're not out there or because some of the more advanced talk puts them off.

In the almost two years that I've been here, I have recall of very few posts made about puzzles other than the VHs, although my memory isn't what it used to be.

David Bryant was indeed helpful; I know he was to me, as well as others. But many others helped me (and continue to do so) as well. I don't think David should be singled out, only because there are many members who are willing, indeed happy, to help out newer players.

I hope others will chime in and offer up their thoughts.
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TKiel



Joined: 22 Feb 2006
Posts: 292
Location: Kalamazoo, MI

PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2007 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
..whether because they're not out there or because some of the more advanced talk puts them off.


Another possibility is that new posters are much better about trying to find the answers on their own, via the websites that offer explanations of the various techniques. I know that it's been a long time since since I've had to (try) to explain a naked triple or an X-wing to someone, both because people don't ask and also because it's easier to refer them to existing posts/threads that explain them.

Quote:
This contrasts with the situation in 2005 and early 2006 when this section was used much more widely. In particular, David Bryant offered a genuine "help" service to all-comers.


I remember those days (fondly I might add), though I came to this forum later than Marty R., Keith, Steve R. and Alan and benefited greatly from their knowledge and patience, along with David Bryant and someone_somewhere. I think the level of knowledge about techniques that Sudokuer's possess now, is greater than it was back then and that has lead to the lack of questions about less than VH puzzles.

Quote:
...those tackling VH are implicitly assumed to know about various wing formations.


I don't consider this elitist, I consider it a given, since it generally takes a wing or better to solve them.
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stef



Joined: 23 Dec 2007
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2007 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm, I just read this post after submitting a request for help. I have been away from the Sudoku bug for about a year now and just assumed that whenever I needed help, the gurus would be there to guide me!!! I really hope that doesn't change and I do believe this link helps people learn how to find and understand the more difficult techniques like the XY and XYZ wings. I used to be pretty good at these and I attributed that to all the gurus, including Marty and Sam, that helped me!

Thanks and I do hope things don't change too much,

Stef
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tlanglet



Joined: 17 Oct 2007
Posts: 2461
Location: Northern California Foothills

PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2007 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I started playing Sudoku about six months ago and quickly became “hooked”. Recently I found this site and now visit it daily to observe how others solved the daily problem and then attempt to apply the same techniques myself. When I find a new technique or reference, I research it as my approach to learning. When I saw this discussion thread, I had to put in my 2-cents!

For the past 12 years, I have been involved with the local computer users group as an officer and a leader of special interest groups. One particular activity that I have enjoyed very much is leading a special interest group that focuses on helping new people become aware of and comfortable with using a computer and the operating system. I have found that in an environment of equals, these folks are not hesitant to ask questions and generally participate in the discussions because they observe others asking similarly “stupid questions”. In such an environment they learn quickly. I believe the principle applies equally well to the newbies trying to learn Sudoku.

I have previously posted a couple of comments/questions to this Forum, and received great detailed responses and support. I would submit more questions but am somewhat hesitant because, as pointed out in the initial submission, most of the discussions address only the very complicated issues. Also, I find that most of the input regarding a situation is normally curt without providing specifics which is good for the experts but I, as a beginner, can spend a substantial amount of frustrating time just locating that xy-wing or whatever.

As a non-expert, I would greatly enjoy and benefit from a Forum Topic that focused on “my” level of problems. Although I would like that it accommodated questions at all levels of complexity, I believe that it would mostly address those techniques beyond “basics”. Responses would hopefully be very detailed and presented in a framework readily understood by people in the learning mode.

And finally, I simply do not know how to “properly” prepare my input for submission to the discussion board. That is, how do I operationally prepare the input properly such as quoting something from a previous submission or aligning the grid for a puzzle. Also, it appears that a standard form of notation is used my most submitters and I believe that I understand some of it, but it is still an unknown. I have not been able to find this information anywhere on the site, and I did not receive a response to my direct contact via an email to the site.

Thanks for the opportunity to express my views …………

Ted
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Marty R.



Joined: 12 Feb 2006
Posts: 5166
Location: Rochester, NY, USA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2007 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
And finally, I simply do not know how to “properly” prepare my input for submission to the discussion board. That is, how do I operationally prepare the input properly such as quoting something from a previous submission or aligning the grid for a puzzle. Also, it appears that a standard form of notation is used my most submitters and I believe that I understand some of it, but it is still an unknown. I have not been able to find this information anywhere on the site, and I did not receive a response to my direct contact via an email to the site.


Ted,

On the quoting issue: To quote the entire message, click "Quote" at the upper right of the message. That will bring up a message box and contain the entire message.

To quote a part of the message, select the text you want to quote and copy it (Ctrl+C). The click "Post reply" on the left at the end of the end of the thread to bring up a message box. Click "Quote" above the message box and paste (Ctrl+V) what you copied, then click that same "Quote" button again.

Don't hesitate to pose similar questions on the Site Help forum. Also on that forum is a post explaining how to post an aligned grid.

If you ask a question and get an answer that's not understandable, just come back and say you don't understand and request an explanation appropriate for your level of solving ability. I've done that on more than one occasion. And I've been at this for two years and am a very active member here and I don't understand most of the notation I see.

I enjoy talking to other members and have learned a tremendous amount here. Hopefully, you can too.

Marty
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keith



Joined: 19 Sep 2005
Posts: 3179
Location: near Detroit, Michigan, USA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2007 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ted,

Please do use the Site Help section to post test messages and to ask how things work.

Also, If you post a message and it does not format properly, ask for help. Marty and I can both edit any message. We will try to fix it, then you can look at it in "edit" mode to see how we obtained your desired result.

Best wishes,

Keith
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keith



Joined: 19 Sep 2005
Posts: 3179
Location: near Detroit, Michigan, USA

PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2007 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

All,

I have been thinking about the comments in this thread, and I'd like to thank Alan for expressing something Marty and I have been concerned about.

The following observations are probably true:

1. The level of difficulty discussed is much higher than it used to be, and is much higher than the difficulty of this site's "Very Hard" puzzles.

2. There are many fewer questions about any puzzle that is not "Very Hard", and fewer questions from beginning Sudoku players.

3. The general level of the discussion is deterring new users from asking questions about the less difficult puzzles, and about basic Sudoku techniques. In other words, we are deterring less experienced Sudoku addicts from participating in these discussions, like when we were newbies.

Maybe, and I am still thinking about it. I think the Forums should be cleaned up a little, to move obsolete stuff to an archive, and to put more help in obvious places.

(I might add that samgj has been missing in action for months now. Marty and I have nothing to do with the rest of the site. But, we can make changes to the discussion forums.)

I did go looking at the older messages, and found this one:

Quote:
I'm having trouble with this puzzle. Here's what I have so far:

6/7/- -/-/5 -/-/-
-/5/8 4/-/- 3/-/-
-/3/4 -/2/- -/7/5

-/9/- -/-/4 2/3/-
-/-/- -/-/- -/-/-
-/8/1 9/-/- -/5/-

8/1/- -/6/- 5/4/3
-/2/5 -/4/1 9/-/-
-/-/- 8/5/- 1/2/7

The hint from Draw puts a 2 in Row 1, Column 3, but I don't understand how this number came about. Can anyone help?

And the response:
Quote:

I'll restrict this analysis to the first three columns, and only show the relevant possibilities in a few of the cells you haven't filled in yet. The abbreviated part of the puzzle looks like this:

*6* *7* 2/9
*?* *5* *8*
*?* *3* *4*

*?* *9* 6/7
*?* *?* *?*
*?* *8* *1*

*8* *1* 7/9
3/7 *2* *5*
*?* 4/6 3/6/9

The critical formation within this setup lies in (row7, col3), (row8, col1), and (row9, col3). Consider what would happen if you were to enter a "9" in (row1, col3). This would force a "7" in (row7, col3), which in turn forces a "6" in (row4, col3), which in its turn forces a "3" in (row9, col3). So far so good.

But the "7" in (row7, col3) also forces a "3" in (row8, col 1)! Since we can't have two threes in the same box, the original choice of "9" in (row1, col3) is seen to be impossible, meaning that a "2" must go there.

I'm not sure this is going to make the rest of the puzzle any simpler -- I haven't worked it any farther than this. It's a real tough one!


This is from August, 2005. We've come a long way!

By the way, the original post, with (unstated) candidates is:

Code:
+----------------------+----------------------+----------------------+
| 6      7      29     | 13     1389   5      | 48     189    12489  |
| 129    5      8      | 4      179    679    | 3      169    1269   |
| 19     3      4      | 16     2      689    | 68     7      5      |
+----------------------+----------------------+----------------------+
| 57     9      67     | 1567   178    4      | 2      3      168    |
| 23457  46     2367   | 123567 1378   23678  | 4678   1689   14689  |
| 2347   8      1      | 9      37     2367   | 467    5      46     |
+----------------------+----------------------+----------------------+
| 8      1      79     | 27     6      279    | 5      4      3      |
| 37     2      5      | 37     4      1      | 9      68     68     |
| 349    46     369    | 8      5      39     | 1      2      7      |
+----------------------+----------------------+----------------------+




Best wishes,

Keith
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Victor



Joined: 29 Sep 2005
Posts: 207
Location: NI

PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Didn't have time to reply to this before - apologies for lateness. Here's a small analogy from my game, bridge. This sort of thing has long been recognized as a problem - i.e. for beginners wanting to learn but not to be put off by discussions above their heads. One solution, in GB at anyrate, is to have "No Fear" tournaments, where nobody is allowed to do or say anything too fancy, and it has been (partly) successful. I guess the analogy here would be to have a forum where nobody was allowed to mention ERs, Medusa colouring, etc., etc.
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storm_norm



Joined: 18 Oct 2007
Posts: 1741

PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If someone has a question about a the puzzles that aren't rated "very hard" then they are obviously not posting them.

i find it disturbing to suggest a limit on what solution techiques to discuss in this section of this forum.

So is it my opinion that this section of the forum is here to discuss the daily puzzles, plain and simple??

IMHO-- the beauty of a forum such as this one is the fact that we can represent an opinion or suggest changes. However, I don't think its in the spirit of this particular forum to change why or how we discuss the puzzles in the first place.

this forum isn't here to satisfy the needs of certain individuals who have concerns on how the forum is used. instead it is here to help satisfy anyone's question about the daily puzzles. it just sounds hazy to me to suggest limits.
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cgordon



Joined: 04 May 2007
Posts: 769
Location: ontario, canada

PostPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 10:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
.....where nobody was allowed to mention ERs.


What’s wrong with ER’s ? I would argue they are logically easier to follow than xy-wings. In any event, I believe a forum should be a social-construct and evolve naturally. I personally skip over any discussions with references to strong links, weak links, and all that <XX>-<XX>=<YY> stuff. Boooring!! Also, with respect, I would suggest that Alan is flogging a dead horse by trying to generate any response to Mandatory Pairs. But then Forums should be for all inputs – whether it’s a Sue de Coq or Medusa solution – or some philosophical discussion relating Sudokus to Aristotelian logic or one of the ten VH positions in Kama Sutra.

I suspect that most forum readers understand things like xy-wings – but like myself, on occasions, turn to the forums because they can’t spot the solution. The bottom line should be the number of non-registered visitors – which still seems to be in the same ballpark as a year ago
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storm_norm



Joined: 18 Oct 2007
Posts: 1741

PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

victor wrote:

Quote:
One solution, in GB at anyrate, is to have "No Fear" tournaments, where nobody is allowed to do or say anything too fancy, and it has been (partly) successful



huh???

too fancy !!! umm, does anyone else find this dangerous??? ok, maybe dangerous is too strong. how about backward??? anti-intelligent. anti-learning !!

also this implies that someone or something is predetermining exactly what is too fancy.
Hello!! liberalism alert. socialism alert. danger. danger.
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Marty R.



Joined: 12 Feb 2006
Posts: 5166
Location: Rochester, NY, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 6:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

storm_norm wrote:
victor wrote:

Quote:
One solution, in GB at anyrate, is to have "No Fear" tournaments, where nobody is allowed to do or say anything too fancy, and it has been (partly) successful



huh???

too fancy !!! umm, does anyone else find this dangerous??? ok, maybe dangerous is too strong. how about backward??? anti-intelligent. anti-learning !!

also this implies that someone or something is predetermining exactly what is too fancy.
Hello!! liberalism alert. socialism alert. danger. danger.

Norm...please, let's cool it with the ideological stuff. I've seen too many forums where wars break out between the liberals and conservatives.

Thank you.
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storm_norm



Joined: 18 Oct 2007
Posts: 1741

PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Marty,

sorry, just wanted to get that point of view out there.

not here to start a war.

I'll stick with the puzzles.

me=bed=sleep=dream= Very Happy = ....

oh, would you look at the time, yikes Exclamation

on a more serious note, I agree with cgordon.

Norm
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keith



Joined: 19 Sep 2005
Posts: 3179
Location: near Detroit, Michigan, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear all,

In my opinion, we do not have a problem.

I see that all requests for help are answered quickly and courteously, no matter the level of the question.

I also see that there are now many fewer questions on the basics of Sudoku techniques.

I don't know why, but I can guess some possibilities:

1. There are fewer new Sudoku addicts.
2. Online resources are much better than they used to be.

In other words, I am not so concerned about the questions not asked.

Personally, I learn something every day. I think the contributors to the discussion are very generous in sharing their knowledge.

Thank you, all.

Keith

PS: Look at the time! Insomniacs of the world, wake up! Here in Michigan, I was woken up by the power failure alarms on our various appliances. After some very cold weather and a foot of snow on New Year's Day, we now have very warm weather, thunderstorms, and heavy rain. And, for the past few weeks, many power failures that have lasted only a minute or two.
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Sweetpea



Joined: 24 Jun 2006
Posts: 14
Location: Minnesota, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 3:05 pm    Post subject: fewer help requests Reply with quote

Perhaps this is the time to split the baby. There are various reasons why each of us commits the time to playing Sudoku, and of all the online options I have tried, this site's format and display are certainly top-notch.

My reason is partly addiction, partly wanting to keep my mind active by solving the puzzles - keeping the cobwebs cleared at 62 yrs of age - but as a wife, mother, grandmother, volunteering church-lady, I have decided to stay at the earlier level of ease in solution simply so I can get on with the day.

Some "need" the challenge of extreme difficulty. I grasped the very ground level basics right away and I am content with this - more complicated solutions are annoying, in my case. When I do stumble, I try checking for help at the Forum; however, the verbage in solutions has become more sophisticated with unfamiliar (to me) acronyms. It could come across as having the pomposity of Frasier and Niles discussing an opera or a wine. I confess to rolling my eyes on more than one occasion and simply saying "Forget it!" It has spoiled the fun to a certain extent, yet I would not want to have the sophisticate group be forced to dummy-down to my level. There is room for both of us here.

Certainly both game AND discussion options could be designed to satisfy both sides/levels/choices. Well, I certainly displayed my OWN verbosity here! Sorry, Folks!
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cgordon



Joined: 04 May 2007
Posts: 769
Location: ontario, canada

PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 5:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Sweetpea: Instead of using acronyms like UR, ER or BUG + 1, one could write Unique Rectangle, Empty Rectangle and Bivalue Universal Grave - but these would still be meaningless terms to anyone who hadn’t studied them. The same applies to x-wings, xy wings and xyz-wings which are probably the most commonly used techniques for solving the Very Hard puzzles. I’ve been doing these Sudokus for about a year now, using only the above-mentioned techniques - and I still struggle. But the bottom line is that the Very Hard sudokus are impossible to complete without learning some advanced techniques (unless you guess). Once learnt, I think the acronymic language will make more sense.
I use the Sudoku guide at http://www.sudocue.net/guide.php#XWing This goes straight to the X-wing part of the guide which someone on the Forum recommended when I was struggling with X-wings (possibly the easiest of the advanced techniques !! ).
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Sweetpea



Joined: 24 Jun 2006
Posts: 14
Location: Minnesota, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello CGordon -

Of course you are right. My laziness has once again surfaced as the common denominator in my "problems". I usually am compelled to tackle a challenge to the end, and I have researched several of the Sudoku techniques in the past; however, I never really pursued any to the "a-HA!" point where it really has sunk in as logic. I will check out your suggestion - there's a very good chance it could turn things around for me. I think I do not like defeat, yet I haven't put out the effort to acquire the knowledge that could eventually change my attitude.

Thanks. It's just the urge I needed. I might even have more fun during a long Minnesota winter!

Lazy Me.
Rolling Eyes
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keith



Joined: 19 Sep 2005
Posts: 3179
Location: near Detroit, Michigan, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2008 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sweetpea,

Thank you for speaking up. If you are looking for help on a particular puzzle, please ask.

As cgordon says, the "Very Hard" puzzles require at least one of: X-wing, XY-wing, and XYZ-wing. And, at least to date, nothing more. But, many people have other various techniques that they apply, including coloring, unique rectangles, and empty rectangles.

The other levels of difficulty can also be vexing. As I said, just ask.

If you want to make even the "Easy" puzzles more challenging, you can try to do them without pencil marks. Or, as I sometimes do, do not pencil in solved cells until you can solve all the cells that contain that candidate.

Finally, there are sites that have puzzles that do not require "advanced" techniques, but are still quite difficult. If you ask, I could suggest one or two.

Best wishes,
Keith
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Sweetpea



Joined: 24 Jun 2006
Posts: 14
Location: Minnesota, USA

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2008 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the kind replies I have received. It's a good board. I have actually played w/o pencil marks several times - I always start that way now, and I have also created a few other twists to playing that probably required more energy than simply learning the options in the first place.

The purpose of this final reply was to let new and not-so-new players know how gracious the board can be, and each question is treated as a friendly discussion rather than a put-down. I realize all are welcome. Hope this can enhance someone else's enjoyment of the game.

This is a top-notch website. Good job!

Thanks!
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