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Being Not Very Good
nickwales
Kwon-Tom Addict
Puzzles: 136
Posted - 2006.01.25 14:43:21
Why am I not very good at this? I can do Monday's now which is something but it takes me about 15 minutes if I'm lucky.
The other days I usually end up getting stuck and I use crosses and fix and every tool known to man. Maybe I am not using enough of my brain do you have to be a super geek and spend 23 hours a day doing them at first or is it just luck/practice or what?

Me - the rubbish one.
drnull
Kwon-Tom Obsessive
Puzzles: 901
Best Total: 23m 25s
Posted - 2006.01.25 15:07:40
The puzzles can always be solved with logic (well, sometimes you need luck and fix position, but not usually, except on Fridays...).

I would recommend going through the tutorial on the puzzle.jp site first, then trying the relatively simple beginner's problems on that site as well.

After that, go to the archives here, and notice the Monday puzzles link.  That puzzle.jp site should have given you enough pointers to get you started.  Then, if you think about different setups, you'll start to see patterns. 

For example, one of the patterns mentioned on puzzle.jp is

which will always be

or


Therefore, if you came along and saw a puzzle with

What do you know about the question marks on the 1?

So that's another pattern, based on the "2-in-a-corner" pattern combined with the "1-in-a-corner" pattern.

Other patterns are built based on what can't be true.  A pattern that was pointed out to me once was

You know that the question mark above the 3 must be a line.  If it wasn't, there would be an x there and the other 3 sides of the 3 would be lines.  That would result in x's being put on the right and left of the 2, leaving room for only 1 line around the 2.  That can't be true, therefore, the question mark is a line.

As for the fix position feature, make sure that when you use fix position, you are trying to work towards an impossible situation (like a loop, or an unfulfilled number).  Once you see that your first choice directly causes you to get into an impossible situation, then you know the first choice was wrong.

Again, though, you shouldn't have to use fix position too much.  Normally, if I have to use fix position on one of the "easy" puzzles, I'm missing a pattern somewhere.  The main thing, though, as has been mentioned here before, is practice.

Hope it helps.
astrokath
Kwon-Tom Obsessive
Puzzles: 3093
Best Total: 13m 42s
Posted - 2006.01.25 15:27:20
Quote:
Originally Posted by nickwales
Why am I not very good at this? I can do Monday's now which is something but it takes me about 15 minutes if I'm lucky.
The other days I usually end up getting stuck and I use crosses and fix and every tool known to man. Maybe I am not using enough of my brain do you have to be a super geek and spend 23 hours a day doing them at first or is it just luck/practice or what?

You don't have to be a super-geek, but I wouldn't be surprised if a few of us are...!

Believe me, it DOES get easier.  Back when I started doing these puzzles last year, Foilman seemed to be the only person who could regularly complete the lot in under an hour, and now there's quite a few of us at that level.

One thing to ask yourself - do you have a logical mind? How are you at other puzzles (e.g. Sudoku, Bridges, etc.)?  That'll determine how quickly you improve - how quickly you can see a solution without thinking about it.

Just to help you on your way, here's a layout that will give you 3 lines and two crosses.


But if there's a 2 there as well, you can add another line and a cross
Last edited by astrokath - 2006.01.25 15:27:50
procrastinator
Kwon-Tom Obsessive
Puzzles: 1083
Best Total: 12m 56s
Posted - 2006.01.26 01:22:26
As the others have said, it's just building your arsenal of patterns and getting practise at spotting them. There are about three other things that help you solve them: local loops, areas with an odd number of loose ends entering, and things solvable two different ways. None of those is allowed, so you can rule out doing anything that will cause them.

Most of the common patterns work on diagonals: if you know how many lines go into one corner of a numbered square, then you know how many lines must come out of the opposite corner. So look for diagonal chains of numbers.

Eventually, it becomes a matter of being able to read the implications of possible moves far enough that you can see when they lead to a contradiction. The more local patterns you know, the easier it is to read ahead, but that ability also improves greatly with practise. If you find that the implications of something cascade past the point where you can conclusively read it out, then it might be a good idea to use fix-position to check your logic. But I wouldn't use fix-position before then, because that denies you the practise at visualising it yourself.

All of the puzzles on this site can be done without fix-position, but it can be a quicker and less frustrating way of confirming your results when you read ahead a long way.

Different people will pick things up at different rates, but it certainly doesn't take years or anything: tzukanion has only been doing these puzzles for a couple of months, and she's already competitive with all but the fastest bunch of solvers. Of course she has been very persistent out of sheer determination to beat me, who started before her. Oh, and plus she's a super-geek as you say. *ducking*
procrastinator
Kwon-Tom Obsessive
Puzzles: 1083
Best Total: 12m 56s
Posted - 2006.02.07 17:33:09
Seeing your latest post, I guess our advice here hasn't helped so much.

I did Monday's puzzle using only techniques from the tutorials here and at puzzle.jp, plus by considering the combination of "2 at a corner" and "Drawing a line to a corner of 2" when the line comes into the 2 at the corner _opposite_ the blocked-off corner.

Maybe you'd like to go through it with the list of tips from puzzle.jp open in another window, then show us where you get stuck?

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