Cheat Sheet

Brain Game For Dummies

From Brain Games For Dummies by Timothy E. Parker

Word games are not only fun and challenging but great for improving brain function and reducing memory loss. If word games such as crossword, logic, riddle, and Sudoku puzzles are your thing, try some helpful tips for playing and solving these puzzles.

Tips for Solving Word Games

Whether you're a game novice or a puzzle pro, you like to challenge your brain with word games such as crosswords, word scrambles, and cryptograms. Keep the following tips in mind to help you solve them:

  • Use a straight edge to guide your eyes if necessary, and check each row or column for the first letter of the word you're looking for.

  • If you get stuck on a word scramble, write the letters in as many different orders as possible until something looks familiar.

  • Look at one-, two-, and three-letter words first, and always use a pencil — you're likely going to make some guesses before arriving at the solution.

Helpful Hints for Solving Crossword Puzzles

Crossword puzzles are just plain fun to solve, not to mention the great mental workout you get. If you're new to working crosswords, keep the following basic tips in mind:

  • Keep key resources, such as the following, on hand (whether in electronic or hard-copy form):

    • A dictionary

    • A slang dictionary

    • A thesaurus

    • An atlas

    • An almanac

  • Work in pencil. When you're an old pro, you may insist on working in pen to up the challenge.

  • The phrasing of the clues determines each puzzle's difficulty, and it may take a while to get familiar with a puzzle's particular phrasing.

  • Look for fill-in-the-blank answers first; most people find them among the easiest to solve.

Logic Puzzle and Riddle Hints

Logic puzzles can take a variety of forms - involving numbers, words, or images - and they can be very easy or very difficult to solve. You don't have to worry about how a logic puzzle is put together or know specific strategies, but use your wits and the following tips to help solve them:

  • If you can think of more than one answer that makes good sense, chances are you've outwitted the puzzle constructor!

  • Your job is to study the language and figure out what's being hidden. Sometimes a single word can crack open the solution.

  • If you're stumped, you're better off stepping away than turning to the answer page.

Tips for Solving Sudoku Puzzles

When you're working on a Sudoku puzzle you can throw vocabulary and factual knowledge out the window. Keys to solving Sudoku puzzles are logic and diligence along with these key strategies:

  • It's harder than it looks! Even with the easiest puzzle, you won't fill in a Sudoku grid in a matter of minutes.

  • Each puzzle has a unique answer; you can't find multiple ways to solve it.

  • Start each puzzle by locating obvious, definite answers — those that you can solve simply by looking at what else falls within a particular row, column, and 3-x-3 box.

  • When you've exhausted the obvious answers, you need to find a systematic way to explore the less obvious (but still definite) answers.

  • Myriad advanced strategies exist. If you search for killer, advanced, or extreme Sudoku online, you'll find countless websites that contain strategy suggestions for the toughest of puzzles.

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