Kakuro Solving Tips
Interested in kakuro and just purchased, or thinking of buying, our kakuro puzzle magazine containing 100 kakuro puzzles?
Whilst kakuro is a reasonably well known puzzle, it is nowhere near as ubiquitous as the number one logic puzzle, sudoku, and therefore it might be useful to read this page before purchasing the magazine and tackling the puzzles that it contains.
A good kakuro puzzle is one that has a unique solution (all of ours have one unique solution) that can be reached without guessing (again, pure logic and number skills are needed to solve our kakuro). This is the most important thing to state as if you ever get stuck, know that there is a logical method you can use to solve the puzzle and you never need to resort to guessing.
To the right you'll see an example of a small kakuro puzzle. Now, the aim is to fill the grid with numbers such that the sum total of each run of white cells in a row or column matches the number at the start of it. You must only use numbers 1 - 9 and may not repeat a number within a run of cells.
The quickest way to get going with kakuro is to work out the unique sums, or those for which there is only combination. In this puzzle let's look at the top left. There is a '3' composed of two cells. This must be 2,1 in some order.
Now, cross-referencing is one of the key methods that you use whilst solving kakuro. There is a run of '4' from two cells, the second cell of which is the same as the top of the '3' (cell at row 3 column 3, or R3C3). Since this cell is shared between two runs, it must contain a value that can possibly occur in both runs. Now, we know that 4 from two cells must be 3,1 (2,2 has repetition so is not allowed) and the 3 is 1,2. The only common value there is the 1, so we can place a '1' in R3C3, and therefore we know that R3C2 is 3 and R4C3 is 2 and R4C2 is 1.
By working out the possible candidates for each cell, and then cross-referencing with other cells in the puzzle to whittle down the values until you know what must be placed, you are able to solve any of our kakuro puzzles. However, sometimes it is deceptively difficult, because with runs where there are many combinations you will need to think through the options and what is and isn't valid quite carefully, often cross-refencing with another run for each cell in the particular run you are looking at in order to narrow down the options and work out the options.
Kakuro is one of those puzzles where practice really does make perfect: not only do you get much quicker at knowing the combinations that have very few options and therefore being able to get to work quickly, but you also get better at spotting useful combinations that share cells whereby one combination heavily constrains the options for another run.
Now you know how to solve kakuro puzzles, why not buy the kakuro puzzle magazine and enjoy 100 puzzles!
Read more Puzzle Strategy Tips on a range of different puzzle types.