Solve NYT Hard Sudoku 17 Feb 2021 like an expert. Patiently chip away with the single digit locks to create critical breakthrough not easy to see.

First solve then learn from the solution. The puzzle and the solution should be enjoyable to you.

This puzzle has only 23 out of 81 cells filled with digits. It is a hard Sudoku.

### NYT Hard Sudoku 17th February 2021: Solution needed patient breakthroughs but not very advanced Sudoku techniques

#### Stage 1: All breakthroughs over

Hidden singles: R4C2 5, R2C1 3.

Naked single R6C1 4.

Hidden singles: R5C2 7, R4C6 7.

**Cycle (1,8) in R6.**

**Single digit lock on 5 in C8C3, R9C3:** **major breakthrough R2C5 5 by parallel scan for 5 on R2.**

**Single digit lock on 1 in R8C8, R8C9:** **second major breakthrough** R1C6 1 by **parallel digit scan for 1 on C6.**

Naked singles R3C5 2, R1C5 8, R2C6 4, R2C9 2, R4C9 1.

Hidden single: R8C8 1

** Parallel digit scan for 2 on R1:** R1C2 2.

**Double digit scan for [1,4] in C1, R2:** Cycle (1,4) in R3C2, R3C3.

**R9C6 8 by parallel digit scan for 8 on C6.**

DS [1,4,6,7,9] in R7 reduced by [1,4,9] in R7C7: DS [6,7] in R7C7 forms Cycle (6,7) in R7: **breakthrough R7C3 4. This is the last major breakthrough by a little complex possible digit subset reduction (DS reduction).**

Naked singles: R7C4 1, R7C5 9.

Solution next stage. No more challenges left.

Results shown.

#### Stage 2: Solution is now all naked and hidden singles

Hidden and naked singles only.

Solution shown.

### Sudoku Techniques: Based on the fundamental three Sudoku rules

**Hidden single: Row column digit scan:** **Most basic:** If a digit appears in a row and a column (or a second row) to eliminate all but one cell in the intersecting major square, the digit scanned must be placed in the single cell in the major square available for it. This is a **conventional nomenclature**, but basically is the simple row column scan resulting in a unique valid digit cell.

**DS reductions or possible digit subset reductions:** The is used nearly at every step on the way to the solution. It specifically is useful for giving naked singles or Cycles. **DS reduction for breakthrough usually occurs** when DS in one zone (say row) interacts with the existing common digits of a second intersecting zone (say another intersecting column) **reducing the DS in the intersected cell** to just 1. **Example:** DS [5,7,9] in Row R8 intersects with Column C8 containing [5,9] reducing DS of intersected cell to **breakthrough R8C8 7.**

**Naked single by DS reductions: **When DS reduction in a specific cell **by the unique digits present in the affecting row, column and the major square leaves only one possible digit for the cell**, we get a unique digit valid cell. This is conventionally called a **Naked Single.**

**Double digit scan:** **Same two digits appearing in a column and an intersecting row** restrict the **possible cells for the two digits in the affected major square to just two.** This creates a Cycle of the two digits scanned simultaneously.

The digits scanned must not be present in the major square scanned and unaffected empty cells must be exactly two for creating the breakthrough two digit Cycle.

**Parallel digit scan:** In parallel digit scan, a single digit appears in a number of rows (or columns) eliminating the cells of an intersecting column (or row) for occupancy of the digit scanned. This may leave a single cell in the affected column (or row) for the scanned digit providing a breakthrough.

**Cycle:** If the same set of 2 (3, 4 or 5) digits in different combinations appear in 2 (3, 4 or 5) cells of a row (or column or a major square), no other cell of the row (or column or major square) can have these Cycled digits. Example: A Cycle of (8,9) in two cells of a row debars any other cell of the row to have the digit 8 or 9.

**Single digit lock:** When a single digit appears in DSs of only two cells in a row (or column), the digit is locked in this row (or column) and its cells. *No other cell in the affected row (or column) can host this locked digit.* Usually, a single digit lock is sought for within a major square. This debars the cells of the major square from hosting the locked digit as well. **For example:** if digit 4 in R4 and R6 eliminates all cells of the central middle major square for 4 except R5C4 and R5C5, we get digit 4 lock in R5 and **also in central middle major square.** *Digit 4 cannot appear in any other cell in R5 or the major square.*

Single digit locks may occur also with same digit in three consecutive cells in a major square row (or column).

**Rare is the single digit lock spread over more than one major square**, but **these may be of great value** if a pair of such single digit locks happen to share two columns and two rows resulting in more **valuable breakthrough digit pattern of X wing or still more powerful chained single digit locks.**

### More Sudoku hard puzzles you may like to solve and learn how to solve

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**How to solve Sudoku hard puzzle games full list (includes very hard Sudoku).**

*Enjoy solving Sudoku hard.*