How to Play Numbrix

Tips for Solving Numbrix and Benefits of Playing

It shouldn't be a big surprise that a game invented by a certifiable genius doesn't have a bunch of gimmicks and tricks that allow players to quickly solve it. As vos Savant points out, anyone playing Numbrix online who decides to use the "hint" button is missing an opportunity to exercise their mind. She says that the best way to approach the game is to take your time, never guess, and use only logic and memory. "Pretend you're completing the puzzle in ink," she says. "This practice will exercise fluid intelligence because you'll need to keep several factors in mind at the same time."

Even though vos Savant urges players to eschew the "hint" button, she does provide one suggestion about how to best approach a new Numbrix puzzle. "The easiest way is to scan from the lowest number to the highest one and fill in any missing numbers where the placement is certain. Repeat this again and again, though the missing numbers will become less and less apparent," she says.

For Ira Bornstein, it's just as well that vos Savant doesn't have any hints about how to solve Numbrix -- he considers himself a puzzle purist and only gets satisfaction out of solving them all on his own. Besides, Bornstein believes that playing Numbrix helps him in his job as a chief operating officer and those benefits would likely be lost with quick and easy tips for solving the puzzle.

"Interestingly, at work it has helped me think non-sequentially," he says, in reference to his approach to solving Numbrix, which is to fill in chunks of the grid he can figure out easily at the start and then move to the harder areas. "It's a reminder that even if the results of a project end up in a sequence, a project can be worked in sections without forethought of how those sections will be connected seamlessly."

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  • Bornstein, Ira. Avid Numbrix player and chief operating officer for American Bancard. Personal correspondence. Aug. 3 and 9, 2011.
  • Friedman, Lex. "Fixable faults aside, this is one engaging puzzler." July 23, 2009. (Aug. 8, 2011)
  • Knight, Sam. "Is a high IQ a burden as much as a blessing?" Financial Times. April 10, 2009. (Aug. 8, 2011)
  • Parade. "Ask Marilyn." (Aug. 9, 2011)
  • Tierney, John. "Behind Monty Hall's Doors: Puzzle, Debate and Answer." The New York Times. July 21, 1991. (Aug. 9, 2011)
  • Vos Savant, Marilyn. Inventor of Numbrix and author of "Ask Marilyn" column in Parade magazine. Personal correspondence. (Aug. 6 and 7, 2011)