How to Solve a 3x3 Slide Puzzle?

There are several games out there designed to challenge you and put your mental capabilities to the test, but nothing challenges you more than a slide puzzle? Have you ever tried your hand at a slide puzzle and failed? Have a look at this post to find out how you can beat it.

Sliding puzzles, also known as sliding block puzzles, are a type of combination puzzle that involve a player sliding around several blocks, in order to achieve the correct end combination. Although a slide puzzle appears to be a piece of cake on the surface, it can get quite complex once you get into it. They were first invented in 1880 in New York by a postmaster who was toying around with the idea for quite a few years.

Sliding puzzles became highly popular from the 1950s, and puzzle developers started coming up with unique puzzles and combinations of their own. These included using letters to form a word when the puzzle was solved, and puzzles with several solutions were also introduced. Sliding puzzles range from simple 3x3 formations to much more unique and complex 50x50 puzzles even. They test your cognitive and mental abilities, as you have to carefully calculate each move in order to achieve the right combination at the end.

Table of contents


Solving the First Row

A 3x3 is the smallest form of the slide puzzle, and it is also considered the easiest among all of them. Moreover, a general rule of thumb states that the smaller the puzzle, the lower number of moves you require to solve it.

There are various methods that experts and novice puzzle players have developed over the years to solve the slide puzzle, but you can make use of a fairly simple method to navigate around the puzzle and finish it in a shorter time. Let’s have a look at the process that you can follow.

Move the First Block to the Top-Left Corner

The first step is to find the first block that should go to the top-left corner. Then, try to move it to the top-left corner. There will always be an empty space in the slide puzzle, and you can use it to direct block number 1 to its correct position. Now that you have placed one block properly, make sure it stays in place till the end of the puzzle.

When you are trying to bring any block to its correct position, consider how far it is from its actual position before making a move. This would help you visualize how to bring it in place in the least number of moves.

Remove the Last Block from the Top Row

The last block refers to the one that is supposed to be placed at the top-right position, or the last block of the first row. In a 3x3 slide puzzle, this is the third block. Even if it is on its correct position, you will find it difficult to move it to the left. Therefore, you can move it to the middle row temporarily.

Move the Second Block to the Top-Right Corner

The next step is to locate the second block, i.e. the one that goes into the middle of the top row. This block has to be moved to the top-right corner, just one position right from its actual place.

Move the Third Block Below the Top-Right Corner

Next up, you can move the third block, which was moved from the first row, to the position just below the top-right corner. This would mean that the second block sits in the top-right corner and the third one sits underneath it for the time being.

Move the Second and Third Block into Position

Now, it is time for you to move the second and third blocks into their correct place. To do this, you can make use of the empty space and move tiles around until the first row of your 3x3 slide puzzle has been completed. Once the top row has been solved, it shouldn’t be moved at any cost.

Solve the Remaining 3x2 Puzzle

Now that you have solved the first row, you will be left with two rows and three columns to solve, which makes it much easier to do so.

Move the Top-Left Block to the Bottom-Left Corner

This step requires you to move the top-left block (the second row) into the bottom-left corner. This would be block number 4, and it has to be moved to the last position of the first column.

Move the Bottom-Left Tile to the Right of the Bottom-Left Position

The next step is to move the bottom-left block, or the seventh block to the right of its actual position, which is on the bottom-left corner. This is somewhat similar to what we did with the third block in the first row.

Move the Left-Most Block into Position

Now, you can move the left-most block into its actual position, which can be done by moving the top-left block upwards and the bottom-left block into its position. By now, there should be only one block that isn’t in its place.

Move the Remaining Block into its Position

The last block, which is number 9, has to be moved into its position simply by shifting it to the left, and your puzzle is complete. Ideally, it shouldn’t take you more than 10 or 15 minutes to finish it.

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