“Minnie and her glasses did it again!” fumed Cy the Cygnet (*)
(*) Yes … I borrowed that idea from Frank Stewart’s excellent Bridge Columns
Minnie Mouse, the smallest member of the Duplicate Spider Solitaire club, wears second-hand bifocals that make her mix up same-colour suits, much to the chagrin of other players. Cy had been her chief victim.
“Now what?” I sighed. If I had a happy-face disc for every bad beat story someone told me then I swear I would never lose a game of Connect Four.
“The play had started well at my table. I had already turned over eight cards and I only needed one more good card to get an empty column.”
I nodded. Judging from the game state below, Cy hasn’t done anything majorly wrong yet.
“Alas, the next card in column 8 was the other Ten of Diamonds,” continued Cy. “Column 1 didn’t yield anything useful either, a Four of Spades underneath the Ace of Clubs.”
In this hand there is a stipulation saying no cards to be dealt from the stock. I presume this is to help students improve by focusing on one concept at a time.
“Game over, +100.” I said. “How did Minnie go?”
“Minnie started the same way, but then she moved the Ten of HEARTS in column nine onto column 2.”
“Thinking it was the Ten of Diamonds,” I said.
“Minnie turned over a Nine of Clubs in column 9 and that was all she wrote, if you pardon the terrible cliché. It wasn’t even close.”
“I’m okay with terrible clichés,” I replied. “I use them time and time again.”
“Minnie’s play was wrong on two counts,” insisted Cy. “Not only did she misread the suits, but her goal was to expose as many cards as possible, not build sequences in suit.”
Actually Minnie’s play was correct. There are three guaranteed turnovers in columns 1,8,9 even if the worst possible cards turned up – provided the cards were played in proper order. Cy’s impulsive play meant that he was no longer guaranteed to turnover a card in column 9. If he shifts the Js-0h in column 9 first then the turnover in column 8 will not run away.
One might even make an argument of shifting the Ace in column 1 first. This “kills” column 5, but column 7 contains a suited 2-A. Therefore, we will only regret this move if we turned over two Threes (whereas we only need one King in order to regret shifting the Js-0h). The important point is Minnie’s play was better than Cy’s.
“Has anybody managed to expose all the cards for a single hand yet?” coos the Smart 65,83,83.
“Don’t ask,” replies the Dumb Bunny.
“Shush!” I say. “There are still animals playing.”
Duplicate Spider Solitaire is a fun variant, particularly for lousy players who never get close to winning a game at the highest difficulty level. Certain stipulations are also provided such as “score 10 points per turnover” or “do not deal any cards from the stock.” Therefore, if you get into a complete mess you can always hope your measly score is enough to beat the others players who must play the same lousy hands. You gain match points whenever you perform better than anyone else.
Unfortunately I am not aware of any existing Duplicate Spider Solitaire clubs anywhere in the real world. Perhaps some of my Bridge friends would know of one (or are willing to start one!). If so, then please leave a comment below 😊