Estimating the difficulty of a Spidew Solitaiwe hand

That thing is hideous, Parson Gotti thought to himself.

The Dwagon Spidew eyes Parson warily and he returns the favour. It probably came from the city of Ruhan (in some dark corner of the Universe where HYGIENE is apparently not allowed in Scrabble). At least Parson wouldn’t have to engage in physical combat. All he has to do is arrange two decks of cards into eight complete suits from Ace to King.

“So that means no illegal moves, keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres and the Dwagon Spidew won’t mess with you,” said Parson.

“And most important of all, no swearing,” added the Monkey.

At least the monkey is on my side, thought Parson. How useful a mentor the Monkey is remains to be seen. Parson deals 54 cards onto the tableau and leaves the remaining 50 in the stock.

Parson glances at a number of skeletons and human skulls strewn over the floor. The Dwagon Spidew’s modus operandi is pretty simple, he thought. Simply wait for the human victims to perish from exhaustion, hunger, frustration, PTSD, whatever, or all of the above if they can’t finish the game.

Parson examines the starting layout. He counts only three guaranteed turnovers. Years of experience taught him the average guaranteed turnovers should be closer to four not three. But at least two of them would come from in-suit builds. And there were no Aces or Kings.

Parson shifts the Seven of Hearts exposing an Eight of Clubs, then shifts the Eight of Hearts (column 2) exposing the Four of Clubs, a second bad card.

“Oh for Boop’s sake!” mutters Parson.

The Eight of Hearts magically reverts to its original position in Column 2 and the Four of Clubs is face-down again.

“Wait – what is this boop?”

The Seven of Hearts returns to its original location in Column 10 and the Eight of Clubs is face-down again. Parson had returned to the starting position.

“So every time I say boop the game will boop a move – unless I am already at the starting position.”

The Dwagon Spidew nods in agreement. Alas, half the human population (including Parson) had difficulty pronouncing a certain word rhyming with “One Two”. And a vaccine for the dreaded Dysarthria virus wasn’t happening any time soon.

Parson moves the other Eight of Hearts on to the Nine of the same suit. At last a good card – the Three of Hearts, which can now play onto an off-suit Four in column 8.

Parson hears an ominous rumbling sound in the distance. On second thoughts, it was only his stomach telling him it’s time to eat.

“I couldn’t boil an egg to save my life,” grumbles Parson. He had long regretted living with his parents for 30 years.

At this point a hard-boiled egg magically pops out of nowhere and Parson eagerly grabs it with both hands. Phew, one less thing to worry about. Nom, nom, nom, nom, nom, nom, nom, nom, nom.

At length, Parson is able to secure his first empty column (not surprisingly with the considerable help of boop). His curiosity is piqued by the following thought: “how can I estimate my chances of winning without boop if I were a much better player than I currently am?”. But back to the task at hand. How to defeat the Dwagon Spidew?

(To be continued …)

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