Game on (21 January 2021)

This is the position from last time

We asked the following questions:

  • What is the longest “straight-flush” we can obtain if we weren’t allowed to turn over any more face-down cards? (for instance 7-6-5-4-3-2 of Hearts would be of length six).
  • Can we guarantee three empty columns if we weren’t allowed to turn over any more face-down cards? Obviously these would be columns 2,4,6.
  • What is the minimum number of guaranteed turnovers?
  • What is the minimum number of guaranteed in-suit builds? Of course, if we get enough in-suit builds then completed suits might suddenly materialise by weight of sheer numbers 😉 More often than not, players have to earn them especially at the Four-suit level.

Let’s start with the easy one. Three empty columns is indeed achievable. We can clear columns 4,6 with five moves. We can then shift the Eight of Spades onto the Nine of Hearts and rearrange the 9-J-T-8 onto the Queen of Spades.

Minimum guaranteed turnovers is also easy: just take our three empty columns and then drill down column 3 like a madman.

Now we come to the more difficult question of longest straight flush. I believe there are some “professional” Spider Solitaire programs that do “card tracking” automatically, but the Microsoft Windows version ain’t one of them: Let’s take all four suits and thirteen ranks and record whether it appears face-up at least once in the tableau.

Assuming the noble Spider GM hasn’t goofed, I get the following:

We can immediately tell a run of 12 cards is available in Clubs. Unfortunately the cards are scattered in many columns and I believe it is not possible to obtain a run from King to Deuce, even if we were willing to trash our game state in every way possible. Yes, we get three empty columns, but it will cost two of ‘em just to shift the Eight and Two in column 5.

I can get a run of J-T-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2 in Clubs, but no better. If you do see a way please give me a heads up 😊

What this does mean is it ain’t necessary to consider other suits. From the tile-tracking above no suit other than Clubs can beat a run of ten, even if we were allowed to yank them from underneath the Kings.

If you’re one of the Awesome People you may remember we had a beautiful run of Clubs much earlier in the game, but for some reason that got scrambled up as we were desperately fishing for our first empty column. Now we have no problems with three empty columns, but the run of clubs is gone. Oh well, them’s the breaks. Perhaps we did not play optimally in previous rounds. That’s water under the bridge if you excuse the numerous cliches.

Finally we look at in-suit builds. An experienced player can tell that column 8 offers many possibilities for  tidying up: 8-9 of Hearts, 8-9 of Diamonds, J-T of Clubs and so on. Column 5 doesn’t offer many in-suit builds. There’s 9-8 of Clubs, but K-Q of Clubs isn’t actually possible. The only real benefit of digging Column 5 is two Victory Points for the longest straight-flush. And there are other ways to achieve VP. For instance, largest army or building lots of cities and settlements – no wait, I’m getting mixed up with Die Siedler von Catan. My bad. In any case we can improve our chances by keeping all options in mind and resist going all-or-nothing on the Clubs.

I won’t compute the maximum number of guaranteed in-suit builds here. If your OCD is worse than mine then you are more than welcome to compute this in your own spare time, but for now let’s focus on winning the game 😉

The observant player may have noticed I did not ask for the best play last time. This is because it took quite a bit of effort to evaluate this game state. Now that we have done some analysis, it is time to decide on the best play.

(I noted that Bart has already thought about the best play from a previous post. The above may prompt him to change his mind … or not)

How would you continue here?

3 thoughts on “Game on (21 January 2021)

  1. My proposal in the last post covered both what I would do if the 10-card run can be made and if it can’t. Honorable blogger is saying it can and I would follow that path in my earlier thinking (assuming I myself could make that long suit if I got closer to that result). I thought of a couple more reasons in its favor.

    1. The images I get aren’t very sharp, and before I had missed that we do have a queen of clubs on the board, and after a 10-card club run is built it is not behind any rank breaks. With the easily accessible king on the rightmost column, we are just one Ace away from having a complete club suit.

    2. The plus on the other side was “uncover 3 cards”, but after you make the 10-card suit you still have a space and you can uncover 1 card, so the net benefit is just two cards, not three. Possibly your way of making that 10-card suit uses up the last space, in which case this would not apply. (It is not obvious how to communicate about Spider very well. I imagine people’s eyes glaze over reading my text descriptions. You did not explain how to actually make the 10-card suit. That would be even longer. I suppose one option is a video.)

    On the other side of the ledger, turning that last card leaves no unturned cards under it, and thus creates four plausible spaces for the start of the next round, not just three. This is less important than the two points above.

    All that aside, esteemed blogger’s post says ‘The only real benefit of digging Column 5 is two Victory Points for the longest straight-flush.’ This implies that he not only does not favor making the 10-card suit, but estimates it as so bad it is not in the running. If the better line of play he had in mind was “uncover 3 cards”, it is unlikely he would speak of how long it took to understand the game state. So I infer he must see something else I don’t see. This has happened before, and I will await seeing how he has bested me again. I’ve looked at all the piles, and to me it looks like doing anything useful requires using up at least two spaces for an uninspiring gain, and most require putting a king in a space, making it impossible to quickly retrieve that space next round.

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  2. That’s my life in a nutshell, I say that clubs runs evade me and the truth is that clubs is where it’s at. I spent the longest of times tying to do clubs before posting my comment, then spent more time after posting and reading Bart’s comment, and then even more intensely after Master T gave the OK for a jack-down in clubs. I even built an Excel sheet so I could move things around and then put them back. I am so ancient that I am still using Excel and Word 2003. I’ll bet that the folks in Redmond roll their eyes back up into their heads every time I again register Office11 and think of how they need to somehow sell me an upgrade or three. I have certainly loaded 2003 onto new computers or crashed and re-resurrected ‘puters at least 20 times over the years. Did you know that Excel only has 16 zeekey’s available? I had to go into the Registry to change it to 75 as to be able to regress from the myriad of possibilities that SS always seems to offer. And I don’t like going into the Registry.
    But I digress.
    Finally in desperation I re-read Bart’s comment and realized he gave me the key to klub success, I just didn’t hear it so too good: Do not cover the spade six with the spade five. I cannot visualize that far out, but with this new knowledge and my cheatersheeter I can make the maneuvers to equal Bart’s achievment. Master T, even with this cheating I still cannot do a Jack-down but I haven’t given up and will continue with my frustration.

    OK, what would I do in this situation? We have done a lotta’-lotta’ work on this hand but I think I can honestly recall my thoughts upon first seeing this position.

    First off I saw that d and f can be cleared, d first. I certainly would have covered the spade 6 with the spade 5 and combined some hearts and diamonds. So clears d and organizes a bit, then on to f . At that point I saw the third column clearing, .
    That is about where my crystal ball ‘bilities ended. I can see three cards to be gained and that I would like first to get a card in g if possible, then two in c . And I keep looking at that club 10 and wishing……. But at the time I could not be sure of my version of best course of action.

    Permit me to move up to this point and do a new revisualization. OK. I made the moves described above .

    Now I can see the club 10 swap-out with the heart 10 in g.
    I can see no further improvements that won’t cost a turnover so lets proceed in getting new cards that also won’t work. In general terms, migrate all of g to b, getting a card. At this point I would give up on b and get closer to the four treasured turnovers that reside in h by putting the diamond 7 et al on the spade 8 in b then finish b with a 3-2 whammy from c. Now I’m ready for two turnovers in c.

    So says the amateur among us.

    I hope i did all the ‘s correctly, if not please call me out so I can improve.

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  3. Here it is again, same problem as others. I work this up in Word then copy/paste to Master T’s blog. Greater than/less than symbols don’t seem to want to go along on the ride. So I’ll try ()

    That’s my life in a nutshell, I say that clubs runs evade me and the truth is that clubs is where it’s at. I spent the longest of times tying to do clubs before posting my comment, then after posting and reading Bart’s comment, and then even more intensely after Master T gave the OK for a jack-down in clubs. I even built an Excel sheet so I could move things around and then put them back. I am so ancient that I am still using Excel and Word 2003. I’ll bet that the folks in Redmond roll their eyes back up into their heads every time I register Office11 and think of how they need to somehow sell me an upgrade or three. I have certainly loaded 2003 onto new computers or crashed and re-resurrected ‘puters at least 20 times over the years. Did you know that Excel only has 16 zeekey’s available? I had to go into the Registry to change it to 75 as to be able to regress from the myriad of possibilities that SS always seems to offer. And I don’t like going into the Registry.
    But I digress.
    Finally in desperation I re-read Bart’s comment and realized he gave me the key to club success, I just didn’t hear it so too good: Do not cover the spade six with the spade five. I cannot visualize that far out, but with this new knowledge and my cheatersheeter I can make the maneuvers to equal Bart’s achievment. Master T, even cheating I still cannot do a Jack-down but I haven’t given up and will continue with my frustration.

    OK, what would I do in this situation? We have done a lotta’-lotta’ work on this hand but I think I can honestly recall my thoughts upon first seeing this position.

    First off I saw that d and f can be cleared, d first. I certainly would have covered the spade 6 with the spade 5 and combined some hearts and diamonds. So (db,hd,hi,bh,dh) clears d and organizes a bit, then on to f (fh,fe,fc). At that point I saw the third column clearing, (bd,bf,gb,fg,dg,bf,bg,fg).
    That is about where my crystal ball ‘bilities ended. I can see three cards to be gained and that I would like first to get a card in g if possible, then two in c . And I keep looking at that club 10 and wishing……. But at the time I could not be sure of my what version of best course of action looked like.

    Permit me to move up to this point and do a new revisualization. OK. I made the moves described above .

    Now I can see the club 10 swap-out with the heart 10 in g. (hf,hd,hb,db,fb,gd,gh,gf,hg,fh,dg,bd,bf,bh,fh,dh)
    I can see no further improvements that won’t cost a turnover so lets proceed in getting new cards that also won’t work. In general terms, migrate all of g to b, getting a card. At this point I would give up on b and get closer to the four treasured turnovers that reside in h by putting the diamond 7 et al on the spade 8 in b then finish b with a 3-2 whammy from c. Now I’m ready for two turnovers in c.

    So says the amateur among us.

    I hope i did all the (blah,blah,blah)’s correctly, if not please call me out so I can improve.

    Like

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