# Game on (24 Jan 2021)

This is the position from last time

First of all, a big thank you to anyone who took the time to analyse this game state.

My preferred play is to get three empty columns, then take a card in column 3.

I won’t claim this is the best play and/or attempt to analyse this position to the N-th degree, but I will make a few general observations:

• Getting a partial run of Clubs is not worth it. It costs two empty columns and exposes an Ace of Hearts (Aces are often undesirable since nothing can be played onto an Ace).
• We also should pay attention to column 8, since once we exhaust the “easy” cards in column 3 we might be in an embarrassing predicament of not being able to expose any cards despite having at least one empty column. However, we can turn one card in column 3 and still have the option of taking a card in column 8. So may as well start with the easy option and reassess later.
• Note that turning over a card in column 8 would cost two empty columns – but would not be a terrible play. For one thing, it allows us to build a partial run of Hearts from King to Eight. Also, the Nine of Spades may take care of the Eight of Clubs in column 5.

Since we are playing for a score of 1000+, we should think about careful move orders. My preferred play is: bi,di,di,fh,fe,fc,bd,gf,bg,dg,bg ,cb,cd.

Note that the 9-J-T-8 of mixed suits in column 2 is particularly awkward. Clever attempts to expose a card ASAP (thus gaining more information) before taking our three empty columns do not work – as far as I can see.

We turn the 8 of Diamonds. This means we’re definitely taking the Nine of Spades in column 8. We then get two more Threes, which at least means we’re closer to using the cards in column 5 if we need ‘em.

Thanks to our foresight, we avoid the one-hole-no-card problem alluded to earlier. If we get empty columns then there are plenty of easy turnovers in column 8 to go around. We get the SEVEN OF SPADES …. Hallelujah! This is such a good card, I’m taking a screenshot 😊

Unfortunately we get another Three of Spades. This leads to an interesting problem.

We got a glut of Threes in the last few cards. Suddenly we want to shift the King of Hearts in column 1 to an empty column – and immediately get it back with the Four of Hearts. But this is not possible.

The main point I wish to make is three empty columns ain’t a licence to claim immediate victory. I learnt this lesson many times over at https://www.free-spider-solitaire.com/. Perhaps it was possible to anticipate the problem in column 1 with more judicious play. I probably would have been more careful – except I already committed to winning with a score of 1000+ ☹ If this game is lost then at least I can blame my mobile phone’s random number generator.

Anyways, let us continue. The Seven of Spades gives us back an empty column in column 4 and we have to take another card in Column 8.

We cleared all cards in column 8, but now we have to use up the empty column. How would you continue?

## 4 thoughts on “Game on (24 Jan 2021)”

1. Bart Wright says:

1/23/2021

Well, hats off! You’re thinking considerably farther ahead than I ever could. I think I can follow how what you are doing works after you spell it out (mostly). For instance when you go to clear column 8 out, there must be a steppingstone, and I have no idea what or where it is. Two free columns let you move 3 things at a time, but you need to move at least 4… and was there more on that column than got put on the 8 of hearts? … I can’t remember. If you have a steppingstone like a jack, you could have accommodated more. I could understand more if I set the situation up with real cards and moved through it a step at a time. But at that point it becomes a sort of puzzle that is divorced from how I actually could play a Spider game, and so less interesting on that account.

Anyway, I could never plan that far ahead in advance. Fortunately a person can win a lot of the time without going into quite that much depth, but you, esteemed blogger, undoubtedly win more often than I can.

When I can’t plan that far in advance, I am stuck a lot of the time using heuristics, and I find myself being most interested in them.

A fair amount of the time we don’t have a detailed situation to analyze but are making judgment calls depending on how likely certain future situations are to come up in much less complicated situations. You and I could perhaps profitably compare notes on those, though your ability to plan farther ahead may give you slightly different and better judgment calls, but my hunch is not by much.

One example was the past decision about whether to build a partial diamond suit on a king of diamonds in a space or one that covered four cards. My intuition was (and is) very strong that the space is better. You initially chose the other one and at the end were still at most uncertain as to the answer. That led me to underestimate your abilities in the game. Sorry about that! Given only what I know, it is still possible that I am right about that despite your ability to plan much further ahead.

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2. Bart Wright says:

Without spending a load of time on it, here is what I would in fact do and why. The highest priority is making sure columns 2, 3, 4, and 8 are “atomic” — a single in-suit run or single card that can be moved in one move.

Plan A: First I would take the 6-3 of clubs from column 2 and put it on the 7 of diamonds in column 7.

Next I would put the 2 and A of spades into the space in column 8 and then redeal. It is of course tempting to put them on one of the 3s of spades, but if we put it in a space, we have maximized our chance of being able to reclaim a space next time. If we can manage to get rid of the card that lands on it, there are then 3 3s which are candidates to receive it if we can expose one of them.

Plan B: Put the 3-6 of clubs directly into the space, and move the A-2 of spades onto one of the 3s first. That leaves only 2 7s which could receive that 6, instead of the 3 3s in the other plan. However, it has the advantage of moving that A-2 of spades to reduce slightly the disorder of the game. It’s a toss-up which one I would use.

At this point I have very little doubt that there are one or more better moves, but those are the two I see using the amount of time I might put into the decision in a real Spider game.

Heuristic time:

Very often you have this problem of deciding what to put in a space before the next deal. One rule I use is to look at all the “end” cards of the piles, and if there are multiples, then when possible peel off an “atomic” unit of cards from some other pile to put in the space, to expose yet one more of the most frequent ones. The closer to Ace you are, the more likely you will have an atomic unit. For instance a single ace is of course always atomic. It’s not bad to have an ace in the space (or something that ends with ace), because if there is some ace to be moved after the deal you want it to go somewhere other than that potential space, to facilitate freeing it up now or later. By moving the ace you have freed up a 2 somewhere.

Late in games one of the most frustrating things is the search for that 1st space after a deal. You can often see that if you could just get one space then you could move things around to get 2 or 3 more — but if you can’t get that first one, you are helpless, and the next deal of cards will typically make things more complicated and with even lower chances of coming up with a space. Thus the value of having 3 cards that could receive your space-filler instead of only 2.

Guru blogger, I’m very curious what you think of those two general observations.

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1. Esteemed Scholar B thank you for explaining your Heuristic Time in such terms as even this lowly Schistocerca Americana can perhaps fully understand. I feel more wins coming to me in the future due to your willingness to share your experience and intellect.

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3. Wow, Master T, how you do ‘dat? You are indeed a master manipulator. In most conversations that would be a degrading observation but not here.