Game on (27 March 2021)

This is the position from last time

The obvious play is fj,fj but Bart recommends to tidy up with eb,eh,eg,je presumably followed by fe,fe turning over a card. In fact there are several reasonable options to choose from, despite the fact we have only one guaranteed turnover. Let us look at the position a bit more closely:

After fj,fj we get an extra turnover if we expose any of the following cards: A4577TJK. Note that I count the Seven twice since that gives two turnovers.

With Bart’s suggestion we get a turnover if we expose any of the following: A47TJK. Note that a Seven is only worth one turn-over since the 6-5 in Column Two is offsuit. This would be a significant price to pay in a game that’s not going so well. Another long-term problem is we are shifting cards off column 5 but there is little chance of clearing the King of Hearts anyway – unless we get something like 8H-7H-6H-5H-4H-3H-2H-AH on the next deal. Good luck with that!

Looking for other options reveals the possibility of working on column One with ab,jg,aj,fj,fj. This allows a turnover if the next card is any of A4577TK and also guarantees the best possible  layout in column 1 even if we get a bad card in column 6. A disadvantage is we commit ourselves to shifting the Jack of Diamonds onto a Queen when we might prefer the Jack of Clubs.

Our main priority is turning over cards and empty columns.  If we get an empty column then in-suit builds will take care of themselves. With several reasonable options to choose from there is no standout play. I chose the simple fj,fj (note that jg,fg,fg is an extra in-suit build but would not result in a turnover if we get a King).

We turn over a Five of Clubs – good thing we kept that Six of Clubs free, and as Texas Holdem players are wont to say – it was suited!

We turn over the Four of Spades, and that’s our first empty column!

Unfortunately we’re not yet in a position to party hard, pretend the game is Backgammon instead of Spider Solitaire, whip out a doubling cube and look for someone willing to bet against us winning with at least one cheevo to boot. We’ve still got some work to do.

I know it sounds trite but with great power comes great responsibility. Our empty column means there are a great many possibilities to consider, and therefore more chances of choosing a sub-optimal line of play.

How would you continue?

2 thoughts on “Game on (27 March 2021)

  1. Mr. I.M. Snee-Kee wanted to teach people how better to play the holy game of Spider Solitaire (pray and look to heaven each time you speak the name). He found a Spider program with an ability to save a game state so a game could be resumed where it was left off. So he could play several moves, then save the game to reload at the start of the next week’s lesson. However, interesting games often became uninteresting because bad luck led to positions that looked impossible — and in fact turned out to be impossible. Occasionally good luck led to easy wins. The class didn’t develop an appreciation for the holy game of Spider Solitaire that it deserved.

    But then he had an idea. He played a bunch of games, stopping each one frequently to take screen shots, playing from beginning to end. This was by no means an unpleasant task, as he thoroughly enjoyed playing the holy game of Spider Solitaire. When he finished an especially interesting game, he chose that for the course. “Interesting” meant it was a win and not an easy one. Once a set of desirable achievements beyond merely winning had been determined, he could also choose a game that included one or more of them.

    Then it was time to offer the course. All that remained of the anointed game was a series of screen shots. He stopped the game at points along the way to get his class to offer opinions, and they could argue about what was best, but there was in fact only one way to proceed from any given point — the way it was actually done in the original game, on to the next screen shot. Since Mr. Snee-Kee only put a certain amount of effort into each of his games originally, he could occasionally agree with his class based on the extra effort that there was a better line of play given the information they had at the time. But they in fact had only one way to proceed — the way I.M. had chosen originally.

    One of the students was fooled until he noticed that the teacher didn’t explain why he chose a less-than-optimal line of play, but when he did the luck in the uncovered cards or subsequent deals was better than expected by chance — more than once. At first he wondered if Mr. Snee-Kee was just using the Zee-Key, but while that could result in better luck “locally”, it couldn’t assure that the game was in fact an interesting one. The student then caught onto the larger plan. When he voiced his suspicions, the teacher then turned to him with a benevolent smile. “You just figured that out NOW? Took you long enough! Now, on to your next lesson, Grasshopper!”


  2. As for last week, I gave a “column 5” plan, you gave a “column 1” plan, and then there was “just the turnover”. Now that I see it, I like your column 1 better than my column 5. But then you went with the simple “just the turnover, ma’am” plan. I’m surprised you would choose the “just the turnover” plan instead of cleaning things up some more one way or another.

    As the cards lie, the “just the turnover” plan beats my column 5 plan, as you note, because having the 6 of clubs free is a great boon when the 5 of clubs comes up. However, on your column 1 plan, we get a 6 back, as we newly exposed the 6 of hearts. So when our 5 of clubs from the turnover came up, all we had to do was move the 5 of diamonds to the 6 of hearts (ba), and then move the 5 of clubs in-suit as you did.

    But, on to the future! I know it’s great to have a space, but I’m not thrilled with the options in front of me. Perhaps by “with great power comes great responsibility” you were not implying that wonderful things were coming our way right away.

    In terms of turnovers, I don’t see any way to get one without using the space up again. If we had enough elbow room, we could move the 7 from column 1 onto one of our 8s, but I don’t think we have enough space to do it. We can get the jack-ten out of there, using a delayed version of your column 1 plan, but we end up with 5-6-7 all off-suit. The space can take the 5, but then what? One way out of this class of problem is to find a receiving 6 or 7 somewhere for a steppingstone, but we don’t have one. Another is to find a 5 of hearts to temporarily borrow to slip in in place of the 5 of diamonds. And while we do have a 5 of hearts, it’s not in a reversible position, and we can’t use it without using up our space, so that doesn’t help.

    As I see it, we can use our space to get a turnover in column 2, 7 or 8.

    8 is interesting. It turns over a card from a 4-pile instead of a 3, which is a disadvantage in the hunt for most spaces. With this plan we do NOT do the delayed column 1 plan. Instead we move the jack of hearts onto the queen (j to g), the jack of clubs onto the queen of spades (h to j), put the 8 in the space, and then have a 3 to put onto our 4. Having a 3 is good flexibility, because now we can do something with 2s if we want to. But I don’t see any 2 move that is fabulous. With the receiving 3 we can clean column 3 up a bit but that doesn’t seem so important. Our 4 can of course be in 3 different places before we put a 3 onto it.

    For all remaining plans we start with the column 1 plan from last time that is still available to us. It removes disorder from column 1. We also move the 432A from column 4 over to column 5 to leave a bare 5 of diamonds on the king of spades. We might need that receiving king soon.

    There are two variants of the column 7 plan, “queen” means moving the queen directly into the space, “five” means putting the column-4 five in the space and putting the queen on the column-4 king.

    In comparing column 2 or 7-queen… In the column 2 plan we’re using up our single receiving 2. In favor of column 2 is that there are 6 7s still to be seen compared to just 3 kings, meaning the chances of moving that 6 back out of the space immediately (or perhaps after the next deal) are greater. On the other hand, in the near future exposing the king in column 4 as a home for the queen is reasonable too (if we don’t do it right away with the “five” variant). To me, the deciding factor in favor of one of the column 7 plans is that we keep the receiving 2 free, to handle any of those 4 aces still lurking unseen.

    Between the two column 7 plans, the five plan puts a 5 in the space. There are 5 unseen 6s compared to just 3 unseen kings, but on the other hand the additional option of moving that column-4 5 next time to pull the queen back out is lost. But also the “five” plan serves to simplify the game position. So while they are very close, I would choose the five plan over the queen plan.

    So, in summary, we make the space (fb) and then do the column 1 plan (af,jg,aj,fa), then 7-five (de,df,gd) to look what’s under the queen in column 7.

    So, I found 4 decent plans to compare and argued for one of them, but I still don’t feel very optimistic about it, and I’ll be eager to see what you’ve come up with.


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