Don’t Miss the Forest for the Trees (alternative version)

Forrest Gump, Treebeard (from LOTR) and the Elephant Man walk into a bar. Treebeard starts a game of Spider Solitaire with the others watching. He soon reaches the following position:

“This is not great,” said Treebeard. “What would you do here?”

“I’m not sure,” replies Forrest. “But I think we should step back and take a look at the big picture.”

Treebeard enjoyed the routine of computing minimum guaranteed turnovers, calculating outs (the chances of getting a “good card”), looking for in-suit builds etc. Long term planning was beyond his comfort zone. But Treebeard had to admit his win rate was rather lousy. Perhaps there was more to Spider Solitaire than computing minimum guaranteed turnovers, calculating outs, looking for in-suit builds etc

“We seem to have an abundance of various ranks and severe shortages in others,” said Forrest. “We have a million Twos and Fives, negative million Threes and Nines. Not to mention we have very few in-suit builds. In fact I don’t see a run of three cards in-suit anywhere.”

“Don’t forget about possible cheevos,” says the Elephant Man.

“Wow!,” replies Treebeard. “You remember everything.”

“They don’t call me Elephant Man for nothing.”

“Yes,” replies Forrest. “We shouldn’t forget the cheevos – you never know when they come in handy. Unfortunately I think at this stage of the game we will have enough trouble winning, let alone achieving a cheevo. So forget about cheevos for now.”

At this point a Muppet walks into the bar and joins the group.

“Allow me to introduce myself,” says the Muppet. “I’m Count von Count from Sesame Street.”

“Hey I remember you!,” says Elephant Man. “You appeared on a previous blog post by Spider GM!”

Count von Count places a glass of water on the table. Unfortunately, he never dared to touch a drop of alcohol. Imagine what would happen if he submitted to temptation and his fan club found out!

“Um …” says Elephant Man, “I’m wondering if you could contribute some meaningful comments for this game.”

“I’m not very good at this game,” says Count von Count.

“Don’t worry,” says Treebeard. “None of us are any good either.”

“I guess I can count the cards if that helps,” offers Count von Count.

Count von Count quickly takes out a crayon and sketches the following table on a piece of paper:

AceTwoThreeFourFiveSixSevenEightNineTenJackQueenKing
4623644414545

“Interesting,” says Forrest. “There is only one Nine exposed. So, there is a reasonable chance more Nines could turn up very soon”

“With two free Tens available,” says Treebeard, “a Nine certainly wouldn’t hurt.”

“Or if you had the same luck as me exactly fifty-nine days ago you might draw four Nines and three Threes on the next deal,” says Elephant Man.

“I only see one free Ten,” says Count von Count as he finishes his water.

“But we can put the Four on Five, Seven on Eight and free the Ten of Clubs, so we have two virtual free Tens,” says Treebeard.

“That’s why I’m not very good at this game,” laughs Count von Count.

“I should also mention the abundance of Twos may not be too much of a problem,” adds Forrest. “We have a junk pile in column 3. That takes care of two Deuces. So that’s a small piece of good news in a game that’s not going so well.”

“Thanks for your analysis,” says Treebeard. “I think I am finally getting to understand the secrets to improving at Spider Solitaire!”

“Now, where was I?” Treebeard asks himself. “Oh, that’s right. I was trying to work out what my next move should be.”

THE END

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