Game on (25 April 2021)

This is the position from last week

The obvious option is gf,gc turning over a card in column 7. As usual, the obvious option isn’t always the best.

First, we can improve this slightly by building in-suit with the 8-7 of Hearts. More specifically, ig,if,gf,gi,gc does the job. To be more succinct, we can use a “supermove” and write that as if,gi,gc.

We also observe that we can turnover column 1. Although there is no empty column and all cards in column 1 are off-suit we have enough “stepping stones” to achieve this. One advantage of this is it gets a difficult task out of the way. There is a much better chance we can turn over column 7 later. Whereas if we refused to turn over column 1 then we might have to wait much longer for another opportunity.

However, this is all moot – we could just as well turn over column 7 and if nothing good happened we could still shift the Six of Hearts in column 1 onto the Seven of Hearts. So Column 1 isn’t a problem after all.

Yet another option is to turn over column 3. This avoids dumping an off-suit Seven onto the Eight in column 6, so any Nine gives us back an empty column. A severe disadvantage is it exposes two Aces. Remember that nothing can move onto an Ace, and in some cases, too many Aces can be worse than too many Kings.

Bart recommends the following:

  • Shift the Seven of Hearts in column 7 onto the Eight, remembering to build in-suit of course.
  • Move the Six of Hearts in column 1 onto the Seven of Hearts.
  • Shift the Five of Spades in Column 5 onto the Six of Spades. This allows several in-suit builds, but at the cost of exposing an Ace.
  • Take the turnover in column 7 and hope for the best.

Note that we were able to do a lot of shuffling cards despite the lack of an empty column.

Bart has also noticed that we have all cards in Hearts exposed apart from the Four. I think it’s too early to play for Hearts since we still need several good cards to reach them. For instance, column 10 contains the only Nine of Hearts and we need any King to shift the Queen of Diamonds in column 10 etc. I would rather focus on turning over cards, remaining flexible and avoid exposing too many Aces.

I like to think in terms of a “Hierarchy-of-Wants”. The diagram below isn’t exact but should suffice as a rough approximation (you can tweak this as you gain more experience). Ultimately, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact we wanna to remove complete suits, win the game and land the cheevo(s). But we need to build on solid foundations. We have only one turnover and desperately fighting for an empty column. Now is not the time to think about completing the Hearts. However, we do have some flexibility – as evidenced by the fact we had so many options for shifting off-suit cards despite the lack of empty column.

My recommended move sequence is: if,gi,gc

We get the Seven of Clubs. Bobbins. After some tidying up, we deal another round.

You may have noticed I took the trouble to shift the 4-3-2 of Diamonds on to the other Five of Diamonds. This avoids having two “free” Fives in the same column. If something bad happens to column 9 (e.g. the King of Clubs!) then we may well end up with a shortage of Fives. Still, not the most important consideration here, but I’ve lost enough games to know the importance of attention to detail.

But we digress, once again it’s time to ask ourselves how should we continue?

2 thoughts on “Game on (25 April 2021)

  1. I certainly agree with your hierarchy of wants. The question is how to apply it in any given case. The consideration against my move is I guess “remain flexible”. I use up a six, which reduces flexibility. I had mentioned that the heart suit was within sight, but it was a minor consideration, and creating those in-suit pairs was the stronger motivation. Doesn’t your inner 4-year-old want to imagine something good in your future? 🙂 “See, see, hearts might happen!”

    I know one general rule is “reduce disorder in the game”, and it’s interesting that in this case you chose not to but I did. Leaving moves unmade sometimes gets you in trouble if those cards from the next deal will bury all your plans. But here I have no grounds to question your judgment. Seeing how you would do it is how I learn.

    On to the future: It looks to me like this deal is actually very good.

    I used my “spiderwing” program to try to confirm that the ranks on the board are notably more evenly distributed than before. And indeed it looks like only 30% of random sets of this many cards would be more harmoniously ordered in counts of adjoining ranks, while 50% would have been more harmoniously ordered before.

    I can see how to retrieve the space and get three guaranteed turnovers with the space still available. I can’t really think of any other sensible plan.

    First, we get the space. fd,ja,gj,fj supermove.

    Our turnovers are in columns a, b, and g. G is the highest priority as there’s only one card unseen and we might get a second space. gj,ge.

    Assuming nothing happens to change plans, I would reveal a. ji supermove,aj supermove.

    To reveal b we are going to lose a bunch of steppingstones. There is so much loss of flexibility here I just might not do it no matter what. I certainly hope something good happens in the first two turnovers so this isn’t necessary. Moving that jack will lose our last queen, moving that 6 will lose our last 7, moving the 8 from column e will use our last 9 as we expose the 2, and moving the ace will use the last 2.

    With a space and some steppingstones there are opportunities to clean things up too. For instance, we can probably make a jack-queen-king in diamonds in column j. The good news is that all the cleanup is happening with reversible moves so we can play around without needing to work it out in advance.

    My crystal ball sees us getting a couple 4s showing up as we do turnovers in column g and a, which will give us THREE spaces. That gives the sort of flexibility that would let us get optimistic about this game.


    1. Thanks for your comments. I like your thoughts about “reducing disorder in the game”.

      This is in fact one of the great paradoxes of Spider. On the one hand we want to reduce disorder, because our win condition is “zero disorder” by definition. But ordering cards can never be undone (except for “splitting” a sequence like 7-6-5 at the expense of an empty column). Thus we want to maximise disorder in order (badumtish!) to maintain flexibility 😊

      I think the heart of winning play at Spider Solitaire is knowing when to “cash in” or when to “maintain the tension” – the latter phrase seems to be a favourite among strong chess players 😊 I wish I could give a simple recipe for this, but the best I can come up with is “this only comes with experience if you pardon the terrible cliché!”

      I am not aware of your Spiderwing program. Perhaps I should be the one learning from you when it comes to coding …


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