Game on (18 July 2021)

Continuing the game from last week, this is our state of affairs and I simply asked my students how to continue without giving any specific goals in mind.

Thankfully the Happy Stars of Bethlehem have guided Schistocerca Americana to the road of redemption and he is no longer making fundamental errors such as dealing the same row of cards twice. SA has correctly deduced it is possible to clear a suit of Diamonds. This is not necessarily the best plan, but it is sufficient for purposes of this blog post.

Before we go any further, a few general considerations are in order. We have one empty column, one suit removed and undo privileges, yet winning is not trivial. This suggests the deal is harder than average (perhaps significantly so). Glancing at the cheat sheet suggests a number of problems:

  • There are five Nines in the last two rows of the stock. Therefore, we will always have a shortage of Nines, no matter how well we play the opening and middlegame.
  • There are four Threes in column 8. This means if we don’t clear column 8 soon we will have difficulties with Deuces.
  • There are many Fours buried under Kings in columns 4 and 9, so this may cause a problem with Threes later on.

I won’t discuss solutions to these problems yet. The purpose of this week’s post is to get the student thinking about potential problems in the future.  Anyways, let’s execute SA’s plan (the detailed move sequence is omitted – it can easily be found in SA’s comments to last week’s post).

Here is the resulting position, one move before the Diamond suit is cleared.

How would you continue here?

6 thoughts on “Game on (18 July 2021)

  1. Master Chi-Yuen I am honored and humbled by your usage of my work of last week to give us our start point this week. But let us always remember that I am using an extra visual aid (cheat), without which my analysis would be similar to that of Esteemed Scholar Bart, most likely less detailed.


  2. It’s still too hard for me. But that won’t keep me from replying. I figure it shows interest in what’s going on in the blog even if it sometimes goes beyond what I’m capable of.

    I will make one small suggestion for presentation. When we get to a position and are not going to undo from that spot, why not prune the cheat sheet to only include the cards that are not yet turned over? And similarly to only give the rows of the deals that haven’t been done yet.

    Otherwise, I will note that a general rule is to not remove a suit unless you gain something by it. There is no obvious and immediate gain to removing the diamonds right now.

    As others have observed, a suit that is not removed is often a lubricant. (I think Spider programs would be better if they did NOT automatically remove a suit once it is formed but require a separate action by the user to do that. Would be more satisfying too.) Short of a full suit, having large segments in-suit in two or three suits can be especially effective and allow amazing sorting and “combing” deep into piles even with very few spaces.

    I’ve mused lately if you could get a situation so complicated that the sorting could not be done in a reasonable amount of time. It has something of the flavor of the Tower of Hanoi, with powers of two. You swap the aces, so you can swap the 2s, but then you have to swap the aces again so you can swap the 3s, then the 2s again. I’ve seen it happen about 3 layers deep. The next question is whether you could get into that position in a reasonable time. If there is such a position, I think you could, quite likely, since suit breaks happen all the time arbitrarily based on the fall of the cards. I guess 2 to the 10th is only 1024, so even that would be within what a human could do.

    I await Grasshopper’s solution eagerly.


    1. Hi Bart, you raise some valid points. Some responses:

      (1) I hesitate to say “we will not undo from that spot”. It sometimes happens that when playing with undo we reach a dead end and have to go a LONG way back. It depends on how desperate you are to get that win.
      (2) I agree that not automatically removing a suit has advantages. But different programs have different rulesets and it’s hard to satisfy every single player on the planet. An “ideal” program will allow different users to toggle various flags such as auto-remove suits, allow dealing a row even with empty columns etc. Finding the ideal program is left as an exercise for the reader!


    2. Esteemed Scholar Bart, you wrote: “You swap the aces, so you can swap the 2s, but then you have to swap the aces again so you can swap the 3s, then the 2s again.”

      These are the funnest wins, when you have a complicated swap out going on involving three or four columns with perhaps a void and each time you gain an in suit build until 10 minutes later you have rendered order from chaos.

      Your comment on not clearing a run is well taken. Have you ever played this to the extreme and buried a “ready to run” with the next draw?


      1. Yeah, those wins are fun, though I can imagine a case where the complexity would make it no longer fun, to the extent the complexity was routine. I have never buried a suit ready to run with the next draw. Not sure it’s been carefully thought out, but it never occurred to me to do it. It’s hard to imagine how that would seem like a good play when you aren’t playing with Undo, but possibly it could be shown to be better if you had Undo to reveal unusual possibilities?


  3. Position 7-14-21 ( Four months ‘til my Diamond Birthday )

    I cannot emphasize enough that, for me, a third visual aid is necessary to do any move by move analysis. It doesn’t need to be as exotic as an AncientExcel CheeterSheeter, it could be as simple as altering Master Chi-Yuen’s Turnovers/Draws Sheet to grey over those cards that have been put into play. I say this because this week I realized that we had five voids and five columns that still had all their turnover cards intact and only one draw left but still with the clutter of so much info I could not visualize beyond a few basic steps. So again I flee to the comfort of my AE CS with known unturned turnovers at the top, cards in play in the middle and the last draw and the two unknown turnover cards below. From that point I do the mental shuffle.

    Enough blah blah blah, To work, To work

    Easy stuff first, do the Dia run


    Do a Club run in Col 1

    Shift Heart J to Col 3

    .ic (Is that a super move? Do I need to notate as such?)

    Swap out Q’s Col 9&10

    .ia, ji. aj

    Fill void with Club K Q and cover with J from Col 2

    .ia, ba

    Shift Club 8 in Col 9 to Col 7, move Club 10, 9-5 and 4-2 to Col 1

    .ig, ia, ca, ga

    Dig out the Club A and do Club run

    .ib, ci, ca

    If the above is accurate we have done a Club run and have maintained our void in Col 1. If not, you can stop reading now.

    Surely we have to do a Spade run next, the location of the last Dia 4 is unknown, the second Heart run has needed turnovers strewn across 5 columns and if we solve this thing my guess is hearts clear last, and lastly the Club 4 is trapped by the Dia K.

    So going forward from the point of removing the Club run I should think we should set things up so that, ideally, after the last draw we can make the Spade run and have two voids.

    I intentionally did not join the Dia K&Q in Col 9&10 with the idea that we needed a “Clean Queen” in Col 10 to accept the upcoming Club J from Col 1. If we are going for a Spade run next and if it is possible, we will gain a queen in Col 4, and a Club queen at that! So lets start by swapping out the queens in Col 9&10 and keeping one hand on the ZKey in case we fail in the spade run.

    .ia, ji, aj

    Fill the void in Col 1 with the Spade 8 from Col 3 and distribute the J 10

    .ca, ci, cd

    Take the last draw.

    Join the Club J 10 9 then do the spade run

    .da, ha, cd, hd, gd

    Create some voids

    .ad, ae, fb, fi, cb Three Voids

    If we can really get here I feel that it is a good position. If not, it was fun trying and deluding myself.


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