Post-Mortem Analysis – Round 4 (alternative version)

Hester(*) was no stranger to staying up late and battling through miserable positions against her better judgment. But even she would have conceded the current game if tomorrow wasn’t a public holiday – or if an “opponent” were able to send over a Backgammon doubling cube with the “2” face-up at the most inconvenient moment.

With apologies to Nathaniel Hawthorne

Hester vividly recalled her first lesson from Arthur: Arthur drew a large scarlet letter “A” on a whiteboard and explained in no uncertain terms that Aces were not your friends. The colour scarlet signified danger – a fact even Pearl would know. Nothing could be moved onto an Ace. One or two Aces did not seem like much, but she knew from experience having too many of the rot13(saqbref) exposed meant limited options in the middlegame. Although Arthur had repeatedly drummed into her head that Aces were even worse than Kings, Hester had to learn this the hard way – losing 500 games in a row on a Spider Solitaire server that would later be shown to be biased.

Every time Hester exposed an Ace, a little voice at the back of her head would remind her that “A” stands for “AAAAAAAARRRRRGGGHHH!!!!”

Eventually Hester realised that Aces were sometimes useful to complete a suit. How annoying it would be when she followed Arthur’s teachings only to end up with a lovely run from King to Deuce in a single suit – with the missing Ace hopelessly buried under some random pile of rot13(fuvg). The secret was to plan ahead for the right Ace, before it was hopelessly buried under some random pile of rot13(fuvg). If the Ace was covered by only one other card, her options wouldn’t be so limited – and she would avoid the random pile of rot13(fuvg) problem. As Hester’s play improved, she would realise that “A” stands for Awesome. After many further months of self-study, Hester had even surpassed her tutor.

On the next day, Hester received the sad news: Arthur – the club champion in “A” Division, and Roger – her Autistic partner who introduced her to Spider Solitaire, had both passed.

So said Hester, and glanced her sad eyes downward at the scarlet letter. And, after many, many years, a new grave was delved, near an old and sunken one, in that burial-ground beside which King’s Chapel has since been built. It was near that old and sunken grave, yet with a space between, as if the dust of the two sleepers had no right to mingle. Yet one tomb-stone served for both. All around, there were monuments carved with armorial bearings; and on this simple slab of slate – as the curious investigator may still discern, and perplex himself with the purport – there appeared the semblance of an engraved escutcheon. It bore a device, a herald’s wording of which may serve for a motto and brief description of our now concluded legend; so sombre is it, and relieved only by one ever-glowing point of light gloomier than the shadow:

“ON A FIELD, SABLE, THE LETTER A, GULES”

The End.

(*) Surnames have been withheld to maintain confidentiality

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