My friend is a Doctor of Spider Solitaire :)

It’s official – I have awarded my Scrabble friend a Doctor of Spider Solitaire. His first actual attempt was

  • Philosophy -> Peter Thiel -> Forbes 400 -> Bill Gates -> Microsoft Windows -> Windows 3.0 -> Microsoft Solitaire -> Spider (solitaire).

Unfortunately Peter Thiel does not link to Bill Gates in 1 step, and there were a few false leads with some Windows versions (e.g. XP) not having a Microsoft Solitaire link.

For those who prefer visuals – here is a screen dump showing multiple routes from philosophy to Spider (solitaire):

My friend says he likes paths that go through Creed Bratton/The Office (visible on the left if you look closely). I have nothing much to add here 🙂

Sad St Patrick’s Day

So apparently St Patrick’s Day Solitaire is a thing, which I wasn’t aware of.

The bad news is it’s exactly like Klondike (dealing 3 cards at a time), and I can’t be bothered trying to work out how to play well at that game. So unlike Pi Day there is no way for me to achieve awesomeness ☹

VERDICT: Nothing to see here guys, move on.

Six Degrees of Wikipedia

Well that was quick. One of my Scrabble friends pointed out “Six Degrees of Wikipedia” is a thing and therefore it is relatively straightforward to find a path from Philosophy to Spider Solitaire. Although my friend thinks it is cheating, he certainly demonstrated knowledge of something I wasn’t aware of. Therefore I am happy to grant my friend the title of Great Grand Master of Spider Solitaire – except I just realised I should change the title to “Doctor of Spider Solitaire” which is a brilliant pun on “Doctor of Philosophy” 🙂

Unless somebody can find a path from Philosophy to Spider Solitaire without the explicit use of Six Degrees of Wikipedia within the next two weeks, my Scrabble friend will earn the title of S. S. D. Potential SSD candidates also have to explain how they got there and prove it wasn’t dumb luck.

For reference below is a screenshot of Six Degrees of Wikipedia. Good luck!

From Spider Solitaire to Philosophy – and Back Again

And now for something completely different:

Let us try the following experiment. We start with the Wikipedia page on Spider Solitaire and then do the following:

  • click the first link of the “main text” (but ignoring anything in parentheses).
  • Rinse
  • Repeat

From the screenshot below, step 1 says should click on the word “patience”

After a few iterations we reach a closed loop of the form Philosophy > Existence > Ontological > Philosophy.

The interesting phenomenon is that the starting point is almost always irrelevant: if you pick a random page then it is heavy odds on you reach the same closed loop involving “philosophy”. Not surprisingly, Wikipedia itself has a page on this phenomenon and it is estimated (as of February 2016) that 97% of all articles in Wikipedia lead to Philosophy. The remaining articles either lead to “sinks” (no outgoing wikilinks), non-existent pages or closed loops other than Philosophy. This phenomenon was pointed out to me by someone from Adelaide University on the 4th of March.

Just for the record, here is the chain that starts with Spider Solitaire. I will not discuss this chain in detail – the reader is invited to draw his or her own conclusions:

  • Spider (solitaire)
  • Patience
  • Card games
  • Game
  • Play
  • Intrinsically motivated
  • Desire
  • Emotion
  • Biological
  • Natural science
  • Branch of science
  • Sciences
  • Knowledge
  • Facts
  • Reality
  • Imaginary
  • Object
  • Modern Philosophy
  • Philosophy  > existence > ontological > philosophy

Being a self-proclaimed Grand Master of Spider Solitaire, I am more interested in the reverse process. Starting from the Wikipedia page on Philosophy, is it possible for me to choose any outgoing links of my choice (not necessarily the first) and eventually land on the Spider Solitaire page? I don’t have a definitive answer. All I know is the random link algorithm proposed by my good friend Ninja Monkey doesn’t work so well!

If anybody can find a path from Philosophy to Spider Solitaire I will be happy to grant said person the title of Great Grand Master of Spider Solitaire. Challenge accepted anyone?


So apparently my work colleague did not have time to read Steve N Brown’s book Spider Solitaire Winning Strategies at all even though I took the trouble to bring the book to work and lend it to her. I have retrieved the book from her, and still haven’t had a chance to watch her play. Another 1 of life’s disappointments!