treecardgameS develoPs exclusive gAmes with your fun in Mind

News update: I just checked my spam folder and found EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED: an excuse to post something meaningful in my Spider Solitaire blog after it ran dry for more than a month. I should probably check this folder more often from now on.

The word “SPAM” can be obtained by deleting the appropriate letters in the title of this post, but the word “HAM” cannot (rearranging letters is not allowed). Therefore, I have classified the image below as spam.

For what it’s worth, TreeCardGames is the software company that started it all.

Has anyone come across similar spam messages that are related to the Royal Game? If yes, how did you deduce it was spam? Let me know in the comments 😊

Spider 99 Should Be A Thing

If you’ve read this blog during the last few months then you probably know I like to spice up the Royal Game by mashing it up with other games such as Backgammon or Among Us. I’ve now decided to take it to the next level by combining the Royal Game with Tetris 99.

Tetris 99 Spider Solitaire mash-up

For those unfamiliar with the concept, Tetris 99 is an insanely cool game from the Battle Royale genre. The aim is to be the last one standing. Your playing arena is at the centre of screen, and you have 49 opponents on your left and another 49 on the right. Doing the math is left as an exercise for the reader. You can clear lines and send them to opponents, and they can return the favour. I thought it would be even cooler to have Spider Solitaire instead of Tetris, if only because both games have exactly 10 columns in the tableau.

If I were tasked with designing Spider 99, I would start with one-suit only, as shown in the diagram. After all the game is supposed to appeal to a large audience (presumably most of whom will be novices). Besides there won’t be much time to strategize for complex move sequences. Clear a suit and you get to damage other players by forcing them to prematurely deal a fresh row of 10 cards. You can get combos by e.g. clearing suits for two or more moves in a row. And don’t forget your opponents will be looking to do the same to you 😊 You can change your “settings” to target random opponents, opponents close to dying, or opponents who are attacking you. If you K.O. somebody then you win badges and your attacks become more powerful. If you top out by having too many cards in a single column then game over. Technically, it should be “bottom out” since unlike Tetris 99 stacks start from the top not the bottom. But you know what I mean.

Once you get down to 50 players remaining we can up the difficulty level by moving from 1-suit to 2-suit. And of course, 10 players remaining means we get the dreaded 4-suit level. And before you ask … rot13(haqb) is not allowed. The original Tetris 99 music is one of many reasons why that game is awesome and I see no reason to change it.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the smarts to program Spider 99 by myself, so this will remain as a thought experiment only. But at least I have a reason to add a new post to my blog. 😉 Of course if you have any other insanely cool ideas for mashing up anything with Spider Solitaire then please let me know. Until next time happy Spider Solitairing.

Yet Another Digression: DJDJDDJKDK is the new COVFEFE

So here I am, innocently literature-reviewing something that is work-related. Spider Solitaire is the last thing on my mind. Someone has written an interesting Ph. D., titled “An Analytical Framework for Soft and Hard Data Fusion: A Dempster-Shafer Belief Theoretic Approach”. I’ve been there many years ago, so anyone who has something to show after three years of solid research has my respect. The author successfully navigates the first hurdle by not spelling Dempster with a ‘u’ (GIYF). After 16 pages it’s all looking good and the dude seems to know what he’s talking ab– rot13(JUNG GUR NPGHNY SYLVAT SHPX) JUST HAPPENED?!?!?!?

“Decision-level fusion: Here, each sensor makes a preliminary estimation of an entity’s identity in terms location, attributes, or any other DJDJDDJKDK.”

Yes, you read that right.


All capitals.

Ten consonants in a row.

Don’t bother looking it up in Scrabble. Even if it happened to be legit, there are not enough D’s J’s K’s and blanks in the bag to spell that word without violating the laws of physics.

Yes, rot13(jung gur shpx) indeed.

I mean, this word beats “covfefe” hands down. At least the latter has only seven letters and some of them are vowels. I could understand ASDFASDSDF if somebody was too lazy to type “Lorem Ipsum” as place-holder text. But D and J/K are separated by three letters on a standard keyboard last time I checked, so button-mashing doesn’t seem a very plausible explanation of DJDJDDJKDK.

I did what any self-respecting research scientist would do: I googled the thing. Nothing, zilch, nada, zippo, duck’s egg. Buckleys plus Buckleys squared. Worse-than-Anton-Smirnov-getting-smashed-with-the-white-pieces-against-Duda-in-26-moves. With nothing to go on, it looks like I have to invent my own definition.

Not. Even. Close.

Let us say that a DJDJDDJKDK is a special cheevo that occurs whenever you deal ten cards from the stock, such that the first card is any diamond, the second card is any Jack, followed by another Diamond, another Jack and so on. That’s a total of five diamonds, three Jacks and two Kings. Probably a lousy deal unless some of the diamonds happen to be Queens or Tens, or you have strong chances of completing a suit of Diamonds.

Assuming cards are drawn with replacement it’s easy to compute the probability of a DJDJDDJKDK. Every diamond occurs with probability 1/4 and every Jack or King occurs with probability 1/13. The overall probability is obtained by multiplying (1/4)^5 * (1/13)^5. Of course, the cards are not drawn with replacement but it’s a reasonable approximation to say the chances of achieving DJDJDDJKDK are not exactly great. We can improve our chances a bit by allowing any permutation of DJDJDDJKDK. Also, the Jack (King) of diamonds can count as a J(K) or a D. But If I were the author of a Ph. D. mentioning the words “decision-level fusion” I wouldn’t be betting my Ph. D. to a brick on the elusive DJDJDDJKDK given those odds. The above image is a randomly generated 4-suit hand, and clearly, we are not even close to a DJDJDDJKDK. We only need one “bad card” i.e. not a Jack, King or Diamond to disprove a set of ten cards achieves DJDJDDJKDK. But if it ever does happen in my Spider Solitaire career, I would definitely let the whole world know 😊

Well, that’s enough digression for today. How would you explain someone choosing DJDJDDJKDK as a Ph. D topic? And more importantly, how would you define DJDJDDJKDK?

April Fool’s Joke Explained

IM Bart has reminded me via email I haven’t yet explained the joke on 1st of April.

It turns out if you click the last link with words “please click this link” you do not get the video of Never Gonna Give You Up. Instead you reach my Spider Solitaire paper in the UNSW high school Parabola (which doesn’t involve any Rick-Roll at all).

Oh of course

I’m Seeing The Same Scam Ads Again And Again

Well, not much luck with my efforts to get more readers into Spider Solitaire. I’m sure IM Bart and IM Bug will appreciate someone else stepping up to share the load.

Maybe I need to take a leaf from Facebook’s book (yes I know!) and start thinking of creative ways to encourage more participation in the Royal Game. What would Zuckerberg do?

What Would Zuckerberg Do?

Happy April Fool’s Day

In this document I will discuss April Fool’s Day and various other pranks. Your mission, which you must choose to accept, is to figure out what all this has to do with Spider Solitaire.

As is well known, April the 1st is the day for pulling off pranks against people who were not born with the awesome gene. When I was in High School, my Geography teacher once wrote the date as 29th of October which wasn’t even close to the correct date. At least one student fell for it. Fast forward to the last decade and I once boasted about scoring over 600 in a single game of Scrabble, but I failed to produce any evidence the game was real. There was no mention of my actual score, plenty of phonies such as ETEARIO* instead of ETAERIO and OT* (a very common two-letter phony when someone isn’t paying attention!). The best giveaway was FOOLISHLY on a triple word with only the “Y” connected to the rest of the board. Therefore, this play is mathematically impossible unless someone had eight letters on their rack without opponent noticing – not to mention FOOLISHLY is an appropriate word for any prank involving today’s date.

What makes an April 1st prank successful? I can think of the following criteria:

In my Scrabble example, a switched-on person may notice the board has an abnormally large number of questionable decisions, indicating at least one player is deliberately playing below is true strength. But if the person is switched-off then that’s hardly gonna impact his Key Performance Indicators in the workplace.

We should also remind ourselves that all pranks have a use-by-date and April Fool pranks are no exception. After the initial laughs, we need some ingenuity to keep things fresh. A good analogy would be Rick-Rolling. It was “grudgingly-accepted-funny” the first time around and perhaps the second and third, but I can’t imagine any self-respecting comedian of today attempting a Rick-Roll without putting “a new twist on the theme”. One well-known example is the atrociously written high-school essay on Niels Bohr but my favourite Rick-Roll occurs in Grant Woolard’s Classical Music Mashup III, which you would have to google for yourself. Actually that was only my second-favourite. If you really really really really really really need to see my Absolute Favourite Rick Roll Of All Time then please click this link.

Happy pranking everyone!

The Ideal Game of Spider Solitaire Among Us

You and five friends wake up on a deserted island. Luckily you have brought two decks of cards and all your friends are fanatics of Among Us and Spider Solitaire. How would you design the rule-set for a Spider Solitaire Among-Us mashup?

I came up with the following:

  • There are four cool mates and two impostors. Both impostors know the identity of the other impostor.
  • Cool mates win by removing eight suits or by ejecting both impostors.
  • Impostors win by stalemate (i.e. eight suits are never removed) or ejecting enough cool mates to achieve numerical parity.
  • At each “turn” all players discuss what is the best move or sequence of moves (it is not necessary to turnover one or more cards). Cards can only be moved after unanimous agreement by all remaining players.
  • Any player can call an ejection(*) if they believe someone is acting stupid.
  • You can call ejections as many times as you want! Beware that calling too many ejections without purpose will likely result in yourself “winning” an ejection
  • If an ejection is called, all active players have a minute to vote to eject any player of their choice or pass. The player with most votes gets ejected. Ties mean nobody gets ejected.

(*) We all know it should be “emergency meeting” but I can’t resist the bad pun!

Sanity Checking

To verify these rules are reasonable one can observe the following:

  • If the game is “guaranteed winnable” regardless of the distribution of unseen cards then the cool mates can force a win (unless the impostors already have numerical parity). All they have to do is agree on the same winning move and eject anybody who suggests a move that doesn’t guarantee a win.
  • If the impostors achieve numerical parity with cool mates then they can easily force a stalemate by always voting to move no cards and voting for the same cool mate in every ejection.

Spider Solitaire Among Us in Real Life

Of course, in real life it is not really possible to get an ideal game of Spider Solitaire Among Us. I can’t pull 6 random people off the street and demand they be expert players with plenty of spare time on their hands, so during the last few weeks I had to compromise somewhat by playing multiple roles of blogger, cool mate, impostor etc. On the other hand, it should be feasible to convert any solo-player game into an Among Us mashup – particularly if the game is already popular. For instance, you can have six Chess or Backgammon friends play as a team against an AI. If you’re really mad, I guess you can have two Chess teams of six players each but with one impostor per side. You’re really only limited by your imagination. Anything goes as long as it obeys the laws of physics!

Any thoughts on how to play an ideal game of Spider Solitaire Among Us are more than welcome!

Among Us Lite – Round 3 Summary

Final position in Round 3

An eventful round. We snagged the last unseen card in Diamonds (the Three), enabling us to clear the suit – but at the expense of a turnover or two. The Kolourfull Kibitzers had some robust discussions along the way.

With one suit removed, I expect the worst is behind us (in terms of complex decision-making) but we only managed to turnover two cards this round. Still, there is plenty of play left for the good guys. An excess of even-numbered cards is still a problem, but as the endgame approaches, we have every right to expect … the odds to shift in our favour.

Yep, looks like Spider GM is still in fine form. Bring it on 😊


SA has suggested I add another move “cb” before dealing a new row of cards and Bart is happy with this decision