Spider GM comments: Bart has kindly requested I shorten the Monkey’s sequences if he repeats the same position with redundant moves. I have done this manually for the time being, but hopefully I can fix up my GitHub code soon …
IM Bart/IM Bug, please confirm you are happy with this final position.
Not much to write about unfortunately. We got a terrible distribution with five Sixes, five Eights and zero Sevens. Not to mention zero turnovers. At least we got a few in-suit builds.
Bart mentioned that only 5% of distributions would be worse than what we actually have. I would be interested in how he actually measured that. Did he choose to focus on Sixes, Sevens and Eights before the hand or during the hand? Is he measuring the worst differential between any two consecutive ranks or three consecutive ranks? Is he applying the cryptographic Keccak-256 hash function to our game state and looking for any series of 81 digits that form a valid Sudoku? I brought up similar issues in an earlier post.
The other problem worth mentioning is four Kings are already in play. Change them to all Queens and our prospects will be much better (even though we still don’t get a turnover). The only bright spot is it is illegal for the computer to send over a very inconvenient Backgammon doubling cube centred on ‘2’.
This was a decent round. We got 12 turnovers, most of which are in-suit. In Monkey-speak our evaluation is 128 points, assuming turnovers are worth 10, in-suit builds are worth 1, and Spider GM hasn’t forgotten how to count. On the minus side, every column has at least one face-down card and we’ve all had our fair share of demoralising losses where no empty column was obtained for the entire game. Still, I think it’s too early to worry about that yet.
There were no complicated decisions to make and I would expect any half-decent player (such as my famous brother Terence Tao who introduced me to the game many years ago) to reach the same game state – ignoring some minor variation such as flipping a coin on the last turnover.
I expect future rounds will pose some more interesting decisions – as well as further insights into the strengths and weaknesses of Ninja Monkey’s algorithm 😊 Obviously I was never expecting miracles from NM, but having gained some experience with GitHub and Python’s tkinter package, I’m not in a position to complain. At least I have some idea for further improving the algorithm. Whether I actually get enough time to implement this is another story. But we digress.
With IM Bug is returning to the fold in about one week’s time, this promises to be more exciting than the current rot13(fuvgfgbez) involving Novak Djokovic and Australia. 😉 Game on!
After reading the comments on my previous post it is apparent that IM Bug will be busy for the first half of January but is happy to play Tomato Sauce once the game gets under way. So I will probably go with that. The game will begin at the start of the new year, give or take a few.
I anticipate there may be some teething problems with the “Ninja Monkey format”, so I am intending to play a game with IM Bartacus only but I will take things slowly until the (possible) teething problems are sorted out. For instance, I might ask IM Bartacus for the best move even for trivial decisions, or I might have longer breaks between individual posts. Not to mention the pandemic situation in South Australia might also have some impact on my blogging schedule. In any case, that would also mean giving IM Bug less catching up to do once he is ready to join the party.
An alternative idea I had was to start a game with 20 face-up cards instead of 10 (i.e. we are forced to deal 10 cards from the very start). This will ensure the initial decisions will (probably) be much more interesting. However, the main focus of that game will be teething problems with the Ninja Monkey format. I intend to abort the game on 14th of January (approx.) regardless of how well or badly the game is going. Once IM Bug is ready then I can start a proper game.
I’m expecting the first option is the way to go, unless both IM’s really like the second. The previous Among-Us shenanigans have taught me the simplest option(s) should often be given more respect than what I normally give.
Let me know what you think. Comments from new readers eager to show off their own Mad Spider Solitaire Skillz are especially welcome 😊
Red: I propose we simply clear Spades with “id, ai, ai”, study the resulting position for a few more days, then choose the best way to remove suits and/or turnover our next card. If we still can’t decide where the next turnover is, there is always the option of clearing Hearts next.
Green: Yikes, this is too complex even for me. I like the idea of not turning over a card and minimising the chance of rot13(shpxvat hc) by trying to do too much in one day. “id, ai, ai” it is.
Blue: I wanna start thinking about Spades, Hearts and Clubs. Therefore “id,ai,ai,hi,hf,ha,ei,ea,gi,gj (h12=i8)”, study the resulting position for a few days then choose whether to clear Hearts or turnover a card. Of course If Bart/Bug insist on a turnover today then I won’t stop them.
Actual play (Decision 35, 22 Nov): id,ai,ai, if,bf,bj, eh,ei,bg,bh, (b2=f1), bc, gh, ca,ca,ga,cd,gc,ha,fe,ig,df,fi,fh,ah,af,cd,bc → King of Spades
Green: I’m voting “ca”. The missing cards are AA2334556788JJ. We can’t claim a lock but one or two more good cards should see us home. At least this decision is relatively straightforward.
Red: I prefer “ba” working on a column with only three face-down cards. The alternative “ca” duplicates Tens in columns 3 and 6 so the usual advantages of not shifting a King to an empty column doesn’t apply. Removing the Clubs costs an empty column – that’s too suspicious even by my standards … uhhh just kidding 😊
Blue: I like “ca”. We have plenty of empties, so our main concern is avoiding “one-hole-no-card” traps – and the best way to achieve that is to focus on columns with the most face-down cards.
Actual play (Decision 36, 25 Nov): ca → Four of Spades (Bart + Bug + Blue/Green)
Actual play (Decision 37): fi, cf → Eight of Clubs (Trivial)
Actual play (Decision 38): ca → Ace of Diamonds (Trivial)
Green: Be careful, with only one empty column the obvious “ch” would be embarrassing if we turned over an Eight. Better to sacrifice an in-suit build with “gb, he, ce” so we are well placed if the next card is a Seven or Eight.
Blue: Another alternative is “gb, (d2=h1), cd” which doesn’t lose an in-suit build. We can afford to bury the Q of diamonds since a Jack wouldn’t embarrass anybody – except the impostor.
Red: rot13(OYHR VF FHF). We are very close to completing the second Spade suit so we don’t want the 3 of Spades buried under an off-suit 2-A. I support Green’s “gb, he, ce”
Actual play (Decision 39, Nov 27): gb,he,ce → Five of Clubs (Green + Red + Bart + Bug)
Actual play (decision 40): ic, ei, ce (trivial) → Three of Clubs
Blue: Everything is lookin’ really great/except for one thing that I really hate/we might not be able to navigate/ to the face-down cards in column Eight/sort it out before it is too late/My final plan is now ready to state – “cf, ha, hc, (e1=h4), (c4=h9) he”
Green: I like Blue’s plan a lot, although his rapping in the iambic pentameter leaves much to be desired. The missing cards are A235678JJ. The flexibility in Column 10 means either Two or Five is a good card. I don’t see any way to lose even if Red were allowed to call the next three cards.
Red: Green is waffling too much and “ce,bc” looks simplest. Either we revert to Blue’s plan or we can remove the Club suit using the Four of Clubs in Column 10. That’s four in the corner. Four in the spotlight, losing its religion. Note that we were lucky because the last two cards gave us exactly what we need to complete clubs without shifting that pile of rot13(fuvg) in Column 8.
Actual play (decision 41): dc,jd,cj,ec,je,df (no card)
Green: Bart’s intentions are clear. Turn over all cards in columns 2&4 then trust that the game is won even if the impostor were allowed to call the remaining cards. I vote “be,bg,bi” regardless of what the next three cards are.
Red: I also vote “be,bg,bi”, but if we have N guaranteed empty columns regardless of unseen cards then we also turnover min(2,N-1) cards in column 4.
Blue: Interesting that Bart refused to turn over a card even though we were criticised for the same on Decision 35. In any case, let’s get this rot13(fuvg) over and done with. I also vote the same as Red.
Actual play (Decision 41b, 29 Nov): irrelevant
The final Moves
We have no trouble turning over the last cards in columns 2 & 4.
It is trivially easy to turn over all the cards in column 8 and the impostor has conceded “defeat” 😊
We’ve managed to clean up the Spade suit and are only one Jack away from shifting it onto the foundations. Hearts aren’t too shabby either. We have also turned over every face-down card in columns 1 and 10. On the minus side, we still 15 face-down cards in the tableau – and only one deal left. The game is not totally hopeless, but we would need some luck right now. I should point out Bart and Bug have done well to reach this position. For obvious reasons, I can’t discuss the specifics of where they went right or wrong at every non-trivial decision.
The other important issue of course is this one:
It is possible that neither Bug or Bart has any clue what’s going on. It’s also possible that both readers have every clue who the impostor is, but are not letting on – hoping to make my job tougher (it’s hard enough playing the role of all three Kolourfull Kibitzers). Or the truth may be somewhere in between. We shall find out in due course!
Bart suggested I can use a google-doc so anyone can edit it. I s’pose I had better go with the flow to avoid howls of “Spider GM is SUS”.
Here is an embed link for a word document. Please bear in mind I am learning Google Docs for the first time, on top of attempting to mash up Among Us (App Store, not BoardGameGeek) with Spider Solitaire for the first time. At the risk of quoting someone else’s famous last words, what could possibly go wrong? 😊
Here’s a video of someone claiming it’s the smartest he has been in Among Us.
I have no idea what’s going on, but for some reason I did find it amusing. I suspect I would be absolutely terrible at games involving social deduction, and Jack would be equally terrible at Solitaire card games.
WARNING: contains coarse language
Hopefully we can return to some actual Spider Solitaire content soon …
Hitherto we have focussed on improving our own game. Now is the time to turn the concept on its head and critique the play of others. Bwahhahahahahahaahahah 😊
If you’ve ever tried to improve at Spider Solitaire, no doubt at some point in your life you attempted to google search videos of other players plying their wares and (preferably) winning at the end. You probably also noticed that not everyone can reach the lofty heights of GM Jan Gustafsson killing it in Banter Blitz, crushing various chess players online while simultaneously trash-talking about irrelevant TV shows and what-not. I’m sure there are decent Spider Solitaire players out there, but that obviously doesn’t imply they know how to make high-quality videos.