IM Bartacus and IM Bug had successfully beat the four-suit version of the Royal Game with the help of a few expert friends. Some of the advice was good, some not so good, but eventually they managed to remove all eight suits, albeit with some difficulty.
Meanwhile, Ninja Monkey had tested is new improved algorithm and reported a win rate of 6% inside a sanitised environment with Spider GM overseeing his every move. Now was the time to play with the big boys and see what it was really like.
Unfortunately, the first game did not get off to a good start. No sooner had the game started, Ninja Monkey was immediately ejected from the playing hall.
“What are those things?” says Ninja Monkey.
“Ngrmmph” replies Spider GM with the demeanour of a Scrabble player mega-tilting after picking up way too many consonants against a weak opponent.
“Eeeek!!! Monkey don’t understand Ngrmmph!!!”
“They are among my best and brightest students – but also the rudest” growled Spider GM.
“Tell me about it!”
“Rot13(Svpxyr nf shpx). One day Orange will play at GM strength. The next time Orange will play like a rank beginner and pin the blame on Dark Green whenever something goes wrong. Then everybody starts arguing for the better half of a minute. I don’t remember the last time somebody didn’t end up in detention!”
“This is the position when I got ejected from the playing group”, says Monkey.
“Okay, I see what happened”, says Spider GM. “You correctly calculated the minimum guaranteed evaluation score to be 61. That’s assuming 10 points for a turnover and 1 point for an in-suit build. In the worst case scenario we get six turnovers and one in-suit build guaranteed: even my Dad can do the math.”
Ninja Monkey nods in agreement.
“Now there are several ways to get 61. You can start with id, db, ec, eg or ei”. Any of those moves allows you to get 61, even if you turned over six Kings. Therefore any moveblock starting with the correct first move would score the maximum-minimum-guaranteed-score if you will.”
“Of course we should start with ib” replies Captain Obvious. “If our very first move is an in-suit build then we never lose any guaranteed turnovers.”
“Shifting the Five of Spades is entirely reasonable, since we have three Sixes” replies the Wise Snail, the world’s slowest player and Monkey’s best friend.
“When I ran my algorithm a second time,” says Monkey, “I indeed got the move ec”.
“Note that if we did get six Kings, all these opening moves are equally good,” says Spider GM. “But under normal circumstances, db is clearly bad because we lose a turnover if we expose a Nine. Monkey’s algorithm only considers the worst-case scenario when all cards turned over are bad”.
“Maybe you can think of a way to improve Monkey’s algorithm even further so it doesn’t start with moves like db”, says Captain Obvious.
“True,” replies Spider GM. “Unfortunately, even I have my limits, and I wanna enlist the help of some other friends – who either speak the Monkey’s language, or know something about the Royal Game, or preferably both.”
“The fact I win 6% of the time does mean looking ahead and calculating the consequences of bad cards is more important than getting the opening moves right” says Ninja Monkey.
“I agree you’ve come a long way since you first started Spider Solitaire with your famous random move algorithm”, replies Spider GM.
Spider GM leads his students towards a seedy-looking venue with a sign saying “Crazy House”.
“We call this place Git Hub” says Spider GM.
“Rot13(V jnf ubcvat sbe cbea uho)” moaned the Bad Idea Bears and rot13(Yhpl Gur Fyhg) in perfect unison.
“It’s a place for gits, pricks, dorks and old farts playing Bingo,” says Spider GM, “and the occasional unkempt computer nerd(s). A lot of us stay up late at night, against our collective better judgment. When you enter, you have no idea who you might bump into. Could be anybody from around the world …”
Confused looks from everyone else.
“I know it’s complicated but I’m hoping to find some really smart people among the nerds. Hopefully they will have some idea of how to play the Royal Game, or how to communicate with the Monkey to help him improve his win rate”
“Not sure if monkey like this!” squeals the Monkey
“Can’t be worse than those horrible coloured Blobs,” replies Spider GM.
“True,” says Monkey “Always true! Spider GM is always true!”
Ninja Monkey leaps into the air and into the arms of Spider GM. He cradles the monkey and assures everything will be okay …
Spider GM and his students enter the Git Hub. Meanwhile, Rot13(Yhpl Gur Fyhg) is looking rather bored.