Game on (3 April, 2021) – Alternative Version

Joe Bloggs mulled over the possibilities. After a poor start, things were starting to look up. He had obtained an empty column for the first time. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite possible to expose a card in column One. He had to turnover a card in column Two, Seven or Eight, and in each and every case he would use up the empty column.

Joe Bloggs had a few hobbies: Spider Solitaire, Sudoku and binge-watching his favourite YouTube channel. He could wield a mean thermometer, kropki, anti-knight, little killer and he could even recite a little-known theorem concerning sets of squares containing identical digits – but he never had an aptitude for Spider. Despite his years of experience at the latter he had somehow failed to improve his game.

Joe Bloggs glanced at the sky. He saw some small strange object, or did he? Perhaps it was just an apparition and his eyes we replaying tricks on him.

Column 2 was an option. The in-suit build was tempting but Joe recoiled at the thought of revealing another Ace. This was not Texas Holdem. Aces and Kings were not your friends. Kings could only shift to an empty space and nothing could move onto an Ace. Column 8 was also not great. Certainly no need to expose a third Eight at this stage.

Suddenly, Joe realised his eyes weren’t playing tricks on him at all. The object was getting larger … and closer. He quickly whipped out a pair of binoculars and was able to make out the shape of nine giant red letters. He had barely enough time to work out the anagram of DEEGKLNOW before being forced to close his eyes, drop his binoculars and cover his ears.

Most bombs give off an unpleasant smell but this one had a strange but pleasant peachy-smelling perfume, inducing a drunken stupor. Without knowing why, Joe ambled slowly towards the debris and quickly caught sight of a silver shiny scroll. He bent down and picked it up. He slowly unravelled the scroll and found the following inscription:

Was that God’s way of admonishing him for being such a poor student of the game? Or was God deliberately insulting his intelligence? Maybe a lame attempt at a prank? Not likely – he couldn’t imagine God missing the 1st of April by two days.  Whatever it was, God surely could have used a bit more tact. After coming back to his senses, Joe realised the layout of cards had somehow remained undisturbed – although the playing hall had been totalled. Luckily he was playing with physical cards instead of a computer.

Joe studied the cards again, and decided the correct play was to yank the J-T from Column one onto a Queen. Even though he could not shift that stupid off-suit 7-6-5, he knew that the chances of doing so later were considerable. Column 6 would never contain face-down cards no matter how well or badly he played, and even he knew from experience that having no face-down cards to worry about would make it so much easier to win back the empty column. Finally, Joe thought to himself, he was beginning to understand the deeper secrets of the game.

Unfortunately Joe Bloggs exposes a Two of Diamonds and is forced to deal another row. “Rot13(bu sbe shpx’f fnxr)” shouts Joe as he angrily slams a fresh row of 10 cards onto the tableau.

THE END