Since Phil started the Freecell thread, I thought it was time for a Spider Solitaire thread.
Here’s how I’m doing in Spider:
One suit: too easy. I’ve played a few dozen games; lost only once. Two suits: I play 100 games at a time, then reset. My last 100 was 63 wins, 37 losses. Four suits: I’ve played only 6-8 times, haven’t won a game yet.
I just started playing a few weeks ago after reading a thread about it. Here are my records so far:
One suit: 23 wins, 20 losses for a win rate of 53 percent. My high score is 1195. My streaks are 6 wins and 8 losses. Two suits: 120 wins, 478 losses, or 20 percent. I have a winning streak of 4 and a losing streak of 18, with a high score of 1190. Four suits: I’ve only played a handful of times. I haven’t won yet, and I have 7 losses.
One suit: 72%
Two suits: 23%
Four suits: 0%, again, only played a handful of times
I haven’t reset any of the stats since starting to play Spider a while ago. I know that I can always win on the one suit level now, and I seem to win most of the time on the two suit level these days. I’ll do like you suggest, and play for 50 or 100 games and then reset.
I assume people with these records are using undo and restarting games to find a solution. My record is 3 consecutive games at 4 suits, no undos, no restarts.
I play my own version of Freecell where I try to solve games without using the freecells (except for the automatic usage when columns are moved). Only 2-3% of games can be solved this way. It’s a handy distraction because you can try several games in a one minute break. I got 3 in a row this way once, but even 2 in a row is extremely rare, and just the luck of the draw anyway.
That said, on my home desktop where I play, I win about 53% with two suits (over a thousand tries) and 4% with four (~400 tries). That is with liberal use of undo. Before my last windows reinstall, I was up to 58% on two suits with thousands of tries.
I’ve got a high score of over 1300 on two suit. Sadly, I only noticed a few weeks later that I had such a high score, so I didn’t get to celebrate it at the time.
I’ve gotten good at playing, but it’s still the luck of the draw. Not every game is winnable from every initial set of moves. I’m not sure every game is winnable at all with 4 suits. You just have follow a good strategy and get lucky. I play one or two games when I get a chance, and if I win, I keep going. So getting 2 or 3 just comes from consecutive deals that can be won based on obvious moves.
My strategy (somewhat summarized):
Move mismatched suits from high to low. Once you put a 3 of Hearts on a 4 of spades, the 4 of spades is stuck there until you can move the 3 again.
Given a choice, move a card to the same suit.
If the same suit is not available, given a choice, move a card to a suit of the opposite color. This prevents mistaking a club for a spade later on.
Try to uncover the smallest piles first. You need empty columns to make complex moves.
When you get an empty column, make all other possible moves first so you can pick the best card(s) to move to the empty column.
When you have an empty column, always uncover a new card if you can.
Maintain sequential cards of the same suit on a column so you can move the whole thing to uncover a card or free a column up.
Always try to consolidate cards under the same suit before a new deal. You may not have the freedom to do that later on.
This is the worst part. After each deal, every time a column becomes empty, and frequently otherwise, go through the possible moves you can make to see what works out best. I would probably win more games if I did this consistently.
Doing this without actually trying and undoing the various possibilities is usually beyond my capabilities. I’m terrible at games that require me to think several moves ahead. My wife is much better at it than I am. I can’t even play Othello, much less something like Chess.
I’m pleased to note that I employ most of the strategies you listed, but without undo’s I’m sure my win rate would drop to near zero.
The reason I started playing my funny version of freecell was to develop the patience to work out several moves ahead. I also do things like clicking on a card to highlight one move, then hold the cursor over another to highlight the next move, giving me a bit of a trail to backtrack from. I’m not criticizing the use of undo either. If I started doing it I would waste hours trying to find the solution for each deal. I use the games as a seque between tasks, I find it a good way to get one subject out of my head and focus on a new one. But it’s not something I can spend much time at. Except occasionally in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. And then I play horribly anyway.