Uncertainty in Victory

Voice Card  -  Volume 29  -  Suzanne Card Number 1  -  Sun, Aug 1, 1993 3:04 PM

This is ONE OF 2 responses to VC 28 John 4 ("A Jigger of Solitaire")...

Forgive me for suggesting there might be no unwinnable initial spreads in Solitaire. Must have been my new streak of optimism rearing its saccharine shadow that made me say it - or whatever - but you've certainly proven me wrong on that one.

However, it still makes sense to me that moving cards off the piles from right to left would increase one's chances of winning. It seems to me that the larger the number of covered cards in a pile, the greater the chances are of the process of uncovering getting stuck. Using your example of the two of spades appearing atop the rightmost pile, the only way you could move the card would be to the ace of spades or to a red three showing on another pile. There is also the chance that all three of those cards could be hidden beneath the two of spades.

But say there is a red three to which you could move the card, but the two of clubs is atop the second pile from the left. You have a choice of which black two to move to the red three. However, there is no chance that the two of clubs could be unmoveable at another time solely by virtue of what is hidden beneath it, because this scenario would require the ace of clubs and the remaining red three to be there, which can't be the case because there is only one card beneath the two of clubs. Also, the likelihood of a crucial card being caught hidden beneath a face up card diminishes as the number of hidden cards decreases.

Addressing the argument about making space for kings, I think this needs to become a secondary issue. Generally, I would vote for uncovering a new card rather than making space for a new column. I'd rather wait until a move appears that will open up a new column when another competing move doesn't exist on the board. Of course if you have a configuration in which four queens are showing, then you might be a little anxious about making space for a king.

Rambling along to a broader perspective, though, it seems to me that the nature of a challenging game is one which you don't win all the time and can't be sure of winning. If the game were easy to win, would it be fun anymore?

So I guess I have a few more questions to add:

  1. What is the highest percentage of winning games of the total number of games played that a person could reach and still be having a good time?
  2. Would this percentage vary a great deal from individual to individual?
  3. What is the greatest number of games a person could play - (a) in one sitting or (b) over a lifetime - without losing his/her sanity?
  4. Would making the game easier to win over a particular session or a period of time make the game more compelling for the individual to play, or less? (i.e., more satisfaction from winning more often) Or would increasing the difficulty of the game be better? (i.e., more sense of challenge)