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I'm a big fan of Spider Solitaire. I don't know when this addiction began (I'm thinking sometime around 2005) but since then I've wasted many an hour trying to accumulate sets and best my old record. Of course, there are several solitaire-based games out there, the best known being FreeCell and the original Solitaire, but I find the "Spidey" version the most enjoyable because it's easier to win than traditional solitaire and more difficult to win than FreeCell. It's sorta like comparing football to baseballwhich is just a tad bit too slowand basketballwhich is, in my opinion, way too fast. Football, in contrast, is just right. (I know, there is a version of spider in which one has to make all sets the same suit but that is almost impossible to win. Also, there is a beginner's level in which same colored suits are not required, but that is too simple. The intermediate level, in which suits have to color match but not be the same suit, is just right.)
That's not to say there isn't room for improvementnot in the way the game is played, but in how to expand its "playability". Up to now, you simply played out a hand and either eliminated all your cards and won or you didn't. It's pretty straight forward in that respect, with games lasting about 4-5 minutes. However, after a fashion that straight win-or-lose format gets old, lessening the interest level. (This is what eventually killed FreeCell for me.) As such, after some experimenting, I've devised a means by which the game might be made more interesting as well as last longer. I call it Spider Solitaire Tournament Play, and I guarantee you it will make whiling away the hours far more enjoyable.
How is it different from regular Spidey Solitaire? The biggest difference is that it plays off of several hands and it includes basic math as part of the scoring. Read on to see specifically how it works. I think you'll enjoy it.
OFFICIAL SPIDER SOLITAIRE TOURNAMENT RULES
as Devised, Developed, or Otherwise Invented by Me
First, tournament play only works with Spidey set at the intermediate level. The game itself is also played as normal. (If you don't know how to play Spider Solitaire, stop here and learn the rules. On the other hand, why are you reading this if you've never heard of the game?) What's different is that I assign point totals to completed sets in each handminus the number of cards playedin an effort to reach a certain point total in the allotted hands. So this is what you do:
First, you'll need a pen and paper. Number it one through four in a vertical columnleaving a little space between numberswith the word "FINAL" at the bottom, like this:
Now you begin a game as normal, trying to build sets and getting rid of all cards (which most players can do about 15% of the time). You'll notice as you work through the game that a running total of moves are being recorded in the lower right hand corner of your computer screen. (There's also some sort of three digit score being kept as well but ignore that. It doesn't factor into tournament play.) These are going to be points against you, so obviously you want to get through a hand in the fewest possible moves.
Points are earned only from completed sets (Ace through King in a given color) with a complete set worth 60 points. You continue to play until either you complete all eight sets (480 points) or you run out of possible moves, or you simply stop once your last deal has been made and you don't want to continue the hand. Once the hand is finished, you tally up your point total. Let's say, for example, you completed two sets in 55 moves before you stopped or you got the dreaded "no more moves possible" box. The two sets together are worth 120 points, but it took you 55 moves to do that. As such, you subtract the 55 points from the 120 points you got for the two sets for a grand total of 65 points for the hand. You'll put that next to the number 1. Easy enough.
What if you didn't get any sets? Then you are in the hole with a -55 points, which you would put next to 1. It can be quite a challenge to win the game if you get too deep in the hole, but a lot of fun if you can. (Don't forget when adding negative and positive numbers together to always subtract the lower number from the higher number. For example: +50 points added to a score of -30 equals +20. Add positives and negatives together.)
At this point you go on to your next hand and do the same, keeping a running total of points for each hand. Let's say in the second hand you didn't get any sets and you made 42 moves. That -42 would be subtracted from the first hand's 65 points, leaving you with a balance of +13 points. At this point your scorecard would look like this:
Then you move on to the third hand and so on. So how many points do you need to win? 300. Seems like a lot but it's not if you regularly complete sets in each hand. For example, if in the third hand you get four sets, that's 240 points. Minus, say 90 moves, that's a total of 150 points, which, when added to the previous 13 points you already have, equals +165 points, with two more hands to play. That's already half way there! Additionally, if you have a complete handthat's one in which you complete all eight setsthat's 480 points (minus your moves) and the game would be over. It's really not that hard to get 300 points. I usually do.
Now you could just play it this way and be perfectly happy, but I wanted to add some strategy to it so I've developed a couple of options and other rules to make it more interesting. Perhaps the most important of these is that you can void an especially bad hand ONCE during each tournament. In other words, let's say your fourth hand is a real stinkerno sets and 57 moves. If you apply that to your score, it would be a real blow to your fortunes. As such, you can void the hand and just zero out. You don't gain any points, of course, but at least you don't lose any either. Remember, though, tou can only do that ONCE, so if the next hand is a stinker too, you'll just have to live with it. Also, you cannot void the game's first hand score, so no matter what you get on that first hand, you have to record it. This is what your scorecard would look like if you omitted that fourth hand:
Okay, you only have one hand left so make it a good one!
Oh oh, your next deal looks bad. A bunch of the same cards and no play. That's going to make it hard to win. Not to worrythere's hope. In tournament play, you can reshuffle a hand ONCE during the course of a tournament (with the exception of the first hand). So if you get a bunch of the same cards and don't see much chance of getting any sets, as long as you haven't moved any of the cards or dealt, you can simply end the game and reshuffle. The important thing to remember, however, is that you can only do this ONCE and then ONLY IF YOU HAVEN'T MADE ANY MOVES YET. No cheating!
Another thing that might help is that you can also replay a hand. In other words, remember how you got four sets off the third hand? You can tell the computer to replay that hand and see if you can get four sets againor even win the hand outright! I warn you, however, just because you got four sets off a hand the first time you played it doesn't guarantee you'll repeat that feat the second time around. I've replayed a hand that did very well only to end up with a -50 and no sets the next time I tried it. You would have to make the precise moves in the exact same order you did the first time to repeat the outcome, and nobody can recall precisely what moves they made or their precise order during a second attempt. Even a change of a few cards can undo the whole affair. Finally, you can only replay the same hand ONCE. However, you can replay more than one hand during a tournament.
Alright, so let's say on your fifth and last hand you got four more sets and it took 90 moves. That's a total of 240 points minus the 90 moves for a total of 150 points. Added to your previous score of 163 points, you end up with a score of +313 points. Here's how your scorecard will look:
Congratulations, you're a winner! (If you're decent at playing spider solitaire at all, you should be able to win about four tournaments out of five.)
I like this
way of playing because it involves strategy and uses math skills as well, which
really can get the old neurons firing. A tournament usually lasts about 15-20
minutes (depending upon how quickly you play) and is a great way to loosen up
the gray matter before getting on to the day's work. One little warning, though:
Don't try this at the office unless you're the boss or have a boss who is blind.
TOURNAMENT EXTENDED PLAY RULES
There has been times when I've played out my last hand and came up slightly short of the magic 300 points. This can be a bit disappointing, especially if you finish with 299 points! As such, I've devised a second way to win even if you don't reach 300 points, which I call Extended Play. Here's how it works: First, you must have scored a minimum of 200 points to be eligible to play. 199 or less and you're better off starting a new tournament game. Second, the game works much as the regular tournament play with a few exceptions. There are no reshuffles allowed in extended play and you cannot void a bad hand. Also, you only get three hands instead of five as normal. The good news, however, is that you get to start the game with the final point total of the previous game. So let's say you ended the regular tournament with +265 points. Here's how the scorecard for extended play would look before the first hand:
On your first hand, however, you didn't get any sets and it cost you 45 moves. This is how your scorecard would look after the first played hand:
You're going in the wrong direction, and have just two hands to make it up. On the second hand, however, you get two sets in 55 moves. That's a total of 65 points (120 minus 55=65). Still not enough to win (you're still 15 points short) but close. Maybe replay that second hand again and hope for the best or take your chance on a fresh deal. If you fall short again, however, the game is over and you retreat to lick your wounds.
NOTE ON EXTENDED PLAY: You must finish each hand completely by dealing all cards before quitting the game. In other words, let's say you are in the midst of your last hand and only need 15 points to win. 22 moves in you get a set, which would give you the 15 points needed to win. However, you still have two more deals to play. You must deal them before quitting. Of course, you could wimp out and just deal them quickly without playing the cards, but then you would miss the opportunity to see if you can break the magic 600 points barrier! By playing out the hand as completely as possible, you could complete all eight sets and get a butt-load of points which, when added to your previous score, could put you in the rarified air of grand champion! This is the third and last aspect of tournament play that makes it interesting; not only are you trying to get 300 points and so win the tournament, but you can compete against yourself and others by also going for high point totals. There's no reward for this, of course, but you do get bragging rights. Here's how winners are designated:
points total: Tournament Winner
400-499 points total: Tournament Ace
500-599 points total: Tournament Champion
600+ points total: Tournament Grand Champion
What's the highest score possible, assuming everything goes perfect? If you started extended tournament play with +299 points and then the next hand was complete (all 8 sets) and it only took, say 110 moves (about the best that could be reasonably expected; winning hands normally take anywhere from 115 to 150 moves to complete) that would be +370 points (+480 minus 110 moves). Added to the previous score of +299, that would leave you a possible best score of +669 pointsthe equivalent of bowling a 300 game!
TOURNAMENT ADVANCED PLAY RULES
I've recently come up with still another way to make tournament spider solitaire more entertaining. I've occasionally had a complete set on the very first hand, thereby winning the game quickly, which is cool. Unfortunately, sometimes I'm up for more play and while I could just start a new game, I've come up with a way to keep playing the first game, which I call Advanced Play. Here's how it works: Basically, it's just a way to keep the first (or current game) going even after you've reached the magic 300 points mark. To illustrate how it works, let's say on your second hand you get a complete set and finish with +325 points. Congratulations! You're a winner...unless you want to take a few chances and keep playing out your remaining three hands to see how many total points you can accumulate. What you're trying to do here is shoot for the moon by trying to get to the magic +1,000 point mark which, while difficult, is not impossible. (If you do accomplish it, however, it will make you a legend in your own mind.)
There are a few pitfalls, however. First of all, you're taking a risk that you might end up losing points on your next few hands and actually fall back under the +300 point barrierin which case you've actually snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory! Also, you can't reshuffle, void a hand, or redeal in Advanced Play, forcing you to play each hand as dealt. This increases the risk, but also affords you the opportunity of achieving a truly impressive point total. For example, what if your third hand ends up being a complete set the same as your second? Now you've broken the +600 point total with two more hands still to play! Get a third complete set in one of the two remaining hands and you could break the +1000 point barrier! (Sorta like breaking the sound barrier, only less dangerous.) Imagine what that would mean! You could text your friends! Brag about your Spider Solitaire prowess! Finally get girls (or guys) to go out with you! The sky's the limit!
Of course, you don't have to play out the remaining hands if you don't want to. You can quit at any point if you're too feint of heart. Also, you can't play advanced play unless you have both broken the +300 point barrier and still have at least one more hand yet to play. The only question you need to ask yourself is...do you have what it takes to continue on, or are you happy to just rest on your laurels? Only you can answer that!
Okay, I know
the word "solitaire" means single player, but it is possible to play
against yourself. I call it Doubles Solitaire and here's how it works:
you're simply playing one hand off the other, the goal being not to reach a
particular numerical total, but to simply beat the other hand. First thing you
do is create two columns, numbered 1 through 3, with a final total at the bottom.
It will look like this:
To make this more interesting, you can name each column. Say you're a big lefty, politically speaking. Maybe you can name the first column "D" and the other "R" and pretend you're competing for office. Or if you're a big Red Sox fan, call one column RSOX and the other NYY and pretend you're playing in the World Series. (Yes, I know the Red Sox and Yankees are in the same league and so would never play against each other in the series, but you get my drift.) Nerdy, I know, but it gives you a sense that you're competing not against yourself, but with your arch-enemy. The challenge is to play as hard and honestly against your "team" as you do for it.
In any case, once you work out the internal conflicts, you're ready to start. The basic rules are as follows:
1. Each player
takes turns playing a hand.
2. Each player
can void or redeal only once during the game.
player can void or redeal the first hand.
4. Each player
can replay their opponents hand (with the exception of the first hand.)
here is that the second player has a small advantage in that they can choose
to replay their opponent's hand if they believe they can do better than they
did. This advantage fades somewhat later in the game, when the other player
has an opportunity to do the same.
So let's see
how this works. In the first hand, you end up with no sets and it took you 49
moves to play out the hand. Unfortunately, that means you start off in the hole
at -49. Your second (or opponent's) hand similarly is bad and yields a -39.
The good thing is that even though you're in the hole, you've still got a ten
point lead! So far, it looks like this:
1. -49 1.
Since you can't replay the opening hands, you get a fresh deal for the third hand. This time you do better and manage to get three sets in 90 moves. That's 2 x 60pts (for each set) = 120 pts. Minus the 90 moves it took equals +30pts. (2 x 60 = 120 - 90 = 30). Since you started at -49, however, that means you're simply adding the 30 points to that, bringing you up to -19 and putting you in the lead for now. Your opponent (you, in reality, but I digress) thinks he or she can do better with that same hand and instead of ordering a fresh deal, calls for a redeal. Taking advantage of the fact that they've already seen many of the cards that were dealt before, they should be able to do better than you did the first time (though this is by no means a given, especially if you're not paying close attention). In any case, in the replay, you--as the oppoent--manages to make four sets in 105 moves. That's 4 x 60 = 240 - 105 = 135 points, which you add to your -39 points, bringing your total to a whopping +96. Not a blow out by any means but you now have a 115 point lead (against yourself! I know, it sounds weird but stick with me.) Your tally card now looks like this:
1. -49 1. -39
2. -19 2.
At this point, the first player has to decide whether he or she wants to replay the previous hand for a third time or start with a fresh deal. Having had a chance to study the same deal twice already and seeing how close you almost got to completing the deal the last time, you decide to replay the deal. Having paid close attention, you manage to figure out how to finish off the deal and get the full 8 sets for 480 points which, when you minus the 145 moves it took you to accomplish it, gives you a total of 335 points. Adding that to your -19 gives you a grand total of 316 points and a healthy 220 point lead!
Naturally, that deal can no longer be replayed so you, as the second player, call for a fresh deal. It looks like a bad hand, howeverall eights and jacksso you call for a redeal. (You can't do this if you play even a single card, however. Once you play, there is no going back, and remember, you can only do this once per game.) The second deal looks better and you manage to get two sets in 70 moves. That gives you a total of 50 points (2 x 60 = 120 - 70 = +50) which you add to the 96 points you already had for a grand total of +146. Now the tally sheet looks like this:
1. -49 1. -39
2. -19 2.
3. +316 3.
so make it good. Unfortunately, it's not and you fail to get a set in 48 moves,
giving you a -48. As you don't want to lower your final score and since you
haven't already voided any games, you can void this one and finish with a +316
which, hopefully, will be enough to win. Your opponent (you again. This would
be a great game for schizophrenics) has a good hand, however, and gets three
sets in 92 moves for a total of +88 points. (3 x 60 = 180 - 92 = 88). Added
to the +146 you already have gives you a final score of +234 which, while good,
falls 82 points short and player two loses. The final tally card will look like
1. -49 1.
2. -19 2.
3. +316 3. +146
just beaten yourself! Congratulations and condolences. Of course, this isn't
quite as weird if you play against a second person, but who are you gonna get
to play that's as strange as you are? Not to worry! You can be strange enough
for two! I know I am.
I've set this up here is just a suggestion. You can play longer games (say five
hands instead of three) if you want or eliminate the ability to reshuffle or
void hands to make it more hair-raising, but you get the idea. A full tournament
normally takes about twenty minutes, depending upon how quickly you play. Have
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS: Of course, you can alter the game any way you wish. If you want to make it more difficult to win, just raise the bar by making a win 400 points instead of 300 (with 300 being the lower limit for extended play) or extend play by making a win 500 points with seven hands instead of five. I've found, however, that the way I've outlined it here works the best and is not overly time consuming. (That's assuming, of course, that you have something better to do with your time than play tournament solitaire all day.) I find it to be a quick and easy "wake up" exercise for my brain and one that also has a strangely calming and centering effect. It may not do that for you, of course, but I enjoy it and hope you will too!
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