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Monday, June 13, 2005

Confessions of a FreeCell addict

I'm a FreeCell addict. If I'm in recovery, it doesn't show. I probably play 4-12 games a day. (For those who may not know, FreeCell comes with Windows. Except for computers where it was not installed, it is available as a game, from the Start menu.)

When thinking about posting about this subject, it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn't looked at the game as a scientist. For one thing, how many games are possible? I thought about it, and decided that I'd look it up, rather than trying to figure it out. So I did. "FreeCell, Frequently Asked Questions," tells even addicts more than they would want to know. One thing it told me was that the first version had 32,000 different deals. Way more than that are possible. Way, way more, like "roughly 1.75 x 10 to the 64th power."

The link above includes a link to a freeware game, FreeCell Pro, which has some interesting options. These include more than one undo, keeping track of all your moves, so they can be printed out or saved in digital form, adding more than four freecells, and other options.

So where are the confessions?
Well, I've got just one, and it's this. I spend more time playing FreeCell than I should. I like to think that it is covered by Philippians 4:8*, as something I can think about, but I think about it too much. Sorry. I'm also sorry for the title, or should be. The first word looked better as a plural than as a singular.

Three lessons1) As in life, nearly everything is solvable, if you are doing what you should. The aforementioned FAQ states that only one game, in the original set of 32,000, is unsolvable. That's number 11982. That can be solved with FreeCell Pro, by adding some freecells.

2) Plan ahead. Don't just blindly move. Think about the consequences.

3) The best way to win is to aim to build up from the Kings. That's my own observation. It's tempting to worry about the Aces, and often you have to, but the goal should be to get the Kings where they belong, namely at the bottom of a stack, and build from there. There's a moral there, of course. Put the King where He belongs, and you'll win.

*Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (ASV)

P. S. (November 14, 2006) I'm now coming off several months of Sudoku, slowly, and easing back into FreeCell.

P. P. S. (August 4, 2013) I now have FreeCell on my Android tablet. Unfortunately, it's more appealing than the Windows version.


Brandy said...

You listed three lessons...not two :)

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, Brandy. I fixed it.

Glenn said...

Like you, I have struggled with FreeCell addiciton. I finally conquered this when I upgraded to Windows XP on my home desktop... It comes with Internet BackGammon loaded.

I am now free of the FreeCell monkey, but I have to go now so I can roll those gammon dice!

Brandy said...

I don't play computer games often, but when I do, I can't stop. This weekend I was hooked on Mah Jongg.

Seyms said...

I had a free-cell addiction a few months ago, lasting for several weeks. I can't recall what fixed it for me then but thanks to this little reminder I might be heading that way again. It turned out to be a great way of passing the time while downloading large files on dialup.

Mark said...

I was addicted, I solved it by deleting it from my hard drive.

Martin LaBar said...

That should work, Mark. I'm down to about 1 game a day, and the computer is so fast that it doesn't take long.

Thanks for your comment.

Christine Bob said...

I reset my scores 3 days ago, and I've already played 940 games. So I play about 300/400 games a day lol

Martin LaBar said...

That would make you an addict, all right! Thanks.