FreeCell is NOT always winnable

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Russell Turpin

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Jul 24, 1994, 6:20:23 PM7/24/94
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-*----
FreeCell is a game that Microsoft distributes with Win32. As it
says in its online help:

FreeCell is a logic puzzle in the form of a solitaire card
game. It is unlike most solitaire games ... in that there
is no luck involved after the initial shuffle. There are
no hidden cards; they are all dealt face up at the start of
the game. It is believed (although not proven) that every
game is winnable.

In essence, FreeCell is a problem in finite combinatorics. It
asks whether eight stacks of playing cards can be sorted to four
output stacks, using a four card register and permitting a card
to be moved from the top of one stack to the top of another when
the usual usual solitaire rule holds: the moved element must be
one less and a different color than the card onto which it is
moved.

After thinking about it some, I believe that the answer is "no."
As a counter-example to the hypothesis that the game is always
winnable, I offer the deal below, which I believe is unwinnable.
(Card colors are irrelevant in this counter-example.)

A A A A 7 7 7 7
K K K K 6 6 6 6
Q Q Q Q 5 5 5 5
J J J J 4 4 4 4
10 10 10 10 3 3 3 3
9 9 9 9 2 2 2 2
8 8 8 8

Is this (1) a trivial result that almost everyone reached after
playing the game a little bit (except for the author of the help
file), (2) a wrong result, in which I misunderstand the game or
the strategy for playing it, or (3) of sufficient interest that
readers here might like a proof that the above hand cannot be
won?

Russell

--
The average Ph.D thesis is nothing but the transference of bones
from one graveyard to another.
-- Frank J. Dobie

Robert Davies

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Jul 24, 1994, 8:59:15 PM7/24/94
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In article <30upf7$3...@peaches.cs.utexas.edu>,
Russell Turpin <tur...@cs.utexas.edu> wrote:

>FreeCell is a game that Microsoft distributes with Win32. As it

>Is this (1) a trivial result that almost everyone reached after


>playing the game a little bit (except for the author of the help


Or does the freecell program use some strategy so as not to generate
obviously unwinnable games

hayek adam michael

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Jul 25, 1994, 1:36:37 AM7/25/94
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tur...@cs.utexas.edu (Russell Turpin) writes:

>-*----
>FreeCell is a game that Microsoft distributes with Win32. As it
>says in its online help:

> FreeCell is a logic puzzle in the form of a solitaire card
> game. It is unlike most solitaire games ... in that there
> is no luck involved after the initial shuffle. There are
> no hidden cards; they are all dealt face up at the start of
> the game. It is believed (although not proven) that every
> game is winnable.

> A A A A 7 7 7 7


> K K K K 6 6 6 6
> Q Q Q Q 5 5 5 5
> J J J J 4 4 4 4
> 10 10 10 10 3 3 3 3
> 9 9 9 9 2 2 2 2
> 8 8 8 8

>Is this (1) a trivial result that almost everyone reached after
>playing the game a little bit (except for the author of the help
>file), (2) a wrong result, in which I misunderstand the game or
>the strategy for playing it, or (3) of sufficient interest that
>readers here might like a proof that the above hand cannot be
>won?

Well, I've never seen this deal in the game. Doesn't look like
it could be won. I have won every deal I've seen in the game,
though. Some were very hard, and I had to play many times to
figure out (169 was the hardest one I can remember). There
are only 32000 deals avaliable, obviously not every one that
is possible. Perhaps the deal # somehow builds the deal in a
systematic way, assuring that it can be finished.

Adam Hayek

050P...@witsvma.wits.ac.za

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Jul 25, 1994, 5:22:50 PM7/25/94
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What you Failed to notice is that the setup you gave is NOT a random Setup,

Indeed the odds of shuffling the deck and dealing that exact setup at the

start of a FreeCell game are about 2135643e12 to 1 !!!

I think that Microwofts estimate is sufficiently accurate don't you ?


Pleas edon't flame this message, I was just pointing out that ALL solitaire
games are based on RANDOMNESS !! and we CANNOT Exclude That !!
In article <30upf7$3...@peaches.cs.utexas.edu>

Jarle Brinchmann

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Jul 25, 1994, 12:34:43 PM7/25/94
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In article <16FFEE666...@Witsvma.wits.ac.za>, 050P...@Witsvma.wits.ac.za writes:
|> What you Failed to notice is that the setup you gave is NOT a random Setup,
|>
|> Indeed the odds of shuffling the deck and dealing that exact setup at the
|>
|> start of a FreeCell game are about 2135643e12 to 1 !!!
|>
|> I think that Microwofts estimate is sufficiently accurate don't you ?

Well, it's no estimate, it's a statement. The statement is clearly false
and probabilities have nothing to do here. I agree that almost all games
are winnable, but you can just fiddle around with the counterexample and
come up with some (I don't know how many) that are unwinnable.

The poster did not argue that it was a regularly happening thing, It's just
that the claim is false (as the author should have understood himself IMHO).

|> > the game. It is believed (although not proven) that every
|> > game is winnable.

Jarle.

---------------------------------------------------------------------
Nuke the Whales ! | Jarle Brinchmann,
| Email: Jarle.Br...@astro.uio.no
International Krill Union. | or : jar...@astro.uio.no

Seth Breidbart

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Jul 25, 1994, 1:50:43 PM7/25/94
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In article <16FFEE666...@witsvma.wits.ac.za>,

<050P...@Witsvma.wits.ac.za> wrote:
>What you Failed to notice is that the setup you gave is NOT a random Setup,
>Indeed the odds of shuffling the deck and dealing that exact setup at the
>start of a FreeCell game are about 2135643e12 to 1 !!!
>I think that Microwofts estimate is sufficiently accurate don't you ?

The odds of shuffling a deck and dealing that exact setup are the same
as the odds of shuffling a deck and dealing any other particular
setup.

>Pleas edon't flame this message, I was just pointing out that ALL solitaire
>games are based on RANDOMNESS !! and we CANNOT Exclude That !!

But nowhere does it say that the initial setup has to "look random".

Seth

Andrey Tsouladze

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Jul 25, 1994, 8:14:36 PM7/25/94
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Russell Turpin (tur...@cs.utexas.edu) wrote:
: -*----

: Russell

From the help which comes with this game, it is not clear whether the
author speaks of _all_ combinations possible or only of those provided
(32,000). I tried to solve them one by one. Among the first 500, I failed
to make three. Yes the counter-example you are giving is correct. Now
come two questions.

1. How many hands are there in this game?

2. How many of them are solvable?

Andrey

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* Andrey Tsouladze * *
* Department of Biology * You *
* Technion - Israel Institute of Technology * have *
* Haifa 32000 * been *
* Israel * warned... *
* E-mail: ts...@aluf.technion.ac.il * *
* E-mail: ts...@techunix.technion.ac.il * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

william_lederer

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Jul 25, 1994, 8:58:07 PM7/25/94
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In article <30upf7$3...@peaches.cs.utexas.edu> tur...@cs.utexas.edu (Russell Turpin) writes:

But is this one of the games that freecell brings up? If so, what
number is it?

Tim Smith

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Jul 26, 1994, 7:42:37 AM7/26/94
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>What you Failed to notice is that the setup you gave is NOT a random Setup,
>Indeed the odds of shuffling the deck and dealing that exact setup at the
>start of a FreeCell game are about 2135643e12 to 1 !!!

What you failed to notice is that you have no idea of what "random" means.

--Tim Smith

Gary Ritchie

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Jul 26, 1994, 4:58:49 AM7/26/94
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An easy way to ensure that the game is always winnable would be to deal in
reverse. Start with the cards in the winning position and randomly deal
them to the playing field. Perhaps this is how it is done?


David Wayne Ring

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Jul 26, 1994, 2:15:55 PM7/26/94
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<William Lederer> wrote:
>> the game. It is believed (although not proven) that every
>> game is winnable.
>
>But is this one of the games that freecell brings up? If so, what
>number is it?

Given the wording in the passage, I find it hard to believe that
'every game' means numbered games only. Then again, it is also hard to
believe the programmer would make such a silly statement.

Dave Ring
Cd...@phys.tamu.edu

Gary Ritchie

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Jul 26, 1994, 9:19:12 AM7/26/94
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Oops, I take that back. ;-)


Dave Joyce

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Jul 27, 1994, 6:18:10 PM7/27/94
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In <30upf7$3...@peaches.cs.utexas.edu> tur...@cs.utexas.edu (Russell Turpin)
writes about "FreeCell". See his original post below.

I'm not sure, but this looks like "Baker's Solitare" described in Martin
Gardner's column in Scientific American ca. 1970. It's an interesting
solitare that I've played quite a bit over the years, and I find it's hard to
beat, but it helps to spend a lot of time thinking before moving.

--
David E. Joyce Dept. Math. & Comp. Sci.
Internet: djo...@black.clarku.edu Clark University
BITnet: djoyce@clarku Worcester, MA 01610-1477

Mark Shasby

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Jul 28, 1994, 3:11:53 AM7/28/94
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In article <313jsr$r...@news.tamu.edu>

dwr...@tam2000.tamu.edu "David Wayne Ring" writes:

> Given the wording in the passage, I find it hard to believe that
> 'every game' means numbered games only. Then again, it is also hard to
> believe the programmer would make such a silly statement.

The fact that there is so much discussion shows that the statement can
be read differently. It is only silly to people who read it the way you
do. The programmer wrote a program, that program offers 32000 games, if
that programmer refers to "every game" it means every one of the 32000
the way I read it.

Consider the Helmutt-Schwartzbald Car-Sales-Lot theorem; A salesman has
20 cars on his lot - he says "every car comes with a CD player" - that
doesn't mean every car in the world, it means every car on his lot.

--
Mark Shasby | "GNIP" - oops! - we forgot the terminating resistor.

David Wayne Ring

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Jul 28, 1994, 11:01:49 AM7/28/94
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Mark Shasby <ma...@sincere.demon.co.uk> wrote:
> The fact that there is so much discussion shows that the statement can
>be read differently. It is only silly to people who read it the way you
>do.

That was implied.

> The programmer wrote a program, that program offers 32000 games, if
>that programmer refers to "every game" it means every one of the 32000
>the way I read it.
>
> Consider the Helmutt-Schwartzbald Car-Sales-Lot theorem; A salesman has
>20 cars on his lot - he says "every car comes with a CD player" - that
>doesn't mean every car in the world, it means every car on his lot.

I think we can uniformly agree that "It is believed (although not proven)
that every car comes with a CD player" would be a silly statement.

Dave Ring
Cd...@phys.tamu.edu

Tom Haapanen

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Jul 28, 1994, 12:58:08 PM7/28/94
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> Mark Shasby <ma...@sincere.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>> Consider the Helmutt-Schwartzbald Car-Sales-Lot theorem; A salesman has
>> 20 cars on his lot - he says "every car comes with a CD player" - that
>> doesn't mean every car in the world, it means every car on his lot.

dwr...@tam2000.tamu.edu (David Wayne Ring) writes:
> I think we can uniformly agree that "It is believed (although not proven)
> that every car comes with a CD player" would be a silly statement.

Given that there are, according to the help, only 32,000 games, yet there
are approximately 8.3 x 10^61 initial permutations* of the cards, I think
we can conclude that not all permutations are valid games. Thus an unwinnable
permutation does not prove that some games are unwinnable.

* # of permutations == 52! / (4! * 8!); the 4! is for the suits (since their
order is irrelevant), and the 8! is for the stacks (ditto).

--
[ /tom haapanen -- to...@metrics.com -- software metrics inc -- waterloo, ont ]
[ "only a toy." -- alexander graham bell's father-in-law, 1876 ]

Axel Hecht

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Jul 29, 1994, 3:10:19 AM7/29/94
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In article <Ctnts...@metrics.com>, to...@metrics.com (Tom Haapanen) writes:
>
> Given that there are, according to the help, only 32,000 games, yet there
> are approximately 8.3 x 10^61 initial permutations* of the cards, I think
> we can conclude that not all permutations are valid games. Thus an unwinnable
> permutation does not prove that some games are unwinnable.
>
> * # of permutations == 52! / (4! * 8!); the 4! is for the suits (since their
> order is irrelevant), and the 8! is for the stacks (ditto).

Not good try again

The order of the suits is relevant for winnable/unwinnable.
Just think of a game easisly winnable (if only that 2 of hearts wouldn't be that far off :-)))

Axel

David Karr

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Jul 28, 1994, 12:18:35 PM7/28/94
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In addition to which, if "every game" refers only to the games in some
preprogrammed set of 32000, it seems awfully lazy of the programmer
not to use a generating algorithm that provably generates only
winnable games (e.g. by playing backwards). (Or, perhaps, to simply
program the computer to solve all 32000 games one by one, though
perhaps this is more difficult than it looks at first glance.)


-- David A. Karr (ka...@cs.cornell.edu)

Tom Haapanen

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Jul 29, 1994, 6:41:23 AM7/29/94
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> to...@metrics.com (Tom Haapanen) writes:
>> * # of permutations == 52! / (4! * 8!); the 4! is for the suits (since
>> their order is irrelevant), and the 8! is for the stacks (ditto).

zcca...@rpool5.rus.uni-stuttgart.de (Axel Hecht) writes:
> The order of the suits is relevant for winnable/unwinnable. Just think
> of a game easisly winnable (if only that 2 of hearts wouldn't be that
> far off :-)))

No ... consider the suits to be A, B, C and D. Picking A to be hearts and
B spades does not produce a different game than with B hearts and A spades.
The same holds for the full set of four suits.

--
[ /tom haapanen -- to...@metrics.com -- software metrics inc -- waterloo, ont ]

[ "until the lions have their own historians, ]
[ tales of hunting will always glorify the hunter." -- zulu proverb ]

Gareth Rees

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Jul 29, 1994, 8:39:17 AM7/29/94
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Tom Haapanen (to...@metrics.com) writes:
> [the number of] permutations == 52! / (4! * 8!); the 4! is for the

> suits (since their order is irrelevant), and the 8! is for the stacks
> (ditto).

and in a later post:
> [C]onsider the suits to be A, B, C and D. Picking A to be hearts and


> B spades does not produce a different game than with B hearts and A
> spades. The same holds for the full set of four suits.

Unless I misunderstood the description of the game, the order of the
suits is relevent, because you have to play red on black and vice versa.
So you should be dividing by a factor of 8 for the suits, not 4!.

Similarly, not all the stacks are the same - there are four stacks of
seven cards and four stacks of six cards, so the factor for the stacks
should be 4!4!, not 8!.

ObPuzzle: a variation on FreeCell is to determine the minimum size of
register (by which I mean the space in which you can store awkward
cards) needed to solve a given configuration (apparantly the computer
game comes with a register of fixed size 4). For example, the
unwinnable deal posted earlier in this thread could be solved with a
register of size 6, I think. What's the worst case, i.e. the largest
register you might need?

--
Gareth Rees

David Wayne Ring

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Jul 28, 1994, 3:54:29 PM7/28/94
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hayek adam michael <u1...@sparc10.cs.uiuc.edu> wrote:
>Well, I've never seen this deal in the game. Doesn't look like
>it could be won. I have won every deal I've seen in the game,
>though. Some were very hard, and I had to play many times to
>figure out (169 was the hardest one I can remember). There
>are only 32000 deals avaliable, obviously not every one that
>is possible. Perhaps the deal # somehow builds the deal in a
>systematic way, assuring that it can be finished.

It seems several people have played this game extensively. Do any of
you remember the numbers for the really hard hands?

Dave Ring
Cd...@phys.tamu.edu

Andrey Tsouladze

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Jul 29, 1994, 8:10:54 PM7/29/94
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David Wayne Ring (dwr...@tam2000.tamu.edu) wrote:

: It seems several people have played this game extensively. Do any of


: you remember the numbers for the really hard hands?

In my previous posting to this thread, I said I failed to make three out
of the first 500 deals. Well now I made all of them. Among those, It took
me most attempts to make #194, 285, and 454.

Wow I do not think I'll _ever_ play this game again.

Jeffrey Putnam

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Jul 30, 1994, 10:23:34 AM7/30/94
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In article <djoyce.7...@black.clarku.edu>,

Dave Joyce <djo...@black.clarku.edu> wrote:
>In <30upf7$3...@peaches.cs.utexas.edu> tur...@cs.utexas.edu (Russell Turpin)
>writes about "FreeCell". See his original post below.
>
>I'm not sure, but this looks like "Baker's Solitare" described in Martin
>Gardner's column in Scientific American ca. 1970. It's an interesting
>solitare that I've played quite a bit over the years, and I find it's hard to
>beat, but it helps to spend a lot of time thinking before moving.

I thought the game described in that article had a slight variation on
the moves allowed - that cards could only be moved onto the next higher
card of the same suit. This makes it a bit harder as it constrains the
number of moves allowed at any given time.

I've never had the patience to copy out a configuration and play it
repeatedly until I win it (but have toyed with the idea of writing
a program to do backtracking and try that way to win), but when I
first started playing I could win only infrequently and my last
bout with this game probably had me winning about half the games.

I also find that its a fun game to play when there is someone else
around as it involves several minutes of staring at the configuration
followed by a flurry of moves, followed by minutes of staring...


--

je...@nmt.edu -- Jeff Putnam, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, NM
"You never learn anything, you just get used to it."

hayek adam michael

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Jul 30, 1994, 1:52:06 AM7/30/94
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ts...@techunix.technion.ac.il (Andrey Tsouladze) writes:
>David Wayne Ring (dwr...@tam2000.tamu.edu) wrote:
>: It seems several people have played this game extensively. Do any of
>: you remember the numbers for the really hard hands?

>In my previous posting to this thread, I said I failed to make three out
>of the first 500 deals. Well now I made all of them. Among those, It took
>me most attempts to make #194, 285, and 454.

>Wow I do not think I'll _ever_ play this game again.

My gf solved 454 yesterday, and now I'm working on 1941, which someone
mentioned to me. 169 always gives me problems; I eventually get it, but
I can never remember how and do it twice in a row, seriously pissing me off.

Adam Hayek

Russell Turpin

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Jul 31, 1994, 11:29:14 AM7/31/94
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-*----
From the FreeCell help:

FreeCell is a logic puzzle in the form of a solitaire card

game. It is unlike most solitaire games, however, in that


there is no luck involved after the initial shuffle. There

are no hidden cards; ... It is believed (although not


proven) that every game is winnable.

To the mathematically inclined, this strongly suggests a
mathematically interesting puzzle about whether or not "every
game is winnable." For this to be the case, we must have
adequate information about the game space to which "every game"
refers. Moreover, FreeCell is called a logic puzzle, again
suggesting a logical (not brute force) solution to whether or not
every game is winnable. Because the algorithm for generating the
32K games is not given, the natural assumption is that "every
game" refers to all logically possible deals, not merely all
deals in the computer program. But there are easy examples of
logically possible deals that cannot be won.

So is there an interesting logic puzzle about whether the 32K
actually generated games are winnable? Alas, no.

It turns out that the deal is merely psuedo-random draw, without
any interesting algorithmic device to possibly guarantee
winnability. If the 32K games are all winnable, the programmers
merely lucked out in their choice of a psuedo-random sequence.
The help file would have been better written:

The computer program generates 32K deals from a very large
space of all possible deals. So far, all the generated games
we have examined are winnable. We have not checked them all.

Clearly, one could write a program (easy in Prolog) that checks
each of the 32K generated deals. Whether or not this particular
psuedo-random sequence contains an unwinnable deal does not seem
an interesting question to me, so I will leave it to others to
write the program.

But playing the game is fun, even if there is no deeper "logic
puzzle" in it.

Russell
--
"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the
point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.
The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality."
-- George Bernard Shaw

Peter_E...@magic-bbs.corp.apple.com

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Aug 1, 1994, 5:09:51 AM8/1/94
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There are shareware versions of Baker's game, notably one called "Brain
Jam".

It is conjectured (based on the number of winnable games in a sample of
1000) that about 80% of games are winnable.


Tom Horsley

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Aug 1, 1994, 9:31:10 AM8/1/94
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Well, as long as this pointless thread keeps on going and going...

My favorite thing to do with freecell is see how many cards I can keep on
the playing field before one final move suddenly sends them all fluttering
up to the destination stacks.

So far the best I have done is 48 (but don't ask me to reproduce it).

I also suspect the percentage of easily winnable games is around 66% (because
that's what I am running at, and I give up easy :-).
--
--
Tom.H...@mail.csd.harris.com
Home: 511 Kingbird Circle Delray Beach FL 33444
Work: Harris Computers, 2101 W. Cypress Creek Rd. Ft. Lauderdale FL 33309
Play: Sec149,Row21,Seat23 Joe Robbie Stadium, 2269 N.W. 19th St Miami FL 33056

Matt Lih

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Aug 1, 1994, 7:18:12 PM8/1/94
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In article <TOM.94Au...@amber.ssd.csd.harris.com> Tom.H...@mail.csd.harris.com writes:
>Well, as long as this pointless thread keeps on going and going...
>
>My favorite thing to do with freecell is see how many cards I can keep on
>the playing field before one final move suddenly sends them all fluttering
>up to the destination stacks.
>

Gee, I thought I was the only loon around!

America is in serious trouble! :) :) :)

>--
>Tom.H...@mail.csd.harris.com

Matt Lih (l...@venice.sedd.trw.com)
-- Save Father Time from a horrible death! Delete Freecell!

Brad Aisa

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Aug 1, 1994, 7:47:01 PM8/1/94
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>In article <TOM.94Au...@amber.ssd.csd.harris.com>
Tom.H...@mail.csd.harris.com writes:
>>Well, as long as this pointless thread keeps on going and going...>>
[ .. more ]

Pointless? FreeCell is absolutely essential!!!

I've formulated a sort of FreeCell "PrimeDirective":

"You may never replay a game that you lose".

This is the only way to make it fair. You have to be absolutely sure of every
move. If you get stuck, you go down in flames!

Real men (and women) don't need second chances!

FreeCellers of the world --- UNITE!!

:- - - - - - - Brad Aisa - - - - - - -:
: Software Engineer Toronto, CANADA :
: tel (416)423-4075 fax (416)423-8050 :
: - - - - - ba...@hookup.net - - - - :

Lenny Gray

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Aug 3, 1994, 1:15:45 AM8/3/94
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It seems to me that those who were arguing about whether the 32000
possible "deals" were random and thus whether the _game_ was winnable
missed a few important words in the help-screen.

My version says:
"FreeCell is a logic puzzle in the form of a solitaire card game."

The guy doesn't say it _is_ a solitaire card game -- he says it's a
_logic_puzzle_. That indicates quite clearly to _me_ that he's
mathematically sophisticated and _not_ just a bozo with questionable
judgement. I'd venture to guess that his statement:


"It is believed (although not proven) that every game is winnable."

is just a concession to Murphy's Law as applied to programming.

I think the original poster's counter-example was _also_ interesting,
however, as I hadn't even looked at the "help" screen, or thought very
much about the "game".

- Lenny Gray -

Edmund H.W. Hor

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Aug 3, 1994, 11:13:22 PM8/3/94
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In article <baisa.34...@hookup.net> ba...@hookup.net "Brad Aisa" writes:

My friend sitting next to me at this moment plays Freecell extensively
and she has found no games that she cannot win.

Now, to end this on going argument
"Every one of these 32000 games is winable"
I like to get a collection of games that anyone think is unwinable and
let my friend try.

She has an average continuous win of twenty. So please summit some game
number to me, I believe that if there is a game number that she cannot
solve, it will be not far from unwinable.

--
Edmund H.W. Hor

Trayport Computers Ltd (A Consultancy and Development Team)
London, United Kingdom

voice : 081-464-3643
fax : 081-402-9252
email : ed...@trayport.demon.co.uk

David Wayne Ring

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Aug 4, 1994, 3:08:03 PM8/4/94
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Edmund H.W. Hor <ed...@trayport.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>Now, to end this on going argument

Well, the argument seems to have died of boredom.

>She has an average continuous win of twenty. So please summit some game
>number to me, I believe that if there is a game number that she cannot
>solve, it will be not far from unwinable.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I'm not quite sure what this means. :-)

The hardest one posted seems to be #1941. To not spoil her fun, I won't
tell you if I have solved it, but it is much harder (IMHO) than the others.

I would like to suggest that any hard #'s which people find in the future
be posted to rec.puzzles. That way we might find an unwinnable deal, and
we can get some good puzzles while we're at it.

Follow-ups to rec.puzzles.

Dave Ring
Cd...@phys.tamu.edu

David Charles Leblanc

unread,
Aug 6, 1994, 8:10:13 PM8/6/94
to
ed...@trayport.demon.co.uk ("Edmund H.W. Hor") writes:

>In article <baisa.34...@hookup.net> ba...@hookup.net "Brad Aisa" writes:

>My friend sitting next to me at this moment plays Freecell extensively
>and she has found no games that she cannot win.

>Now, to end this on going argument
>"Every one of these 32000 games is winable"
>I like to get a collection of games that anyone think is unwinable and
>let my friend try.

We could always split up the games between a bunch of people and see
which one's are too tough...

If we had 320 people, it could be done in a week.


--
David Charles LeBlanc
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta Georgia, 30332
Internet: gt6...@acme.gatech.edu

David Wayne Ring

unread,
Aug 7, 1994, 10:50:46 AM8/7/94
to
David Charles Leblanc <gt6...@prism.gatech.edu> wrote:
>We could always split up the games between a bunch of people and see
>which one's are too tough...
>If we had 320 people, it could be done in a week.

This could easily be organized in the following way: Each participant
emails the organizer (I would be happy to do it if there is sufficient
interest) who emails back with a block of 100 hands.
the participant can solve them at his own pace, since the whole project
will take a while and there are plenty of blocks. The participant reports
back a list of deals he couldn't do, which are then repackaged and sent
out in blocks of 10 to the more enthusiastic participants.

Progress reports could be posted occasionally which will also serve to
encourage new (and old) participants.

Dave Ring
dwr...@tam2000.tamu.edu

or...@skydivskylit.dseg.ti.com

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Aug 12, 1994, 11:43:09 AM8/12/94
to

--
I'll try. Just pick a block and let me know.

Regards, Bonnie
*******************************************************************
I hate paranoid people, they're everywhere!

Dave Ring

unread,
Aug 12, 1994, 7:14:46 PM8/12/94
to
In article <CuFIB...@skopen.dseg.ti.com>, <or...@lobby.ti.com> wrote:
>I'll try. Just pick a block and let me know.

People need to _email_ me, since I posted the announcement to some groups
that I don't read.
--
Dave Ring | If you would like to participate in the Internet
dwr...@tam2000.tamu.edu | FreeCell Project or find out what it is, email me.

Ruchira Datta

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Aug 17, 1994, 10:39:25 AM8/17/94
to
In article <TOM.94Au...@amber.ssd.csd.harris.com>,

Tom Horsley <Tom.H...@mail.csd.harris.com> wrote:
>My favorite thing to do with freecell is see how many cards I can keep on
>the playing field before one final move suddenly sends them all fluttering
>up to the destination stacks.

Is FreeCell the same game as Seahaven Towers? Seahaven Towers starts by
dealing out 10 piles of 5 cards each onto the "Board", so that they are
all visible, and dealing the remaining two cards onto two of the four
"Towers". The object is to build up the four suit piles from Ace to King
in sequence. On the Board, a card can only be moved onto the next higher
card of the same suit; a king can only be moved into an empty column.
Any card can go in the Towers, but there can only be one card on each Tower.

I first saw this implemented on the Macintosh several years ago; it was by
Art Cabral of Longwood Associates. My own copy, for Microsoft Windows,
is from Cary Farrier (far...@netcom.com). It's very addictive. I have
played hundreds of games. If FreeCell is the same game, I would be willing
to work on this, except that in Seahaven Towers the games aren't numbered.
Possibly the numbering has something to do with the initial deal?

Ruchira Datta
da...@math.berkeley.edu

Charles Haynes

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Aug 17, 1994, 5:28:44 PM8/17/94
to
In article <32t7et$4...@agate.berkeley.edu>,

FreeCell is certainly not the same as Seahaven Towers. Terry Weissman
has written an X version of Seahaven for which I wrote "autoplay"
code. There are many Seahaven positions which are provably unsolvable.
Among other differences FreeCell alternates colors, while Seahaven
requires playing on the same suit.

-- Charles


Steve Klassen

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Aug 17, 1994, 8:16:59 PM8/17/94
to
In article <3218p5$e...@acmez.gatech.edu> gt6...@prism.gatech.edu (David Charles Leblanc) writes:
>From: gt6...@prism.gatech.edu (David Charles Leblanc)
>Subject: Re: FreeCell is NOT always winnable
>Date: 6 Aug 1994 20:10:13 -0400

>ed...@trayport.demon.co.uk ("Edmund H.W. Hor") writes:

>>In article <baisa.34...@hookup.net> ba...@hookup.net "Brad Aisa" writes:

>>My friend sitting next to me at this moment plays Freecell extensively
>>and she has found no games that she cannot win.

>>Now, to end this on going argument
>>"Every one of these 32000 games is winable"
>>I like to get a collection of games that anyone think is unwinable and
>>let my friend try.

>We could always split up the games between a bunch of people and see


>which one's are too tough...

>If we had 320 people, it could be done in a week.

I'm willing to help.

Steve Klassen
st...@photon.cuc.ab.ca

Jered Floyd

unread,
Aug 21, 1994, 3:01:41 PM8/21/94
to
I'm willing to help too. But I just got FreeCell last night (with my
Watcom 10.0 C/C++ compiler), and I don't quite have the hang of the game
yet.


--
Jered Floyd - jjf...@vela.acs.oakland.edu
Geek Code 2.1 - GAT d? H- s-:- g- p? !au a-- w+ v+ C++++ UL++++ P+ L++
N+++ K+++ W++ M-- V-- -po+ Y++ tv+ 5+++ j++ R v++ b+++ D+++ B--- e* u**
h++ f? r? n- !y+ (Finger for PGP key, picture, humor anOUT OF SPACE

Dick Adams

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Aug 21, 1994, 5:00:21 PM8/21/94
to
The first game which appears not to be winnable is 11982.
Go for it!!

Dick

Jered Floyd

unread,
Aug 22, 1994, 12:43:07 AM8/22/94
to
I remember seeing someone posting that the Help file said that all games
are winnable. But the version I have says that it is not known whether
all are winable.

Jack van Rijswijck

unread,
Aug 22, 1994, 5:02:41 AM8/22/94
to
steve@stealth (Steve Klassen) writes:

OK, you got me interested. Excuse my ignorance, but our news server
has been down for a while so I don't know what FreeCell is. Can anyone
enlighten me? Thanks,

Jack van Rijswijck
jav...@bausch.nl

Susan Schwartz Wildstrom

unread,
Aug 25, 1994, 3:38:20 PM8/25/94
to
What is FreeCell, and is it anything like Mac's Seahaven Towers? By the
way, does anyone know whether every game of Seahaven Towers is winnable?
Thanks
Susan

Brad Aisa

unread,
Aug 25, 1994, 6:11:44 PM8/25/94
to

It is a card game that comes with the Win32s binaries to test the installation
on WFWG. These are available on ftp.microsoft.com and the CICA archives.

It is a very insidious, slowly but surely addictive game. You have been
warned.

Charles Haynes

unread,
Aug 29, 1994, 5:05:02 PM8/29/94
to
In article <33irvc$q...@hamlet.umd.edu>,

Susan Schwartz Wildstrom <s...@hamlet.umd.edu> wrote:

>does anyone know whether every game of Seahaven Towers is winnable?

Yes. No.

-- Charles


daniel....@gmail.com

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Dec 23, 2015, 1:53:33 PM12/23/15
to
On Sunday, July 24, 1994 at 10:36:37 PM UTC-7, hayek adam michael wrote:
> tur...@cs.utexas.edu (Russell Turpin) writes:
>
> >-*----
> >FreeCell is a game that Microsoft distributes with Win32. As it
> >says in its online help:
>
> > FreeCell is a logic puzzle in the form of a solitaire card
> > game. It is unlike most solitaire games ... in that there
> > is no luck involved after the initial shuffle. There are
> > no hidden cards; they are all dealt face up at the start of
> > the game. It is believed (although not proven) that every
> > game is winnable.
>
> > A A A A 7 7 7 7
> > K K K K 6 6 6 6
> > Q Q Q Q 5 5 5 5
> > J J J J 4 4 4 4
> > 10 10 10 10 3 3 3 3
> > 9 9 9 9 2 2 2 2
> > 8 8 8 8
>
> >Is this (1) a trivial result that almost everyone reached after
> >playing the game a little bit (except for the author of the help
> >file), (2) a wrong result, in which I misunderstand the game or
> >the strategy for playing it, or (3) of sufficient interest that
> >readers here might like a proof that the above hand cannot be
> >won?
>
> Well, I've never seen this deal in the game. Doesn't look like
> it could be won. I have won every deal I've seen in the game,
> though. Some were very hard, and I had to play many times to
> figure out (169 was the hardest one I can remember). There
> are only 32000 deals avaliable, obviously not every one that
> is possible. Perhaps the deal # somehow builds the deal in a
> systematic way, assuring that it can be finished.
>
> Adam Hayek

Thank you for your comment. I am trying to win #169 now; off and on for 3 days. Still no luck.

James Waldby

unread,
Dec 23, 2015, 8:30:50 PM12/23/15
to
>> are only 32000 deals available, obviously not every one that
>> is possible. Perhaps the deal # somehow builds the deal in a
>> systematic way, assuring that it can be finished.
>>
>> Adam Hayek
>
> Thank you for your comment. I am trying to win #169 now; off and on for 3 days. Still no luck.

Hayek's post of July 24, 1994 predated the Internet FreeCell Project
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_FreeCell#The_Internet_FreeCell_Project>
which determined that of the original 32000 deals available, only
number 11982 didn't get solved by any participant. The next section
of that wikipedia article lists another half-dozen unsolvable games
numbered higher than 32000 and says 99.998718% games of a sample of
100 million games were solvable.

--
jiw

alexs...@gmail.com

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Feb 1, 2016, 9:30:18 PM2/1/16
to
That specific game can be won nearby instantly, in 5 goes infact. sorry 4. sorry 8. Freecell as the Freecellers know with a 4cells free, a rack can be moved. simply connect the 7 racks to the 8 racks as the Freecell Game pertains to then move over the 4 Kings to release the Aces to Home to have that 7Ax7 foundation eternal.

I think the main first question is really muddled in an illusionary precept extremely bordered neurologically to winning the Promised To Pay The Bearer Lottery Jackpot... The Inescapable "If I steal this apple (whilst claiming there isn't an Angel (the Angel watching right there with Cained eyes and the poisonous time line that would occur from ingesting some random toxic thing without proper counselling)or The Sky etc, The Sky having eyes as The Sun/Moon etc, will it see" or "a tree in a forest supposedly falls, does it make a sound" knowing 100% by moving with The Lord. An Apple was stolen (but not in Beverly Hills etc ^7 #7GatedAG, did God see it. God saw it. Did I see God? Sure but not at that time frame)) If can't see the other side of the Moon is it there? I can't see my ass when I'm walking.. Is it there? Some things are proveable to the Human eye. Some things are proveable to God's eyes or Methuselah's eyes etc as so an Angel of God granted the view etc.

Concerning Promise with other bound impasses such as If I turn the handles on, shall water come out? Similar as ink in a printer cartridge. If there is water in the hole, the pipes connected (the parameters met) #7Permitter, then Angel The Gate & Bob not your Uncle of course water shall come out. There might be other instances whereby one person thinks it's impossible but by asking the spouse He/She does 7solve it (to 'clean').

Having a winning feeling, is extensively different than having promise. So like Jesus comes out of a hole in a mountain, but came to save what is lost.. There are instants of historical chains whereby Angel stayed at the tree... There are instances of an Apple being stolen from a tree, then put back etc. Karma exists. Grace exists. Cain was quarantined from the Garden in 90210^7. Thanks be to God.

If everything came to the spanner in the works about Freecell & taps with pipes nd a water source, then simply turn the handles in the correct procedure then water shall come out, if cannot get water, contact Angel Adam Aaron etc... quickly pertaining to Solitaire, being a clip on the system by some unsolveable to clean is merely a KOE precept that holds disorder at the core of the 'apple coding'... so then in both instances the water is released from the crowd and Jerusalem/Erdington/Praying for a Child in Poverty scenes so too the clogging. Having an invisible hand really helps unclog systems, in many instances a rebuild is required, hence the corner stone that gets thrown out ( the purported disorder ) but then brings clean in the system of cleanable things. Which really comes to the want to have an invisible hand to change the printer cartridge. As being in the crowd or the dock, the person simply does not walk through walls to find if there is any stuff in the cargo 'worth' taking. Super Ken etc walks through, knowing the answer. Denying such as invisible brings out the hickmann appeal to the "Is it a winnable/solveable/redeemable thing'. Again... A physical hand won't be able to go thru a printers physical makings to replace the printer cartridge.

To summarise, this specific hand is solveable. Yet In the main psyché of this question is A Gertrude's/Ermintrudes Cat/Koe of Egpyts Prisoner/A Guard is never alone with a stranded prisoner/ A drowning person is always drowning until the Piracttti give save sort of element. How i/o etc. The premise is to do with "Is the game clipped/in the houses favour etc?" Is there an order to having a 5 pronged fork choice etc? Is there water? Is it 'mine' so granted of God thanks be to God? etce. Am I coveting? Is there ever a next? Stealing from a Child? If I shoot a gun does it fire? Some things as like drinking rat poison / the slippery slope of heroin is sacrificial and we are not to believe in sacrifice, nor covet. "Oh it looks as though I have got away with it" Hmm? 10C. 2G etc. Countlessly history shows there to be little evidence of God (in Someone's Child amounts for the sake of the extreme power/glory) until something goes wrong from denying the Someone's Child amounts. Untestable. *Cain was requarantined in 90210^7* Solving Cain. Solving Abel. Each seeing each other as some sort of distraction from having family etc. #AngelAtTheTree way before such 'instance' globally, aside from Jerusalem hard focusses. Amongst us! Winning everything in sight is extremely genie type thinking and we are more 2^7 than, some winning everything in sight creations.

Sometimes the Gate comes up with the "loss impasse" to tell us, "hey... you should realise though I am forever & love you & shall grant you paradise, you know that The Morning Sun could so easily fall... there are other creations here, please then do not load up that siege feeling; as there is enough for everyone by looking more upwards than stories about security; remember7 90210^7 #7GatedAG, for it is only I who can wield such correctly" etc. Everby Yourside.

luis....@gmail.com

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Apr 5, 2017, 7:22:41 AM4/5/17
to
From Woody Leonhard's book _Windows 7 All-In-One For Dummies_:

"The Windows 7 version of FreeCell supports hands numbered from 1 to 1,000,000 -- which should keep you rather well occupied. You also find four additional, fascinating, symmetrical hands, numbered -1, -2, -3 and -4. Games -1 and -2 can't be won. Games -3 and -4 will all by themselves: Just drag an ace onto one of the suit stacks, and Windows takes care of the rest.

"All hands numbered from 1 from 1,000,000 are winnable, except for the eight hands 11,982, 146,692, 186,216, 455,889, 495,505, 512,118, 517,776, and 781,948 (and, of course, -1 and -2). Yes, some people study these things. No, they don't have lives. (Hey, I was a mathematician too, in a previous lifetime.) See Michael Keller's incredibly thorough analysis at solitarirelaboratory.com/fcfaq.html."

Retrieved from:

https://books.google.de/books?id=BjhFgc4DdjIC&pg=PA293&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false

luis....@gmail.com

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Apr 6, 2017, 7:30:53 AM4/6/17
to
El miércoles, 5 de abril de 2017, 13:22:41 (UTC+2), luis....@gmail.com escribió:
> See Michael Keller's incredibly thorough analysis at solitarirelaboratory.com/fcfaq.html."

Whoops, an extra "r" sneaked in. The right link is solitairelaboratory.com/fcfaq.html.

guitar...@gmail.com

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May 2, 2017, 7:27:38 AM5/2/17
to
Has anyone ever found a place online where you can plug your game in and see if it's winnable? I've beat 12189 straight games and have now been stuck for two weeks on a game in an app version of the game that doesn't use the numbering system.

David Petry

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May 3, 2017, 1:19:37 AM5/3/17
to
On Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at 4:27:38 AM UTC-7, guitar...@gmail.com wrote:
> Has anyone ever found a place online where you can plug your game in and see if it's winnable? I've beat 12189 straight games and have now been stuck for two weeks on a game in an app version of the game that doesn't use the numbering system.

Search with google "freecell solver"

art...@gmail.com

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Nov 23, 2017, 12:43:57 PM11/23/17
to
I would concur that 11982 is not solvable. I have been playing Freecell since 1998 and I have recorded all the games that I have played on a spreadsheet. Since the latest app provides for unlimited undo's I have been able to go back to the previously unsolved games and solve them (not 11982). I am currently working on the 38000 numbers. I am not getting into the mathematics aspect of the game but I am speaking from my own experience in solving the games.

I have found that when I reach a dead end I can undo to the point where I have at least 3 open cells to use and then start a different sequence of moves.

lvc.co...@gmail.com

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Jun 9, 2019, 3:31:46 PM6/9/19
to
On Sunday, July 24, 1994 at 6:20:23 PM UTC-4, Russell Turpin wrote:
> -*----
> FreeCell is a game that Microsoft distributes with Win32. As it
> says in its online help:
>
> FreeCell is a logic puzzle in the form of a solitaire card
> game. It is unlike most solitaire games ... in that there
> is no luck involved after the initial shuffle. There are
> no hidden cards; they are all dealt face up at the start of
> the game. It is believed (although not proven) that every
> game is winnable.
>
> In essence, FreeCell is a problem in finite combinatorics. It
> asks whether eight stacks of playing cards can be sorted to four
> output stacks, using a four card register and permitting a card
> to be moved from the top of one stack to the top of another when
> the usual usual solitaire rule holds: the moved element must be
> one less and a different color than the card onto which it is
> moved.
>
> After thinking about it some, I believe that the answer is "no."
> As a counter-example to the hypothesis that the game is always
> winnable, I offer the deal below, which I believe is unwinnable.
> (Card colors are irrelevant in this counter-example.)
>
> A A A A 7 7 7 7
> K K K K 6 6 6 6
> Q Q Q Q 5 5 5 5
> J J J J 4 4 4 4
> 10 10 10 10 3 3 3 3
> 9 9 9 9 2 2 2 2
> 8 8 8 8
>
> Is this (1) a trivial result that almost everyone reached after
> playing the game a little bit (except for the author of the help
> file), (2) a wrong result, in which I misunderstand the game or
> the strategy for playing it, or (3) of sufficient interest that
> readers here might like a proof that the above hand cannot be
> won?
>
> Russell
>
> --
> The average Ph.D thesis is nothing but the transference of bones
> from one graveyard to another.
> -- Frank J. Dobie

via freecell.org

Only a very few FreeCell games are unwinnable. Using the basic deal numbering system that virtually all FreeCell games use, game #11982 is the first unwinnable game of FreeCell. After that only the games #146692, #186216, #455889, #495505, #512118, #517776, and #781948 are unsolvable out of the first million games. Therefore, unsolvable games of FreeCell are literally eight out of a million.
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