Number of Players: 1
Year publication: 1697
How to Play With Yourself – Solitaire:
Solitaire is an interesting game and the first game to be officially reviewed in 2014! Solitaire is an old (usually wooden) game, so it fits our theme for this month. This is the first post with our new standardized format so any feed back would be appreciated, let us know if there’s anything we are missing or if anything is too much.
What’s in the Box:
Solitaire only consists of two things:
1) A board with 33 holes or groves in it.
2) 32 pieces – sometimes pegs and sometime marbles – sometimes 33 pieces are included so you remove one before playing.
Playing the Game:
The aim of the game is to remove all of the other pieces leaving just one in the central hole that is originally left empty.
- The board is set out with 32 pieces leaving a gap in the middle.
- You move to take pieces by jumping over them.
- Taking can only be done horizontally or vertically NOT diagonally.
- You win if you manage to remove all pieces and are left with one pieces in the central slot.
- You lose if you are left with one or more pieces not in the central slot and you cannot make any more moves.
While this game has a very simple set of rules and is fairly easy to understand mastering it is a whole other matter! While I consider myself somewhat intelligent (and also modest) I have played this game through 30 or so times and still failed to win! I always end up in situations like this:
I’m getting closer but I still feel quite far way. As far as I can see it makes sense to clear the board systematically and try very hard to not leave any pieces out on the edges by themselves. Of course you could always cheat and watch this video:
I have refused to watch it as I want to solve the game myself and will not be helped by Youtube! Additionally, once you’ve committed to memory how to beat the game it’s a bit of a one trick wonder as it has no replay-ability because you will always be able to beat it!
History and Interesting Facts:
The aim of this is not to give you a full history lesson on the game – that would be long and boring! But just a quick ten bullets to give you a rough idea of the games history and cultural relevance as well as some interesting facts about it.
- The earliest known reference to the game is a French engraving of Anne de Rohan-Chabot, pictured with the game, made in 1697. As seen here:
- The first literary reference made to it is in a French magazine from the same year.
- The Solitaire featured in these references, however, is not the same as the Solitaire featured in this post. There are two common/traditional versions of the game. The one featured in this post is the English version (which is fitting as we are in England) the one originally featured in the engraving is know as the European version. If you look at the engraving shown above you will see the board has four more holes that occur in the inside corners of the board to give it a more rounded shape. Additionally you do not traditionally start this game by leaving the middle hole empty but rather one offset towards the top of the board.
- There are also a fair few other versions of the game including a version made by J. C. Wiegleb in 1779 in German that has 47 holes and is effectively an extended version of the English version.
- There are also other ways of playing it on the same board, whether you’re using the English board, European board or any other. Including a version where your starting and finishing slot is in the bottom right corner. To take a look at some of these different versions and play them (and even see solutions to them) see HERE!
- The shortest solution to the English version of the game was found by Ernest Bergholt in 1912 and was proven to be the shortest by John Beasley in 1964. This solution in full detail can be viewed HERE, but I challenge you to find it yourself first, in fact I will give £100 to the person who can irrefutably prove that they found the shortest solution to the game without any assistance!
- While there is only one shortest solution to the English version of the game there are three shortest solutions to the European version of the game that are all very different from each other but result in the same amount of moves made. To read about them in detail see HERE!
- A much thorougher analysis of the mathematics of the game(s) is provided in the book Winning Ways for Your Mathematical Plays – Volume 1 which on the extreme off chance anyone is interested in can be bought HERE and viewed as a pdf HERE (it’s discussed in chapter 23 under the name Peg Solitaire).
- The game is historically called Solo Noble or Peg Solitaire, however in the UK it is usually just referred to as Solitaire as the card game of the same name(s) is commonly known as Patience.
- Very interestingly there are 577,116,156,815,309,849,672 different sequences to the English version of the game (being how many different orders of things that can happen). From this set of sequences there are 40,861,647,040,079,968 different solutions (some are simply reflection and rotations of others). To see this maths in more detail see HERE!
The thing I find most interesting about this game is your could vary it almost indefinitely and it would still be a playable and difficult problem, it is rare that you find a board game that is so interchangeable but still maintains its fundamental characteristics. It also stands as a classic mathematical/logic problem that is quite challenging to initially complete.
While it is fun and simple it is also quite limited in the sense that is is simple. You can furiously try for 40 minutes to try and figure out a solution and then lose interest completely because you feel like you’re just repeating the same thing again and again and never getting closer to your goal. So it might be a steer clear for those of you who are more OCD about things as you may never be able to put it down until you find the solution. However if you’re not OCD then definitely give it and play! I challenge you to find the solution without help!