Learn to Play Freecell the Dreamagic Way
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Lesson #4: Playing Moderate Games

In the last lesson,
Playing Easy Games, we did not emphasize checking out the board carefully before starting. The reason was that it was usually fairly obvious how to proceed, either in making the first hole or in playing cards to home. Now we want you to pause and look for problems thast may crop up. We mentioned them in the last lesson, but did not go into detail on how to spot them or what to do about them.

The first problem mentioned was having aces, deuces, threes or fours buried deeply in the columns. Unless you can quickly carve down into one of these d\stacks to make a hole, this problem can cause major headaches since you MUST then defer playing to home in favor of stacking, to uncover these low ranked cards. Some of the most difficult games to solve have this problem.

The opposite problem...having high ranked cards on or near the tops of many columns...is usually simply handled by stacking. In this case, you should be very careful not to fill the buffer slots with high ranked cards before you have either make some very high stacks or have played many cards to home. Kings played early to the buffer slots can be very disruptive, since they can only be played to home or to a hole from there. So, when you play a high ranked card to a buffer slot, make sure you have a plan as to how and when you can move it back to the columns.

Having cards of the same color and rank buried in a single column can make problems later, so they should probably become an early part of your strategy. Look for cards upon which they may be played...better sooner than later...and cards that need to be played upon them. Of course, low ranked cards are easier to deal with than the higher ranks, since they can be played to home as well as to column stacks. Unless there are several examples are visible in the initial board layout, simple care will deal with most situations.

The last problem mentioned in lesson three is the most diffiuclt to spot and may lead to some of the most difficult Freecell games to solve. The giveaway is that when you look for cards to play upon one another, you see them scattered throughout the layout rather than sequenced in a single column. In the easy games we have seen so far, there were almost always such sequences which, when stacked, lead to early holes.

We have determined that the games below are moderately difficult. \Make sure you spoend a few moments at the outset scoping out the layout for problems and making a plan as to how to...eventually...deal with them. One you have formulated a plan, pursue it for a hwile, then pause again to determine what to do next. As before, we recommend that you try repeatedly to solve each numberd puzzle before you resort to either the hints or the automated plays.




Please send your comments and suggestions to the author, Willy Chaplin at:
willy@dreamagic.com (Willy Chaplin)