Learn to Play Freecell the Dreamagic Way
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Lesson #5: Playing Hard Games

During this lesson, we will go over some of the things mentioned previously. We will also emphasize being patient, as opposed to impulsive. This means, you should use the pause at the outset...when you are checking out the board for problems...to look for more patient approaches to forming a strategy that will take care of problems soon to arise. For example, click on this button to see an impulsive approach.

Now what? The three and the four in the buffer slots need a black five. The eight of hearts needs a black nine. The red twos need to be uncovered. And, those high cards in columns one and two need to be displaced as well. Clicking on this green button will give you a chance to try out some other, more patient strategies. Or, alternatively, click on this yellow button to see our approach.

Next, we would like to show you some tricks that will come in handy when you are playing a really tough game. The first of these, we will call a relay. Suppose you have a stack which is too high to move directly to where you would want it to go. What you do is look for intermediate cards on which you can play some of the cards, in order to lower the stack height so the move can be made. Clicking on this button will show a simple case using animation. Clicking this button will illustrate the trick using two relays.

The next trick we wish to show you is called the hole paradox. If you have two holes and all four buffer slots are full, then you have three free spaces. That is, you can move a three card stack from one column to another. If, on the other hand, you transfer one of the cards...any one, it doesn't really matter which...to one of the holes, you now have one plus one times one plus one or FOUR free spaces and you can move four cards from one column to another. The same holds for three holes and all four buffer slots filled. In that case you go from three plus one times one...or four free spaces...to two plus one times one plus one...or SIX free spaces. This simple move can come in VERY handy in a tight game, where you are filling all your buffer slots. Clicking on the this button will give you a simple demonstration of this phenomenon. Clicking this one will show you another example.

Below are a number of hard games. As before, try to play them as often as you need to solve them. However, if you get stuck, try to play it with the hint. If even that doesn't hel, then watch the animation to see how we approached it. What we emphasize in this lesson, besides the tricks, is to is to not only pause at the ouset to scope out any probalems you might have and to estimate how difficult the game is, but also to pause periodically during the play to re-evaluate the situation.

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