In response to a comment by black dog barking:
Spider Solitaire is the Devil’s game.
I’m writing about the Windows version, though I’ve tried several other computer variants, and they’re pretty much as bad. Computer solitaire games are in an entirely different universe from the hard copy versions, not least being that they can keep statistics.
The skill-to-luck ratios of solitaires are pretty obvious. “Regular” solitaire, Klondike, in other words, is pretty much a matter of luck, except when you miss a play. There are a few choices during the game, but most often, there is no way to determine whether or not which choice is best. In the Windows (and most other) implementations, the “undo” is severely limited.
Freecell is much more a matter of skill, and most games are winnable. But it’s a full information game, which means that luck mostly doesn’t come in to it, and there’s a ceiling. You can only get so good at Freecell, and most people can get that good, or pretty nearly. You can also replay the same hand, over and over, and they’re numbered in the Windows version, so you can tell your friends about specific deals. At least one of them is unwinnable, I forget the number, but it can be found if you do a web search for it.
Spider has a huge amount of “top,” room to get better and better. It took me probably 20 or 30 games at the beginning before I won my first game at the highest difficulty level, where all four suits are used. Of course, that was before I began to really use the “undo” function. Without the undo, I eventually got a win statistic of slightly less than 10%.
The undo changes that entirely. The Windows version has an undo function that is limited only by each deal from the stock (which happens 5 times per game), or when a suit is formed and moved off the tableau to the foundation. Sometimes forming a full suit can cause you to lose by leaving you in an untenable position, one that you could have gotten out of if you still had the lost suit to play with.
With liberal use of “undo” I can win about 45% of Spider Solitaire hands. But a friend told me that you can Save a game at the beginning, then keep playing the same game over and over again without it counting as a loss by just going to the Open Last Saved Game (“Replay Game” counts as a loss). You can use similar Save tricks to never enter a loss in the statistics, but that’s pointless. Replaying the same game until you either win, get tired of it, or convince yourself that it’s unwinnable, though, that’s a challenge.
I once played a game that had a bottleneck (no possible plays under ordinary conditions) on the third deal; I played it for an entire weekend and found a way to create a play on the third deal that won the game. Amy plays the two suit game and once hit a game that gave no plays on the final deal, which looks like an automatic loser. But it’s possible to put cards underneath the deal that put a dealt card in play (the cards underneath have to be the same suit in sequence so they can be moved as a whole). So I noted the final deal, then played to that final layout and beat it. I’ve done similar things in the four suited game.
I did compile a statistical run of over 400 games with 21 losses; the win statistics were 94%. And there were at least a couple of games in that run that I lost because I’d forgotten to Save the game at first. More recently, easing off my OCD a little, I win about 90%, because sometimes I just get tired and go to bed.
So, we have a really difficult game that rewards pattern recognition and logical thinking by giving a statistical score that other players can find mind boggling.
The Devil’s Game, I’m sure of it. I really should give it up.