Solitaire

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Every once in a while it’s time to play a game of solitaire. I watched my Dad play online solitaire and hearts as a way to pass the time and maybe take his brain off of focusing on programming problems. Or, maybe playing these games helped him with the programming problems. I never asked him.

Solitaire

This version of Solitaire is from https://www.solitaire.org/ which also has other games some of which I’ll talk about below. The game is what you’d expect – though you should know that to refresh the cards at the top right – you have to click on that space even though it’s not obvious that one would do that. But after 20 years of testing software, it only took me a second to figure that out. He says, patting self on back. Also, the sounds are a little cheesy – but you can turn them off if you want.

Also interesting is the history of solitaire which I did not know:

The History Of Solitaire

Solitaire emerged in the 1700s in northern Europe. 

In Germany, Sweden, France and Russia there were references in literature to a game called “Patience”, the earliest recorded name for Solitaire. Although English, the word “patience” is of French origin and indicates that the game required a patient temperament in order to play it well. 

By the mid-19th century, Solitaire was popular in French high society, whilst in England, Prince Albert was known to be an enthusiast. The game didn’t make its way across the Atlantic to the USA until 1870 where it became known as Solitaire. 

Solitaire grew in popularity amongst card players of all walks of life but was given an immense boost following the advent of desktop computers. Microsoft Windows, a leading operating system, included a free version of Solitaire in 1990. 

Many work hours were lost to this challenging game. Office workers the world overplayed the game, no doubt switching surreptitiously between active windows to hide their game playing from supervisors! (ed: oh yeah, I remember doing this!)

Fun fact. As the cards are laid out, you may notice a similarity to the way Fortune Tellers layout their Tarot cards, revealing hidden secrets with each turn. An early version of the Tarot emerged in Italy in 1425. Solitaire was most likely influenced by fortune-telling.

Well, after not winning a few games of solitaire, I thought I’d try out this site’s mahjong game. I’ve always had a sweet spot in my life for mahjong as my next-door neighbor, Barbara Goldberg, used to invite me to join a couple of women she’d invited over to play. I was in my teens and they were all in their 40s or 50s, I’d guess. I loved playing games and they were a hoot, so it was a fun experience for me. Plus, we had an old version of the game that passed through our cabin, Camp Smiley, in Sumneytown, PA when I was growing up. Sadly, I think the tiles all ended up all over the place, but who doesn’t love the look and feel of a mahjong tile?

mahjong

One thing I noticed right off the bat with both the mahjong and solitaire games is that there is a timer. I suppose this can help one see how quickly one can play the game. But it also might be a good reminder for oneself (hello, Albert) as to how much time has gone into playing a game.  I also play chess and usually I play 10 minutes per side so that the game moves along at a clip, and also to keep things competitive. If you’re looking for a game, btw, you can find and challenge me at chess.com.

Well, after 20 minutes I was able to mostly “win” at the mahjong game. And I know where to find it again if I choose to. As to whether online games are useful or not, I was really swayed by Jane McGonigal’s TED talks on the subject. Have a look and see if her insights sway you. I first learned about her research into the topic via Tim Ferris’s podcast interviews with her after she’d had a brain injury. She’s quite amazing. Play on!

 

 

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