Recurring solitaire hands

I kill a lot of time playing Windows solitaire and have found that
certain hands keep recurring. I have verified that the whole hand is
duplicated by playing down several levels. Since there are 52! ways to
shuffle a deck, I find this surprising. Is Microsoft cheating when it
shuffles, or what?
-- 
Crash

I'm going to be a dirty old man when I grow up.
0
Dave
2/17/2014 5:24:16 PM
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Dave "Crash" Dummy wrote:
> I kill a lot of time playing Windows solitaire and have found that
> certain hands keep recurring. I have verified that the whole hand is
> duplicated by playing down several levels. Since there are 52! ways to
> shuffle a deck, I find this surprising. Is Microsoft cheating when it
> shuffles, or what?

Interesting - I never noticed that, but they must be fudging then, you 
wouldn't live long enough to see such a thing otherwise.  I asked Persi 
Diaconis once (years ago) but he never responded.  Well, I asked whether 
the frequency distribution of scores from many thousands of games 
(single draw, untimed competent play) was consistent with random 
shuffling.  Couldn't work it out myself, don't have the data anymore 
anyway but you may have found the answer.

-- 
Raru raru ana e
0
Farelf
2/17/2014 7:42:22 PM
> "Dave "Crash" Dummy"  wrote in message news:ldtgk0$160d$1@news.grc.com...
>
> I kill a lot of time playing Windows solitaire and have found that
> certain hands keep recurring. I have verified that the whole hand is
> duplicated by playing down several levels. Since there are 52! ways to
> shuffle a deck, I find this surprising. Is Microsoft cheating when it
> shuffles, or what?

This is down to the random number generator, I suspect, and you've just
discovered this particular version can't be trusted. Bruce Schneier has
written a number of articles on the unreliability of RNGs in Windows and
Linux, and the role played by the NSA in maintaining their weaknesses.

Not sure how many RNG routines are available to Windows, so it's possible
that there are more reliable ones being used to undertake your online 
banking transactions (let's hope so, anyway)

Alan
0
alan
2/17/2014 8:28:33 PM
On Mon, 17 Feb 2014 12:24:16 -0500, Dave "Crash" Dummy wrote:

> I kill a lot of time playing Windows solitaire and have found that
> certain hands keep recurring. I have verified that the whole hand is
> duplicated by playing down several levels. Since there are 52! ways to
> shuffle a deck, I find this surprising. Is Microsoft cheating when it
> shuffles, or what?

In the mid 1980s, we were approached by a client to carry out a random
sampling of their membership's views. We had meetings with various experts,
and I remember one of them asserting that, if a number was generated, it
could not possibly be random.

I see similar recurrences when running screensavers which use slideshows of
images stored on the hard drive. There are some images that are chosen
again and again, and others which rarely appear. 

I suspect that MS did what we did back then, and fudged something that
looked random until subjected to detailed scrutiny.
 
-- 
no nym
0
no
2/17/2014 9:19:24 PM
On 2014-02-17 9:24, Dave "Crash" Dummy wrote:
> I kill a lot of time playing Windows solitaire and have found that
> certain hands keep recurring. I have verified that the whole hand is
> duplicated by playing down several levels. Since there are 52! ways to
> shuffle a deck, I find this surprising. Is Microsoft cheating when it
> shuffles, or what?

52! is a very big number, and it is unlikely that MS has used a PRNG 
capable of representing all possible shuffle states.

The other possibility is that some "impossible" hands have been removed 
to make the game test better in focus groups. ;)

Regards,
Sam
0
Sam
2/17/2014 9:48:53 PM
On Mon, 17 Feb 2014 12:24:16 -0500, Dave "Crash" Dummy wrote:

>I kill a lot of time playing Windows solitaire and have found that
>certain hands keep recurring. I have verified that the whole hand is
>duplicated by playing down several levels. Since there are 52! ways to
>shuffle a deck, I find this surprising. Is Microsoft cheating when it
>shuffles, or what?

I can see the headline now...

     SOLITAIRE PLAYER DISCOVERS WEAK PRNG!
     Microsoft yet to comment.

:-)

-- 
Bill_MI - Bill in Michigan
Expert Opinions $20, Shut-Up $50
0
Bill_MI
2/17/2014 10:45:07 PM
On 2014-02-17 14:45, Bill_MI wrote:
> On Mon, 17 Feb 2014 12:24:16 -0500, Dave "Crash" Dummy wrote:
>
>> I kill a lot of time playing Windows solitaire and have found that
>> certain hands keep recurring. I have verified that the whole hand is
>> duplicated by playing down several levels. Since there are 52! ways to
>> shuffle a deck, I find this surprising. Is Microsoft cheating when it
>> shuffles, or what?
>
> I can see the headline now...
>
>       SOLITAIRE PLAYER DISCOVERS WEAK PRNG!
>       Microsoft yet to comment.

Don't joke -- it is probably the same PRNG used by the kernel or 
something. *g*

Regards,
Sam

0
Sam
2/18/2014 1:50:37 AM

"Dave "Crash" Dummy"  wrote in message news:ldtgk0$160d$1@news.grc.com...

I kill a lot of time playing Windows solitaire and have found that
certain hands keep recurring. I have verified that the whole hand is
duplicated by playing down several levels. Since there are 52! ways to
shuffle a deck, I find this surprising. Is Microsoft cheating when it
shuffles, or what?
-- 
Crash

I'm going to be a dirty old man when I grow up.

From robertd

There is certainly a non random element in the shuffling (not at all
surprising since any PRG has structures in it). I have been amusing myself
studying the behaviour (for Draw 3, Timed, Standard Scoring) of the Windows
7 Solitaire.  The first oddity was an imbalance between the number of hands
where the visible cards were all black compared to all red at the starting
configuration. Also the overall probabilities of all the same colour
compared to a mixture of black and red cards was high. That is to say, the
deviation from random expectation was (after 2000 shuffles) was about 2.5
standard deviations. The probability of a same colour shuffle was (at that
stage) 0.0175 compared to my calculated expectation of 0.0098 giving a
discrepancy of 0.0077 +- 0.003.

However, continuing the process to 2410 shuffles saw a drop in the frequency
of same colour shuffles to ~ 0.0154 as in the extra 410 shuffles there was
only 1 all red and one all black shuffle.
I interpret this as showing there was in the PRG an early bias towards all
black + all red which is later counterbalanced by an opposite bias.

Lastly, there is to me a surprising result that the most likely number of of
games played between successive wins is zero. This, of course depends to
some extent on how well I play the game! I had a spreadsheet that shows
the results but this took me over the size limit 


---
This email is free from viruses and malware because avast! Antivirus protection is active.
http://www.avast.com

0
robertd
2/18/2014 12:11:53 PM
Dave "Crash" Dummy wrote:

> I kill a lot of time playing Windows solitaire and have found that
> certain hands keep recurring. I have verified that the whole hand is
> duplicated by playing down several levels. Since there are 52! ways to
> shuffle a deck, I find this surprising. Is Microsoft cheating when it
> shuffles, or what?

Interesting.  Wouldn't it depend upon the algorithm MS uses to
'shuffle' the deck as well as whatever is used to generate the initial
seed number of the RNG?

FWIW, I remember reading that the 'optimum' number of times to shuffle
a RL deck of cards to "maximize" randomness was 8.

John
0
John
2/18/2014 3:36:11 PM
> "John"  wrote in message news:ldvulb$2hrc$1@news.grc.com...
>
>  Wouldn't it depend upon the algorithm MS uses to 'shuffle' the deck .....

It's widely known that the routine used by MS to randomise shuffles is the
renowned "Neutered Shuffle Algorithm", devised by a group of bashful
cryptologists who wish to remain nameless (but "Not Strictly Anonymous").

Alan 

0
alan
2/18/2014 7:58:01 PM
On Mon, 17 Feb 2014 12:24:16 -0500, Dave "Crash" Dummy wrote:

> I kill a lot of time playing Windows solitaire and have found that
> certain hands keep recurring. I have verified that the whole hand is
> duplicated by playing down several levels. Since there are 52! ways to
> shuffle a deck, I find this surprising. Is Microsoft cheating when it
> shuffles, or what?

Slightly OT, but I notice that a lot of the FreeCell games in Win 7 seem to
start with at least one ace 'open'. I don't recall that in the XP version,
or earlier versions.

-- 
no nym
0
no
2/18/2014 8:08:12 PM
On 2014-02-18 12:08, no nym wrote:
> On Mon, 17 Feb 2014 12:24:16 -0500, Dave "Crash" Dummy wrote:
>
>> I kill a lot of time playing Windows solitaire and have found that
>> certain hands keep recurring. I have verified that the whole hand is
>> duplicated by playing down several levels. Since there are 52! ways to
>> shuffle a deck, I find this surprising. Is Microsoft cheating when it
>> shuffles, or what?
>
> Slightly OT, but I notice that a lot of the FreeCell games in Win 7 seem to
> start with at least one ace 'open'. I don't recall that in the XP version,
> or earlier versions.

You can also choose your freecell games by number (or at least you used 
to be able to). The highest number should tell you how many variations 
in starting state there are.

Regards,
Sam
0
Sam
2/19/2014 12:19:02 AM
"Dave \"Crash\" Dummy" <dvader@deathstar.mil> wrote:

> I kill a lot of time playing Windows solitaire and have found that
> certain hands keep recurring. I have verified that the whole hand
> is duplicated by playing down several levels. Since there are 52!
> ways to shuffle a deck, I find this surprising. Is Microsoft
> cheating when it shuffles, or what?

No, they put a counter on your PC telling you to knock off the games 
and get back to work! <G>



-- 
XS11E, Killing all posts from Google Groups
The Usenet Improvement Project:
http://twovoyagers.com/improve-usenet.org/
0
XS11E
2/19/2014 6:02:36 AM
On 2/17/2014 9:24 AM, Dave "Crash" Dummy wrote:
> I kill a lot of time playing Windows solitaire and have found that
> certain hands keep recurring. I have verified that the whole hand is
> duplicated by playing down several levels. Since there are 52! ways to
> shuffle a deck, I find this surprising. Is Microsoft cheating when it
> shuffles, or what?

I have noted this problem with my solitaire in XP.  I don't remember 
that Solitaire in 9X operating systems did this in the past.

A card can be represented by one six bit group with the high two bits 
selecting suit and the other four bits used for Ace - King with three 
unused counts. (do over)

A prn generator with a six bit non-repitation  of 64 cycles could be 
made with a 6 bit shift register and appropriate feedback.

The trick is to salt the six bit counter with random bits each time you 
want to deal. The shift register only moves 64 times to generate the 
entire deck.  Oh yes you must throw away 000000.

Now how can we inject this into the .dll ?
0
Gerry
2/19/2014 6:52:45 AM
On Tue, 18 Feb 2014 16:19:02 -0800, Sam Schinke wrote:

> On 2014-02-18 12:08, no nym wrote:
>> On Mon, 17 Feb 2014 12:24:16 -0500, Dave "Crash" Dummy wrote:

>>> I kill a lot of time playing Windows solitaire and have found that
>>> certain hands keep recurring. I have verified that the whole hand is
>>> duplicated by playing down several levels. Since there are 52! ways to
>>> shuffle a deck, I find this surprising. Is Microsoft cheating when it
>>> shuffles, or what?

>> Slightly OT, but I notice that a lot of the FreeCell games in Win 7 seem to
>> start with at least one ace 'open'. I don't recall that in the XP version,
>> or earlier versions.
 
> You can also choose your freecell games by number (or at least you used 
> to be able to). The highest number should tell you how many variations 
> in starting state there are.

I can choose from 1 to 1000000. The latter also has an exposed ace.

-- 
no nym
0
no
2/19/2014 9:59:37 AM
There used to be a version of Solitaire in Windows (98, I think) that let 
you enter a number to select the game; entering -1 or -2 created an 
unsolvable game. 


0
David
2/19/2014 3:46:48 PM
Correction it's Freecell (at least up to WinXP) that lets you enter a game 
#. 


0
David
2/19/2014 3:49:56 PM
On 2014-02-19 1:59, no nym wrote:
> On Tue, 18 Feb 2014 16:19:02 -0800, Sam Schinke wrote:
>
>> On 2014-02-18 12:08, no nym wrote:
>>> On Mon, 17 Feb 2014 12:24:16 -0500, Dave "Crash" Dummy wrote:
>
>>>> I kill a lot of time playing Windows solitaire and have found that
>>>> certain hands keep recurring. I have verified that the whole hand is
>>>> duplicated by playing down several levels. Since there are 52! ways to
>>>> shuffle a deck, I find this surprising. Is Microsoft cheating when it
>>>> shuffles, or what?
>
>>> Slightly OT, but I notice that a lot of the FreeCell games in Win 7 seem to
>>> start with at least one ace 'open'. I don't recall that in the XP version,
>>> or earlier versions.
>
>> You can also choose your freecell games by number (or at least you used
>> to be able to). The highest number should tell you how many variations
>> in starting state there are.
>
> I can choose from 1 to 1000000. The latter also has an exposed ace.

52! is 8.06 x 10^67, so I'm sure you can see that there are a few 
possible games missing. *g*

Regards,
Sam

0
Sam
2/19/2014 7:07:50 PM
no nym wrote:

> Sam Schinke wrote:
> 
>> no nym wrote:
>>
>>> Slightly OT, but I notice that a lot of the FreeCell games in Win 7
>>> seem to start with at least one ace 'open'. I don't recall that in
>>> the XP version, or earlier versions. 
>  
>> You can also choose your freecell games by number (or at least you
>> used to be able to). The highest number should tell you how many
>> variations in starting state there are. 
> 
> I can choose from 1 to 1000000.
> 


There are four missing from that set.

0
Guy
2/19/2014 7:33:34 PM
alan wrote:

> > "John"  wrote in message news:ldvulb$2hrc$1@news.grc.com...
> > 
> > Wouldn't it depend upon the algorithm MS uses to 'shuffle' the deck
> > .....
> 
> It's widely known that the routine used by MS to randomise shuffles
> is the renowned "Neutered Shuffle Algorithm", devised by a group of
> bashful cryptologists who wish to remain nameless (but "Not Strictly
> Anonymous").
> 
> Alan

I also seem to recall that RNG could be flawed because they used
something that seemed random but counter-intuitively is not.  Apologies
about garbling here.  I'm just thinking there is a difference between
the random number used to generate a hand from the algorithm that uses
the random number to shuffle the hand.  I remember from my college days
on statistics and later reads that the way you get your random number
can be as critical as however you implement it in your project.
0
John
2/19/2014 8:52:43 PM
Dave "Crash" Dummy wrote:
> I kill a lot of time playing Windows solitaire and have found that 
> certain hands keep recurring. I have verified that the whole hand is 
> duplicated by playing down several levels. Since there are 52! ways 
> to shuffle a deck, I find this surprising. Is Microsoft cheating when
>  it shuffles, or what?

I wrote a simple script to shuffle a deck of cards and can easily
shuffle  a deck 10000 times without duplication. That is a lot more than
the total number of Solitaire games I've played with noticeable
recurrences. If I can successfully and randomly shuffle a deck with a few
lines of VBScript, I don't know why the Solitaire.exe program can't.
-- 
Crash

"The real question is not whether machines think but whether men do."
~ B. F. Skinner ~
0
Dave
2/19/2014 11:21:30 PM
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