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♠♥♦♣ Brainjam
How to Play Brain Jam
Strategy
Sample Solutions
Questions? Comments?

Welcome to Brainjam.

To have your solutions recorded, you must be signed in. You must have (or create) a Google account to do this.

But if you are not signed in you are still welcome to play the game. If you have already played the Windows version, you will feel right at home. Otherwise, read on.

How to Play Brain Jam

The game tableau consists of three areas:

Initially a deck is dealt face up into the card columns.

The object of the game is to move all cards onto the Build Stacks, starting from Aces and progressing to Kings.

To move a card, click on it with the left mouse button. If there is no legal destination for the card nothing will happen. If there is more than one legal destination the system will select one. You can select an alternative destination by holding down the Shift key while clicking the left mouse button. (If you are playing on a touch device like the iPad, you can use the Shift button to the left of the cards to select an alternative move.)

An indicator at the left of the screen will show the total number of immediate possible moves (including alternatives).

You can move a card if it is uncovered and has a legal destination (see below). You cannot move a card that is already in a Build Stack.

A card can be legally moved:

Clicking or hitting one of:

will run the game in reverse, one move at a time.

The game can be played from the keyboard. Column cards are played using the keys from 'a' to 'h' for the columns going from left to right. Cards in scratch spaces can be played using the keys from 'i' to 'l'. The Shift key selects alternate moves. The backspace key will run the game in reverse.

The current number of moves is displayed on the window title bar.

All games are winnable, but are not arranged in order of difficulty. You can select any of the available games by clicking on one of the games on the Games page.

When you win a game, the sequence of moves you used is saved, unless you have already won that game using a shorter sequence.


Strategy

"Life is two locked boxes, each containing the other's key"

Brain Jam isn't easy, but perhaps the most satisfying experience you can have in Brain Jam is cracking a really tough game. In learning Brain Jam you first have to unlearn some of the rules from conventional "Solitaire" and "Freecell". Cards may be played only on cards of the same suit, not cards of the opposite color. When there is an open column, ANY card can be placed in it, not just a King. Finally, you cannot move runs of cards; you may only move one card at a time. You can move runs of cards if there are enough scratch spaces to do so. For example, suppose that one column has a 9-8-7 sequence of a suit at the bottom, while another column has a 10 of the same suit at the bottom. Further suppose that there are two empty scratch spaces, or two empty columns, or an empty scratch space and an empty column. Then the 7 and 8 can be moved into the free spaces, the 9 can go on the 10, and then the 8 and 7 can be moved onto the 9, leaving a 10-9-8-7. This type of maneuver is reminiscent of the famous Towers of Hanoi puzzle, especially if the run is several cards long.

When you click on a card it will move automatically. Remember that you can choose an alternate destination by pressing the Shift key.

A beginning player will often try to free the Aces and low cards and put them on the Build Piles. The result is often that the scratch spaces are filled up and there are no more moves.

A sounder approach is to start sorting cards to create runs of the same suit, "harvesting" the Aces and lower cards as the opportunity arises. But you can't overdo this either, because eventually the tableau clogs up with most columns having runs at the bottom.

One strategy that often works is to try to eliminate one column of cards altogether by placing all of its cards on other columns, or in the scratch spaces or build piles. The free column not only acts as an extra scratch space, but also as a place to put a run that has been built up elsewhere, as long as there are sufficient free spaces to transfer the run.

Successful play in Brain Jam appears to result not from any one doctrine, but from an ability to balance several strategies. Often you must play a game several times before you get a sense of where the connections and bottlenecks are. Only then can you work out a winning series of moves.

The early and middle moves in a game are the most important. Usually there is a "turning point" after which the game can be completed as long as you are paying attention. In analyzing a successful game you will often see that everything almost trivially hinges on building up one or two runs and clearing out one or two columns until they are empty; the hard part is figuring out which runs and columns to concentrate on.


Sample Solutions

A solution is encoded as a series of letters. Each letter corresponds to one move. The letters correspond to columns and scratch spaces, and denote which card was moved. The letters 'a' through 'h' correspond to the eight card columns, going from left to right. The letters 'i' through 'l' correspond to the Scratch Spaces, from left to right. Upper case letters have the same meaning as the lower case letters, except that the "alternate move" was selected by using the Shift key.

Here are sample solutions for 10 games (you can use these as "hints" if you are stumped):

Game 0:
ddeegdbbbbBbdladddff
fiaaalaaahhhhkiffccc
ccclbbbGGglggggddlCc
cghhceeaaahhkbbfffee
ljiddgg

Game 1:
ddddehhggfffffjhhjhl
aabblbkbbbbebjAAAala
affffffjkbbgggaacccc
cafjkeeeecccccddddaf
diedljhhkhgbb

Game 2:
bggggghhhgCcljcccggg
jiccciekeeeeeddaaake
Fffakaaaaaccccceeflb
bcbbfffdddddddjeeeaa
aabbhhhkcfhhabiggggg

Game 3:
gggggagcbbbbcffieejd
ddiddddjhhhikhhhljCC
CclkjcccddiaaaakdEEE
eeebbbggggggggbbefff
aajfffffcchhhhbbbega
jfikld

Game 4:
cfffaaafdddfdddcbcfj
iccDcjleeeeeeggggggb
bbbhjhhbbgghaakggilh
aabbccccdddffh

Game 5:
Ggbbbbaalbbbhihhjhhhj
ickaaiaeeeebbkejeeekg
ggaaaibbDDdiddhhhhddd
cicccgcdihhbFFFFfifhf
iffaaaffdgbbjbhhfkcce
ecil

Game 6:
hgbbgcecbgggffffffaa
aacBblbbbbikeeeecccc
ckiaaaaahhhhhhhhlagg
geeddcccddhjdaddehbb
hffik

Game 7:
gcciccccgggjgkffffff
ljeeeeeebbbbbjHHhhff
fhhaaaakiaaadddbddbb
bbahhbeggggfddjlcccc
kdi

Game 8:
ddccDclccckjhhhhclbb
blbbbidddleeiggibfff
fggffdddgkeeeejaaaaa
jeehhhhhhhhkhbaliead
dfggcccag

Game 9:
aaacdgggjkccccgglgee
ehhhhhhilbbbbkeeeekg
gggghhaaaaccccddeddj
dfffffffcbbbadbgfeel
fi

Questions? Comments?

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Acknowledgments and Thanks

Based on "Baker's Game", described by Martin Gardner in Scientific American in 1968.

Software for determination of solvable hands and shortest solutions: Bert van Oortmarssen

Thanks to all playtesters.


Copyright © 2010-2011 Brain Jam Publications.

http://brainjam.ca

THIS SOFTWARE IS DISTRIBUTED "AS IS" AND WITHOUT WARRANTIES AS TO PERFORMANCE OR MERCHANTIBILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR ANY OTHER WARRANTIES WHETHER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED. THE USER MUST ASSUME THE ENTIRE RISK OF USING THE PROGRAM.

Brain Jam Publications retains all rights to the name Brain Jam and the software, both in source and executable form.