Actually remmeber having a row with my mother over the rules of solitaire when I was about 15 . We didn't speak for days. See died recently and knowing her I bet she still thought that her cheat didn't shorten her odds considerable.
Probably destined to be a programmer even then.
I played solitaire a number of times, over the course of a few weeks, when I was in about fifth grade. Then I realized it was boring, so I quit. Eight or nine years later, when I first saw a computer version (on Win3.1, as it happens), I played that a small handful of times, until I realized it wasn't any less boring. That was in the mid '90s, so it was over a decade ago now. Wow, now I feel old. How do simple things like polls about stupid card games manage that effect?
Typical solitaire is both mindless and you mostly "lose", which is a horrid combination. Spider solitaire is a good mental challenge and you usually can win if you can just figure out how. But I don't play it with real cards because my Perl version makes backtracking easy and I hate not being able to backtrack in solitaire. Freecell is only a moderate challenge but you can almost always win there. But I haven't played any solitaire in months, though I often do puzzles when trying to get to sleep, which is similar.
Freecell is only a moderate challenge but you can almost always win there.
Having been interested in this in the past, I did a bit of research. Comments here indicate that there is only 1 game in the 32K on Windows that is unsolveable though you can get 2 more using an easter egg. Unfortunately, this proof doesn't list the total number of impossible games.
As for using puzzles to get to sleep - I am very envious.
I'm using Solitaire (Klondike and variations) to teach my son (at 5) sequences and rules and the impact of rule changes. He likes the computer better (PySol on FreeBSD rocks!), but patience is not one of his virtues yet, so out come the cards.
My last job was working in a call centre during the evenings. Quite often, you'd have periods where calls came in 20-25 minutes apart, so you had to find things to do. Many people started crocheting, knitting, reading books, etc. I was part of the crowd that started crocheting and I brought a physical deck of cards to play solitaire, as the computer versions were blocked out and could not play online versions due to the company firewall. sigh.
Well given the choice between a standard deck of cards and a computer for solitaire. I will always choose the deck. There is something relaxing about shuffling a deck of cards and dealing. It becomes a mechanical operation that you can totally zone out while doing. Besides if I am going to play a low tech game on my computer it is gonna be minesweeper.