Solve Spider Solitaire - even the hard 4-suit level !
Make solving Microsoft's Spider Solitaire easier with this aid.
The Spider Solitaire game that comes with Microsoft Windows is a relaxing mental test, but did you ever wish that you could see through the backs of the cards - particularly on the challenging 4-suit level? Or want to recreate a tricky game so that you could try again or get your friends to try and solve it?
"SpiderLens" is a small program that allows you to do exactly that! It analyses a saved game file from the Microsoft Spider game for Windows XP (probably the best version of the game and referred to here as SpiderXP) and displays all the cards, including the undealt and hidden ones. So, when you are playing SpiderXP and are not sure which cards to move, just save the current game and run SpiderLens to take a look at what is behind the scenes. As the game progresses you can save it as many times as you like and update the display in SpiderLens each time.
SpiderLens also tells you how many moves are going to be available for each remaining deal, so that you can plan ahead for the more difficult ones. It is even possible to win the seemingly "impossible" game where the final 10-card deal does not appear to have any possible moves, because if you know what's coming and can get the right cards into place in the exposed columns before releasing the final deal, you can still solve it!
Windows 7 and later releases (including Windows 8 and 10) also come with a version of Spider - but it seems more cumbersome than the XP version and does not allow games to be saved without closing the program. The good news is that the older XP version will run on the newer operating systems, including Windows 10 64-bit, as will SpiderLens.
Setting the seed for a Spider game
Each individual Spider game has a reference code - the "seed" for the randomiser - but unlike some patience games Microsoft's Spider does not allow you to see or to set the seed number. SpiderLens fills this gap, displaying the seed for your saved SpiderXP game, and allowing you to generate a new game for any specific seed number (there are over 2 billion possible games for SpiderXP!). So now you can select the game you'd like to play, should you desire, and even start the same game on different computers to have competitions for the person with the quickest or highest-scoring solution.
A Spider impossible to solve?
Some say that every Spider game has a solution - but is that true? If you want to try a really hard SpiderXP game, try the seed 4, 84, 181, 73. Other really hard games include the one with seed 13, 46, 65, 42 - a difficult enough challenge at the "medium" 2-suit level of difficulty, as there are no natural moves available for the final FOUR deals (!), and one which I thought would be completely impossible to solve at the "difficult" four-suit level. Just to confound me a correspondent has claimed to have solved it, although he did describe it as "Spawn of Satan"!
SpiderLens was written for fun and is free. It is designed for the Windows XP version of Spider and will not work with the redesigned
Spider that is included with Vista, Windows 7 and above; however, the XP version of Spider can be downloaded and run on these
later operating systems, and in several ways is a better version.
SpiderLens does not contain viruses, spyware or any malicious software.
Click on the link below to download the SpiderLens program, and save it into the folder where your SpiderXP game puts its own save file (spider.sav) - usually the "My Documents" folder in Windows XP or the Documents Library in later Windows versions. Once you have dealt and saved a game from SpiderXP, just run the SpiderLens program and adjust the size of the windows so that Spider and SpiderLens are both visible alongside each other.
To download SpiderLens.exe (44Kb) Click here
Microsoft's XP version of Spider is also included here, for those who do not have it or are using later versions of Windows.
To download SpiderXP.exe (526Kb) Click here
Note that on Windows XP systems SpiderLens requires the standard Microsoft DLL file "msstdfmt.dll" and a few Windows XP systems may not have it installed.
If, when you run SpiderLens, you get a message saying that this file is missing you can download and install it from various internet sites - just use your browser to search for the file name, download it from one of the sites offering free downloads (make sure you click the correct download button, as some sites are plagued with adverts) then store and register it. This web site, for example, will provide the file and has instructions for installing DLLs: http://www.dlldump.com/