Peg Jump: a primer on sequential removal puzzles

pegjump.pngContinuing my survey of sequential movement puzzles in the app store, I will take up sequential removal puzzles in the next few posts. In a sequential removal puzzle, pieces are removed one after another until a particular goal is met, typically the removal of all pieces, or all but one. All sequential movement puzzles, including sequential removal puzzles, can be considered to be mazes, including classic sliding block puzzles and more fancy “hidden” multi-state mazes.

The category “sequential removal puzzle” is not included in the traditional puzzle categories, but in the context of computerized puzzles it is a particularly prominent kind of puzzles. The most widespread examples, to be discussed extensively in subsequent posts, are SameGame, Vexed, and Lights Out. The reason for sequential removal puzzles to be typically attested as puzzles on computers is that the act of removing has to be bound by some special rules to make the puzzle interesting. In ‘real’ puzzles, it is hard to come up with removal rules that are easy to adhere to, without becoming tedious.

The classic example of a sequential removal puzzle is Peg jump solitaire. Many variants of such puzzles are found in the app store (links redirect to iTunes):

Various of these games present the history of the Bastille prisoner as the originator of this game. However, this story is a myth. Such stories are typically invented around puzzles to sell them, often involving exotic origins (China being a frequent source). As Wikipedia notes about peg solitaire:

According to a popular story, the game was invented by a French aristocrat in the 17th century, when incarcerated in the Bastille, explaining the game’s less common name Solo Noble. John Beasley (author of “The Ins and Outs of Peg Solitaire”) has extensively searched for evidence to support this, and has found it lacking. The first reference to this story appeared in 1810, more than a hundred years after the alleged event.

The first evidence of the game can be traced back to the court of Louis XIV, and the specific date of 1697. Several works of art from that time show peg solitaire boards, demonstrating that the game was highly fashionable then.

So, if you like peg solitaire, you can now do this on the iPhone as well. However, sequential removal puzzles on the iPhone can be much more interesting and innovative. Stay tuned!

[Update 8 January 2009] Another version of the same thing became available: MarblePuzzle.

[Update 21 January 2009] And today the same app appeared, though now apparently with the solution included: Marble Puzzle – Solved. The solution will cost you a dollar, however. You can of course also check wikipedia.

[Update 24 January 2009] I don’t know how long I will continue to track these basic peg jump apps (one might expect that it will stop at some point), but here is the next one: iJumper. Though this app does not reiterate the French aristocrat story, it still doesn’t get the dates right, because this game did surely not originate in the 1500s, as is claimed in the blurb of this app.

[Update 24 Februari 2009] Next in line, though this one offers some interesting new patterns to be solved: Peg Quest.

[Update 1 March 2009] I don’t know how long I will keep tracking these, but here is one more: Wild Peg.

[Update 4 March 2009] One more: iBrainvita.

[Update 5 March 2009] And again: Peg Mania.

[Update 12 March 2009] No comment: iPeg Solitaire.

[Update 13 March 2009] Peg Solitaire Pro

[Update 22 June 2009] There are very many new Peg Jump Solitaire games in the app store, but I have stopped keeping track. I find them simply too uninteresting.


One Response to “Peg Jump: a primer on sequential removal puzzles”

  1. peg solitaire Says:

    if you’re into peg solitaire try digsolitaire, it has high-scores, 10 different solitaire games, perfect when your boss is not looking … ;-)

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