Water basketball (Part I of III)

Swimming in the pool is a common summer experience. When I was younger, I enjoyed playing with pool noodles, making mischief with water guns, and just splashing around, sometimes “aimlessly” wandering the shallow end. Oh, and making big splashes on the diving board!

After I graduated from high school in 2005, I decided that I had so much fun going to basketball games at Southeast that I wanted to play basketball in the pool since the Hillcrest pool had a basketball hoop. And I devised rules for a solo game!

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[M.A.P.L.E. VI-30] 47-0-2

The title sounds like either a locker permutation on a larger lock than the standard 40-digit lock, or a win-loss-tie record. It turns out to be the latter!

And it has a picture associated with it, along with a brief reflection.

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[M.A.P.L.E. VI-1] Here we go again!

Sixth round already! Wow, how time flies.


Today marks the beginning of the sixth May since I have been blogging,  which also means that it is the beginning of a new M.A.P.L.E. challenge.

As a refresher to the long-time readers and an introduction to all new readers, here are the rules of the game:

  • M.A.P.L.E. stands for “May Acquires Posts, Logged Everyday.”
  • Therefore, my mission, should I choose to accept it, is to post SOMETHING on my blog each day.
  • There are no theme requirements or length requirements.
    • However, the first half of the month may have relatively brief posts due to the “Desperation Mode” toward the end of the academic year.
  • At the end of each post, I will “count up” the number of days in the month, with the count not being required on an initial post if I am posting mobile style.
  • I am also more likely to read other blogs, possibly for inspiration.

Readers! Are there any types of posts that you would like to see this month?


Finals Week: 14 days

ארץ ישראל: ל”ד ימים (Israel: 34 days)

אתמול עשרים יום–שהם שני שבועות שישה ימים לעומר

Today is the first day of the sixth round of M.A.P.L.E.

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[426/441] Starting Lineup

At sporting events, the athletes who will be competing first are often introduced to the crowd.  The announcer frequently will call this the Starting Lineup.  But, after thinking about it a bit, there is an implication of Starting Lineup that I find, but perhaps this post will seem like over-analysis.  Let’s have a look!

And now… the STARTING LINEUP for your…

[M.M.X.I.V. 195] Diamonds

Thirteen years ago to this day, I made up a solitaire card game during some evening downtime during the Duke TIP camp.  Interestingly, that makes it so that I’m posting about something I did as a STUDENT in an intensive summer classroom experience, while now I am an INSTRUCTOR as part of an intensive summer classroom experience!  Yes, there’s a full circle!

The idea behind the game: I had played Hearts and Spades before.  In Hearts, you generally do not want to take tricks involving heart cards, and you definitely don’t want the queen of spades, unless you are trying to shoot the moon.  But in spades, the spade cards are good (at least since your goal is to take tricks).

Given that diamonds are red on standard cards, I decided to make a solitaire game where diamonds are bad, and the queen of spades is possibly good.  So, here is a description of the game.

Materials required

  • Standard deck of cards, including 2 joker cards
  • OPTIONAL: Writing instrument and surface for score

The Play

1) Shuffle a standard deck of cards that includes 2 joker cards.  Then, deal out 10 hands of 5 cards, face down, and put the other 4 cards aside (each as 1 card).  Turn the top card of each hand face up.  The 4 extra cards are Trade Cards.

2) You begin the game with a Score of 15 points.

3) Choose one hand and spread out the cards from left to right (leave only the face-up card face-up).  For each face-down card in the hand, take one of the following actions:

3a) Flip the card face-up.

3b) Discard the card and replace it with a Trade Card.  This may not be done if there are no Trade Cards remaining.

3c) Remove the card from play.  This may only be done if there is a Queen of Clubs that has been revealed and Resolved (term defined later) and has not removed 5 cards from play yet.

4) After Step 3 is completed for the whole hand of 5 cards, Resolve or Score each card in the order that they were revealed, unless the Wild Card has a different resolution time.  Wild Cards Resolve before any regular card is Scored.
5) Add the scores from all cards in the hand to get your Hand Score.  Add the Hand Score to your Cumulative Score.  Then, discard all cards in that hand.
6) Repeat Steps 3-5 until all hands have been discarded or until your Cumulative Score is negative.


o       Score: Add (or subtract) the point value of a card from the Hand Score.

o       Resolve: Take the special property of the wild card (rather than the points)

o       Wild Card: A king, queen, jack, or two.

o       Hand Score: The score attained from a single hand.

o       Cumulative Score: The score attained overall.

o       Trade Card: One of the four cards set aside at the beginning of the game.


  • Non-Wild-Card diamonds are worth negative points—every other suit is worth positive points.
  • Bold indicate wild cards.
  • Jokers (JKR): Worth NEGATIVE twenty (-20) points.  These count as diamonds.
  • Aces: Worth fifteen (15) points.
  • Twos: Double the value of all points attained from cards of that same suit in the hand.  If there are no cards of that suit, a two is worth two (2) points instead.
  • Other number cards (3-10): Worth the number of points shown on the card.
  • Jack (clubs, spades, or hearts): Choose one: Either flip the top face-down card on all hands that have card(s) of the same suit face-up and then Score five (5) points, OR Score ten (10) points.
  • Jack of diamonds (JD): Flip the top face-down card on all hands that have diamond(s) face-up.  Then, Score negative ten (-10) points for each card flipped in this way.  If no cards are flipped over, Score negative ten (-10) points.
  • Queen of clubs (QC): If you Resolve this card, in any subsequent hands, you may remove a card from play instead of flipping it or replacing it with a Trade Card.  You may remove up to 5 cards from play in this way.  At the end of the game, score a number of points equal to half of the point values of any cards that would score positive points.  Face cards are treated as 10-point cards for this purpose.
  • Queen of diamonds (QD): Your Cumulative Score is halved at the point that this card appears in your hand.  This card Resolves after any twos Resolve.
  • Queen of hearts (QH): Doubles the value of all positive valued cards in the hand.  If that value is fewer than ten (10) points, this card Scores ten (10) points instead.
  • Queen of spades (QS): Ignore all cards (Scores and Resolutions) that were flipped prior to this card in the hand that it appears.  Then, your Cumulative Score becomes 64 points.
  • King of clubs (KC): Choose one: Either shuffle all cards from the remaining hands in play together with all cards face-down and then re-deal this into new hands, face-down.  Flip over the top card of each new hand.  Or, Score ten (10) points.
  • King of diamonds (KD): Take all face-up non-diamonds in all hands and shuffle them.  Then, take all diamonds from the discard pile and shuffle them.  Replace as many non-diamonds one-for-one with diamonds and put those cards face-up on the hands to replenish all hands to 5 cards.
  • King of hearts (KH): Choose one: Discard 1 hand that has not been played yet, OR shuffle the discard pile, deal a new 5-card hand, and flip the top card of that hand face-up.  You must choose the former if this card is Resolved in the first hand, and you must choose the latter if this card is Resolved in the last hand.
  • King of spades (KS): Choose one: Flip all face-up cards face-down and all face-down cards face-up in up to 4 hands and/or Trade Cards, OR score ten (10) points.



Objective and results

  • The game is over when all hands have been discarded.

  • You win if when the game ends, your Cumulative Score is 150 points or higher.

  • You win if when the game ends, your Cumulative Score is exactly 64 points.

* If you fail to meet one of these win conditions, you lose (duh!).

  • You lose if at the end of ANY hand, your Cumulative Score is negative.


I might as well go through a sample game as well, with commentary as well.

The cards are placed and here are the face-up cards shown and the Trade Cards.  Commas indicate multiple face-up cards per hand.

Round one

KD   3H   KS   7D   5S   KH   4H   JD   JC   10C

Trade:  ??   ??   ??   ??

Score: 15

Let’s take the king of spades and flip all cards.  The revealed cards are:


There’s a lot of Wild Cards here (King of Spades, Jack of Hearts, Queen of Clubs)!  We start with the KS, and it will be a good strategy to Resolve it, turning up to 4 piles the other way.  Let’s flip the KD, JD, and 2 Trade Cards.  Let’s take the 10 points from the JH, and then because a QS was revealed as a Trade Card, take the 10 from the QC.

So, the points were (0) (10) (15) (-20) (10), giving +15.

Round two

QH,KC,2D,3S   3H   7D   5S   KH   4H   2C,3C,8H,4D   JC   10C

Trade:  QS   8D   ??   ??

Score: 30

Because a QS was revealed as a Trade Card, our strategy immediately changes.  Since one win condition is to have exactly 64 points at the end of the game, we can win if we stay positive through the next 9 hands.  So, since we know what is underneath the QH pile, let’s try to earn some more points by replacing it with a Trade Card.

QH  KC  2D  3S  ??  3D

Not the best trade!  But, since we have the QH, take the full points from the KC and it will help minimize the doubled value of 3D.  The points are (0) (20) (0) (6) (-6).

Round three

3H   7D   5S   KH   4H   2C,3C,8H,4D   JC   10C

Trade:  QS   8D   ??

Score: 50

Now, I suppose it would be best to get the other revealed pile out of the way, and be able to avoid the penalty of the JD that we had known about.  Taking the last pile and replacing the single face-down card with the face-down Trade Card, we get:

2C   3C   8H   4D  ??  5H

This is an easy hand to score—the only Wild Card is the 2C, and it doubles the value of the 3C.  So, the points are
(0) (6) (8) (-4) (5) which results in adding 15 to our score.

Round four

3H   7D   5S   KH   4H   JC   10C

Trade:  QS   8D

Score: 65

We’ll try to get some more information before using the KH to remove one hand from play.  Let’s play conservatively and see what happens.  Take the JC pile.

JC   10S   10H   AD   4S

The Wild Cards: We will Resolve the JC and it flips the top card beneath the 10C.  The scores are: (5) (10) (10) (-15) (4), for a net of +14.

Round five

3H   7D   5S   KH   4H   10C,5C

Trade:  QS   8D

Score: 79

Let’s go ahead and use the KH pile.  Again, we want to remove nothing by the QC.  Even if we lose a lot of points, it is worth the risk.

KH   6S   AS   4C   8S

This is nice!  We’ll discard the 7D hand with the KH and thus we have these point values from this hand:  (0)  (6)  (15)  (4)  (8) for a net of +33.

Round six

3H   5S   4H   10C,5C

Trade:  QS   8D

Score: 112

We’ll take the 10C pile this time, revealing: 10C   5C   6H   9S   10D.  This is just points, and clearly it is worth 20.

Round seven

3H   5S   4H

Trade:  QS   8D

Score: 132

Let’s take the 4H pile.  We get:  4H   7C   2S   9D   9H, and is just points again since the 2S is the only spade in this hand.  The net score is +13.


Round eight

3H   5S

Trade: QS   8D

Score: 145

At this point, a win has nearly been secured, so it doesn’t matter what pile we’ll take.  Let’s do the 5S, and it reveals 5S   6D   JKR   6C   2H, which is worth -13 points.

Round nine (final round)

Trade: QS   8D

Score: 132

The only hand left to take is the 3H.  Let’s flip over all except the last and then analyze it.

3H   QD   9C   5D   ??

So now, we will have to decide what to do.  In this case, it is easy: because that QD appeared, we “have” to take the QS which seals the win with exactly 64 points.  So we do that, and end up with exactly 64, and get the win!


Today is the one-hundred and ninety-fifth day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes twenty-seven weeks and six days.