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# Peg solitaire

Peg solitaire (or Solo Noble) is a board game from Madagascar for one player involving
movement of pegs on a board with holes. Some sets use marbles in a board with
indentations. The game is known simply as Solitaire in the United Kingdom where the
card games are calledPatience. It is also referred to asBrainvita (especially in India).

The first evidence of the game can be traced back to the court of Louis XIV, and the
specific date of 1687, with an engraving made that year by Claude Auguste Berey of Anne
de Rohan-Chabot, Princess of Soubise, with the puzzle by her side. The August 1687
edition of the French literary magazine Mercure galant contains a description of the board,
rules and sample problems.This is the first known reference to the game in print.

The standard game fills the entire board with pegs except for the central hole. The
objective is, making valid moves, to empty the entire board except for a solitary peg in the
central hole.

## The Princess of Soubise playing

Contents solitaire, 1687

Board
Play
Strategy
Studies on peg solitaire
Solutions to the English game
Brute force attack on standard English peg solitaire
Solutions to the European game
Board variants
References

Board
There are two traditional boards ('.' as an initial peg, 'o' as an initial hole):

English European

· · · · · ·
· · · · · · · ·
· · · · · · · · · · · · · ·
· · · o · · · · · · o · · ·
· · · · · · · · · · · · · ·
· · · · · · · ·
· · · · · ·

Play
A valid move is to jump a pegorthogonally over an adjacent peg into a hole two positions away and then to remove the jumped peg.
In the diagrams which follow, · indicates a peg in a hole, * emboldened indicates the peg
to be moved, and o indicates an empty hole. A blue ¤ is the hole the current peg moved
from; a red * is the final position of that peg, a red o is the hole of the peg that was
jumped and removed.

## English peg solitaire board

* ¤
· → o Jump down
o *

o *
· → o Jump up
* ¤

On an English board, the first three moves might be: European peg solitaire board

· · · · · · · · · · · ·
· * · · ¤ · · o · · * ·
· · · · · · · · · · o · · · · ¤ o * · · · · o o o · · ·
· · · o · · · · · · * · · · · · · · · · · · · · ¤ · · ·
· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·
· · · · · · · · · · · ·
· · · · · · · · · · · ·

Strategy
Playing Peg solitaire
There are many different solutions to the standard problem, and one notation used to
describe them assigns letters to the holes:

English European
a b c a b c
d e f y d e f z
g h i j k l m g h i j k l m
n o p x P O N n o p x P O N
M L K J I H G M L K J I H G
F E D Z F E D Y
C B A C B A

This mirror image notation is used, amongst other reasons, since on the European board,
one set of alternative games is to start with a hole at some position and to end with a single
peg in its mirrored position. On the English board the equivalent alternative games are to
start with a hole and end with a peg at the same position.
A man playing triangular peg solitaire
There is no solution to the European board with the initial hole centrally located, if only at a Cracker Barrel restaurant.
orthogonal moves are permitted. This is easily seen as follows, by an argument from Hans
Zantema. Divide the positions of the board into A, B and C positions as follows:

A B C
A B C A B
A B C A B C A
B C A B C A B
C A B C A B C
B C A B C
A B C
Initially with only the central position free, the number of covered A positions is 12, the number of covered B positions is 12, and also the
number of covered C positions is 12. After every move the number of covered A positions increases or decreases by one, and the same for
the number of covered B positions and the number of covered C positions. Hence after an even number of moves all these three numbers are
even, and after an odd number of moves all these three numbers are odd. Hence a final position with only one peg cannot be reached, since
that would require that one of these numbers is one (the position of the peg, one is odd), while the other two numbers are zero, hence even.

There are, however, several other configurations where a single initial hole can be reduced to a sing
le peg.

A tactic that can be used is to divide the board into packages of three and to purge (remove) them entirely using one extra peg, the catalyst,
that jumps out and then jumps back again. In the example below, the * is the catalyst.:

* · o ¤ o * o * · * o ¤
· → · → o → o
· · ¤ o

This technique can be used with a line of 3, a block of 2·3 and a 6-peg L shape with a base of length 3 and upright of length 4.

Other alternate games include starting with two empty holes and finishing with two pegs in those holes. Also starting with one hole
here and
ending with one peg there. On an English board, the hole can be anywhere and the final peg can only end up where multiples of three
permit. Thus a hole ata can only leave a single peg ata, p, O or C.

## Studies on peg solitaire

A thorough analysis of the game is known.[1] This analysis introduced a notion called pagoda function which is a strong tool to show the
infeasibility of a given, generalized, peg solitaire, problem.

A solution for finding a pagoda function, which demonstrates the infeasibility of a given problem, is formulated as a linear programming
problem and solvable in polynomial time.[2]

A paper in 1990 dealt with the generalized Hi-Q problems which are equivalent to the peg solitaire problems and showed their NP-
completeness.[3]

A 1996 paper formulated a peg solitaire problem as a combinatorial optimization problem and discussed the properties of the feasible region
called 'a solitaire cone'.[4]

In 1999 peg solitaire was completely solved on a computer using an exhaustive search through all possible variants. It was achieved making
use of the symmetries, efficient storage of board constellations and hashing.[5]

## In 2001 an efficient method for solving peg solitaire problems.[2]

An unpublished study from 1989 on a generalized version of the game on the English board showed that each possible problem in the
generalized game has 29 possible distinct solutions, excluding symmetries, as the English board contains 9 distinct 3×3 sub-squares. One
consequence of this analysis is to put a lower bound on the size of possible 'inverted position' problems, in which the cells initially occupied
are left empty and vice versa. Any solution to such a problem must contain a minimum of 11 moves, irrespective of the exact details of the
problem.

[6]
It can be proved usingabstract algebra that there are only 5 fixed board positions where the game can successfully end with one peg.

## Solutions to the English game

The shortest solution to the standard English game involves 18 moves, counting multiple jumps as single moves:
Shortest solution to English peg solitaire

## e-x l-j c-k

· · · · · · · · · · · ¤
· * · · ¤ · · o · · o o
· · · · · · · · · · o · · · · · · * o ¤ · · · · · * o ·
· · · o · · · · · · * · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·
· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·
· · · · · · · · · · · ·
· · · · · · · · · · · ·

## P-f D-P G-I J-H

· · o · · o · · o · · o
· o * · o · · o · · o ·
· · · · o o · · · · · o o · · · · · o o · · · · · o o ·
· · · · ¤ · · · · · · * · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·
· · · · · · · · · · · o · · · · · · * o ¤ · · · ¤ o * o
· · · · · ¤ · · o · · o
· · · · · · · · · · · ·

## m-G-I i-k g-i L-J-H-l-j-h

· · o · · o · · o · · o
· o · · o · · o · · o ·
· · · · o o ¤ · · ¤ o * o o ¤ o * o · o o o * o o o o o
· · · · · · o · · · · · · o · · · · · · o · · · · · o o
· · · o * o o · · · o · o o · · · o · o o · ¤ o o o o o
· · o · · o · · o · · o
· · · · · · · · · · · ·

## C-K p-F A-C-K M-g-i

· · o · · o · · o · · o
· o · · o · · o · · o ·
o · o o o o o o · o o o o o o · o o o o o o o * o o o o
· · · · · o o · · ¤ · · o o · · o · · o o o · o · · o o
· o * o o o o · o o o o o o · o * o o o o ¤ o · o o o o
o · o * · o o · o o · o
¤ · · o · · o o ¤ o o o

## a-c-k-I d-p-F-D-P-p o-x

¤ o o o o o o o o
· o o ¤ o o o o o
o o · o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
o · o · o o o o · * o o o o o ¤ o * o o o
o o · o * o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
o · o o o o o o o
o o o o o o o o o

The order of some of the moves can be exchanged. Note that if you instead think of
* as a hole and o as

a peg, you can solve the puzzle by following the solution in reverse, starting from the last picture, going

## towards the first. However, this requires more than 18 moves.

[7]
This solution was found in 1912 by Ernest Bergholt and proven to be the shortest possible by John Beasley in 1964.

This solution can also be seen ona page that also introduces the Wolstenholme notation, which is designed to make memorizing the solution
easier.

Other solutions include the following list. In these, the notation used is

## List of starting holes

Colon
List of end target pegs
Equals sign
Source peg and destination hole y( ou have to work out what it jumps over yourself
)
, or / (a slash is used to separate 'chunks' such as a six-purge out
)

x:x=ex,lj,ck,Pf,DP,GI,JH,mG,GI,ik,gi,LJ,JH,Hl,lj,jh,CK,pF,AC,CK,Mg,gi,ac,ck,kI,dp,pF,FD,DP,Pp,ox
x:x=ex,lj,xe/hj,Ki,jh/ai,ca,fd,hj,ai,jh/MK,gM,hL,Fp,MK,pF/CK,DF,AC,JL,CK,LJ/PD,GI,mG,JH,GI,DP/Ox
j:j=lj,Ik,jl/hj,Ki,jh/mk,Gm,Hl,fP,mk,Pf/ai,ca,fd,hj,ai,jh/MK,gM,hL,Fp,MK,pF/CK,DF,AC,JL,CK,LJ/Jj
i:i=ki,Jj,ik/lj,Ik,jl/AI,FD,CA,HJ,AI,JH/mk,Hl,Gm,fP,mk,Pf/ai,ca,fd,hj,ai,jh/gi,Mg,Lh,pd,gi,dp/Ki
e:e=xe/lj,Ik,jl/ck,ac,df,lj,ck,jl/GI,lH,mG,DP,GI,PD/AI,FD,CA,JH,AI,HJ/pF,MK,gM,JL,MK,Fp/hj,ox,xe
d:d=fd,xe,df/lj,ck,ac,Pf,ck,jl/DP,KI,PD/GI,lH,mG,DP,GI,PD/CK,DF,AC,LJ,CK,JL/MK,gM,hL,pF,MK,Fp/pd
b:b=jb,lj/ck,ac,Pf,ck/DP,GI,mG,JH,GI,PD/LJ,CK,JL/MK,gM,hL,pF,MK,Fp/xo,dp,ox/xe/AI/BJ,JH,Hl,lj,jb
b:x=jb,lj/ck,ac,Pf,ck/DP,GI,mG,JH,GI,PD/LJ,CK,JL/MK,gM,hL,pF,MK,Fp/xo,dp,ox/xe/AI/BJ,JH,Hl,lj,ex
a:a=ca,jb,ac/lj,ck,jl/Ik,pP,KI,lj,Ik,jl/GI,lH,mG,DP,GI,PD/CK,DF,AC,LJ,CK,JL/dp,gi,pd,Mg,Lh,gi/ia
a:p=ca,jb,ac/lj,ck,jl/Ik,pP,KI,lj,Ik,jl/GI,lH,mG,DP,GI,PD/CK,DF,AC,LJ,CK,JL/dp,gi,pd,Mg,Lh,gi/dp

## Brute force attack on standard English peg solitaire

The only place it is possible to end up with a solitary peg, is the centre, or the middle of one of the edges; on the last jump, there will always
be an option of choosing whether to end in the centre or the edge.

Following is a table over the number (Possible Board Positions) of possible board positions after n jumps, and the possibility of the same
pawn moved to make a further jump N
( o Further Jumps).

NOTE: If one board position can be rotated and/or flipped into another board position, the board positions ar
e counted as identical.

## n PBP NFJ n PBP NFJ n PBP NFJ n PBP NFJ

1 1 0 11 229,614 1 21 1,160,977 1,972 31 2 2
2 2 0 12 517,854 0 22 600,372 3,346
3 8 0 13 1,022,224 5 23 265,865 4,356
4 39 0 14 1,753,737 10 24 100,565 4,256
5 171 0 15 2,598,215 7 25 32,250 3,054
6 719 1 16 3,312,423 27 26 8,688 1,715
7 2,757 0 17 3,626,632 47 27 1,917 665
8 9,751 0 18 3,413,313 121 28 348 182
9 31,312 0 19 2,765,623 373 29 50 39
10 89,927 1 20 1,930,324 925 30 7 6

Since there can only be 31 jumps, modern computers can easily examine all game positions in a reasonable time.

The above sequence "PBP" has been entered as A112737 in OEIS. Note that the total number of reachable board positions (sum of the
sequence) is 23,475,688, while the total number of possible board positions is 8.589.934.590 (33bit-1) (2^33) , So only about 2.2% of all
possible board positions can be reached starting with the center vacant.

It is also possible to generate all board positions. The results below have been obtained using the mcrl2 toolset (see the peg_solitaire
example in the distribution).

## n PBP n PBP n PBP n PBP

1 1 9 77,559 17 26,482,824 25 800,152
2 4 10 249,690 18 28,994,876 26 255,544
3 12 11 717,788 19 27,286,330 27 68,236
4 60 12 1,834,379 20 22,106,348 28 14,727
5 296 13 4,138,302 21 15,425,572 29 2,529
6 1,338 14 8,171,208 22 9,274,496 30 334
7 5,648 15 14,020,166 23 4,792,664 31 32
8 21,842 16 20,773,236 24 2,120,101 32 5

In the results below It is generate all board positionsreally reached starting with the center vacant and finish in central hole.

## n Real n Real n Real n Real

1 1 9 49,236 17 1,841,556 25 16,628
2 4 10 127,964 18 1,639,652 26 5,012
3 12 11 285,740 19 1,298,248 27 1,292
4 60 12 546,308 20 902,056 28 292
5 292 13 902,056 21 546,308 29 60
6 1,292 14 1,298,248 22 285,740 30 12
7 5,012 15 1,639,652 23 127,964 31 4
8 16,628 16 1,841,556 24 49,236 32 1

## Solutions to the European game

There are 3 initial non-congruent positions that have solutions.[8] These are:

1)

0 1 2 3 4 5 6
0 o · ·
1 · · · · ·
2 · · · · · · ·
3 · · · · · · ·
4 · · · · · · ·
5 · · · · ·
6 · · ·

Possible solution: [2:2-0:2, 2:0-2:2, 1:4-1:2, 3:4-1:4, 3:2-3:4, 2:3-2:1, 5:3-3:3, 3:0-3:2, 5:1-3:1, 4:5-4:3, 5:5-5:3, 0:4-2:4, 2:1-4:1, 2:4-4:4,
5:2-5:4, 3:6-3:4, 1:1-1:3, 2:6-2:4, 0:3-2:3, 3:2-5:2, 3:4-3:2, 6:2-4:2, 3:2-5:2, 4:0-4:2, 4:3-4:1, 6:4-6:2, 6:2-4:2, 4:1-4:3, 4:3-4:5, 4:6-4:4, 5:4-
3:4, 3:4-1:4, 1:5-1:3, 2:3-0:3, 0:2-0:4]

2)

0 1 2 3 4 5 6
0 · · ·
1 · · o · ·
2 · · · · · · ·
3 · · · · · · ·
4 · · · · · · ·
5 · · · · ·
6 · · ·

Possible solution: [1:1-1:3, 3:2-1:2, 3:4-3:2, 1:4-3:4, 5:3-3:3, 4:1-4:3, 2:1-4:1, 2:6-2:4, 4:4-4:2, 3:4-1:4, 3:2-3:4, 5:1-3:1, 4:6-2:6, 3:0-3:2,
4:5-2:5, 0:2-2:2, 2:6-2:4, 6:4-4:4, 3:4-5:4, 2:3-2:1, 2:0-2:2, 1:4-3:4, 5:5-5:3, 6:3-4:3, 4:3-4:1, 6:2-4:2, 3:2-5:2, 4:0-4:2, 5:2-3:2, 3:2-1:2, 1:2-
1:4, 0:4-2:4, 3:4-1:4, 1:5-1:3, 0:3-2:3]

and 3)
0 1 2 3 4 5 6
0 · · ·
1 · · · · ·
2 · · · o · · ·
3 · · · · · · ·
4 · · · · · · ·
5 · · · · ·
6 · · ·

Possible solution: [2:1-2:3, 0:2-2:2, 4:1-2:1, 4:3-4:1, 2:3-4:3, 1:4-1:2, 2:1-2:3, 0:4-0:2, 4:4-4:2, 3:4-1:4, 6:3-4:3, 1:1-1:3, 4:6-4:4, 5:1-3:1,
2:6-2:4, 1:4-1:2, 0:2-2:2, 3:6-3:4, 4:3-4:1, 6:2-4:2, 2:3-2:1, 4:1-4:3, 5:5-5:3, 2:0-2:2, 2:2-4:2, 3:4-5:4, 4:3-4:1, 3:0-3:2, 6:4-4:4, 4:0-4:2, 3:2-
5:2, 5:2-5:4, 5:4-3:4, 3:4-1:4, 1:5-1:3]

Board variants
Peg solitaire has been played on other size boards, although the two given above are the most popular. It has also been played on a
triangular board, with jumps allowed in all 3 directions. As long as the variant has the proper "parity" and is large enough, it will probably
be solvable.

## Peg solitaire game board shapes:

(1) French (European) style, 37 holes, 17th century;
(2) J. C. Wiegleb, 1779, Germany, 45 holes;
(3) Asymmetrical 3-3-2-2 as described by George Bell, 20th century;
(4) English style (standard), 33 holes;
(5) Diamond, 41 holes;
(6) Triangular, 15 holes.
Grey = the hole for the survivor.

A common triangular variant has five pegs on a side. A solution where the final peg arrives at the initial empty hole is not possible for a
hole in one of the three central positions. An empty corner-hole setup can be solved in ten moves, and an empty midside-hole setup in nine
(Bell 2008):

## Shortest solution to triangular variant

* = peg to move next; ¤ = hole created by move;o = jumped peg removed;* = hole filled by jumping;

· · · * ¤
· · · · · · · * o ¤
· · · · · · * · · ¤ · · * o ·
· · · · · · · · · · · · · o · · * * · *
* · o · · ¤ o * * · o * o ¤ · o · * o · o · · o ·

o o o o o
* * * * ¤ ¤ o o o o
o o o o * * o o o o o * o o ¤
¤ · · ¤ o o o o o o * * o o · o o o o o
o * * o · o ¤ ¤ o · o o o o * o o o o ¤ o o * o o

References
1. Berlekamp, E. R.; Conway, J. H.; Guy, R. K. (2001) [1981], Winning Ways for your Mathematical Plays
(paperback)|format= requires |url= (help) (2nd ed.), A K Peters/CRC Press,ISBN 978-1568811307,
OCLC 316054929 (https://www.worldcat.org/oclc/316054929)
2. Kiyomi, M.; Matsui, T. (2001), "Integer Programming Based Algorithms for Peg Solitaire Problems",Proc. 2nd Int. Conf.
Computers and Games (CG 2000): Integer programming based algorithms for peg solitaire problems , Lecture Notes in
Computer Science, 2063, pp. 229–240, CiteSeerX 10.1.1.65.6244 (https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.
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3. Uehara, R.; Iwata, S. (1990). "Generalized Hi-Q is NP-complete".Trans. IEICE. 73: 270–273.
4. Avis, D.; Deza, A. (2001), "On the solitaire cone and its relationship to multi-commodity flows",
Mathematical
Programming, 90 (1): 27–57, doi:10.1007/PL00011419 (https://doi.org/10.1007%2FPL00011419)
5. Eichler; Jäger; Ludwig (1999),c't 07/1999 Spielverderber, Solitaire mit dem Computer lösen (in German), 7, p. 218
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,
Notes on Mathematics, 28 August 2012, retrieved 6 September 2018
7. For Beasley's proof seeWinning Ways, volume #4 (second edition).
8. Brassine, Michel (December 1981), "Découvrez... le solitaire",Jeux et Stratégie (in French)

Beasley, John D. (1985), The Ins & Outs of Peg Solitaire, Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0198532033
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arXiv:math.CO/0703865.
Bruijn, N.G. de (1972), "A solitaire game and its relation to a finite field"(PDF), Journal of Recreational Mathematics, 5:
133–137
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Bogomolny, Alexander, "Peg Solitaire and Group Theory", Interactive Mathematics Miscellany and Puzzles
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White Pixels (24 October 2017), Peg Solitaire: Easy to remember symmetrical solution(video), Youtube