Words A collection of essays and ramblings. Videos My personal game videos. Mouse Stuff Reviews, cleaning tips and more. Links The best minesweeper sites and various other sites also. Tips Gaining speed and efficiency as well as small pointers on the game. Hall of Fame That elite group of minesweepers. Guestbook Comments? Suggestions? Grievances?

Gaining Speed

Minesweeper is all about speed. If you dont have the pattern recognition, efiiciency, and clicking speed, you won't be able to go anywhere with minesweeper.

Those three things are exactly what you need to become a world-ranked sweeper. They are also already in the order that many people acquire them. When people first start playing minesweeper, they learn to recognize patterns. This takes you to about 150 on expert. Then when they gain efficiency and a fast click, they move down through the ranks.

Patterns
There are many basic patterns that everybody eventually learns, but thispage is not going to cover those. Rather, this page will focus upon the single most iomportant pattern you can learn to recognize- the hidden 1-2 pattern.

A hidden 1-2 pattern is basically a 1-2-1, or 1-22-1 pattern with an extra mine or two around those patterns. For example:

You can see the *-2-22-1 pattern (*=mine). The far left 2 already has one mine marked, so theoretically, you can subtract that mine from the 2 giving you a 1, and thus, a 1-22-1 pattern. Watch this scenario played out.

Another example, taken from one of Lasse Nyholm's games is a pair of hidden 1-2-1 patterns.

This has already been solved, but you can see the two patterns circled, and the 1-2-1 on one side and the 1-2-2 on the other side. You can watch this situation played out also.

Once you learn to recognize all the hidden 1-2 patterns on the board, you can easily clear areas quickly, that you would have skipped over before. I recommend playing some expert games with the sole purpose of finding and recognizing the hidden 1-2 patterns. I'll post more examples as I find them.

Efficiency
Pattern recognition is nothing without clicking efficiency. Most beginners, once they figure out how to double-click to clear, mark mines then lay down a barrage of double-clicks thinking that the faster they click the more they're going to clear. Although this principle is true, if you double-click on 5 other spaces besides the one you need to before you click on the one you need to, you've wasted at least 1 second. Assuming, in expert, you mark and double-click to clear in 50 different areas on the same board, you've wasted at least 40-60 seconds. (*note- in actuallity, there are about 60-95 instances where you might need to double-clcik to clear in an expert game...that just makes it worse, eh?)

Well the only solution to gaining efficiency is to slow down and practice what you're doing, and actually look at what you're clicking, so that when you're playing for speed, you only double-click the spaces you need to double-click. This is the same as in the hidden 1-2 pattern department. You need to slow down, and almost learn how to play minesweeper all over again.

If you look at finished games, you will notice areas where there is a 1 surrounded by a bunch of numbers. When you rewind that board in your mind, you can see that if you marked, then double-clicked to cleared just that 1, you would have opened a substancial gap. Train your mind to look for the numbers that when cleared open the most spaces. Even when you get this process down to a science, you will still feel slow. However, if you videotape your games, you will notice that even though you take a short pause before marking, your clearing speed is quite quick compared to your older videos, if you have any. Also, when you cut down the number of clicks you make, you lengthen the life of your mouse.

Guessing
I've seen videos of certain peoples' games and found my self aghast at what I was seeing. I noticed instances where, when faced with a situation where there was only a small area left to clear in the corner of the board, the sweeper in the video would skip that area, leave it unsolved, and move on to a different area. This is perhaps the second biggest killer of time, besides clicking speed and efficiency.

When faced with a situation where you have to guess, guess quickly and get out of there! What good does it do to sit there pondering which space to clear, playing "eeny, meeny, miny, mo" while the clock skyrockets forwards? In fact, those 50/50 guessing situations should be the fastest areas on the board to be cleared! Get in, guess, get out...

But you have to remember that you still have only a 50% chance at guessing right, so it will seem that more often than not, you click on a mine and lose. Good, now you can move on to another, possibly faster game.

In conclusion, the main things that can allow you to chieve those supposedly immortal world record times:

• Pattern recognition
• Common patterns (1-2, 2-3-2, etc.)
• Hidden 1-2 patterns
• Efficiency
• Cutting down clicks
• Only mark and clear spaces that will help you clear other spaces
• Guess quickly, and move on

-Matt McGinley 29 March 2001