January 8, 2018

Make Like an Atom and Split!

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So you always wanted to be a nuclear scientist, huh? You’ve spent countless hours pondering how to get energy from atomic particles and now’s your chance to turn your dream into reality! Nuclear fission, here we come!

For most of us nuclear fission sounds pretty complicated. Not to worry. The real long and short of it is that when an atom is split into two, it releases energy. The method to split the atoms is called fission. Small subatomic particles blast the central core of an atom breaking it into two smaller like-sized pieces and at the same time releasing lots of energy. That’s the stuff of nuclear power plants! Luckily for our purposes, that’s all the physics we need to know to play the solitaire game FISSION, where a doctorate in nuclear science is totally unnecessary!

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Shuffle a standard deck of cards and deal out 7 columns of 7 cards, overlapping cards in each column. These 49 cards represent the atoms in our nuclear reactor.

The remaining 3 cards are placed in a non-overlapping column to the right. Make a mental note to allow for a bonus empty space below the 3 cards that can be filled at any time with a card of your choice from the reactor. These 4 cards create a sorting area for atoms within the containment structure.

Your assignment as the nuclear scientist is to get all atoms combined into each suit in ascending sequence.

To start, the top cards of each column in the nuclear reactor are available for play. Once the top card has been played off of a column, reducing it to 6 cards, nuclear fission occurs and the column is split in the middle with 3 cards pulled downward towards you to create two piles of 3 cards. The top cards of each of these piles are now available for play.

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Fission in column 1 leaves 2 piles of 3 cards.
The second fission to both piles in column 2 leaves 4 base cards.

When a card is played off of a pile of 3, the 2 cards remaining are split up through fission again and each becomes a base card for building up atoms in suit and in ascending continuous sequence. For example, after fission the 2 base cards are the queen of diamonds and the 3 of hearts. The queen of diamonds can be built up with the king, ace, 2, 3 etc. of diamonds. The 3 of hearts is built similarly with the 4, 5, 6 and so on of hearts. Base cards that meet can be combined (for example there is a base card of a 7 of spades and 8 of spades). After fission has occurred 3 times in each of the columns of the reactor, it will leave 4 base cards per column.

Atoms from the reactor can be moved one at a time to the cards in the sorting area to the right. Atoms are built on the sorting cards in suit, but not in rank. For example, one of the sorting cards is the 9 of clubs. The 4 of clubs can be moved from the nuclear reactor next to the 9 of clubs.

Cards in the sorting area are built on the base cards in the reactor one card at a time from the top of the pile. Here’s a tip – pay attention to how the atoms are stacked in the sorting area. The base cards are built in ascending sequence so make sure a lower ranking card doesn’t get trapped behind a higher one!

Another tip; if the original 3 cards in the sorting area are of different suits, use the fourth bonus space to add the remaining suit. If more than one card of the same suit is dealt to the sorting area, try to move duplicate suit cards to the base cards to make sorting space for all 4 suits.

Get all four suits assembled in sequence for the win! If the game gets blocked, reshuffle and try your hand at nuclear fission all over again!

So, make like an atom and split with the nuclear powered game of FISSION!

Have fun!

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References

Fission instructions, Morehead, Albert H. and Mott-Smith, Geoffrey, The Complete Book of Solitaire and Patience Games, 1977, Bantam Books

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