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When playing minesweeper, there is that inevitable moment where you have solved everything that is logically solvable. The only next move is to guess and hope you don't land on a mine.

When playing on a large board, say 30x16, this usually happens close to the end of the game and it is frustrating to lose because of a bad guess.

Does anyone have any good techniques for minimizing risk during this uncertain part of the game?

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    Instead of minimizing risk for your next move (which is impossible), you should instead make a movie that will give you as much information as possible, to minimize the risk that you'll be in this position again next move.
    – user17879
    May 2, 2014 at 18:01
  • @EricTressler Highly recommend you put that as an answer, as it's the correct choice.
    – Waterseas
    May 2, 2014 at 20:59
  • @EricTressler Seconded
    – Telestia
    May 7, 2014 at 15:45
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    The only winning move is not to play. May 14, 2014 at 15:28
  • @EricTressler, I agree in the concept, but would not recommend this for most cases in practice. Look for an opening elsewhere, which is safer and will likely help you out with the bit that's stuck eventually.
    – Siwel
    Aug 12, 2015 at 19:41

2 Answers 2

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At the start (and on average throughout a game, taking flagged cells as 'clicked') in an expert game the chance of a random unclicked cell containing a mine is 1/5, or 20%. Compare this to a cell next to, say, a number '1' which has three available neighbours, then each of those cells will have about a 1/3, or 33% chance of containing a mine (ignoring the influence of neighbours). In fact a lot of the time the chance of finding a mine next to the bit you've already done is quite a bit higher (for example even an isolated '2' gives a probability of 1/4, 25%).

So the simple safest option is to go in an open space (also gives you more chance of getting an opening usually). To increase your chance of getting an opening, go in a cell that has few neighbours, for example on the edge or in a corner.

The alternative is calculating/getting familiar with the probabilities different configurations give rise to. However these are case specific in a developed game, and very quickly get very complicated to calculate!

Note: If you have a small part you're stuck with which is disconnected from the main part left to solve, there is no point in leaving this til the end. A common example of this is if you can see an inevitable 50/50 situation.

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  • "If you have a small part you're stuck with which is disconnected from the main part left to solve, there is no point in leaving this til the end. " Very wrong! The number of remaining mines can sometimes exactly tell you what configuration is left over or if not it can often help you make a better educated guess of what a safe move is (by counting how often a tile contains a mine in the remaining scenarios that number of mines). Therefore, you should first make all safe moves to get as much information about the number of remaining mines as possible.
    – Kvothe
    Aug 19, 2021 at 9:03
  • I disagree that what I said was "very wrong" :) As I said, a common example is a 50/50, which will still be 50/50 even if you know how many mines it contains. Also, for slightly larger areas (say, containing 6 unclicked cells in a corner), knowing how many mines are left often won't help you either. So, in general, no point in leaving til the end (although if you're optimising for completion rather than speed then in some cases it helps).
    – Siwel
    Aug 19, 2021 at 14:46
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Well, The only thing you can really do is flag (right click) the ones that you know are bombs and then go for the most probable of the remaining squares. It's a pretty obvious thing to do, but it's still important.

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