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English 16

Peg Puzzle Game


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The game of English 16 is based on the peg puzzle named "Fore and Aft", first made popular in the USA by American Puzzle creator, Sam Lloyd. According to Sam, this game was originally an English invention, having originally been designed by an English sailor who had spent 40 years at the home for retired merchant seamen known as Sailors Snug Harbor on Staten Island. The sailor had apparently sailed under Captain Robert Randall (c1740-1801), the original founder of Sailors Snug Harbor, the site of which has since been converted into a cultural center, including a botanical garden, arts center and museum.

The sailor used to whittle out boards for the game with a jackknife, and would sell his creations to visitors. To help while away his old days, he enjoyed spending some of the money from the sales of the games on treating himself to a bit of tobbacco.

The game was sold in London and enjoyed quite some popularity under the name of the English 16 puzzle, but it was never put on the general mass market in the USA.

Now in the 21st century you can enjoy the old sailor's game with the technological wizardry of these amazing computer thingies we have these days - no need to go whittling out your own board!

Your objective is to to reverse the positions of the silver and gold pegs in the lowest number of moves that you can achieve. You can only move pegs into the square which is empty. Moves need to be in the direction that the squares follow, with no diagonal moves permitted. You can move any peg which is adjacent to the empty square, or if you wish, you can jump over a single peg of any colour to reach the empty square.

Click with your mouse to choose which peg to move, and if it's a legal move, the peg will pop over to the empty square, thus leaving the moved peg's square vacant.

The game has a Solve button which will cause your computer to go searching for a solution with a relatively low number of moves using a special technique known as a Depth-First Search (this type of alogirithm is also used to build mazes). Once your computer has discovered a good solution it will show you, step by step, the way it has found.

British expert puzzlist, Henry Ernest Dudeney, discovered the quickest known solution, consisting of just 46 moves.

Can you come close or even find the 46 move solution?

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