The surprisingly gripping discussion of Minesweeper world records
March 8, 2016 9:26 PM   Subscribe

Minesweeper: a competitive sport Did you know Minesweeper had major competitions for rankings? And that there is a surprisingly large controversy about them in the community? And how many hours did you spend flagging mines?
posted by Jacen (34 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Yes, Yes, Actually, about 0 hours, because every single person I know who became obsessed by Minesweeper turned out to be an incredible asshole.
posted by eriko at 9:28 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Huh. From earlier today:
"Q: What's your fastest time in expert minesweeper without editing the .ini file?

"A: Sometimes you just get very lucky based on the configuration. I forget the exact time but I think I had a time below 10 when it was just right."
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 9:47 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

It resulted in [...] creation of the Winmine Congress, discovery of Board Cycles, formation of Project Minesweeper Utopia and the development of Clones.

Are you sure this isn't the Metal Gear wiki?
posted by knuckle tattoos at 9:49 PM on March 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

Joey Buttafoucault (if that IS your real name), that link lead me to a minesweeper implementation that is supposedly 'correct'; you're first guess won't result in a bomb, and all games are solvable.

Mines is among a ton of other time-wasting games, so beware all.
posted by el io at 9:53 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

every single person I know who became obsessed by Minesweeper turned out to be an incredible asshole.

Define 'obsessed.' I got to be fairly good at it , but didn't consider myself obsessed. My brother (aka MtDewd) was ridiculously good at it, and he's a sweetheart of a guy.
posted by LeLiLo at 10:05 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

every single person I know who became obsessed by Minesweeper turned out to be an incredible asshole.

You do realize that this thread is quickly filling with people who have become obsessed by Minesweeper AND are not assholes, right? There's no correlation there, just your experience. Sorry you missed out.

I could have majored in Minesweeper in college. It got to be so bad that I wouldn't be able to go to bed at night until I cleared an expert field.
posted by carsonb at 10:11 PM on March 8, 2016 [10 favorites]

There are few moments in life that I've actually felt amazed by someone else's abilities. When I was in college, I worked the night shift as the campus safety operator, and it was often done in pairs with another colleague. Because it was the middle of the night, the volume of calls was often lower than during the day. So we did homework and other things. Like play Minesweeper.

Anyway, one of my colleagues was so good at Minesweeper that it was like watching something magical. I play, and I'm sitting there carefully figuring out the logic of the number and the flag. She would look at a position, and just know: click, click, click, click, and the smaller board was done. In expert mode, it was like watching the board quickly evaporate. I'm sure her mind was working out the logic, but it was happening so quickly that she was intuiting it, and couldn't explain exactly how it worked when I asked her to explain how she did it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:22 PM on March 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Have fun.
posted by eye of newt at 10:42 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

A certain someone I know was once a world record holder in Minesweeper and taught a (short) college course on the math of the game.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:17 PM on March 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

(I.e. another vote for "they're not all assholes" here)
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:27 PM on March 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Cannot seem to load the link at all.
posted by kafziel at 11:29 PM on March 8, 2016

posted by aubilenon at 11:52 PM on March 8, 2016 [8 favorites]

I was just having the mindsleeper discussion the other day. Once you're really into it the flags and numbers are just another type of language, like reading music.

I was watching some silly youtube talk earlier this year full of snappy lines and snappier jump cuts, and there was a split second shot of a beginner board that bothered my brain. I went back and froze the video. It wasn't a real board just an image and there was a mine where the numbers said there shouldn't be. It's spooky how good our brains are at pattern recognition.
posted by doctoryes at 12:40 AM on March 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

sleepily perusing this thread it just now occurred to me that somehow Stratego must have played a role in inspiring Minesweeper.
posted by mwhybark at 1:19 AM on March 9, 2016

Kinda obligatory.

(I'm more of a FreeCell guy myself)
posted by lmfsilva at 1:45 AM on March 9, 2016

Back before they let us use the Internet at work, I got my Expert time down to under 100 pretty consistently. (And also played 10x10 maps over and over at absolute top speed until I got lucky and got an eight-second solve.) I don't know that I want to be in a position where I continue to whittle that down further and gain chess grandmaster recognition powers for Minesweeper.
posted by Scattercat at 2:32 AM on March 9, 2016

When I was a child and we only had dial up, I would play minesweeper while pages loaded. I got pretty good that way.
posted by pseudodionysus at 3:02 AM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Huh. I seem to recall getting under 10 seconds on several occassions (the two-button click to clear all surrounding cells once you knew you'd marked the nearby bombs was definitely a time-saving feature). I did run up against limitations in both hardware and software response time (early to mid '90s). You're saying I might have been able to capitalize on this?
posted by eviemath at 3:37 AM on March 9, 2016

The REAL assholes are the ones who planted all those damn mines in the first place. Maybe if we made LOVE not WAR, people wouldn't have to spend all their time sweeping for mines. Put THAT in your MIND whydontcha.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:20 AM on March 9, 2016 [11 favorites]

I started playing when the [IBM] PS2 with windows 3.x started showing up in data centers, around 1989.
I think that as hardware got faster, scores got higher- on a 386 PS2, it might take 3-4 seconds for a big patch of screen to open up, and it didn't seem to add time. This may have been my imagination.
There are other issues under Timer Lag. Also, as screens got bigger, the board got smaller. It's a lot easier to play the original game on 640x480 than 1280x800. This seems to have been fixed in the Windows7 version.

I have seen some record scores, and I was nowhere near them, although getting under 10 in the 8x8 is pretty easy.
My goal was to add up the low score for the day for all 3 levels and have it under 200.
I just found a score-sheet I kept from 2002-2004, and my best times were 3, 28 and 113, but a typical low for the day would be 7, 45, 165 . Best 1-day total was 5, 34, 120=159.

I would play it while I was waiting- usually for [dial-up] downloads. When I got to my present job, I actually took it off my work machine because I was spending too much time playing it. So now my speeds are lower, although I think the invention of the optical mouse has helped a lot. Nothing worse than losing because the mouse ball stopped rolling.

I had known about the Minesweeper Wiki, but I hadn't dived in before. That should about take up my work day.
posted by MtDewd at 4:28 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had to stop at one point because the mouse usage aggravates my tendinitis. Genuinely pissed that MSoft disabled it in Win 8 and above. The Win 8 version is sucky. That kind of game, using part of my brain but not all, and not speeding up, is very soothing.
posted by theora55 at 4:31 AM on March 9, 2016

Minsweeper is probably the reason I stopped playing games when I was 15. My passion is reading, but I'm still delighted that others are passionate about equally trivial things.
posted by bigZLiLk at 4:42 AM on March 9, 2016

If you like Minesweeper another game worth checking out is Hexcells, which has a bit of a feel of Minesweeper mashed up with Sudoku. Nicely implemented, too.
posted by Nelson at 6:00 AM on March 9, 2016

My all-time record for Expert was something in the vicinity of 20 seconds. My "skills involved" record was 58 seconds. I never understood how people could seriously report fluke best-times that were clearly just lucky layouts of the mines as serious skill. That's akin to getting a 1-second board on Easy mode because it insta-won from hitting a single starting square and declaring that you must be the best player because of that.

Also, I had an amazing knack for getting boards with an "8" on them. I had friends who had played thousands of games and never once seen it, and yet somehow I mush have gotten one every 100 games or so. This only happened on one PC, so I wonder if there was something different about the algorithm it was using.
posted by mystyk at 6:15 AM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

This has me jonesing to play Minesweeper (thankfully the Minefield link isn't working for me; I am at work after all). Guess that makes me an asshole since mere mention of the game makes me wish I were playing it right now.
posted by misskaz at 6:52 AM on March 9, 2016

Pfft - I was an asshole WAY BEFORE I started playing Minesweeper. In fact I've never even played Minesweeper! Because I'm an asshole, and we don't have hands or eyes or thing like that. Just ... well, I'm a hole, right? In an ass. Basically I only exist as a gap or lacuna in someone's ass. But that person could well be playing Minesweeper right now ... all I know is he shits a lot. And that's my story - every word of it TRUE.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:03 AM on March 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

I was really, really good at minesweeper in HS and College. Also, creating and coding a version of minesweeper in VBA in HS was a really good introduction to computer science, coding, game design(even on a very simple level... it was 2000 after all) and hot damn thank you comp sci teacher who suggested we re-create our favorite games for the semester long project. It's just such a satisfying game to sort of back solve/figure out the logic loops for.

This reminds me that I should go reinstall the minesweeper app on my phone. (I've been on a Blendoku kick the last few weeks)
posted by larthegreat at 7:16 AM on March 9, 2016

I had a super lucky configuration once on the Easy, one click and it exposed like all the mines since they were so spread out. I think it took me like 5 secs to flag them all and clear the remaining few squares.

I don't think I've ever beaten Expert...
posted by numaner at 7:46 AM on March 9, 2016

Once you're really into it the flags and numbers are just another type of language, like reading music.

I love Minesweeper but am terrible at it. I've never gotten to this point, or if I thought I did, quickly betrayed how wrong I was. But I will still play endlessly.
posted by not that girl at 8:33 AM on March 9, 2016

I loved Minesweeper in middle and high school! I was having a really rough time -- undiagnosed and misdiagnosed mental health issues, feelings of isolation, crushing depression -- and I knew that Minesweeper would always make sense. Sometimes I'd lose because I had to guess, but the grids were always consistent and logical which was HUGE to me. Sure, sometimes I didn't have sufficient information and it would lead to failure, but I knew the rules and I knew how the game worked and I knew that it could be solved. It was fantastic! I felt so uncertain about so many things and I felt like nothing was predictable and having this game be completely 100% based on something rational and solved with a combination of skill and luck (but, again, KNOWING when you were guessing!) was fantastic.

I also remember one time deducing the location of a bomb that was not immediately obvious when a friend happened to be looking over my shoulder and she was super impressed because she didn't see what leapt very quickly to my eye. I am a fairly humanities-focused person and many of my friends were more into STEM (in fact, this friend now has a PhD in a hard science) so being capable at something involving logic made me feel pretty good.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:02 AM on March 9, 2016

I stopped playing it after I missed a class because I decided i had to bring down the time under 80 sec.

I also never tried any addictive drugs after this incident.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 10:02 AM on March 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I haven't played in a decade or so, so I thought I'd ease myself back into it gently. By playing expert mode, and choosing not to flag. So it took me 17:37. Thankfully, I made it first time around. And there was one piece that was fully surrounded. Still, fun times. I'm sure I could go back to doing it totally instinctually.
posted by ambrosen at 2:13 PM on March 9, 2016

Things I learned yesterday:
I obviously wasn't playing minesweeper in 1989...
Starting with Win2000, the Beginner mode was 9x9 instead of 8x8. Never noticed that.
" Local probability is easy to calculate but is usually wrong"
The Windows7 (and Vista) Minesweeper always opens up on the first click. That changes my opening method.
You can stop the timer.
Bill Gates had the first recorded low score- 4 on Beginner.

My low scores for the day- 5, 46, 174. Total work done at work 2-2.5 hours.
I was reminded of the XYZZY cheat. I used that once to mark all the mines and get a low score on the expert level.
(but not that low)
posted by MtDewd at 4:14 AM on March 10, 2016

Did anyone else ever play a custom board? I now recall (my days of youth slowly swim up out of the depths of my consciousness) getting bored with Expert eventually and changing the grid size to 100x100. Can't remember how many mines I populated it with, but it was a much better challenge.
posted by carsonb at 7:10 AM on March 11, 2016

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