The Minesweeper Page - Standard Situations

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When playing minesweeper, you will encounter some special situations in nearly every game. If you have to think about where to place the mines in these situations, you will loose precious seconds. So one point of a good minesweeper player is her/his knowledge of situations, that occur often, and where a sure mine or a sure blank square is.

Here I will list the most frequently seen situations. I think that 80-90% of a minesweeper game can be done by following the hints below, so be sure to know these.

Just to be complete here are some obvious situations:

If you see this: Mark this:

The basic "1-2"-situation:

There is a "1" next to a "2", like shown in the picture above. Both are above a row of opened squares and below a row of unopened squares. The little "x"'s represent random numbers, they do not matter for the 1-2-situation. If you see this situation, you will do the following:

You will mark a mine at the square that belongs to the "2", but does not belong to the "1" (if there was no mine, there would be two mines above the "1", so at this position, there has to be a mine). You will then open the square to the upper left of the "1" - denoted by a white question mark (The "1" has enough with the second mine of the "2", so there can't be a mine to the left of the "1").

So, what's special about this? You have to forget, what I wrote in brackets! You only see a "1" at the side of a "2" and mark one mine and open another square. Clicking good, thinking bad.


Please note, that you cannot decide, where the second mine is. You have to get its position from something else.

There may be a few more unopened squares in the 1-2-situation, and this still works:

If you see this:

mark / open these squares:

Everyone should know the "1-2-1"-situation:

By applying the "1-2"-situation two times, you see, that you can check, where every mine around the "1"'s and the "2" is. So remember this situation well, you see it very often and you get good results.

Another kind of the 1-2-1-situation:

Yep, there is not even a single "1" here. But look, how many mines are needed by the numbers: the "2"'s both need one more mine, the "3" needs two more mines. So you can say, this situation could be "reduced" to a 1-2-1-situation. So you can apply it to this 2-3-2-situation:

Remark: This "reducing"-stuff can be applied to many other situations:

Another 1-2-1-equivalent situation (remark: here you do not even need to know the position of the mine):

You will mark/open these squares:

Another "reducing"-example:

This example is equivalent to a 1-2-situation (the "2" needs one more mine, the "3" needs two more mines):

But since it would be too difficult to remember crude positions of mine-signs in relation to a number-situation, you should not try to know all these modifications of standard situations.

Other "1-2-...-2-1"-situations:

The 1-2-2-1-situation:

This is as good as the 1-2-1-situation. You know the position of every mine. Look, that contrary to the 1-2-1-situation the mines are not above the "1"'s, but above the "2"'s:

The 1-2-2-2-1-situation:

This is not funny, you get only the position of one mine and a few open squares:

You cannot get the positions of the remaining two mines without more information.

If there are more than three "2"'s in a row, you better start with a 1-2-situation and go on with a "reduced" 1-2-situation (the "2" with the red circle around it lacks one more mine!). Do the same thing from the other side.

The "x-2-1-2-x"-situation:

Maybe you've got a long row of "2"'s, only interrupted by a single "1". And you want to lay mines. Then lay it above the single "1":

Note, that the little placeholder-"x"'s are important. There may not be an unopened square like in the 1-2..-1-situations. Placing a mine over the "1" would probably not be correct:

A "1" in a gap:

Imagine a situation like this:

You will apply a 1-2-situation:

And now, you have no idea how to continue. You do not want to guess, but where you just opened the square with the white question mark, there is a "1":

Then you can open a few more squares. Remember, that you have to look, what you just opened, before you can continue to open other squares. This needs time, but sometimes it's the only way to continue without guessing (if that's what you want).

And perhaps you are a bit more lucky and there is another "1" in a good position:

When you see this second "1", you can open further squares:

With opening this last three squares, you often get another self-opening-area and can continue to minesweep without guessing.

PS: Do not open further 3 squares, if you see a another "1".

A similar situation is one that occurs at the edge of the playfield:

Here you could open three squares like this:

And yes, I know, all this stuff above looks like one thing: A melange of the numbers "1" and "2". But if you know the little differences, you won't have to think about the mine places - all that resists your new highscore is your mouse handling speed and some unusual situations.

There are some more situations, which you could know, but they do not happen very often, so I did not write about them here.

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