Minesweeper, one of the oldest computer games, usually comes bundled with MS Windows and is also available free online in many forms. Here’s  how to play:

1. Open Minesweeper. On my Windows XP system, I click Start/All Programs/Games/Minesweeper. The gameboard, 30×16 squares, opens (right).

The counter in the upper left indicates that there are 99 hidden mines. Your job is to find and mark all 99 without hitting one and blowing up.

When you left-click on a safe square, a number appears; this indicates the number of mines adjacent to the square.

When you left-click on mine, it blows up and the game is over (left). Click on the face icon to start again.  When you click on a square that has NO adjacent mines, all the adjacent safe squares are revealed. Eventually, you get a good spread (below), and you can start to find the mines. Right-clicking on a square will mark a mine.

2. Mark known mines. From the layout, you already know where some of the mines are located. If you see a “1” with only one adjacent  blank space, you know there is a mine there. If you see a “2” with only two adjacent blank spaces, you know where two of the mines are located.

A little thought will show that in this configuration, 1-2-1 determines the location of two mines; it is the only way the “2” can have two mines without giving a “1” two mines as well.

Here is the above layout with many of the obvious mine sites marked: 

3. Now you have identified a number of safe (mine-free) squares because, for example, if a “2” has two adjacent mines and another adjacent square, that square must be safe. Mark all the safe squares by left clicking on them. Better still, use this trick: Click with the left and right mouse buttons together on a square that has it’s full compliment of mines, and all the safe squares will automatically be filled in with new numbers.

4. Now you have a bunch more marked squares, and a bunch more information. Continue figuring out mine locations and marking them.

You will probably encounter situations where you have to guess the location of a mine. Good luck!

If you click “Game” on the menu bar, you can view your best times. You can also choose the level: beginner, intermediate or expert.


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