Quick Links

Seahaven Towers documentation for users of Mac OS X


Seahaven Towers for users of Mac OS X

Seahaven Towers is an application that lets you solve an intriguing puzzle that we call Tours du Alice. At first glance, Tours du Alice is a solitaire card game. If you take a closer look, though, you will discover that it plays like a puzzle, with each deal presenting its own subtle challenges and surprises. Many users have reported that Tours du Alice has provided them with thousands of hours of fun (one user has reported playing over 25,000 games since Seahaven Towers was first released in 1988). Let's start with a sample deal of Tours du Alice, and then describe what's going on.


A sample deal of Tours du Alice from Seahaven Towers

The object of this puzzle is to unravel the layout of cards, following certain rules to be described shortly, and build up each suit from Ace to King on the foundations provided in the upper left and right corners. To aid you in this quest you are provided with four slots ("towers") which can be used to store any single card. In the example shown, the two middle towers are already occupied by the Nine of Diamonds and the Eight of Hearts. As you will see, empty towers are a precious resource; the more empty towers you have, the easier it will be to solve the puzzle.

Here are the allowed moves:

  1. You can move any single card to an empty tower.
  2. You can move any single card, either from a tower or from somewhere on the board, onto another card on the board if it is the next higher card of the same suit. For example, the Eight of Hearts in the tower in the example above can be played onto the Nine of Hearts in the eighth column. (Kings are special - see rule 3)
  3. You can move a King of any suit, either from a tower or from somewhere on the board, into any empty column on the board
  4. The game will automatically play any card to its foundation provided the next lower card of the same suit is already there, and Aces of course automatically play to their empty foundations.

Regarding automatic foundation plays – some folks have asked for the ability to play cards to the foundations themselves. We did not implement this feature because there is no advantage gained by delaying the play of a card to its foundation. That would not be true, however, of a puzzle such as FreeCell, where more than one card might be legally played on another card.

For the sake of illustration, let's start by moving the Six of Diamonds to one of the empty towers. That frees up the Eight of Diamonds for play, but note that there is no place to play it just yet – the Eight of Diamonds cannot be played on the Nine of Hearts. A card must be played on the next higher card of its same suit.

Instead, we'll play the Nine of Diamonds on the Ten of Diamonds, and then we can play the Eight of Diamonds directly on the Nine of Diamonds. We'll also play the Eight of Hearts onto the Nine of Hearts, leaving us with three empty towers (a good thing). The board will look like this:

Finally, here's the same deal very close to the solution. Only a couple of moves remain. The sequence of Queen through Eight of Diamonds must be moved onto the King of Diamonds (which can be done all at once because there are four empty towers), whereupon all the of the remaining Clubs and Diamonds will automatically play to the foundations. After that, playing the ten of spades to one of the empty towers, or directly onto the Jack of Spades, will free up the rest of the Spades and Hearts and the puzzle will be complete.

There are also a few shortcuts for card play in Tours du Alice with which Seahaven Towers will help:

  1. You can move a sequence of cards, all of the same suit and in descending order, onto the next higher card of the same suit located somewhere else on the board if and only if you have as many empty towers available as you would need were you to move the cards one at a time. For example, you can move three cards if you have two empty towers, or five cards if you have all four towers empty, but you will never be able to move six cards at a time in this fashion.
  2. You can move an arbitrary sequence of cards into the towers provided there are enough empty towers to hold them all.
  3. You can rearrange full columns of cards, grabbing an entire column and moving it to an empty column, or swapping it with another column. Of course, this doesn't help you solve the puzzle, but it may make it easier for you to focus on a particular part of the puzzle.

Seahaven Towers includes a number of features to make solving Tours du Alice puzzles more entertaining:

  • You have unlimited undo and redo available. You can try a particular approach to see what will happen, and if you get stuck you can use undo to back up as much as you like. You can back up all the way to the beginning of the game, in fact.
  • You can choose puzzles that are known to have a solution, so you won't have to spend your time on a puzzle that can't be solved. Seahaven Towers will look for such games while you're thinking about your next move. When it finds one, it will increase the count of winnable games it has ready as shown on the left side of the banner bar. In the example above, 18 winnable games are ready. The most it will save is 40 games.
  • You can choose to let the solver help you. The solver display is shown in the example above as the little window with a black background and a box-like structure in the center, with green bars above and below it. The solver uses the colored bars to tell you if the puzzle, or a particular move, is solvable or not.
    • A green bar at the top means the puzzle can be solved.
    • A green bar at the bottom means the puzzle can be solved from your current position, without using undo.
    • A yellow bar at the top means the puzzle cannot be solved (and you'll only see this if you generate random puzzles).
    • A yellow bar at the bottom means the puzzle cannot be solved from your current position.
    • If you don't see any bars at all, and the box in the middle is replaced with a pulsing light, then the solver is working to see if your current position is on the right path. When it's done it will stop pulsing and show you either green or yellow bars.
    • If you see only the little box, and no bars, then the solver is turned off. You can turn it on by clicking on it or by using a menu item in the Options menu.
    • If you see a blue bar, at the top or the bottom, it means the solver has run out of resources and cannot make a determination about the current game or position. We haven't seen a blue bar in a long time, and if you run into one, be sure to save a copy of the game and send it to us so we can take a look at it and see what happened.
  • You can choose to turn the solver off. The solver is great for folks that are learning the game, or even for long-time users that want to learn some new techniques. But some folks prefer the greater challenge of solving the puzzle without the solver's help. For this reason, you can turn the solver off just by clicking on it.
  • You can also choose to solve puzzles that are not known to be winnable. In this case you are presented with random deals that the solver has not checked (though you can always turn the solver back on and let it look for a solution if you want to). Based on user reports over the years since 1988, roughly 85% of randomly dealt games will be winnable.

Here are two strategies that may be helpful to you if you are new to this puzzle:

  • Try to create an empty column on the baseline so you can place a King there. A King on the baseline, plus any cards played in descending sequence on top of it, will be almost as good as playing cards to the foundations, because such an arrangement will usually not block any other plays. The one exception to this is when playing a different King to the baseline would be a better choice.
  • Try to avoid building up sequences that trap lower-valued cards of the same suit. For example, suppose you have a Two of Hearts which is lying beneath an Eight of Hearts. If you build a sequence of Eight through Three of Hearts, six cards total, you will have trapped the Two of Hearts. This occurs because you'll need to move all six cards, the Three through Eight of Hearts, away from the Two of Hearts before it will play, but there is no place for them to go. The most you can place in towers is four, which would leave you with the Seven and Eight of Hearts still to move. But the only place for the Seven to go is on the Eight, which is where it already is, because all of the empty towers are now full. And there's no way to play it to its foundation until the Two of Hearts is played, so you're stuck and you'll have to use Undo.

    More information is available in the help browser when Seahaven Towers is running.


Regarding Tours du Alice – Seahaven Towers has always been the trademarked name of our application, starting with the original version released in 1988 for Macintosh. As noted in that original version, the particular game of solitaire it presented did not have a name, at least not a name we were able to discover. So we have given it a name: Tours du Alice. We chose this name because, in the context of the background story, this name would translate to "Alice's Towers." And although "tours" is the French word for the English "towers," the name itself is not proper French, nor was it intended to be.

Regarding the history of Seahaven Towers – Seahaven Towers was first published in the summer of 1988 and ran solely on Macintosh, the first color Mac, in fact. Version 2.0.0 was a complete rewrite and was published December of 2002. While that version also supported only Mac OS users, a version for Windows users was right around the corner and made its debut in May of 2003. Since then all of our product releases have been delivered for all users at the same time.






Copyright (C) 2006 Art Cabral. All rights reserved. Seahaven Towers, Haniport, and Haniport Levee are trademarks of Art Cabral. The eSellerate logo is a trademark of eSellerate, Inc. The MacOS logo is a trademark and Mac® and Macintosh® are registered trademarks of Apple Computer, Inc. The Windows logo is a trademark and Windows® is a registered trademark of Microsoft, Inc. Other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.