Many things are discovered out of necessity, and quite a number are borne out of boredom. Solitaire is evidently of the latter kind, but really, who cares? Whether you’re home alone, sick, or just stuck somewhere where you need to kill time, you can probably do worse than playing a simple Golf Solitaire game.
Table of Contents
Brief History of the Solitaire Card Game
Not surprisingly, Solitaire was thought to have been invented by a French aristocrat who was supposedly in prison during the reign of King Louis XIV in the 17th century. Whether the story was true or not, it calls attention to the oldness and nature of Solitaire. According to the first documented reference, the game was definitely at least four centuries old and is simply meant as a diversion to pass the time.
As Solitaire became a name more widely used, the same game was called Patience in British English. It was called Solitaire from the French word that meant, you guessed it, “alone”. Presumably, it was called Patience in other areas because it does take a reasonable amount of patience to play a one-player game.
Over the years, hundreds of variations arose from the Solitaire and Patience games. All in all, depending on who you ask, there are at least 500 to 800 varieties of Solitaire games, ranging from the classics to the virtually unknown.
5 Most Popular Solitaire Games You Need To Learn
It is impossible to pinpoint every Solitaire game there is. What you can do is learn about the most popular variations and any other type should come in handy. After all, these games follow the same basic set of principles.
Here are the 5 games that every austere Solitaire player must know:
Klondike is the most popular type of Solitaire game. If people mention Solitaire, they probably mean Klondike. Klondike, unsurprisingly, is the classic Solitaire game. Solitaire players often see nothing out-of-the-world exciting about this game, but it has all the elements to get you started.
How to play:
This game needs a standard 52-deck card and is composed of three piles. These piles are Tableau, Stock, and Foundations. The Foundations are where the four aces should go. The Tableau comprises 7 piles, with the first pile containing one card, the second having two, and so on. The top cards of each pile are the only ones facing up.
The Stock is the last remaining pile. It is the deck beside the foundation and is placed facing down.
From here, you can only make three legal moves.
A) You can move the cards from the Stock and Tableau to the Foundations. Obviously, these cards need to be Aces.
B) You can move cards from the Stock to the Tableau.
C) You can move cards within the Tableau.
As previously mentioned, Foundations should only contain Aces at first and followed by ascending order. Cards in Tableau follow a descending order with an alternating color sequence. The top card of a pile in a Tableau may be the only one that can be moved to the other piles within.
The goal of the game is to arrange the entire deck into suit-specific Foundations. You do that, and you win.
Canfield is said to have been invented by a casino owner in the late 1800s by the name of Richard A. Canfield. From that alone, you can discern that it’s not going to be a walk in the park. In fact, the probability of winning in a game at Canfield is extremely low. However, if you like a faster-paced game for maximum excitement, then Canfield won’t disappoint you in that regard.
How to play:
- Start by selecting the first 13 cards on top of a shuffled standard deck. This will be the pile called the “reserve.”
- Put down the 13-card Reserve with the last card face up. The following four cards will be the Tableau.
- The fifth card drawn will be the “base foundation”, similar to the Aces in Klondike. It is important to note that the sequence in Canfield is circular. For example, if you have drawn a King as the foundation, you can put an Ace, then Two, and so forth on the sequence.
- The remaining cards will be included in the Stock pile. When you can no longer make any legal moves, you draw the first three cards from the Stock and see if you can make a move with it. After that, draw another three cards, and so forth. If the third card you draw allows you to build, you can look at the second drawn card and see if you can build with it. If that’s not a possibility, draw another set of three cards until you have exhausted all of the cards in the pile.
- When you exhausted the Stockpile, just flip it over again and draw another three cards until you run out of moves.
- When any pile from the Tableau is empty under any legal move, the first card up from the Reserve will replenish that said pile.
- Because of the three-card draw, it’s not always very easy to win a game at Canfield.
Pyramid is more a pairing and addition card game than a Solitaire variation. The game begins by creating a pyramid of seven rows. The top of the pyramid has one card, the next row two, and so forth, with each card overlapping the previous row.
The remaining cards will be piled below the pyramid. Your goal here is to remove all cards from the pyramid. You may remove all cards that add up to 13. For example, if there is a 3 card and a 10 card in the pyramid, you can remove those. That means Kings can be removed by themselves.
The cards that were removed were gathered in a “Discard” pile. The cards in the remaining pile will be drawn and can be used to pair with the other cards in the last row of the pyramid. For instance, if you pulled a 2 card from the face-down pile, you can pair that with a Jack from the last row of the pyramid and discard it into the used pile.
When playing like this, certain cards from the sixth row will “open up.” That means there is no longer a card that lays on top of it. When this happens, you are now allowed to pair this card with a card drawn from the remaining pile or deck. When a drawn card from the remaining deck can’t be used, you put it face up into the Waste pile. Play will continue until no legal moves remain or all the pyramid cards are removed.
4. Free Cell
While Pyramid does not even resemble the classic Solitaire game, Free Cell does. It is considered a more strategic version of Klondike but with a higher probability of winning. For many, that should be enough reason to play Free Cell because it will make you feel good about yourself.
There are also several differences between Free Cell and Klondike. The former has no Stockpile and uses all 52 cards face up. And one of the most significant differences is that the four free cells in this Solitaire game (hence the name) can be used to hold any card so that it frees up the cards underneath them.
Here is how the game is played:
- All 52 cards will be laid face up in eight columns. The first four columns have one more card than the last four.
- The goal is to stack all of the cards in the Foundation pile for each suit. These piles should start with an Ace and be built up in ascending order. The sequence, unlike Canfield, is not circular.
- You can move cards in three ways:
a) You can move a card to one of the four free cells.
b) You can move a card to a different column provided that it’s one number lower and a different colored suit.
c) Aces can be directly transferred to the foundation cell and built from there.
- It is estimated that 99.9% of decks are solvable. You just have to calculate each step, and you’ll probably get the W.
5. Forty Thieves
Forty Thieves is the game that contains the fundamentals of most Solitaire variations. Learn how to play 40 Thieves, and it’ll open the gateway to another 100 or so Solitaire games. It is not overly simple and overly complicated at the same time; that’s why Forty Thieves has survived 100 years after its invention.
Here is how to play Forty Thieves:
- This game is played with two 51-card decks, bringing the total to 104 cards. Lay down four rows of cards with 10 cards face up in each row. The next row shall overlap the preceding row behind it.
- The remaining deck of cards will be the Draw deck. The goal of the game is to build eight foundation piles, two from each suit. The foundations must start with an Ace and end with a King.
- Only one card may be moved at a time. If you find an Ace in the last row of the Layout, you can directly put that into the Foundation and start building it up. You can move other cards to other columns if the card is one rank lower and the same suit as the last card in the other column.
- The remaining deck can be flipped up one by one and be moved to the Layout. If the card from the remaining deck cannot be used, it will constitute a Waste pile.
- As mentioned, you win if you can get all the cards in the Foundation pile.
Benefits of Playing Solitaire
While no man is obviously an island, there are always added benefits to playing an intellectually-stimulating game like Solitaire. It should come in handy when you need to be preoccupied while killing time in the process.
On top of that, spending some time alone is beneficial for your mental health. Playing Solitaire means you don’t have to deal with the opinions of others and just move as slowly as you would like. The game also calms the minds and the nerves as contemplating strategy in the middle of the game puts you in a light meditative state.
Whatever reason you have for playing Solitaire, be sure to simply have fun and take advantage of that alone time. But then again, it also wouldn’t hurt if you reap personal benefits along the way.