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How is Solitaire Played?

J. Beam
J. Beam

Solitaire, a single-player card game, has many variants. In the UK, solitaire is known as patience, a good name for such a card game. Regardless of the variations, solitaire is a card game that requires the player to return randomly dealt cards to their own suit in numbered order. Solitaire is popular both as a table top game using real playing cards and a computer game using virtual playing cards.

Solitaire begins by shuffling a single deck of cards. The cards are then dealt out in a prescribed order, usually to form seven piles, called tableau. The cards are dealt out left to right with the first card dealt face up to form the first pile, followed by six cards face down. The deal continues with a face-up card on the second pile, followed by five cards face down, and so forth until each of the seven piles has a card facing up. The remaining cards are placed in the “stock pile” to the left above the tableau.

Woman with hand on her hip
Woman with hand on her hip

Once the cards are dealt, the game of solitaire begins by appropriately arranging any of the face up cards. Depending on the variation, the cards can be moved around to form descending, chronological stacks of alternating colors beginning with one of the four Kings. In other words, a Queen of spades could be placed on top of a King of either hearts or diamonds, but not spades or clubs.

Once any initial plays are made, the player can begin to draw from the stock pile in the upper left corner of the playing field. Most variations call for every third card to be turned over from the stock pile. If the card can be played, the card under it can be used. If the card cannot be played, three more cards are turned over. Play continues until no more moves can be made or the object of the game is successfully achieved.

As the game continues and an Ace is encountered, another area of play is created above the tableau, called the foundation, where each of the four Aces starts a foundation pile. The object of the game is to move all the cards to their respective foundation color, this time by suit and in ascending chronological order from Aces to Kings.

Some variations allow for any free cell, or tableau pile with no cards in it, to be filled by any rank card, while some solitaire versions allow only a King to be placed in a free cell. Other variations of solitaire use more than one deck of cards. When playing a computerized version of the game, any restricted move will not be allowed. Examples of computerized versions include Free Cell, Spider Solitaire, and standard solitaire. Most every Windows operating system comes pre-loaded with at least one version of solitaire. The game can also be found at countless card game sites online.

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