Anyone who has ever found themself with time to spare and no one to share that time with is the likely source for the idea of solitaire. Solitaire card games came into existence when people developed a desire to alleviate boredom, usually with a deck of cards, no one else was present to serve as a dealer or an opponent for a regular game of chance.
Understandably, this was also long before computers came onto the scene to serve as a substitute for another human via programmed behavior. Rather than a game of skill or chance, solitaire card games are more concerned with a participant's ability to recognize patterns and arranging cards in various orders; the nature of a game of solitaire, sometimes called "Patience," and its relevant configurations of stacked cards varies with the particular variant of the game being played.
Details of the Game
Regardless of the particular variant of solitaire that is being played by a person, there are a few common elements to each game of solitaire.
- Every game of solitaire has a recommended number of players of one, and only one.
- Rather than playing around with a hand of cards, most card-based games of Solitaire involve taking one or more randomized piles of cards and ordering the chaos in various patterns. This can include sorting the cards by their suite, by numbers from the king to two, by numbers from two to the king and by color.
- While some variants make it impossible to get "stuck," having no more valid moves to make, it is generally understood that every game of solitaire can achieve some form of a finished state. Note that not all variants have the same chances of reaching a finished state; expert-level players of "Canfield" solitaire have only around a 35 percent win rate with that particular variant of play.
The Rules of Solitaire
The specific rules for a game of solitaire have some degree of variance; there is not a single version of the game. This means that a player should understand which of the 60+ variants of solitaire he wishes to engage in. Provided below are explanations for some forms of solitaire.
- Bisley is a single-deck game that has players separating the aces and arranging them in a foundation for each suite. The player than arranges 3 columns of three-card stacks and nine columns of four-card stacks. Barring kings, only the fully exposed card of each column can be moved around. When kings become exposed, they make a new foundation, placed directly above the corresponding ace. The goal is to empty all columns by placing them along their foundations in sequential order.
- Klondike is such a ubiquitous variant that it is what most Americans imagine when they think of solitaire. Klondike involves shuffling the deck, arranging seven incrementally larger "tableaus" of cards and then turning the fully exposed card of each tableau face-up as well as turning over the top card of the remaining deck of cards. The player's goal? Build four foundations beginning with aces and ending with kings.
The Best Ways to Play Solitaire
Although solitaire began long before modern computers, that does not mean computers are irrelevant to solitaire. This guide will highlight a handful of ways a person can satisfy the boredom-killing itch that only a game of solitaire can solve.
- Play Solitaire with a Deck of Cards. While some variants involve simultaneously playing with multiple decks, a standard deck of cards, sans jokers, should more than suffice when someone wants to play solitaire without requiring access to electrical or battery-powered devices.
- Play Solitaire as a Program on a Computer. Solitaire has been among the staple game programs installed on computers for decades. One benefit of playing the game on computer is that it takes care of the clean up with just a button press or two.
- Play Solitaire as a Phone Application. Not everyone carries their computer around with them everywhere they go, especially with the prevalence of smartphones. Solitaire on the phone marries the benefits of computer-based solitaire with the portability of a phone.