Since its inclusion in Window, Solitaire has gained enormous popularity as one of the best card games to play alone. 

Technically speaking, solitaire has multiple different forms with somewhat different rules. Each of them is unique in the difficulty and entertainment it offers. 

In this article, I’ll explain how to play solitaire in its most common types. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up enjoying a new type that you’ve never heard about before!

How to Play Solitaire 

Klondike solitaire is undoubtedly the most common solitaire setup. This is the version that has been featured in Windows for years. Beginners love it since it can be extremely easy to learn. 

Establishing the Basic Setup

To be honest, you probably won’t need to set the cards of solitaire yourself. You can simply download a solitaire app if you don’t have access to a computer. Nevertheless, knowing the setup is crucial in order to fully understand the rules.  

A Klondike game starts with 7 columns. The first column to the left has only one card facing up. The next column has 2 cards, one facing up, and the other facing down. With each column, another card is added to the bottom. As a result, the 7th and last column should have 8 cards: one facing up and 7 facing down. 

Your goal is to arrange each card suit into the foundation piles in ascending order ( Ace to King). 

Step 1: Search for Aces 

Before doing anything else, scan the cards for Aces. If you find any, move them into the foundation piles right away. This will open a lot of possibilities early on before things get complicated. 

Step 2: Start Moving Cards Around 

As you probably know, you can’t move any card unless it’s facing upwards. Also, you can only stack cards in descending order while alternating colors. For instance, if you have seven of hearts, you can only place 6 of spades or 6 of clubs on top. 

Surely, you can’t flip hidden cards before moving the card on top.

Step 3: Browse the Stockpile

After arranging cards into the solitaire setup, the remaining cards are arranged into the stockpile. Technically speaking, you can browse this pile whenever you want. However, I recommend doing that only if you can’t make any more moves. This way, you’ll enjoy the challenge to the max. 

The original game rules state to draw 3 cards per time from the stockpile. You can’t move the lower cards before stacking the top one into any of the 7 columns. But you can set the drawing volume to a single card in most, if not all, of the digital apps to make the game a bit easier.

If the drawn cards can’t be moved into any of the columns, they should be placed into a separate waste pile in the same order. When the stockpile runs out, you’ll start drawing from the other pile. 

Fun fact, the original Klondike didn’t allow for redealing cards. The game was extremely hard back then. I’m extremely glad they developed it into the current version! 

Step 4: Dealing With Empty Columns

Whenever a column gets empty, you can’t stack any card above it other than the King, regardless of its suit. 

It doesn’t have to be a single card, though. You can place a pile having a King as the last card. 

How to Play Forty Thieves Solitaire 

Unlike the Klondike solitaire, the Forty Thieves depend on two card decks. The setup is arranged in 10 columns, each holding 4 cards, which adds up to the 40 cards, aka thieves. 

While stacking cards in the tableau, you don’t have to keep alternating colors. Cards of the same suit can be placed on top of each other in descending order (King to Ace). 

Since it uses 2 card decks, you’ll have 8 foundation piles to fill in the ascending order (Ace to King). 

It might appear a bit complicated than the original, but it’s actually easier. You can lay whatever card you want in an empty column; it doesn’t have to be a king. You’ll find browsing through the stockpile a lot easier and more effective this way. 

How to Play the Free Cell Solitaire

If you want to truly challenge yourself, you should definitely try the Free Cell solitaire. The most prominent feature that sets it apart from the Klondike is the absence of a stock deck; all the cards are dealt into the tableau from the start. 

The setup is quite different, too. The 52 cards are arranged into 8 columns of different lengths. The first 4 columns have 7 cards each, while the remaining 4 have 6. 

Since it’d be impossible to win the game with this arrangement, 4 empty cells were added. You can place one card in each cell, regardless of the suit or value. In fact, this concept was the reason behind the name “Free Cell”. 

The goal is similar to the traditional solitaire. You have to stack the 4 suits into the foundation piles in ascending order. 

How to Play the Spider Solitaire 

In its original version, Spider solitaire is the type that can challenge you the most. 

Like the Forty Thieves, Spider is played with 2 card decks. The game starts with 10 columns. The first 4 holds 6 cards, 5 of which are hidden. The remaining 6 columns hold 5 cards, with 4 of them hidden. The remaining cards are kept in a stockpile. 

There are no foundation piles or empty cells. You’ll have to arrange the 13 cards of each suit in a single column. After each suit is gathered, its cards will be automatically removed. 

If you can’t make any moves, each column will receive one card from the stockpile.

In the Windows version, you can choose to lower the difficulty by using only 1 or 2 suits. It won’t be that challenging, but it’ll still be fun. 

To Sum Up

As you saw, there are a bunch of different solitaire variations. Knowing how to play solitaire depends on the type you’re referring to. 

But generally speaking, the concept of solitaire depends on stacking each suit in its own pile. The traditional form is the easiest since you can cycle back and forth into the stockpile. 

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