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History of Solitaire and How the Game Has Evolved

Updated on May 28, 2012

Solitaire, Where It All Began

Solitaire - that magical, wonderful and at times, infuriating card game that lets any player get on with it on their own has been around for more than 200 years. Early records show 1783 as the year of invention believed to originate in Germany. The French soon got wind of the game (Napoleon was known to thrive on a thrilling game of cards) and increased its popularity to new heights in the 1800s. It wasn't until the late 19th century that Britain caught on thanks to Prince Albert. Rule books followed and subsequent games that brought more challenges with not only one but two decks of playing cards.

Playing Solitaire with a Deck of Cards

Using a deck of cards to play Solitaire manually can be frustrating when you lay out the cards only to find the game is over in a few moves.
Using a deck of cards to play Solitaire manually can be frustrating when you lay out the cards only to find the game is over in a few moves. | Source


Play over 50 different solitaire games and card games including all your favorites like Spider Solitaire, Freecell, Klondike Solitaire, Forty Thieves and many other relaxing variations.

The English called the game patience while the French used their word for success as it wasn’t until much later that it became a card game for one player. Originally it was thought to be competitive with players either taking turns or using separate decks to see who could clear the tableaus first. It is also known that the Danish called what we now know as Solitaire or Klondike, ‘Kabal’ meaning secret knowledge and the outcome was read by fortune tellers. But it was not solely the Danish who used the game to foresee the future. The Norwegian and Polish term for secret knowledge was Kabal or Kabala.

Throughout the early 20th century card playing began to develop with 100 distinct solitaire games and hundreds of variations. From the original set up of seven stacks of cards turned over to form suits came the clock version and as its name suggests the stacks were placed clockwise from one to twelve in the shape of a clock. Spider Solitaire used two decks of cards and suits were interchangeable until the end play off.

Solitaire Made Easy

The computer and online version of Solitaire means a restart of the game with a click of the mouse - too easy!
The computer and online version of Solitaire means a restart of the game with a click of the mouse - too easy! | Source

Personal computers of the late 1980s ensured the ease of use for the player by eliminating the need to continually shuffle the deck and start the setup from scratch. This brought with it many new players and the addiction to the game continues to this day. With so many variations it is so easy to click the restart function or find yet another version of Solitaire online to keep the player’s enthusiasm.

From a personal note, I have a love and hate relationship with not just Solitaire but other variations such as FreeCell or Spider Solitaire. There are moments when I am bored with reading or can’t find the words to write. For a brief moment I am lured to let the cards fall. Technology really has made it too easy to spend countless hours with guilty pleasure. Guilty pleasure because that pleasure so easily turns to wasted time with the only achievement for the day that I can proclaim is that I’ve mastered a game that has been three centuries in the making.

Copyright © 2012 Karen Wilton


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