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Solitaire Card Game

Updated on February 1, 2010

Solitaire is any card game played by one person for his own amusement. The name was first given to a now obsolete game played on a board with holes arranged in the form of a cross, into which balls or pegs were inserted and then moved in various ways somewhat in the manner of checkers. Such games are also called Patience.

Varieties of solitaire are countless, because any player may alter rules as he sees fit. Nearly all varieties are played with one or two standard 52-card decks, certain cards being placed face-up and others face-down, the object being to build combinations until all cards are combined in certain ways. One such game became famous around 1900 under the name Canfield because it was featured in the Canfield gambling house in New York City, where participants played "against the house," winning or losing according to how close they came to achieving the desired results. This game, in which 13 cards are dealt face-down in one pile, is seldom played today. Canfield became the mistaken name used by most players for a quite different game originally called Klondike.

One simple form of solitaire is called Accordion. The 52 cards are faced, one by one, in a row from left to right. Any card may be moved on top of the card to its left, or the third to its left, if they are of the same rank or suit, being faced so that any card or cards beneath it may be identified. A pile of two or more such cards may be moved onto any card of the same rank or suit as its bottom card, or other cards may be moved according to rule and placed on its top card. The player hopes to get all the cards into one pile.

In the game eventually called Canfield (the original Klondike) cards are dealt from left to right into a row of seven, the first face-up and others face-down; then one is faced on the second card and face-down cards put on the next five; then one faced on the third card and facedown cards on the next four, and so on until each pile is topped by a faced card. Next the player may build, or move a card onto the next higher card of a different color (red on black or vice versa); if such a move leaves a gap, it may be filled only by a king; when a card is played from a pile, the card beneath it is faced. Building may be done also during the play. When an ace is in view, it must be faced to begin a foundation, one foundation being possible in each suit. On each ace, cards of the same suit that appear, unless covered by another, may be built up in ascending sequence; when such a play is makable, it must be made. The undealt cards become the stock.

In the play, one card at a time is faced, thus making a pile of face-up cards. Any suitable card on top of the pile may be played on the foundation or built onto the original layout; any card uncovered by such a play may also be so used. Play continues until the deck is exhausted. As a variant, instead of going through the deck once, some players prefer to face every third card and keep that up, going through the deck any number of times until eventually no play is available. The object is to build all of the cards onto the foundation.

Other solitaire games are called Napoleon at St. Helena, Spider, Streets and Alleys, Scorpion, Four Seasons, Calculation, Clock, Pyramid, Golf, Fortress, and Virginia Reel.


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