Playing Solitaire

I play solitaire every evening on the computer without fail.  I do this because I am fidgety by nature and yet I want to sit with my family at the end of our day.  They watch various television series on Netflix and I join in.  But my hands need busy work, I don’t know how to knit, I tried scrapbooking with little interest, and solitaire meets my needs.  Knitting might be healthier at this point, but another hobby would be overwhelming.

When I was younger, I learned several versions of solitaire from my mother.  My mother got her solitaire habit from my grandmother, so it is obviously a generational addiction.  The four versions I still know in card form are Idiot’s Delight, Patience, Golf, and Triangle.  These are the names my mom called them – to computer addicts like me, similar versions are Pyramid, Klondike, Spider, Tripeaks, and Freecell.  Several websites provide online versions of many different types of solitaire. Idiot’s Delight I have never played in computer form.

Now, in all fairness, there are benefits and drawbacks to solitaire, just as there are in many aspects of life.  The game in any form, cards or computer, can increase brain activity, help retain memory as we age, decrease stress, soothe emotion, promote simple thinking skills, and introduce ordering.  In computer form, it has been used as part of installed operating systems to help people frightened of computers learn to use the mouse, dragging, clicking, and highlighting items on a screen.  Yet solitaire is addictive.  I was teasing a bit earlier, but in all fairness, computers and gaming can be a true addiction and solitaire is not immune to this problem.  Many workplaces have even removed the game from their systems in order to reduce the number of hours employees waste playing the game.  In other words, use solitaire for fun and for its benefits, but be aware of its addictive nature.  For the purpose of using it as an introductory math game, I suggest the tactile function real cards provide.

Below are the rules for three versions.  I copied all of the rules from  This useful website has many other ways to play these games as well.

Rules for Idiot’s Delight:

Idiot’s Delight is a standard solitaire, described in most solitaire references. Its more proper name is “Aces Up”, but it’s also known as “Aces High”, “Four Aces”, “Firing Squad”, and “Drivel”.

The game is begun by shuffling a standard 52-card deck, and dealing the first four cards face-up in a row, forming the tableau. The remainder of the cards are dealt face-down into a single stock pile. The initial layout looks like this:

Idiot's Delight initial card layout

Where the “S” is the stock pile, and the “T’s” are the first cards of the tableau piles.


The object of the game is to remove cards from the tableau, until the stock is empty and only the four aces remain.

Discard any card that is lower than another card of the same suit. Cards are ranked A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2, with Ace high and 2 low. When no more cards can be discarded, deal another four cards from the stock to the tableau. At this point, only cards that are fully exposed are available for play. If a space is created in one of the tableau piles, any other tableau card may be moved into that space. If you’ve emptied the stock, and only the four aces remain, you’ve won!

Rules for Golf:

Number of Decks: 1 (52 cards)

Alternate Names: Fan Tan, One Foundation

Initial Layout: Begin by dealing 35 cards to the tableau, as seven piles of five cards each, spread out vertically so that all cards are visible. There is a single foundation pile beneath the tableau, and one card is dealt to it to begin the game. The remaining cards form the stock, and are held in a single face-down pile next to the foundation.

Object: The object of the game is to move all of the cards from the tableau to the foundation.

Play: The foundation may be built up or down regardless of suit. Only the top card of each tableau pile is available for play. The king ranks above the queen, and is a stopper, unable to connect to either a queen or an ace. You may not build “around the corner” from ace to king.

When you’re unable to make any more moves, turn over the top card of the stock and place it face-up on top of the foundation pile, then once again make any moves available on the tableau.

If you’re able to remove all the cards from the tableau, the game is won (whether or not any cards remain in the stock).

Scoring: Golf solitaire is often played for points. A player scores one point for each card remaining in the tableau after the stock is exhausted. If you manage to clear the tableau, one point is deducted from your score for every card left in the stock. A game is nine “holes” (deals). Par for each hole is 4, so a score of 36 or less is better than par.

Tournament Golf: This is Golf solitaire played head-to-head, by two or more players. Each player has their own deck, and plays their own 9-hole game of Golf. Whoever has the lower score at the end of nine rounds wins the match.

Rules for Klondike:

Number of Decks: 1

Alternate Names: Canfield, Chinaman, Demon, Fascination, Small Triangle

Initial Layout: The tableau consists of seven columns, with the first column containing one card, the second column two cards, the third column three cards, and so on. The top card of each column is face-up; the remainder of the cards are face-down. The 24 unplayed cards are left face-down to form the stock.

Object: The object of the game is to move the four aces, as they appear, to the foundations, and build each up in suit from ace to king (A-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K).

Play: Turn cards face-up from the stock three at a time onto a waste pile. The top card of the waste pile may be played onto the tableau or foundations. Likewise, the top card of each tableau pile is available for play onto the foundations or another tableau pile. Cards within the tableau may be build down in sequence and alternating color. A sequence of cards may be moved as a unit from one pile to another. When a face-down tableau card is exposed, turn it face-up. If a space is created in the tableau, it may only be filled with a king. The stock may be recycled from the waste pile when it becomes empty. The game ends when either all foundations are filled (in which case you’ve won), or when no more moves are possible (or when the only possible move is to recycle the stock). In this case you’ve lost.

A slightly easier version of the game allows you to pull cards from the stock one at a time (rather than three at a time). In some versions of the game, this also limits the number of redeals you’re allowed (usually to two).


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