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Home > Traditional Games (Parlor Games) > Card Games > Klondike Solitaire Tips and Strategy

Klondike Solitaire
Tips and Strategy

Solitaire is a class of games that are intended to be played solo, although a cooperative effort can be beneficial to attaining success. Solitaire can be played with dice, mah jong tiles, or most famously, with playing cards.

Of the many versions of Solitaire games, Klondike is by far the most popular. So much so that people who generally refer to 'Solitaire' are actually referring to Klondike.

Playing Cards

The most Popular Solo Game for Playing Cards!


Over the years, Klondike-Solitaire has appeared as a free game bundled with numerous computer operating systems, among them Windows (since version 3.0 for desktops, circa 1990, and all incarnations of Windows for Mobile intended for PocketPC and Smartphones).

To play, a deck of playing cards and a flat surface is all that is required. Optionally, a player can keep score. However, the odds of successfully completing a game is such that winning is enough incentive.

 
 

What's Needed to Play a Game of Klondike-Solitaire:

* a deck of cards

* a flat surface big enough to accommodate the play area (size of the play area can vary, but ideally you want the biggest space possible in order to comfortably play a game of Klondike-Solitaire)

* a timer, calculator, and pad and pen for scoring (optional)

Objective in a Game of Klondike-Solitaire:

* to successfully re-arrange (sort) the Klondike-Solitaire setup in order of *Suit* and *Hierarchy* while following the rules of valid moves

How to Set Up a Game of Klondike-Solitaire:

* the player thoroughly shuffles a deck of 52 playing cards (jokers/wildcards should be removed from a brand new deck)

* the player deals 7 columns of cards – called the Tableau – side by side, from top to bottom. The cards are dealt face down.

* the leftmost Tableau consists of only 1 card, while the rightmost Tableau consists of 7 cards. Each Tableau in-between gets the corresponding number of cards

* the final (topmost) card in each Tableau is turned to face up (see image on the right for an illustration)

* after all 7 Tableau are dealt, the player is left with 24 cards in hand. These are laid face down in a stack and serves as the source stack, called the Stock.

* the game is then set up and ready to play

Klondike-Solitaire Game Setup
Solitaire-Klondike: Game Layout Nomenclature

There are 4 main sections to the game layout of Klondike-Solitaire. The *Stock*, the *Discard Pile*, the *Foundation*, and the *Tableau*.

In a nutshell, once the cards are dealt out, the cards in the Tableau are *built down* (in descending order, such as 10-9-8-7...) in alternate color suits (such as red-black-red). In the example above, the *Nine of Diamonds* from Tableau #2 can be attached to the *Ten of Clubs* in Tableau #1.

 
 

How to Play a Game of Klondike-Solitaire:

Rules of Movement in Klondike-Solitaire:

At the start of any game, the 7 face-up cards on the 7 Tableau present the first opportunity to perform valid moves. The player can immediately rearrange said cards by moving them from Tableau to Tableau while forming a descending sequence (a process called “Building-down”, where Kings are highest and Aces are lowest in the heirarchy). Additionally, the descending sequence must be built with alternating suit colors.

An example of a valid sequence is (from top to bottom): Jack of Hearts (red), Ten of Spades (black), Nine of Diamonds (red), Eight of Spades (black). On the other hand, an example of an invalid sequence is (from top to bottom): Six of Clubs (black), Five of Diamonds (red), Four of Hearts (red again, therefore invalidating the sequence).

Once a face-up card is removed from a Tableau, the next face-down card in that Tableau is turned over and its value revealed.

Illustration: the player can get the Jack of Spades from Tableau #3, and attach it to the Queen of Diamonds at Tableau #6. Then he turns-over the top card on Tableau #3, and luckily reveals a King of Clubs. This allows him to move the Queen-Jack sequence from Tableau #6 and attach it to the King of Clubs on Tableau #3.

Cards move from Tableau to the Foundation as the opportunity arises. Above, the *Ace of Spades* was promoted from Tableau #3. The Foundation must be *built up* in ascending order using only the same suit (e.g., Ace-2-3-4.. all in Spades)

At any time, the player can populate the *Discard Pile* by turning cards over from the Stock. 3 Cards at a time is the common play style. Cards in the *Discard Pile* are available to be attached to the Tableau or the Foundation, as opportunity permits, topmost card first.

The normal flow of cards is from Stock, to Discard Pile, to the Tableau, and onto the Foundation. It is also possible to move cards directly from Discard Pile to Foundation.

The game is won when all 52 cards in the deck are moved to the Foundation.

IMPORTANT NOTES about Klondike-Solitaire

* all 7 Tableau should end with an upturned card or else it should be an empty Tableau

* a sequence of built-down cards can be moved as a group, in whole or in part, as the player sees fit

 
 

ABOUT EMPTY SLOTS in Klondike-Solitaire

Empty Foundations are for Aces: Only Aces can be moved to empty foundation slots. This rule makes it crucial for the player to move the 4 Aces onto the 4 Foundations as early in the game as possible.

Empty Tableau are for Kings: When all cards in a Tableau are moved away, it becomes a vacant or empty Tableau which can only be re-occupied with any King (the highest card in the heirarchy). Doing so presents the player with an unhindered opportunity to build-down a descending sequence starting from the highest card in the hierarchy.

Promoting Aces onto the Foundation: As Aces are revealed, they can be moved onto 4 new stacks face-up, called the Foundations. Foundations are the final resting place of cards that are properly sorted. In fact, the game is won by successfully moving all 52 cards onto the 4 Foundations. Foundations are “Built-Up”, meaning, built from lowest (Ace) to highest (King). Only Aces are allowed to occupy an empty Foundation. In building up a Foundation, the player has to follow suits.

To illustrate, if an empty Foundation is occupied with an Ace of Spades, only Spades are allowed to occupy that Foundation thereafter. Starting with the Ace of Spades, the next card in the sequence can only be the <Two of Spades>, then the <Three of Spades>, and so forth until the <King of Spades> completes the built-up sequence.

Accessing the Stock: After dealing the Klondike-Solitaire setup and moving the cards following the rules set forth above, the player can exhaust all possible moves OR he can, at any time, choose to access the cards in the “Stock”. The “Stock” is simply the stack of the 24 face-down cards that were not distributed among the Tableau. The cards in the Stock is accessed by dealing them face-out, in groups of three, out on the “Wastepile” in a “Cascade”.

The Cascading Wastepile: The player takes 3 cards from the top of the “Stock” and turns them over to face up in a “Cascade” (i.e., like a fan-out arrangement) on the wastepile. He can play the topmost card if there is a valid move (such as building down on a Tableau, or promoting an Ace to the Foundations). He then has the choice of playing the topmost card in the wastepile until the wastepile runs out or all legal moves are exhausted.

The cascading wastepile presents a new situation to the player: although he can only play the topmost card right now, he sees the values of the following cards which he can access as soon as he plays the topmost cards. The player can therefore plan out his moves to maximize his chances of winning the game.

Playing Cards Clip Art
 
 

Re-Stocking from the Wastepile: The player keeps dealing out 3 cards from the Stock to the Wastepile in a cascade, and plays the cards he wants to play from the Wastepile. When the Stock is exhausted, the player simply takes the wastepile and places it onto the Stock (without reshuffling) and starts over.

Winning the Game: The challenge level of each game of Klondike-Solitaire can vary wildly, and no 2 games are ever the same as long as the cards are shuffled and dealt properly. To illustrate a successful game that is effortlessly completed, gameplay would likely proceed as follows:
* game starts once the 7 Tableau are dealt out and the Stock is established
* cards are moved from Tableau to Tableau to build-down a valid descending, alternate-color sequence
* some Tableau are totally exhausted and become empty Tableau
* Kings are uncovered and moved to the empty Tableau
* Aces are revealed and promoted to the Foundations
* cards are moved from Tableau to Foundations building-up a valid, ascending, uniform-suit sequence
* the Stock is turned over and more valid moves are revealed, which continues the process of building-down on Tableau, and building-up on Foundations
* the game is won when all 52 cards are thoroughly sorted into the 4 Foundations

Tips & Tricks on How to Improve your Chances of Winning a game of Klondike-Solitaire

Winning Strategies for Beginners:

* Promote your Aces onto the Foundations early in the game in order to unlock more valid moves: this allows you to build-down (on Tableau) and build-up (on Foundations) simultaneously
* Empty-out a Tableau in order to have a valid move for any Kings that you might uncover. This is an extremely helpful tactic especially early in the game when you still have 4 Kings that need to find their proper places.
* Keep most of your Tableau in play by leaving cards in them even if you can empty them out: this allows you to have more valid moves at all times. Remember, only Kings are allowed to re-occupy empty Tableau, which means that, in any game, you only ever need 4 empty Tableau for your Kings. When you empty out your fifth Tableau onward, you are basically hindering your chances of winning the game.
* Build-up your Foundations as early as you can, and don’t be shy about borrowing the topmost cards from your Foundations as the need arises: Sometimes, you’ll actually need to return 1 or more cards from the Foundations to unlock valid moves that will advance your game. This is certainly allowed.

 
 

Winning Strategies for Advanced Players:

* Promoting 2 suits (1 red and 1 black) ahead of all others: This tactic effectively whittles down the number of cards that clutter up your Tableau, and opens up more valid moves, perhaps allowing you to finish your game sooner. For example, if you can promote all Clubs and Hearts onto the Foundations, this removes 2 suits from the Tableau area and you unlock more valid moves for the 2 remaining suits.
* Building-Down in Matching Suits: In order to benefit your game, you must apply the previous tactic in conjunction with this one. Herein, you basically do your best to build-down your tableau in matching-suits, e.g., Club-Diamonds or Club-Hearts. This will afford you the best chance to promote 2 suits ahead of the others, thereby freeing up the clutter in your Tableau and advancing your game toward a successful conclusion.

Playing Cards

Winning Strategies for Frustrated Players:

* Instead of always strictly drawing 3 cards from the Stock, go ahead and ‘cheat’ a little by drawing single cards when you face a dead end
* Have unlimited “Undos”. Feel free to backtrack on your most recent moves – as far back as needed, it’s all up to you. Of course, this requires excellent recall on your part, so it’s far from easy to do (properly).
* <Alt>+<Shift>+<2> In the Microsoft Windows version of Solitaire, this keyboard combination gives you an instant win. * <Ctrl>+<Alt>+<Shift>+<Click on Stock> In the Microsoft Windows version of Solitaire, this keyboard combination draws single cards from the Stock during a ‘Draw-Three’ game.

Optional Rules for Klondike-Solitaire:

Drawing 3 cards at a time: The common way of playing the game is to draw 3 cards at a time from the Stock. However, the player can choose to draw 2 cards, or even 1 card at a time. As a rule, the player has to decide on this at the start of the game and has to stick to it throughout the game.

Scoring: The system of scoring a standard game of Klondike-Solitaire is summarized in the table below:

Move
Points Awarded
Waste to Tableau 5 Points
Waste to Foundation 10 Points
Tableau to Foundation 10 Points
Turn over (to reveal) Tableau Card 5 Points
Foundation to Tableau
(a reverse move)
-15 Points

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Animated GIF FreeFree Printable Klondike Solitaire Game Board
(download, print and play!)

This is a game board layout for Klondike Solitaire. It is not strictly necessary to play the game . You may download, and print as many copies as you wish.

[Letter Size: 1Page] . [A4 Size: 1Page]
[Huge (Letter Sized:4Pages): Page1 . Page2 . Page3 . Page4]
[Huge (A4 Sized:4Pages): Page1 . Page2 . Page3 . Page4]

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