solitaire or patience, any card game that can be played by one person. Solitaire is the American name; in England it is known as patience. There are probably more kinds of solitaire than all other card games together. The aim in most is to segregate the four suits, each in sequence, against the luck of the shuffle. The game is usually played with one or two decks. Cards are laid out on the table in an arrangement called the tableau. All the cards of a certain rank form the foundations on which the suits are built. Play proceeds either until the game is won (called making or breaking the game) or until further play is impossible. Although the names of games vary greatly, the most popular solitaires include Klondike (probably the best known), Canfield (named for Richard A. Canfield), accordion, spider, golf, and clock. In double solitaire, for two persons, each plays his own game of either Klondike or Canfield, but each can build on his opponent's (as well as his own) aces. The object is to play the greater number of cards to the center.

See A. H. Morehead and G. Mott-Smith, Complete Book of Solitaire and Patience Games (1949, repr. 1973); G. F. Hervey, Card Games for One (1965); D. Berveiler, Strategic Solitaire (1987).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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Playing Solitaire

The rules of solitaire may be fairly simple, but not every game can be won. You may quickly find yourself without moves if the cards aren't right! But, with the proper strategy and enough practice, you'll be a pro in no time. Your main goal in any hand should be to reveal the hidden cards on the tableau. The decisions you make based on the cards at hand are crucial if you're looking to win quickly. If you find yourself choosing between two cards, always go for a move that reveals more face-down cards. The more cards you uncover, the easier it is to organize the stacks.

Play a few rounds of Solitaire online to practice devising your own winning strategy.