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Winnable Solitaire Instructions

You're probably already familiar with the rules for "regular" solitaire (Klondike to be more specific) and Winnable Solitaire is really almost exactly the same. With two important differences:

  1. All deals have been proven winnable by a computer solver program. Sure, some are really hard, but they're all winnable.
  2. Although they're all winnable, some are still very hard for us normal humans to solve. So a couple special rules have been introduced to yield a new flavor we call Winnable Solitaire. We'll explain in more detail below.
Since it's more winnable than "regular" solitaire, you'll find it's just plain more fun. The outcome depends more on your skills and less on pure luck. It takes a little while to get onto the subtleties of the strategy, but as you play more you'll find you're winning more and more.

Basic Play
As noted above, the rules are that same as for Klondike ("regular" solitaire). The object is to get all the cards played to the piles at the top of the board (the foundation), starting with the ace for each suit and working upwards. To accomplish this, you build strings of cards in rank order but alternating red and black down on the main piles (called the tableau). You work through the stock pile (upper left) by threes, selecting cards you want to play either to the tableau or to the foundation piles.

The game is lost when there are no more legal plays which advance the game-- you'll have to give up and try again.

The "Winnable" Difference
There are two main differences than we've devised to make "Winnable Solitaire" more of a game of skill than a game of luck: the stock works slightly differently in "winnable" mode, and the spyglass icon on the game board allows you to peek at all the cards in the tableau. Armed with this additional knowledge you can anticipate problematic situations and devise strategies to avoid the tricky parts.

The difference in accessing the stock is a small but important one: with "regular" solitaire when you've flipped through all the cards of the stock, you pick them all up and put them back and go through them again. This means that in you didn't make a play, you're going to see the exact same every third card again. This can quickly lead to getting stuck, with no available plays. But with "winnable", we have the computer automatically replenish the stock as needed. The result is that you cycle continuously through the stock without interruption, and as long as you're careful to keep the total cards in the stock a non-multiple of three, you'll see the full variety of available cards. To help you do this we display count values for the stock piles and those numbers change color depending on the total number of cards in the stock:

  • Green means you're still two away from an even multiple of three, nothing to worry about.
  • Yellow means "caution", when you play the next card you'll land on an even multiple of three
  • Red means you're on an even multiple of three and are able to access only one third of the available stock of cards
That's about it, otherwise it's just solitaire.

Difficulty Level
Playing in Winnable or Classic mode your deals will be biased to be, on average, easier to solve when your streak is low. The average difficulty is modified by influencing the likelihood that lower cards will be more accessible. The difficulty level ranges from 5 to 10 depending on your streak:

difficulty = (streak / 10) + 5

So playing a level 5 game means it's more likely the aces will be immediately available whereas by level 10 the aces are randomly distributed and may be nice and buried.

As you play Winnable Solitaire you'll notice that there are a few possibly counterintuitive strategies that can help you make sure you win your games.
  1. Don't make every possible play. You'l find there's an advantage in holding back plays that aren't immediately beneficial. You can use these plays later to avoid or get out of multiples of three situations.
  2. Even when you are looking for a play to get out of or avoid a multiples of three situation, be careful what cards you play. You can inadvertantly trap cards that you may need later. General rule is play low cards up to the aces where you're sure they're no longer needed, but don't play low cards to the tableau unless they're really going to serve a purpose.
  3. Before you begin playing a deal, use the peek function to look for potential troublespots. For instance, if you see a pile with a jack of spades and a king of spades (or clubs) buried beneath it, and you have both red queens in your stock, you're almost certainly going to need to use the other black king to get that jack moved. Don't play the other black jack onto your one possibility!