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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 search through the stock pile (upper left) 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.

Mouse versus Keyboard play
You can of course use a mouse, either clicking on a column to select it or by dragging and dropping one or more cards. And you can drop an ace anywhere on the aces area and it will figure out the correct destination. But there are also keyboard shortcuts that will let you play without ever touching the mouse.

1-7 Selects a column
A, B, C Selects a card from the stock
left/right arrows Move through the stock
U Move "up" to the aces

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 differently — all cards in the stock are always available. 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.

Difficulty Level
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 and by limiting the number of certain "gotcha" cards positions, specifically having both cards of the same rank and color buried in the tableau (thanks to Joy for the tip).

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.
  2. 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!