How to Play the Solitaire Game Klondike

By Consumer Dummies

Klondike, frequently misnamed Canfield, is by far the most frequently played Solitaire. You need only a little time and a little space. In addition, you have a good chance of winning at Klondike — you may find yourself winning half the games you play.

Klondike requires little tactics or strategy. It’s an ideal game for children, perhaps for that very reason. Klondike is also an ideal Solitaire for a spectator, who can lean over the player’s shoulder and say things like “Put the red 7 on the black 8” until the player loses patience and punches him in the shoulder.

The object of Klondike is to build up piles of the four suits from the ace (the lowest card) to the king on the foundation. You don’t start with any cards in the foundation; you collect cards for it during the course of play.

To build the initial layout, or tableau, you deal seven piles, with one card in the first pile, two in the second pile, three in the third, and so on. Turn over the top card of each pile as you deal out the cards.

When dealing out the piles, place seven cards face-down to form the seven piles; deal the next six cards to form the second layer of each row (except the row on the far left), and then the next five cards to form the third layer, and so on. If you lay out the cards in this way, you avoid any problems caused by imperfect shuffling.

You build on the top cards of each pile by putting the next-lower numbered cards of the opposite color on the top cards. Your building cards come from the stock.

To start the game, you play the cards in the stock, which should consist of 24 cards. Go through the stock three cards at a time, putting the cards into a waste-pile, while preserving the order of the cards in that pile. You have access to only the top card of each set of three. If you use that top card, you gain access to the card below it, and so on. When you finish going through the stock, gather it up and go through it again.

You may go through the stock only three times. If you can’t persuade the Solitaire to work out after the three turns, you lose the game. However, most people ignore the three-times rule and continue with the Solitaire until it works out, which it does a fair percentage of the time.

As an alternative, you can go through the stock one card at a time and only one time. We haven’t concluded whether you’re more likely to get the Solitaire to work out with this rule or not, but instinctively, we feel that it must help. Some people go through the deck one card at a time on three separate occasions before calling the whole thing off.

You can move the turned-up cards around (leaving the face-down cards in place), and whenever you move all the face-up cards from one pile of the tableau, you turn over the new top card.

When you use all the cards in a pile, you create a space. You can move any king, or pile headed by a king — but only one headed by a king — into the space, and then you turn another face-down card over on the pile from which you moved the king pile.

Whenever you turn up an ace in the tableau (or in the stock), move that card to the foundation and start a new foundation pile. You may then take any top card from the tableau and move it onto the foundation, where appropriate. For example, after you put the ace of diamonds in the foundation, you can take the 2 of diamonds when it becomes available to start building up the diamonds.