Acquainting Yourself with Solitaire Terms

By Consumer Dummies

Before you start enjoying the various card games of Solitaire, you need to know a little technical vocabulary. After you build your own foundation of Solitaire knowledge, you can begin to explore the many variations of the game.

  • When you initially deal the cards, the pattern is known as a layout or tableau. The layout can consist of rows (horizontal lines of cards), columns (vertical lines), or piles of cards (a compact heap, frequently of face-down cards, sometimes with the top card face-up). Sometimes the pile of cards is all face-up, but overlapping. Accordingly, you can see all the cards in the pile, even if you can only access the top, uncovered card. You can move tableaus under the correct circumstances, which are dictated by the rules of the particular Solitaire you’re playing.
  • Building involves placing one card on top of another in a legal move. The definition of a legal move varies according to the individual rules of the Solitaire.
  • In games where the objective is to build up cards on some of the original cards, the base cards are known as foundations. As a general rule, after you place cards on a foundation pile, you can’t move them. You may build on a tableau in some cases.
    The tableau and the foundation may sound like very similar items, but they differ in a few important ways. The object of a Solitaire is to build up the foundation; a tableau is just an intermediary home for the cards as they make their way to the final destination: the foundation. You use tableaus to get the cards in the right order to build on the foundation.
  • When you move a complete row or column, you create a space or gap into which you can often move whatever card(s) you like.
  • Frequently, you don’t use all the cards in the initial layout; the remaining cards are called the stock. You go through the stock to advance the Solitaire.
  • When working through the stock, you frequently have cards that you can’t legally put into the layout. In such cases, the unused cards go to the waste-pile.
  • Redeals take place in the middle of a Solitaire when you’ve exhausted all legal moves. The rules of the Solitaire may allow you to redeal by shuffling and redistributing the unused cards in an attempt to advance the game.
  • Many Solitaires permit one cheat — you can move an obstructing card or otherwise advance the game. This process is also known as a merci.