How to Play the Solitaire Card Game Calculation
Different people have different criteria for what makes a good game of Solitaire. The version called Calculation should satisfy most tests, because you can solve it in a fair amount of the time (so long as you work at it), it takes up little space, and you can devote your full attention to it or play without thinking — depending on your mood.
However, unless you plan your plays carefully, the game will likely stymie you fairly early on.
In this game, only the card rankings matter — the suits of the cards are irrelevant. The object of the game is to build up four piles of cards on the foundation, from the ace on up to the king.
You begin by taking out an ace, 2, 3, and 4 from the deck and putting the four cards in a row from left to right, horizontally. These cards are the foundation on which you build — you hope — using the rest of the cards in the deck. Underneath those four foundations are precisely four waste piles, where you put cards that do not immediately fit on the foundation. Determining which pile to put those cards on is the challenging part of the game.
You build on each of the foundation piles one card at a time; however, you build up each pile in different sequences:
- On the ace pile, you can only put the next ranking card — that is, the play sequence must go A, 2, 3, and so on.
- On the 2 pile, you go up in pairs: 4, 6, 8, and so on.
- On the 3 pile, you go up in intervals of three: 6, 9, Q, 2, 5, and so on.
- And you shouldn’t be surprised that on the 4 pile, you go up in fours: 8, Q, 3, 7, J, 2, and so on.
For each of the four piles, you have 13 moves available. After the last move, you reach the king, and your piles are complete.
You turn up cards from the stock one at a time. If the card you turn over has no legal place, you put it directly on top of one of the four waste piles that you create below the foundation. As soon as the card becomes a legal play on a foundation pile, you may take the card from the top of the waste-pile (but not from the middle of the waste-pile) and move it up.
When you have a legal move (you can put a card on one of the foundation piles), go ahead and make it. Don’t wait to see what other cards you may turn up, because you may end up burying a card you could have played.
You can’t move cards from one waste-pile to another. After a card is on one pile, you can move it only to the foundation. And just because a waste-pile is empty doesn’t entitle you to move cards from another waste-pile into the gap.
You arrange the waste-piles so you can see all the lower cards in them to maximize your strategic planning.
Kings are exceptionally bad news in Calculation. They’re always the last cards to go on each of the foundation piles, and when you put them on the waste-pile, they can easily block everything beneath them. In a strange way, it’s good to turn up kings at the beginning of the game — you can put them on the bottom of each of the waste-piles or put them all together in one pile.
As a general rule, try to keep one waste-pile reserved for the kings. However, if two or three kings appear early, it’s a reasonable gamble to use all four piles and not keep one for the kings.
The figure shows an example of the start of a game. Having selected your ace, 2, 3, and 4 from the deck, you start turning over the cards one at a time.
Try to construct lines in the waste-piles in reverse. For example, if your 4 pile is lagging because you’re waiting for a queen, and you put a 7 on a jack on a waste-pile, put a 3 on top of the 7 if it comes up. You hope that when the queen emerges, you can put the 3, 7, and jack on at one time and advance matters efficiently.