Everything you need to know about Klondike Solitaire

Klondike Solitaire is one of the world’s most popular card games. Most often simply called Solitaire, this card game is also known as Fascination and Demon Patience. A one player game with only one set of cards, it requires the player to organise each suit into its own pile in the order of Ace to King in order to win. It is widely recognised as a stress reliever and a way of keeping the mind active.

History of Klondike Solitaire

The card game Solitaire has been around since at least the 1700’s where there is written evidence to support that in Northern Europe it was regularly played. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the first European record of the game Solitaire was during 1746, but it is hazy as to whether this was the card game itself or a version played with marbles and pegs referred to as Peg Solitaire.
During the early 1800’s, Solitaire made its way into France and Napolean Bonaparte himself was reported to have played in during his exile at St. Helena in 1816. Patience, as it was often called, was from then on commonly played by the French population, with many of the terms from the game having originated from the French language itself.

Solitaire first began to appear in British publications from 1874, when it was mentioned in Lady Cadogan’s Illustrated Games of Patience. From then on it has evolved into what we regularly see online or bundled with our computer software. 1987 saw the first ever commercial computerised version called Solitaire Royale, which was available for both PC and Mac formats. 1990 saw Microsoft Windows bring out what was commonly known as Windows Solitaire, which in reality is actually the classic Klondike Solitaire game itself.

As to why Solitaire was actually invented, there is no definitive answer. Some researchers theorise that it arose from the popularity of other card games at that time, such as tarot card reading or divination as a form of fortune telling. Scandinavian countries refer to the game as Cabal, which is a way of interpreting the Old Testament in a mystical way, while in Britain it is known as Patience. However, with no definitive answer as to the exact origins of Klondike Solitaire, it can be said without hesitation that it is one of the most popular card games worldwide, either playing with a physical pack of cards, online or through specific computer software.

Rules of the game

The aim of Klondike Solitaire is to organise the deck into four columns, one for each suite. Each column is required to be ordered specifically from Ace to King. The game continues until you are unable to make any further moves.
When it comes to moving the cards, there are several rules which must be followed:

  • A card can only be moved to another column if it is lower and of a different colour than one which it can be placed under, such as a black six may be placed under a red seven.
  • Cards in descending order and with alternating colours, may be moved together, such as a red 4, black 3 and red 2 onto a black 5.
  • A King on its own or together with a proper pile of cards can only be moved onto an empty column.
  • You must turn over any cards in the columns which are upside down as soon as you are able to.


Firstly, this game is much different to playing spider solitaire, a standard 54 card deck, minus the Jokers, is shuffled and seven piles of cards are laid down from left to right, with one upturned card on the top of each pile. An extra card is added upside down to each pile, increasing from one card on the face up card on far left to six face down and one face up card in the far right pile, totally 28 cards. The remainder of the cards are then kept facing down and placed above the seven piles, called the Stock.

A player then works their way through the cards moving cards to different piles within the piles until an Ace is found. The Ace is placed above on one of the four areas reserved for each Tableau. The player can then move cards of that suit up to the matching Ace in the order of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King. When the player is unable to make a move, they may turn over either one or three cards at a time from the stock pile, depending upon what version they are playing.

klondike solitaire scoring system

Scoring system

  • Moving a card to one of the four suit stacks earns you 10 points.
  • Moving a card from the deck to one of the seven piles will get you five points.
  • If a closed card is revealed from one of the seven piles, you earn five points.
  • A 15-point penalty is subtracted if you have to move a card from any of the four suit stacks.
  • Playing the three card version – working through the deck after the third time sees you receive 20 penalty points
  • Playing the one card version – working through the deck more than once sees a 100-point penalty applied.

Improving Your Odds of Winning Klondike Solitaire

79% of Klondike Solitaire games are winnable, with over 7,000 trillion possible hands with the 52 cards. However, 79% is not commonly achieved due to player error. 0.025% of all hands dealt are in fact unplayable because there are no cards face up which can be moved to the foundation piles.

In order to improve your chances at winning Klondike Solitaire, the first thing you should do is to move an Ace to the tableau when it becomes available. This frees up space within the piles for other cards. If you can, move cards between the piles rather than bring them down from the stack. Also higher number cards should not be immediately moved onto the tableau as they may be more useful down below within the seven piles.