How to Play Klondike Solitaire

Klondike Solitaire is the most widely known solitaire game, popularised originally by being part of Windows 3.0 when it was released in 1990. Originally it was included to help teach people how to use a mouse correctly, but surely became one of the most popular little games to fill up a few minutes around the globe. It's quite relaxing and offers a good chance of winning with some basic playing techniques.

Setting Up Klondike Solitaire

Klondike Solitaire is played with a standard deck of 52 cards with all jokers removed. As you can see from the picture below, you must deal 7 columns of cards with the card at the bottom shown face up. The first column is one card (face up), the second is two cards with one card face up and the number of cards in each column increases by one until the final column is made of seven cards with the final card face up as with the other columns.

Klondike Solitaire Set Up

Rules of Klondike Solitaire

The idea of the game is to move every card onto the four foundation piles. The foundations must each start with an Ace, and cards can only be moved to the foundation in ascending order in their suit. So for example an Ace of Spades would have to be followed by the Two of Spades which would be followed by a Three of Spades and so on.

After you have dealt out the set-up you will have 22 cards remaining these turned over in groups of three for a harder game or one by one for an easier game. The cards are turned over onto the previous cards so they can be used if you move a card to the layout or foundation. You can either pass through the remaining deck of cards once for a harder game or as many times as you like for an easier game. The most common choice for players is to turn over groups of three cards while allowing yourself to pass through deck as many times as you like.

Rules for Moving Cards

  • You can move a card to another column in the layout if is one lower and in an alternate color to the card being moved. So for example you can move a black 6 onto a red 7.
  • Piles of cards in a column can be moved together if they are in descending order and in alternating colors. For example you could place a pile consisting of red 4, black 3 and red 2 onto a black 5.
  • You can only move a King or a proper pile cards starting with a King onto an empty column.
  • Turn over any face down cards in the columns as soon as they are free.

Keep playing until you can't find any more moves or until you win by moving all the cards to foundations.

How to Win Klondike Solitaire

Okay, so now you are familiar with the rules here are tricks to help you win klondike solitaire.

  • The most obvious tip is to immediately move Aces when they are available, hopefully freeing up a useful card.
  • When you have a choice of either moving a card in the layout or bringing a card down from the remaining deck cards, it is better to choose to move cards in the layout. The only exception to this might be if you remember the previous card (or in the three card deal version) becomes useful to you once the current card is used.
  • Don't immediately place any cards that are three or higher onto the foundation as they can sometimes be useful for placing new cards into the layout, unless of course putting a card on the foundation frees up a new card in one of the columns.

Further reading

Are you curious about how to play other solitaire variants? Check out one of our guides: