Solitaire

There are many different types of card games out there. Some typical games that use a standard deck include War, 500 Rummy, and Hearts. Children’s card games include Old Maid and Go Fish. Uno is even a popular card game, though it uses special cards. A person is in the mood to play a card game, but there’s a problem: nobody else wants to play, or maybe he/she is alone. What should the person do? Play solitaire: a fun and flexible card game for one player. My story about solitaire goes back into my childhood.


I learned how to play solitaire from my mom. One hot summer day, Mom and I were in my parents’ bedroom, as it was one of only two rooms in the house that had an air conditioner unit; the other being my bedroom. I had an old air conditioner that my grandparents gave me because of asthma problems. Mom was sitting on the bed playing a card game, that I learned was solitaire. I was watching her play, and then the phone rang. She answered it, and was talking while shuffling the cards. Every time she would shuffle the deck, she would “fan back” the cards, and make them land in a pile. The first time I saw and heard this, I thought it was funny and laughed and laughed. I couldn’t control my laughter it sounded so funny. Mom wondered what was so funny, and I eventually explained it was the shuffling. I knew how to do the fancy shuffling from playing “War” with my brother and grandmother, but I had never seen the “fanning back” part before. Mom taught me how to play solitaire which I enjoyed. She tried to teach me how to fan back the cards as well, but I wasn’t able to learn the maneuver.

I also learned the concept of “playing through”. When you play through in solitaire, you don’t count it as a win, but you remove one of the cards that impedes your progress, and continue to play as if that card wasn’t there. Being able to finish a game sure beats setting up the cards, only to find out that one can only get a few plays, and then have to start over.

Over the earlier years Mom and I would play solitaire a lot, each with our own set of cards. We would sit facing each other and play it. Sometimes we would play on each other’s cards; it could be intentionally or accidentally. My mom would often take a deck of cards along on vacation for back in the room, and also for notoriously long appointments. Decks of cards would often be a souvenir that Mom, my brother, and I would purchase. One time when my dad went out to Indianapolis on business, he brought back decks of cards that said “Indiana” and showed a picture of a covered bridge. They are obsolete bridges that look like a barn with open ends that can be driven through. Many in my state, Pennsylvania, have been either demolished, and replaced with modern concrete bridges, or have been preserved for posterity. Some drivable bridges do remain. Apparently, Indiana is known for covered bridges.

Playing solitaire was very important during my long asthma doctor appointments, when they did skin tests to see what I was allergic to. These appointments were done in two separate installments, and had several rounds. The process was slow since it took a while to see which allergens my skin reacted to. Time also needed to pass between rounds of testing. During these appointments, I would sit on the floor in a special small waiting room in the back, and play game after game of solitaire. One game that comes to my mind from this time period is a round that I almost won, if it wasn’t for the four nines. I had played most of the cards, and was left with a single large pile and a few smaller piles with the ten cards on top. To finish the game, I needed to play the nine cards, and a few others. Mom and I predicted that in the largest pile were all four of the nine cards I needed to win. I decided to play through, and what did I find in the large pile? The first four cards were the nines I needed!

Some games are simply peculiar. Twice when Mom was playing solitaire, she played two games in a row that played out the same way. In each game there was an ace of spades and six other cards. After removing the ace and playing it, no more moves could be made. I found that to be strange.

Setting the game up can be tedious, and the player would want to get as many plays out of it as possible. When Mom and I played, if she would lose a game, she would all of the sudden say, “Bust, bust, bust…….”, (meaning that she lost the game) as she took the cards and threw them in a pile to reshuffle. I thought it was really funny.

Eventually solitaire found its way to the personal computer. Though I had played many rounds of solitaire during free time at a computer camp at Shippensburg University during the summer of 1992, my family only got solitaire on the computer years later. Computer solitaire was a game changer. Now whether you won or lost didn’t matter as much, as you didn’t have to set the cards up every single time. Eventually, my grandmother on my mom’s side of the family wanted a computer. We didn’t really get why, but she got one. As it turns out, she loved using the computer to play solitaire. Though most people play solitaire on the “three cards at a time setting” (when you go through the remaining cards in the deck, you get access to every third card), she would play on the “one card at a time setting.” This perplexed me as when I played this way I would win every time. I thought it seemed to make the game too easy. I asked her about it. My grandmother said that you don’t always win on that mode. It took me awhile to believe it, but eventually I tried that mode again, and actually lost a game, proving her correct.

As time went by, Spider (another type of solitaire) was added to computers. I played many games of this during my college years at Shippensburg.


By the way, if you haven’t figured it out, solitaire is actually a type of card game for one player. There are many types of solitaire games. Klondike is the standard game, that I learned to play from Mom. Free Cell is another rather popular type of solitaire game offered on many computers. Spider, and related games Spiderette, and Will o’ the Wisp are similar type solitaire games, and Westcliff plays a lot like Klondike, but is more flexible and forgiving in its rules.


Now days with computers often not coming with preloaded games, people can go and download various solitaire collections. The current one I have on my computer contains Klondike, Spider, Free Cell, Tri-Peaks, and Pyramid. Do a google search for solitaire and one would find many more types than what I have mentioned here.


Solitaire is an interesting card game, and also very easy to play. It’s very portable making it a good choice for travel. With its strong presence on the computer, smart phone, and tablet, set up is easy, and encourages players to play many rounds. As of current, my mom has played thousands of games of solitaire on her tablet, and has reached a level in the high five hundreds. Before I had got my new computer, I was at level fifty something. Solitaire has come a long way, and is just as fun as ever.


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