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What is FreeCell Solitaire?
FreeCell is a variation of Solitaire where the goal is to move all 52 face-up cards to the foundation. You do this by freeing up cards in the tableau by sequencing them and using four open cells where any playable card can be placed. Learn more with our instructional video.
How to Play
The Setup and Play Area
Tableau: This is where all 52 cards are placed face-up in 8 columns. The first 4 columns have 7 cards, and the last 4 columns have 6 cards.
Free cells: These are the four open cells in the top left corner of the game. Any playable card can be moved here to help you open up new cards to play and to sequence cards.
Foundation: These are the four open areas on the top right of the game. In each foundation pile, you want to sequence cards from Ace to King by suit.
- When you start the game, the cards that are available to play are the last cards in the tableau. In other words, you can move cards that have no cards on top of them. If an Ace is playable, you can move it immediately to the foundation.
- In the tableau, you can move a card on top of another playable card as long as it is of the opposite color and of a higher rank. For example, a playable 3 of Hearts can be moved on top of a 4 of Spades that is at the bottom of another tableau column. On the other hand, if you have 7 Hearts and a 6 of Diamonds, you cannot move the 6 on top of the 7 because they are the same color. Below each black card will need to be a red one, and it needs to be one rank lower. For example, a 5 will go below a 6, Queen below King, and so on.
- You can move any playable card to one of the four free cells. Only four cards can be in the free cells at any given time. Even though you can use the free cells as much as you want, try to keep them available for future cards you may need to move around.
- The number of sequenced cards you can move is equivalent to the number of open free cells plus one. For example:
- If there are four free cells open, you can move five cards.
- If there are three free cells open, you can move four cards.
- If there are two free cells open, you can move three cards.
- If there is one free cell open, you can move two cards.
- If there are no free cells open, you can move one card.
- There is one exception to this. If you have an open column in addition to free cells, you can move double the number of cards you can move normally. For example, if you have 1 free cell open and one empty tableau column, you can effectively move 4 cards (2 cards for the 1 free cell, multiplied by two). This applies as long as you are not moving cards into the actual empty column, in which case you are unable to take advantage of the doubling.
- During the process of moving cards from the tableau board to the foundation, you may clear out an entire column. In that case, you can grab any free card and move it to an empty column. It doesn't matter which card it is, as long as it is a free one.
- Cards can only be moved to the foundation from Ace to King, and they need to be of the same suit. For example, if you move the Ace of Diamonds to the foundation pile, the next card you can place on top of it is the 2 of Diamonds.
- The advantage of FreeCell is that all cards are uncovered, meaning that there will be no surprises, and you can strategically plan ahead. There may be a situation where you will be left with no options or possible moves. You can undo moves to try other ways of solving the game, or you can start a new game.
There are a number of strategies that can help you win FreeCell. For example, because all the cards are face-up, you should study the tableau and plan ahead. Check out our FreeCell strategy guide to learn more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there different versions of FreeCell?
How difficult is FreeCell?
FreeCell is considered easy in difficulty. Of 1,974,525 games played, 41.86% of them were won, or 826,489. This means the human win rate is much lower than the theoretical one.
Nearly every FreeCell game, however, can be won. Only a very few FreeCell games are unwinnable. Using the basic deal numbering system that most FreeCell games use, game #11982 is the first unwinnable game of FreeCell. This makes the theoretical win rate very different than the actual one.
What is the history of FreeCell?
FreeCell is one of the most popular card games. It was first introduced in 1978 by Paul Alfille, who programmed the first computerized version of it as a medical student on a PLATO computer at the University of Illinois. It was later popularized in 1991 when it came preinstalled with every version of Windows.
Even though the game is played with one deck of cards, mathematically speaking, there are 1.75 times 10 to the power of 64 possible games.
What are the minimum moves to beat FreeCell?
Based on our analysis of millions of games, you can beat a FreeCell game with a minimum of 48 moves. Not every game can be won like this. It depends on the cards you are dealt. On Solitaired, you can replay the same game to try to solve it in fewer moves. Under new game, simply click restart game, or click the restart button on the congrats modal.
Is FreeCell good for your brain?
FreeCell has various cognitive benefits. At its core, it’s a problem-solving game where you have to figure out how to get all the cards to the foundation by using the free cells. Trying to solve the game pushes your critical and strategic thinking skills, where you have to plan and visualize outcomes, helping you stay sharp. In fact, a study by the Oregon Center for Aging& Technology found that playing FreeCell can help identify individuals with memory problems.
Outside of the direct benefits to your brain, FreeCell is often fun for players, reducing stress levels and allowing you to think more clearly.
What are other Solitaire games to try like Spider Solitaire and Pyramid?If you like FreeCell, be sure to try:our entire list of free games.
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