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Solitaire Game Terms by Trisha Ellington

Learn the terms to solitaire games to make learning rules to new games quick and easy.

There are five basic sections to most solitaire games.

Almost all solitaire card games have foundation piles. These are the piles the cards are played on to eventually win the game. In most games the foundations start with Aces and build up to Kings. Cards played to a foundation pile cannot be moved again once placed.

Another important and common component to any solitaire game is the tableau. This is where most of the action takes place. Cards are played to these piles and can also be removed to be played on other piles including the other tableau piles. Most tableau piles are built up in sequence.

The reserve pile is found in about half of the best known solitaire games. There are two basic types of reserve pile. The first type serves as a placeholder to hold one card at a time. The second type of reserve is a pile of several cards that are usually used to fill spaces in other piles or to go directly to the foundation piles. No cards are ever played to this type of reserve pile.

Another common pile type is the stock. This is a pile of left over cards after the rest of the solitaire layout has been dealt. Cards are dealt out to a single pile or to the tableau to create more play possibilities. Often this pile can be flipped over and gone through again. This is known as a re-deal.

The fifth and final type of pile is known as the waste pile. This is where unplayable cards go to. The top card of this pile is always available to be played on to other piles. This pile can be flipped over and reused if the solitaire game allows a re-deal.


Other commonly used solitaire game terms.


Layout

The layout is the entire playing area for the solitaire game. The layout is created after the initial deal is completed. The layout contains the foundations, tableau, reserves, stock and waste piles.

Column

A column is a group of cards arranged in a straight vertical line running up and down or north and south. Columns can contain two or more single cards in a vertical line or just one pile of overlapped cards.

Row

A row is a group of cards arranged in a straight horizontal line running left and right or west and east. Rows can contain two or more single cards in a horizontal line or just one pile of overlapped cards.

Space

A space in a solitaire layout is an empty slot that may have contained cards at an earlier time in the game. In some games spaces can hold cards while in others they cannot. Many solitaire games, such as Spider solitaire, require one or more spaces to win the game.

Fan

A fan is a small overlapping pile of cards. Fans are common in large layouts and are used in solitaire games like La Belle Lucie.

Build

To build in solitaire means to add cards to a pile using certain rules. One common way of building is by numeric sequence up or down. Another way, which is usually done simultaneously with the numeric rule is to build by suit or by color.

Discard

A discard is any card that is removed from play in a solitaire game. Some games only use a partial deck, or eliminates some cards such as all the Kings. The unused cards are discarded at the start of the game.

Redeal

A redeal occurs when all the cards in the waste piles are gathered and turned over undisturbed to create a new stock. Another form of a redeal occurs when cards in the tableau are gathered and sometimes shuffled to create a new stock or to be redealt to the tableau itself.

Available Card

A card in a solitaire game is available if it can be lifted and played to another pile. Top cards on the waste pile, tableau and reserves are usually available for play on other piles in the solitaire layout

About the Author

Trisha Ellington works for Softgame Company, maker of card games, video poker and puzzles. She works on web sites, designs games and does graphic work. Softgame Company also makes solitaire card games.

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