History of Solitaire

Michael Sokolove

Solitaire, also known as patience in some countries, is a popular single-player card game that has been around for centuries. The exact origin of the game is unclear, but it is believed to have originated in either France or Germany in the 18th century. From there, it quickly spread across Europe and eventually made its way to America, where it became a beloved pastime for many. Try to play this wonderful game – Solitaire Online.

Evolution of Solitaire in Europe

Solitaire began evolving into its current form in Europe during the 18th century. One of the earliest recorded versions of the game was called “Patience,” which was played with a smaller deck of cards than modern solitaire and involved moving cards between the tableau piles and the foundations.

Another popular European version of solitaire was “Spider,” which was first described by Lady Adelaide Cadogan in her book “Illustrated Games of Patience” in 1870. This game involved arranging cards in ten tableau piles and trying to move them into four foundation piles.

Popularity of Solitaire in America

Solitaire became particularly popular in America during the late 19th century, when it was often played by prospectors heading west during the Gold Rush. The game was a way to pass the time during long journeys and often helped miners stave off boredom during the long, dark nights of winter.

One reason solitaire was so popular in America was that it was easy to play and required no special equipment or opponents. Even people who couldn’t read or speak English could learn to play solitaire quickly and enjoyably.

Origins of Solitaire

One of the earliest references to solitaire can be found in a German book called “Das neue Königliche L’Hombre-Spiel” (The New Royal Game of L’Hombre) from 1710. The book describes a game called “Klondike,” which was similar to modern-day solitaire. However, this game was not played with cards, but rather with tiles or wooden disks.

Another early ancestor of solitaire was a French game called “La Belle Lucie.” This game was played with eighteen piles of cards, each containing one card less than the previous pile. The goal was to remove all of the cards from the table to the foundation piles by following specific rules for card placement.

Introduction of Playing Cards

Playing cards were introduced to Europe in the 14th century, and soon after, variations of solitaire began to emerge. One such variation was “Le Cadran,” which was played with a full deck of cards and thirty-five tableau piles.

In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, European nobility began playing solitaire as a way to pass the time. The game was often played with elaborate decks of cards featuring ornate designs and gold leaf. These decks were expensive, and only the wealthy could afford them.

Americanization of Solitaire

Solitaire arrived in America in the late 18th century, and over time, it became a popular pastime for people of all ages and social classes. The game was often played with simple decks of cards, which were affordable and readily available.

One of the most popular versions of solitaire in America is “Klondike.” This game was named after the Klondike gold rush that occurred in the late 19th century. Many prospectors played this game to pass the time during long, cold winters.

Another popular version of solitaire in America is “Freecell.” This game was developed in the 1970s by a computer programmer named Paul Alfille. He was looking for a way to create a solitaire game that would challenge him intellectually. Freecell became an instant hit among computer users, and it is now included in many operating systems.

Impact of Technology

The invention of computers and the internet has brought solitaire to a whole new generation of players. Today, there are countless online versions of solitaire available, including multiplayer options where players can compete against each other.

In addition to computerized versions of solitaire, there are also various mobile apps that allow players to enjoy the game on their smartphones or tablets. These apps often include additional features, such as daily challenges and achievements, to keep players engaged and interested.


Solitaire is a timeless game that has been enjoyed by people all over the world for centuries. From its humble origins in Europe to its widespread popularity in America and beyond, solitaire has proven to be an enduring pastime that continues to evolve with the times. Whether you prefer playing with a deck of cards or on your computer or mobile device, solitaire is a classic game that offers endless entertainment and challenges for players of all skill levels.