The term “FreeCell” is derived from the four empty cells above the tableau which are used to store cards temporarily. Unlike most of the other solitaire games, all cards in FreeCell Solitaire are dealt face-up, allowing the player to make logical decisions without having to guess. Since the player can analyze the outcomes of moves before making them, almost all FreeCell games can be won with strategic play.
Over the years, there have been similar games, but the modern version of FreeCell was invented by Paul Alfille, who implemented the first computerized version of the game in 1978.
Standard 52-card deck
To build up four foundation piles in ascending suit sequence (Ace to King)
FreeCell Solitaire consists of three different types of piles:
- The FreeCells – The four empty cells on the upper left side
- The Foundations (HomeCells) – The four empty cells on the upper right side
- The Tableau – The main table made of eight piles
After thoroughly shuffling the 52-card deck, eight cards are dealt face up in a row to start the tableau. Five more rows of eight cards are dealt on top of the first cards, forming eight columns of six cards each. The other four cards are dealt on the first four columns such that the first four columns contain seven cards while the last four columns contain six cards each. All cards are dealt face up. The objective is to build up all cards on the four foundations in ascending suit sequence (from Ace to King), and the player wins when all cards are moved to the foundations.
- Move a card or packed cards from one Tableau column to another. The card at the end of each tableau pile is available to play. The player can play the card onto another tableau column to form a descending sequence of alternate colors.
- Move a single card to a FreeCell. The player can move the top card of a tableau column, Free Cell, or Foundation to an empty FreeCell. Each FreeCell can only contain one card at a time.
- Move a card from a FreeCell. The player can move a card from a FreeCell onto a tableau pile or the Foundation. The game allows the player to move only one card at a time between tableau columns, but the four cells can be used to move a group of cards in the proper sequence. The number of cards a player can move at once is equal to the empty FreeCells available plus one. Therefore, the more the FreeCells, the more the packed cards a player can move.
- Move a card to the Foundations. The player can move a card from the FreeCells or the exposed card of a tableau pile to the foundations, ordered by suit and rank.
Tips & Tricks
- Analyze the layout before making the first move to locate the low cards and Aces in the tableau piles
- Avoid using the FreeCells to enable you to move a larger group of cards. Instead, create packed sequences of cards in the tableau piles.
- Try to clear out as many tableau columns as possible. An empty tableau column is better than an empty FreeCell because it can hold more cards. Check columns that don’t have any Kings as a King can’t be played on top of another card.
- Always move the Aces onto the Foundations whenever they become available.
- Fill an empty tableau column with a packed sequence of cards of alternating colors. This will release the lower rank cards.