Spider solitaire is a popular and challenging single player card game using two decks of cards. The object of the game is to arrange all 104 cards into complete suits from Ace to King. With skill, strategy, and a bit of luck, you can dramatically increase your chances of winning a game of spider solitaire. Here are some tips and techniques to help you win more often.
Understand the Game Rules and Objective
Spider solitaire uses two decks of 52 standard playing cards, totaling 104 cards. At the beginning of a game, 54 cards are dealt into 10 columns of overlapping cards. The remaining 50 cards become the draw pile.
The objective is to create complete suits from Ace to King by exposing cards and moving them between the 10 columns. You can only move cards from one column to another if the top card is one position lower than the card below it. For example, you can place a 7♥ on an 8♥.
Once all 104 cards have been played into complete stacks, you win the game! It takes skill, strategy and some luck to successfully clear all the cards.
Analyze the Initial Tableau
When starting a new game, take time to carefully analyze the initial table before making your first move. Look for key cards that will help you begin exposing and moving cards between columns.
Locate Aces and Kings
Finding Aces and Kings right away is ideal, as they are the foundation cards needed to begin building complete suits. If any Aces or Kings are visible in the initial layout, plan your strategy around moving them first.
Look for Empty Columns
Keep an eye out for empty columns with no cards. These empty spaces allow you to move groups of exposed cards between columns more freely. Move cards into the open columns whenever possible.
Identify Locked Cards
Some cards may already be “locked” or “obstructed” in the initial deal. These are cards trapped beneath other cards that cannot yet be moved. Make note of any locked cards you may need to eventually free.
Find Partially Exposed Suits
If you see many cards of the same suit already exposed in a column, focus first on fully exposing that suit as an early objective. Completing some low suits quickly can help free up additional options.
Thoroughly studying the initial tableau helps optimize decision making for your early moves. The initial layout can vary widely, so stay flexible in your strategy.
Smart Strategies to Follow
Beyond the starting layout, there are some helpful strategies to follow that will consistently improve your chances of winning spider solitaire games.
1. Expose Aces First
Exposing Aces provides the critical base you need to begin building complete suits. Whenever you spot an Ace, make sure it gets moved to an empty column right away. Then you can start placing incrementally higher cards of that suit on top of it.
2. Maximize Empty Columns
Empty columns are the key to navigating and completing suits. Whenever possible, keep at least 2-3 columns free as space to move chains of properly sequenced cards into position. Too many locked columns can lead to getting stuck.
3. Move Cards Down, Not Up
Try to always move cards in descending order between columns. For example, moving a 5♠ onto a 6♠ is preferred to moving a King onto an Ace. Moving down preserves the empty columns you need to keep gameplay smooth.
4. Prioritize Exposing Kings
While Aces are needed first, exposing Kings should become a priority soon after. Having Kings available in empty columns provides critical space to park partial descending sequences as you arrange suits.
5. Sequence by Suit, Not by Number
It is better to expose and sequence cards by suit (Hearts, Spades etc) rather than by number (Aces, Twos, etc). Moving by suit allows for more flexibility in navigating cascading chains of cards.
6. Turn Over Cards Even With No Plays
Don’t get discouraged if you can’t make any immediate plays after turning over new stock cards. Turn them over consistently, as new options will open up as you free more table cards. Newly exposed cards enable future moves.
Following these strategic tips will help you logically sequence moves and make steady progress exposing and completing suits. But sometimes the cards still don’t cooperate! When faced with no productive moves, here are some last resort tips…
Techniques When Stuck With No Plays
Despite your best strategic efforts, you’ll inevitably encounter situations where no productive moves are possible due to locked cards. Here are some techniques to get yourself “un-stuck”:
|Look ahead multiple moves||Examine the board for any sequence of moves, even if it takes multiple steps over several turns.|
|Move misplaced cards||Reposition misplaced cards clogging up useful columns to open space.|
|Take risks||Move sequences up-stack instead of down if it gets key cards exposed for later.|
|Move cards to empty columns||Park them there temporarily if needed, even if disrupting a build.|
|Start new sequences||Begin new downward sequences with available cards to expose more cards.|
Flexibility is key. Don’t get stuck relying on one strategy. Experiment with creative moves to get yourself out of a jam!
Helpful Tips to Finish the Game
As you expose more cards and complete more suits, focus shifts to endgame strategy. Here are some final tips to win at spider solitaire:
- Turn over stock cards as fast as possible – Don’t leave any potential moves undiscovered!
- Consolidate partially completed suits – Get all the same suits together, even if breaking up completed sequences.
- Keep an empty column open – An empty column lets you sequence final cards.
- Move “extra” cards to the bottom – Shift unused cards down to make room for useful ones on top.
- Look for card cycles – Spot card rotations that let you shift multiple cards between columns.
- Move completed sequences to bottom – Keep them together but out of the way.
- Don’t give up! – Stick with it, even if you need to undo moves that looked promising. With persistence, new possibilities open up.
Spider solitaire requires sharp analytical skills and nimble card maneuvering. Follow these tips on exposing key cards, maintaining empty columns, moving efficiently, and endgame strategies and your winning percentage will climb! With practice, completing all 10 suits from Ace to King happens more frequently.
Enjoy the intellectual stimulation and satisfaction of winning at this classic and engaging single player card game. Spider solitaire provides an enjoyable solo activity requiring concentration, planning, and pattern recognition. Challenge yourself to hone your skills – and defeat the spider!