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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How do you set up FreeCell?
The game starts with eight columns of cards with 52 total cards. The first four columns have seven cards, while the other four have six, all in random order. They are flipped faced forward so you can see them all. This arrangement is called the tableau.
The cards from there will need to go to the homecells, also called the foundation. There are four foundation cells for each card suit - Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and Clubs. You will need to order them starting from the ace and finishing with the king, making sure that each suit is in its homecell. The freecells are used like temporary holders, where you are able to place the last card in the tableau column to move it out of the way.
How to play FreeCell Solitaire?
FreeCell is a combination of luck and strategy. The luck is from what cards you're dealt, while the tactic comes into play when you need to prepare and calculate for several moves ahead. On the board, you have four blank fields on the left and the right. The ones on the left are called freecells, and the ones on the right are the homecells or the foundation. The goal of the game is to move all cards into the foundation.
When you start the game, the cards that you are available to move are the ones that are on the bottom of the columns. In other words you can move cards that have no cards on top of it. If it's an ace, you can move it to a foundation. Moving a card to a foundation cell means that you will need to move them in a specific order from ace to king, making sure every card in that field is with the same suit. For example, if you moved the Ace of Diamond to the foundation cell, the next card you can place on top of that is the Two of Diamonds.
When you move a card to a freecell, the only rule you need to follow is that you can have only one card in one freecell at a certain time. Apart from that, you are free to move any uncovered card at the bottom of the tableau there at any time. Even though you are available to use the freecells as much as you want, try to keep them available for future cards you may need to move around.
Before the game begins, you will need to come up with a tactic and plan a few moves ahead of time. This will enable you to plan how to move cards to the foundation or free them to be moved to a freecell or below another card in the tableau columns. To move a free card from one position to another in the tableau (not a homecell or freecell), there are three rules:
- It needs to be the last card in the column, uncovered
- The card you intend to place on also needs to be the last card in the column, uncovered
- The card you move needs to be one card lower and with the opposite color than the card you plan to put it below.
- Here is an example: if you have Seven of Hearts in one column and Six of Spades in another, you can place the Six below the Seven. On the other hand, if you have Seven Hearts and a Six of Diamonds, then you cannot move the Six on top of the Seven because they are the same color. Below each black card will need to go a red one, and it needs to be one card lower – five below six, queen below the king, and so on.
- During the process of clearing up the tableau board, you will come into a situation where you will manage to clear out an entire column and be left with seven or less. In that case, you can grab any free card and move it to an empty column slot. It doesn't matter which card it is, as long as it is a free one.
- The advantage of the game is that all cards are uncovered, meaning that there will be no surprises, and you have the option to plan well ahead. Since the game randomizes the cards, there may be a situation where you will be left with no options or possible moves. There are ways of avoiding this, but if you don't manage to do so, restart the game and try again.
Learn more with our guide on how to play FreeCell.
What are other games similar to FreeCell that I should try?
If you like FreeCell, you may also like Spider Solitaire. Also, don't forget to play our game of the day for Classic Solitaire also known as Klondike Solitaire. And if you're looking for new types of games, we have over 500 different solitaire card games. Good luck!
Are there different versions of FreeCell?
Yes. There are variations in the number of Freecells, Columns or Decks. Some Freecell variants are played with two decks of cards. Many others vary on the number of columns or freecells. Freecell itself is often played with less than 4 freecells, in order to make the game more challenging.
Are all FreeCell games winnable?
Nearly every FreeCell game can be won. Only a very few FreeCell games are unwinnable. Using the basic deal numbering system that virtually all FreeCell games use, game #11982 is the first unwinnable game of FreeCell.
I'm not familiar with FreeCell -- why should I be interested in it? What is its attraction?
Aside from the fun time you can get from playing FreeCell, it offers serious brain training exercises as they force the brain to plan and visualize outcomes. In fact, some scientists found that playing it may be able to distinguish between persons with memory problems and cognitively healthy seniors when adapted with cognitive performance assessment algorithms.
What is the history of FreeCell?
FreeCell is one of the most popular card games you can find on most computers. 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 popularized in 1991 when it came preinstalled with every version of Windows. Just like any other card game, there is a unique set of rules that a player must follow to win the game. The game is played with one deck of cards, and even though there is an infinite number of possible deals, don't expect to be able to learn all of them. Mathematically speaking, there are 1.75 times 10 to the power of 64 possible games.
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 leveraging the freecells. Trying to solve the game pushes your critical thinking and strategic thinking skills, which helps you stay sharp outside of aging. In fact, a study by 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 the minimum moves to beat FreeCell?
Based on our analysis of thousands of games, you can beat a FreeCell game with a minimum of 48 moves. Not every game can be won like this. It will depend on the cards you are dealt.
- 4/20/22: Now you can change the cards designs with our library of custom decks found on our main game. It includes card decks from notable designers as well as other fun themes.