Card games which can be played by yourself. (There are also solitaire games which are played without cards.) Solitaire is frequently used to refer to the most popular form, "Klondike." (Klondike Solitaire is also the most frequently run Windows program.)

Solitaire is the Bond girl in the eighth James Bond film, Live and Let Die. She has a useful knack for predicting the future. She knows that her gift is a heavenly one. One which will be taken away if it is violated by earthly love (i.e., sex!).

Solitaire spends most of the film escaping and being caught by Kananga (the bad guy). Not knowing the powers that be, Bond seduces her. Solitaire loses her powers (and virginity!) and she and Bond decide to run away. But alas, they are trapped by Kananga's men at the New Orleans airport. Kananga discovers that Solitaire has lost her powers and she becomes the intended victim of another voodoo rite. She happens to be rescued in the nick of time by Bond. Their escape leads them to Kananga's lair, where he tries to feed them to sharks. But, luck have it, Bond and Solitaire escape again!

Jane Seymour was perfect for the part of Solitaire. She was originally trained as a ballet dancer but had to abondon dancing when she developed cartilage trouble. She came to the casting call with a hat on. When she removed it, her long hair spilled out beautifully making an immediate and positive impact on the producers. She was immediately chosen for the part.
One of the things that I wanted to do while I was at Microsoft as an intern was to meet the man who wrote sol.exe, or the Solitaire Program for Windows. I did manage to briefly get to talk to him. He's quite a nice guy. He has two claims to fame:
  • First, he is proud of his position of being (and i will quote) "The man responsible for the greatest loss in productivity, without being criminal." He is really glad that he was able to waste so many people's days away, with what was originally a pet project.
  • Second, he broke the rules with solitaire. You see, at the time it was originally written, it was only a pet project that got approved for inclusion into Windows. It needed real card backings. So, one of the Microsoft internal artists did up a few pixely (but well done) backs, and those were to be the bitmap resources to be used. Well he was dating this girl at the time, and to impress her, he let her draw up the backs. At the last minute, he switched the two, making several superiors (and the artist) quite mad.

However, the two (the developer and the stealth solitaire artist) broke up, and nothing became of the relationship. The developer (whose name I unfortunately have lost), left Microsoft after many years very recently, enjoying his quiet social status in playing a hand in so much wasted time. Solitaire is one of the most loved (or hated) programs in all of the Windows bundle, and definately the most identifiable.

Where I come from, Solitaire is a game for one player, but played with a board and pegs, not playing cards. The pegs are arranged in a cross pattern as shown in the array below. In the classic game the initial position is as shown, with the central peg (3,3) removed. Only the locations shown below exist, it is not possible, for example, to move a peg to (1,1).

A piece moves by jumping the peg next to it, and landing on the other side, in a vacant location. The jumped peg is removed. Diagonal moves are not permitted: only horizontal and vertical.

So in the start position, there are just four legal moves. (3,1) can jump (3,2) (which is removed) and land in (3,3). Or (5,3) can jump into (3,3) via (4,3). There are clearly four of these symmetrical first moves.

The aim in the classical solution is to remove all the pegs by legal moves, leaving just one peg in the middle--location (3,3). There are a number of variants, however, in which the aim is to leave a variety of patterns remaining on the peg board.

This game always fascinated me, as I was never able to work out a solution by myself. We recently bought a nice wooden set for my daughter and I had to resort to the internet to find a solution to show her. Anyhow, here is one answer, out of the many alternatives.

Initial grid

            (2,0) (3,0) (4,0)

            (2,1) (3,1) (4,1)

(0,2) (1,2) (2,2) (3,2) (4,2) (5,2) (6,2)

(0,3) (1,3) (2,3) (3,3) (4,3) (5,3) (6,3)

(0,4) (1,4) (2,4) (3,4) (4,4) (5,4) (6,4)

            (2,5) (3,5) (4,5)

            (2,6) (3,6) (4,6)

One solution

(5,3) to (3,3) remove (4,3)
(4,5) to (4,3) remove (4,4)
(6,4) to (4,4) remove (5,4)
(6,2) to (6,4) remove (6,3)
(3,4) to (5,4) remove (4,4)
(6,4) to (4,4) remove (5,4)
(4,3) to (4,5) remove (4,4)
(1,4) to (3,4) remove (2,4)
(2,6) to (2,4) remove (2,5)
(3,4) to (1,4) remove (2,4)
(3,2) to (3,4) remove (3,3)
(1,2) to (3,2) remove (2,2)
(2,0) to (2,2) remove (2,1)
(3,2) to (1,2) remove (2,2)
(5,2) to (3,2) remove (4,2)
(4,6) to (2,6) remove (3,6)
(4,5) to (2,5) remove (3,5)
(4,1) to (2,1) remove (3,1)
(4,0) to (2,0) remove (3,0)
(0,4) to (2,4) remove (1,4)
(3,4) to (1,4) remove (2,4)
(2,6) to (2,4) remove (2,5)
(2,0) to (2,2) remove (2,1)
(2,3) to (2,1) remove (2,2)
(0,2) to (2,2) remove (1,2)
(3,2) to (1,2) remove (2,2)
(2,4) to (0,4) remove (1,4)
(0,4) to (0,2) remove (0,3)
(0,2) to (2,2) remove (1,2)
(2,1) to (2,3) remove (2,2)
(1,3) to (3,3) remove (2,3)

I've been playing a lot of solitaire lately. The urge struck me one day while I was at my favorite diner, having just finished reading the paper, and realizing I didn't have anywhere to be for an indefinite period of time.

So I broke out the deck of cards, which I keep in my inside lower right coat pocket. I started carrying a deck of cards there shortly after getting this jacket, attempting to realize the full potential of its dizzying number of pockets. I pulled the cards out of the box, and as I removed the jokers, I realized that this was a virgin deck, placed there fresh at the start of coat-wearing season this year.

It was about to get broken in.

I shuffled them without abandon, no sense taking it easy. Again and again I parted the cards, again and again I shuffled them, until their suit and numeric sequences were random and ready for the dealing.

Some hands of solitaire can't be won by any measure of luck or skill.

I realized this some time ago, but was lamenting on the fact once again as I layed the cards in sequence. Most hands, really, cannot be won, not by any means. Statistically, you have to wonder about that. What percentage of solitaire hands are a wash no matter how perfect you manipulate the cards? 50 percent? 75 percent? Perhaps more?

Several games in, an attractive waitress approaches me. "Are you winning?" she inquires. I don't skip a beat, after all, I'm educated. "It doesn't matter whether"

She cuts me off. "Don't even." She walks away giggling.

I've never met a random person who knew that punchline. There's a new one.


Yet I subject myself to this game, nothing better to do. Flip, move, flip, discard, flip, discard, flip, move, move, move. With each successful turn of the cards your exilhiration grows, your moves compounding, escalating, cascading, while an invisible status screen of life blips with each successive combo.

And then a deadend. You have to draw from the stack again. And you proceed like this until the stack is sapped, all of the cards have been turned over, and you've got maybe two aces to your credit. In Vegas, you'd be down 42 bucks.


Women are like...


Women are solitaire. I've come to realize this, and perhaps this is a phenomenon which only I've experienced, but it's all I know. I'd like to think I'm not the only human being who's feeling this, and to think I am would be pretty damned egotistical. The world doesn't revolve around me, etcetera etcetera. But maybe I'm just broken.

Women are a game which is unwinnable a large percentage of the time. Even those times where it is physically possible to solve them, that still requires turning the cards in like a seer.

You're so busy looking for that next ace, or for that red seven to pull the black six, that you miss a move that could've been made for the past four cards. Perhaps you bring down a black king, when you'd've preferred to bring down a red one, and then on the next turn, that red one comes up, and you've got nowhere to put it.

Or one of the most painful things of all - pulling a two, and having no ace or no three to put it on, and watching it get buried under jacks or nines.

I hung out with Vivi tonite. She just got her new apartment, more like a flat, really, and I was going to be the first person to see it. We drank, we talked, we listened to "Shine on You Crazy Diamond," when her CD player was being kind enough to recognize the burnt CD. At times, we were on the floor, cushioned by pillows, staring into each other's hyper-dilated eyes and giggling like schoolchildren.

There were so many moments where I could have kissed her. There were so many moments I could've reached across, brushed her cheek, and brought my face to hers. But I kept looking for that sign, I kept looking for that moment that wouldn't be.

And I lost the hand, not a single ace on deck.

She said she had to sleep, I understood. I offered her the bed, she insisted I take it. I insisted that she join me, she declined. It was only after unsuccessfully trying to sleep on the floor that she finally joined me, and even then, she couldn't sleep. "Would it be better if I left?"

In the darkness, I could sense her nod.

I don't know if I could've ever won that hand, because I can't go back and play every combination of the cards again. I haven't the slightest if she was irked by my presence, irked by my not making a move, or irked because she genuinely couldn't bring herself to sleep with me there.

Did I miss my opportunity to kiss her, or did I even have one? Three years ago, it was she who had said we should just be friends. It was she who had moved on. Doesn't she need to be the one who re-opens the door?

I'm not a mindreader. Subtlety escapes me. She knows this.

So if I could've won that hand, she'd have let me know this, right?

This is all I've ever known, really. Every situation I find myself in with a woman is a freshly dealt game of solitaire, and I know damn well that odds are, it's unwinnable from the get go. Even if the right combination of brilliant cardplay and intuition would allow me to take it to the finish, I'm still too chickenshit to move even that first card, afraid that by doing so, I'm going to make the game unwinnable.

I put the deck back in my coat, pay my bill, and leave. If I can't win the game...I just won't play it.

Then again, there are plenty more games of solitaire to be played. Giving up on the game in progress and letting inaction get the best of myself is no way to play the game. I could fuck it up. Fudging this one wouldn't be like messing up just any game; I've got something invested in this one. I've taken so much time, effort, and energy to try and play my cards as best I can, that making that one wrong move would certainly bring me to one of the lowest points I've ever been in my life...but damnit.

She's one that's not worth giving up on.

But maybe it's time to go for broke, bring that black king down from the stack, and hope for the best. Worst case scenario...?



I started a game of solitaire in 2005, and every day it's like I've won it again. Never stop playing.

Sol`i*taire" (?), n. [F. See Solitary.]


A person who lives in solitude; a recluse; a hermit.



A single diamond in a setting; also, sometimes, a precious stone of any kind set alone.

Diamond solitaires blazing on his breast and wrists. Mrs. R. H. Davis.


A game which one person can play alone; -- applied to many games of cards, etc.; also, to a game played on a board with pegs or balls, in which the object is, beginning with all the places filled except one, to remove all but one of the pieces by "jumping," as in draughts.

4. Zool. (a)

A large extinct bird (Pezophaps solitaria) which formerly inhabited the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigeuz. It was larger and taller than the wild turkey. Its wings were too small for flight. Called also solitary.


Any species of American thrushlike birds of the genus Myadestes. They are noted their sweet songs and retiring habits. Called also fly-catching thrush. A West Indian species (Myadestes sibilans) is called the invisible bird.


© Webster 1913.

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