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Spider Solitaire Overview

Spider Solitaire is a computerized game that requires only one player.
It is played using two 52-card decks of regular playing cards.
The game may also be played without a computer using two physical decks.

There are three main game areas:

  1. The tableau where the action occurs
  2. The stock area where cards are kept waiting to be dealt
  3. The foundation area where assembled suits are displayed
Spider Solitaire Game Areas
Game areas: The tableau (1), The stock (2), The foundations (3)

The tableau (1) is subdivided horizontally into 10 equal unmarked areas, often called columns.


The concept of a run is the same as for very many other card games except that in Spider Solitaire, only descending runs are significant. For example, the card series {9, 8, 7, 6}, where the 9 is highest on the screen, and the 6 is lowest, is a run.
However, the series {6, 7, 8, 9}, is not considered a run in Spider Solitaire.
A run in which all of its cards share the same suit is called a suited run; otherwise, if it is known to contain more than one suit, it may be referred to as an unsuited run. For example, (H stands for "Hearts", C for "Clubs") the series {4H, 3H, 2H} is a suited run and the series {4H, 3C, 2H} in an unsuited run.

As with many card games, runs are essential, although only descending runs are significant in Spider Solitaire.
The player may move only a suited run (irrelevant for 1 suit), which may be a little as one card or as many as 12.
Moving cards is accomplished by dragging them to another column or simply clicking on the top-most card of the run.

Example of runs
Example of runs - Run 1 is unsuited and cannot be moved, runs 2,3 and 4 are Suited runs and can be moved (Run 2 does not include 10 of clubs)

Suited runs can be moved into an empty column (a column in which all its cards have been removed) or onto a rank that extends the run being moved, but the accepting card need not have the identical suit as the suited run being moved.
For example, the jack-ten-9 run of hearts could be placed onto the queen of diamonds, which is not a heart.


The game consists of 6 rounds of play, the initial round following the initial setup and 5 more rounds, each initiated by the player clicking in the stock area, which causes a face-up card to be dealt into each of the 10 columns.
Play then continues as explained. You cannot deal cards if any column contains no cards.

The object of the game is to assemble complete sets of all the ranks (as shown in figure 3), from the king down to the ace, all of the identical suit.
When this occurs the complete set automatically removed from the tableau and displayed in the foundation (as shown on figure 4).
When all 8 suits are built, the tableau is empty of cards, and the game is won.

Build runs by suit and rank
Build runs by suit and rank
Completed sets are automatically removed from the tableau
Completed sets are automatically removed from the tableau

The game may be played with 1-suit, the easy level, with 2-suits, the intermediate level, or 4-suites, the hard level.
Most players prefer the 2-suit level as it provides a bit of a challenge without being overly difficult.

Steve N. Brown
I hold a master's degree in mathematics. As well as solving difficult math problems, I've always enjoyed playing games of strategy because they challenge me to think. So, when Spider Solitaire became popular around the turn of the century, it was very easy for me to get hooked on the game. At that time, there were no good books on how to play the game and the online advice was also very poor. So, I learned how to play the game on my own through experimentation, careful observation, and an awful lot of practice. One thing led to another and, eventually, I wrote a book on the topic: 'Spider Solitaire Winning Strategies'.

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