Solitaire is one of my favorite go-to games. Each game lasts around 15 minutes and can be played with just one person. Solitaire is extremely easy to learn but deceptively hard to master. The goal is to arrange cards in descending red-black or black-red order to free all cards and build four ordered stacks for each suit starting from Aces. The most common version of Solitaire is called Three Turn Klondike. This means that you have no wiggle room and can only access every third card in the stockpile. (In contrast, Two Turn Klondike is an easier game with every other card available.) My personal preference is to play online.
Out of all possible games of three turn klondike, only ~80% are winnable. On worldofsolitaire.com, globally only 13.51% of games are won. For intuition, we can imagine a non-winnable game as one where all the stack face up cards are black and every third card in the discard pile is also black (and assume none of these cards are Aces).There are no possible moves since only red cards can be placed onto black cards.
Here are some observations and strategies from my hours of play:
Deal with your face down cards first
This is the #1 rule. The face down cards are the hardest to handle and offer the least mobility. If you have the option of freeing a face down card or playing a card from the stockpile, it is strongly advised to play the card on the tableau. In particular, you should target the longest face down piles. This also involves playing Kings on free spaces that correspond to the right red-black parity as the longest piles.
Be mindful of parity
Solitaire is a game of red-black or black-red combinations. If you already have a red King on the field and have the option of placing the second red King or a black King, go for the black King. After placing a black Queen on the first red King, you have one free black Queen and two free red Queens remaining. Having more diverse stacks makes increases the probability of playing all of your pieces and winning the game.
Keep all your options open
If you have two piles that can collapse onto each other, you will either free a face down card or an empty column for a King. This move is advisable if you are freeing a face down card and only advisable for the latter case if there is a King immediately available. Otherwise, you are reducing the possibility of playing two potential new cards to just one.
Try to create stacks of the same suits
Especially for the end game, it may become useful to create stacks of the same suit to work up to free a stuck face down card. Understandably, this may not be possible for many cases but is important to keep in mind when you do have a choice. For example, let’s say you have a 7S that is blocking several face down cards and the 5H/4S are both unavailable. If you have piles of 7C-6D-5C-4D and 6C-5D-4S, then you can release all of these cards and move the 7S to the previous location of the 7C to free the face down card. This is known as having “smooth” stacks and is particularly important for 4–5–6–7–8 chains. This rule can be broken if your move frees face down cards, which takes priority.
Sometimes you need to break the rules
Of the people with high win percentages, close the the 80% ideal, they are using Control-Z and restarting the card arrangement. This is completely fair game in solitaire as sometimes, the best play may not be the one that is most strategic. Trial and error can help you through the more difficult game setups. Understandably, this is quite frustrating but with practice, spotting these cases will become easier.
My last tip is to just look twice, specially at the top face up cards on the tableau. There may be new combinations available that you just didn’t notice! You may be tempted to check “automatically play obvious moves” (can be toggled in the website settings) but this makes it harder to play strategically and gives you less overall control of the game.
Please let me know if you come across any other rules that are helpful!