Accordion, also called Accordion Solitaire, is a matching-card game intended for a single person, as with most other Solitaire games. Accordion is unconventional from other Patience game rules, as the tableau formed in Accordion is made with very different rules.
Although the name Accordion does not appear until the 1950s, there is a game from 1883 called The Idle Year with rules that are almost identical, with the only difference being that Player’s moves are compelled in Idle Year.
How to Play Accordion Solitaire?
Accordion is played using the standard Anglo-American 52 card deck. Once the deck has been shuffled, the deal begins.
Unlike in many games of Solitaire, the game of Accordion begins as the deal is taking place. The Player will deal, one by one, cards in a long continuous horizontal row of cards. If space does not permit this, simply make a grouping of rows, but treat them as though they are one contiguous line, such as when there are breaks in the lines of a body of text.
As the Player deals out these cards, they are able to stop the deal in order to make any legal moves they desire, before continuing the deal. The point of the game is to make a single stack of cards collected and placed in a specific order. This is known as the tableau.
In order to make a legal move in Accordion and form the proper tableau, a Player may only use the card to the immediate left, or 3rd to the left, of the card which they wish to move.
If the card to the immediate or 3rd left of the card which is to be moved is either the same suit (♥♦♣♠) or rank (Ace, 2-10, J, Q, K), then that card can be stacked upon that matching card.
For example, imagine the following string of cards:
J♥ K♣ 9♦ 8♣ 8♦
The Player could either move the 8♦ onto the 8♣ or the 9♦, as it matches the 8♣ rank, and the 9♦ suit. However, the best move here would be to move the 8♣ onto the K♣, and then the 8♦ onto the 9♦.
The top card of the tableau determines the rank and suit of the whole pile, meaning that the whole pile may be moved when the top card may be moved legally. Players may have multiple tableaus at once, however the game can only be won with a single, contiguous tableau.
Once the deal finishes, Players are able to make as many legal moves as they can. The game ends when no more legal moves are possible, or the Player has successfully completed their tableau.
- Only cards to the immediate left or 3rd from the left can be considered valid zones for cards, and even then they may only be valid for cards of the same rank or suit.
- There are some variations of the game that state if a Player may make a move, then they are compelled to do so. Such a rule would bring the game closer to Idle Year.
- If an illegal move is made, and it is not properly fixed before the game can continue, simply reshuffle the whole illegal stack into the deck, shuffle the whole deck, and continue the deal.
Accordion, like most Solitaire games, is a “negative score” game. The closer a score is to 0, the better a Player’s score. In this way, the “points” of Accordion can be thought more of as “Penalties” or “Penalty Points.”
Players should demerit themselves a single point for each card that remains uncombined into the largest tableau on the board.
For example, if a Player has multiple different tableaus, but the largest is 9 cards long, then the Player’s score would be 43 (52-9=43).
Imagine the following particular scenario in a hand of Accordion Solitaire:
8♠ 5♥ 7♦ 3♠ Q♦ 2♦ 3♦ 5♠ A♥ 6♣
This hand was created by drawing a random series of cards from a full 52-card well-shuffled deck. There are very few legal moves.
The purpose of this demonstration is to show that any random string of cards may not have many legal moves. There may be long periods during the deal where no immediate moves are available. That is alright, as tableaus are formed, more possible moves will be revealed.
The Player could place the Queen on top of the 7, and the 3 on top of the Queen. Once this has been done, the 5♠ will then be able to be stacked onto the 3♠.
- The more tableaus are formed, the more moves will become available. Take the example above, the 5♠ and 3♠ were not within the proscribed distance, but because of the double stack that occurred on the cards between them, the 5♠ and 3♠ began to close the distance, and could then be stacked.
- While much of the game is down to the luck of the draw, foresight is an important skill in the game that could save a Player from locking themselves out of a win. Plan moves ahead before you actually make them. This is a single-player card game, and as such there is no time limit. Do not waste your time planning every single card, but do consider the ramifications of stacking a card.
- Try to get all of your tableaus to be the same suit if you can. Don’t make a move just because its available to you. If two of your tableaus have ♠ as the top card, try not to stack ♠ unless you will be able to stack a tableau onto a tableau, combining a large number of cards into the stack at once.