Spider Solitaire is a single-player card game known as a patience game. It is the most popular version of Solitaire, and comes installed on every personal copy of Windows 7, 8, and 10.
This can be found by clicking on the Microsoft symbol in the bottom-left corner of the screen. This button is also known as the Home Button. From there, it can be found in the “apps” section of the Home menu. You can also search “Solitaire” in the search bar next to the Home button.
How to Play Spider Solitaire?
In order to play Spider Solitaire with cards, a single deck is not enough. Instead, take two standard Anglo-American 52-card decks, and shuffle them together. The game can be played with only one deck, but it is traditional to use two decks in order to increase the length of the game.
As it is a “patience game”, also known colloquially as a “time-waster”, the intent of the game is to take up as much time as possible. People often play Solitaire while they are waiting for something, as it is an easy game to pick up and put down.
The goal of Spider Solitaire is to line up rows of cards, sequentially, from the same suit. In the two-deck version, 8 columns of cards must be formed. In order to form a column, or “tableau”, the cards must follow specific instructions:
- A tableau can only be removed from the board once it is fully descending: K, Q, J, 10-2, A. Aces are low.
- The cards must always be in descending order. It is never possible to place a 5 on top of a 7. The 6 must be placed first, then the 5.
- All cards within a tableau must come from the same suit. ♣ cards cannot be in the same tableau as ♦ cards.
- Once all flipped up cards in a particular stack or column are moved to another stack, the new bottom card may be flipped over to reveal it.
- Sequences of cards may be moved, and may be broken up if desired. For example, a tableau of 6, 5, 4 can be picked up and moved to a tableau of 10, 9, 8, 7, assuming they are the same suit. A tableau of 10, 9, 8, 7 could also be broken up, for example, if another position on the board has another 10 of the same suit. The 9, 8, 7 may all be picked up as one stack, and moved to the other matching 10.
The game is over once all cards are removed from the board.
How to Set-Up
The Spider Solitaire card game can be set-up with only one deck, although it is more traditional to set-up with two decks instead.
Setting up one-deck Spider
In one-deck Spider, also known as Spiderette, one deck is shuffled and its cards laid out in a “stair-case” manner. The first tableau will be a single card, then the next will be two, the next three, and so on, until there are 7 tableaus. The card at the bottom of each tableau will be flipped up, and the rest will be flipped down.
Setting up two-deck Spider
In the more traditional two-deck Spider, 10 stacks of cards will be made instead. The first 54 cards of the deck will be placed down in these stacks, with the remaining 50 retained in a deck. The first four stacks will have 6 cards, and the last six stacks will have 5 cards in them. In all ten stacks, the card at the end of the stack will be flipped face up. These will be the play cards.
The deck of 50 remaining cards may be used to deal, ten cards per deal, to the stacks of cards already situated. The cards dealt will be face down, until flipped up by normal game conditions.
Rules of Spider Solitaire
The Spider Solitaire rules can be summarized as follows:
- The game is not always winnable. About 1/3 games are mathematically possible to be completed.
- Cards must be in descending order from the top, ascending order from the bottom, and must all match the same suit.
- Cards cannot be moved unless they have somewhere valid to go. A 7♠ cannot be picked up and then placed on an 8♣. It could only be placed on an 8♠.
- Once a tableau is completed from K-A, then the entire stack may be picked up and removed from play.
- Although basic Solitaire rules include all four suits, it is possible to play a “two-suit” version of the game based on the colors of the cards, rather than their symbols. In 2 suit Solitaire, Spades and Clubs are combined into one “Black” suit, while Hearts and Diamonds are combined into one “Red” suit.
Physical Solitaire does not normally keep score however most digital forms of Spider Solitaire include some form of score keeping.
Although there is no standardized way in order to determine one’s score, two popular forms Spider Solitaire scoring include points awarded for each suit completed, points deducted for each move taken, and a timer that contributes to the score upon the completion of the game if possible. Microsoft’s digital scoring method makes it possible to receive a score, even if the game is not winnable.
When playing by yourself, it is not necessary to keep score, however a scoring system could be devised. There is no standard way to score the game, and therefore it is up to you how you would like to keep score.
Popular “events” in the game which can be scored include flipping unturned cards, completing a suit or tableau, removing cards from the board, or drawing cards from the deck.
A possible Spider Solitaire hand at the beginning of the game might include the following cards flipped up at the bottom of their stacks:
A♥, 4♣, 10♣, J♣, 2♥, 5♦, 5♣, 9♣, 8♣, 7♣, 10♦
The 7♣ can be picked up and stacked on the 8♣, which can then be stacked and placed on the 9♣, which can then be picked up and stacked on the 10♣, resulting in a stack of 10-8♣
Strategy & Tips
As part of a a good Spider strategy it is important to keep the below in mind:
- Empty the larger stacks first. Due to the fact that there are more cards in the stack, it is more likely that you will be able to find cards that you need in those piles.
- Only kings can fill empty Tableau spots at the top of the stack, meaning that emptying a tableau without a king available to fill it will result in losing an entire tableau to place cards in, limiting the Player’s ability to move cards around and “hold” them while they find matching cards to complete the tableau. A Player’s Spider Solitaire strategy can be completely destroyed if this rule is forgotten.
- Always reveal the first card from the deck as your first move, before doing anything else with the stacks. This is a free card that potentially could begin a tableau.
- Building piles is important, but the real trick to winning is revealing the hidden cards. If as many hidden cards as possible are not discovered, then completed tableaus cannot be created and the game cannot be won.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many cards do you lay out?
This depends if you are playing Spider, or Spiderette. In the first, 54 cards are initially placed. In latter, only 28 out of the 52 cards are placed, the rest going into the deck.
Does Spider Solitaire always have a solution?
No, it is not always possible to win a game of Spider even if you play perfectly, simply due to the rules of the game. When playing optimally, about 1/3 of Spider games can be solved. Mistakes made by the player, particularly real blunders like clearing a tableau with no King to replace it, can further reduce those chances of victory.
What is the lowest score possible in Spider?
This depends on the scoring method being used, however in Microsoft’s digital version of Solitaire, the Player starts the game with 500 points, and loses 1 point for each move made, and gains 50 points for each Tableau cleared. In theory, it is possible to have an infinitely negative score, if the Player can somehow keep making moves without locking themselves out of the solution or completing the game.
Why do I keep losing at Spider Solitaire?
If you are having trouble winning even a single game of Spider Solitaire, it is possible that you simply do not understand the rules. Be sure to review them, and understand the key mechanics of the game before playing it.
This is not exactly a self-explanatory game, and there are many kinks to it that have to be figured out. Although this can be done with trial and error, that could take a very long time.