FreeCell layoutFreeCell is a popular solitaire game that, like several games of that category, achieved popularity by being included in the Microsoft Windows operating system. FreeCell appears there as a more strategic alternative to the popular Klondike (which is simply titled “Solitaire”); it is sometimes said that every FreeCell deal is winnable. While this is not exactly the case, and luck does play a factor, FreeCell is certainly a game in which skill is necessary to pull off a win.

Object of FreeCell

The object of FreeCell is to move all 52 cards to the foundation piles.


FreeCell uses one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. It would be pretty awesome if you used Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards. Just sayin’.

Shuffle and deal a row of eight cards. Then deal another row of eight cards overlapping the first, and so on until the entire deck is exhausted. You will be left with a tableau with four columns of cards with seven cards each and four columns with six cards each.

Above the first four columns are four empty spaces referred to as free cells. To the top right are four empty spaces called the foundations. Refer to the diagram for an example layout.

Game play

The majority of the game involves moving cards within the tableau and to and from the free cells. The free cells, as their name implies, are free to contain any card; a card may be moved from the tableau to the free cells at any time, and cards may be moved from the free cells to any other legal location at any time. Each free cell can only contain one card at a time (so a total of four cards may be in the free cells at any given moment).

Card movement in the tableau follows similar rules to those in Klondike. Cards rank in their usual order, with aces low (K, Q, J, 10, … 2, A). Face-up cards may be moved so that they are on top of a card of the opposite color and one higher rank. For example, the J♦ may be placed on either the Q♣ or the Q♠. Empty spaces formed in the tableau may be filled by any card.

Cards may only be moved one at a time. To move a series of cards, the cards must be moved one at a time into the free cells, then moved back out in reverse order. For example, to move a 5-4-3 run onto a 6, the 3 must be moved into a free cell, then the 4 into a cell, then the 5 moved onto the 6, then the 4 from the free cell onto the 5, then finally the 3 onto the 4. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep the free cells as clear as is practical to make the movement of long strings of cards possible.

The first card that is moved to each foundation pile must be an ace. Foundation piles are built up by suit and sequence thereafter; the A♣ may have the 2♣ played upon it, then the 3♣, and so on up to the K♣. The game is won when the entire deck has been played to the foundations.

See also