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Spider Solitaire

Hello and welcome to the Spider Solitaire App! Spider Solitaire is a popular patience game, mostly because of its difficulty level which makes it an interesting logical puzzle. This version of the game is available online and free for everyone to use.

Overview

Like most other patience games, Spider Solitaire is played by one player, and the objective is to sort cards by rank and suit and place them in the foundation fields at the top of the game board. What distinguishes Spider Solitaire from other variants of the game is that here, the player has to assemble piles of ordered cards on the game board and the stack can only be transferred onto the foundation field if it is complete from Ace to King. This differs from other solitaire games (like Klondike or Freecell), in which the player moves cards to foundation fields one-by-one, starting with the Aces. Moreover, Spider Solitaire is played with two decks, unlike other forms of solitaire that are played with only one.

The board consists of ten fanned down tableaus, on which cards are laid face down, except for the topmost cards (this means that the card on the top of the stack, i.e. the one that is not covered by any other card, is actually at the bottom when you look at the game board, since the tableaus are fanned down). The player has to arrange the cards by suit and rank by moving them between tableaus. Only stacks of cards that are sorted by suit and sequence can be moved at once. Otherwise, there are no limits on the cards being moved (unlike in Freecell, for example, where the size of the moveable stack depends on the number of free cells available). In addition to the ten tableaus, the board also consists of eight foundations that are in the top-right corner of the board, and a stock that is found in the top-left corner of the board.

Instructions

General Rules

  1. Whenever there are no more suitable moves available, the player can draw cards from the stock. Drawing cards from the stock proceeds as follows: the player needs to make sure that there are no empty tableaus. If there is an empty tableau, then cards cannot be drawn from the stock. This means that it is possible to lock yourself into a situation where there are not enough cards on the board to be able to put at least one in each tableau, and you cannot draw more cards from the stock, because some tableaus are empty. Try to avoid this situation and never let the number of cards on the board drop below ten. If there are no empty tableaus, the player then draws ten cards from the stock and places one card face up on top of every tableau.
  2. A card (or a stack of cards) can only be moved from one tableau to another if the card(s) being moved (or the card at the bottom of the moved stack) is one rank lower than the card on which it is being placed. The suit of these two cards does not matter; however, if the cards have a different suit, then you will not be able to move them together later on.
  3. You can place any card in an empty tableau.
  4. For a stack to be movable, all cards need to be in sequence and have the same suit.
  5. When you create a stack of thirteen cards of the same suit from Ace to King, you must collect these cards and then move them to a foundation field at the top of the game board. The game does this automatically.
  6. The game is played with two decks, i.e. with 104 cards.
  7. Spider Solitaire has a distinct scoring system. You start with a score of 500, and every move (including undos) subtracts 1 point from your score. Also, whenever you assemble a full stack and the cards are transferred to a foundation field, you will receive 100 points. As a result, the objective of the game is to put all cards in the foundation fields using the least possible number of moves. It also follows that undoing a move is allowed, and is treated the same as any other move. Undoing moves is especially useful when you play at higher difficulty levels.
  8. It is important to keep building sequential stacks, especially with cards of the same color. It is also important to uncover as many cards as possible - even if this sometimes means creating stacks with multiple colors. Draw cards from the stock only when there are no more useful moves left, or when the moves that are left are certain to bring mess, rather than order. Finally - and this is very important for higher difficulties - clear one of the tableaus as soon as possible. Having an empty tableau greatly increases your ability to sort cards in other tableaus, as you can use it to temporarily store any card or stack of cards.

The game is played in three variants, which have varying difficulty levels.

  1. 1-suit Spider Solitaire is a game that is played only with cards of a single suit. This is the easiest difficulty, because every sequential stack built by the player is moveable, and it is almost always solvable.
  2. 2-suit Spider Solitaire is more difficult because it is played with two suits. Usually, these are two suits of opposite colors. That is, one suit is black (Clubs or Spades) and one suit is red (Hearts or Diamonds). In this variant of the game, you can build stacks using both available suits; however, the stacks are only moveable if they are of a single suit. Although they are considerably harder to solve than 1-suit games, 2-suit games are still often solvable, so long as you put enough thought and effort into it.
  3. 4-suit Spider Solitaire is the hardest, and may even initially seem impossible to win - but eventually, with a lot of patience and determination, you may be able to solve some of the games. Its difficulty comes from the fact that the game uses two complete decks, and so there are four suits to play with. As in the lower difficulty settings, you can place a card regardless of its suit on another card, as long as the destination card has a rank that is higher by one. However, in order to build moveable stacks, you still need cards of the same suit. This means that, for any given card, there are only two cards out of 104 in the entire game that you can place it on to build a moveable stack. And there is little chance that one of these two cards is going to actually be available on the board. As a result, a flawless player can only win up to around 1 in 3 games.

Solving Example

Spider Solitaire has three difficulty levels. Here is an example of how to successfully start the easiest difficulty level, 1-suit Spider Solitaire. This variant of the game uses two decks of cards of a single suit.


With a 1-suit, it is often possible to make a lot of moves right from the start. In this example, we can make three moves immediately. Let’s move the 4 onto the 5, the left-most 2 onto the 3, and the right-most 6 onto the 7.

In the second round, we can move the stack consisting of 2 and 3 located in the fourth tableau onto the 4 in the eighth tableau. Let’s also move the 9 onto the 10.

Now, we’ll move the 10 in the fourth tableau onto the Jack in the fifth tableau. We will also move the stack of 9 and 10 in the sixth tableau onto the Jack in the seventh tableau. Finally, let’s move the 4-card stack in the eighth tableau onto the 6 in the ninth tableau.

We keep on sorting cards out. Place 10 from the fourth tableau onto the Jack. Then, let’s move the 8 onto the 9 in the seventh tableau. Finally, move 9 from the eighth tableau onto the 10 in the fifth tableau.

Now, we can make a big move and get the entire stack in the ninth tableau and place it on the 8 in the seventh tableau.

Unfortunately, at this stage, there are no more useful moves that we can make. The only thing left to do is to draw cards from the stock.

Let’s clean up the mess that has been created by the newly-arrived cards. Place the 4 from the second tableau onto the 5 in the tenth tableau. Move the Jack from the eighth tableau onto the Queen in the fourth tableau. Finally, let’s move the 7 in the sixth tableau onto the 8 in the fifth tableau.

Move the Queen and the Jack from the fourth tableau onto the King in the eighth tableau. Let’s also move the 6 from the sixth tableau onto the 7 in the fifth tableau.

We can now move the last card from the sixth tableau – the Ace – and place it on the 2 in the first tableau. Next, let’s pick up the 10 in the fifth tableau and the rest of the stack above it, and place it on the Jack in the eighth tableau. Now, we have just started building our first full stack – from King to Ace.

In this move, we continue to build our first full stack by placing 5 and 4 from the last tableau onto the 6 in the eighth tableau. Let’s also move the 4 in the fourth tableau into the empty sixth tableau.

Unfortunately, we cannot continue building our first full stack because we do not have a 3 available. Instead, though, we can move the 5 in the tableau four and place it on the 6 in the second tableau.

Then, we can move the 4 from tableau six onto the 5 in the second tableau. Now we once again have an empty tableau.

We can use the empty tableau to store the 2 from the seventh tableau. This 2 was blocking a lot of very helpful moves.

Now we can continue building our first full stack. Let’s move the 3 in the seventh tableau onto the 4 in the eighth tableau.

And finally, to complete our first full stack, let’s move the Ace onto the 2 in the eighth tableau. The entire stack will move to the foundation field above.

Now there are no useful moves that we can make, and so the only thing left for us to do is draw cards from the stock.

Now we can put the new cards in order. Let’s put the 5 in the fourth tableau onto the 6 in the third tableau. Let’s move the Jack and the 10 from the eighth tableau onto the Queen in the tenth tableau. And finally, let’s move the 7 in the ninth tableau onto the 8 in the seventh tableau.

Move the 6 and 5 from the third tableau onto the 7 in the seventh tableau. Then, let’s move the stack starting with the Queen from the tenth tableau onto the King in the fourth tableau. Finally, let’s move the 2 that was underneath the Queen and move it onto the 3 in tableau five.

Now, move the 7 from the eighth tableau onto the 8 in the third tableau.

Let’s disassemble tableau six. We can place the King in the empty tableau eight, and the 2 in the tableau one.

Then, we’ll focus on the tableau two. We can move the Jack into the empty tableau six, and the stack starting with the 6 onto the 7 in the third tableau.

We keep putting the cards on the board in order. Move 2 and 3 from the tableau five onto the 4, and then move the 6 from the second tableau onto the 7.

This time, we can place the Jack from the sixth tableau onto the Queen from tableau two and move them together onto the King in tableau eight.

Move the 6 and 7 from the tenth tableau to tableau two and pick up the stack from tableau seven, starting with the 8, and place it in the empty tableau six.

Finally, we can move the 2 and 3 from the tableau one into the tableau seven. Notice that the board now seems to be quite in order. All we need is an Ace to complete a full stack. This looks like the beginning of an easy game!

The second difficulty level is played with two decks: one of a red suit and one of a black suit. This is often called 2-suit Spider Solitaire. Below, you can find an example on how to successfully begin such a game:


We start by sorting cards of the same color. Move the 6 of Hearts to the second tableau, the 7 of Spades onto the 8, the Jack of Hearts onto the right-most Queen of Hearts, and the Jack of Spades onto the Queen of Spades.

Now that the King of Hearts has been revealed, we can place the Queen and the Jack on it.

Unfortunately, there are no more moves that sort out the cards of the same color, but we still need to uncover more cards so that we have a bit more to work with. Let’s store the 2 of Spades on the 3 of Hearts in the eighth tableau.

What is revealed is the 10 of Hearts, which we can then immediately move onto the Jack of Hearts in the first tableau.

Unfortunately, there is nothing useful that we can do on the board now. The only thing left for us to do is draw more cards from the stock.

Now we have a lot of new cards and a lot of possible moves. We’ll first place the 2 of Hearts from the tableau four onto the adjacent 3 of Hearts. This unblocks the two-card stack of 7 and 8 of Spades, which we can move onto the 9 of Spades in the sixth tableau. Then, we can move the newly-created stack of 7, 8, and 9 onto the 10 in the ninth tableau. Also, let’s move the 9 of Hearts from the fifth tableau to the second tableau.

Now that the Queen has been freed, we can place it on the King of Hearts.

Again, there are no more useful moves left on the board, so we need to draw more cards from the stock.

The board gets a bit cluttered, but fear not! We are going to solve this mess. Let’s start by moving the 7 of Spades from the tableau five onto the adjacent 8 of Spades, and then move them both onto the 9 of Spades in the second tableau. The 5 of Hearts in the tableau four has just been made available, and so we can move it to the tableau 3 and place it on the 6 of Hearts there. Finally, let’s move the Queen from the sixth tableau onto the King in the eighth tableau.

Now we can place the six from the fourth tableau onto the 7 in the tableau two. Then, we’ll move the entire four-card stack onto the 10 of Spades in the sixth tableau.

One possible move is to move the 5 of Hearts from the tableau nine to the tableau six, and then move the stack starting with the Queen of Spades from stack nine to stack four. This will reveal a card, but will also clutter up the tableau six. It is actually legal to make those moves in order to find out what happens - and if they are not useful, we can undo them. This is because the score in Spider Solitaire depends on the number of moves, and undos are counted as regular moves - thus, they are completely legitimate. In this case, it turns out that the best thing to do is draw cards from the stock.

New cards and new moves! Let’s start with collecting the 3 of Spades and the 4 of Spades from the tableaus three and five, and then placing them on the 5 in the tableau one. Similarly, we can take the Ace and the 2 from the sixth and seventh tableaus and place them on the 3 in the tableau eight. This releases 5 in tableau 7, which we can then place onto the 6 in the fourth tableau.

Now we can place the 5 and 6 from tableau four onto the 7 in tableau seven. Also, let’s move the stack starting with 10 in the sixth tableau onto the Jack of Spades in the tableau nine. Since we are now out of same-color moves, we can try to uncover some cards by placing the 3 of Hearts from the tableau five onto the 4 in the tableau two.

Place 3, 4, and 5 from the tableau one onto the 6 in the ninth tableau. Move the 8 onto the 9 in the tableau ten.

And now we have another combo of moves! First, let’s move the 5, 6, and 7 from the seventh tableau onto the 8 in the tableau five, collect it, and then move the enlarged stack onto the 9 in the tableau six. We’ll use the other 7 in the seventh tableau to place the 5 and 6 from the tableau three on it. Then, we’ll move these three cards onto the 8 of Spades in the tableau ten.

Finally, we are going to have ourselves an empty column! This is very important, because an empty column can be extremely useful, since we can place any card in it. We will soon use it to arrange more cards the way that we want them. But first, we have to get there. So, let’s put the Queen onto the King in the tableau one. Let’s also move the Ace from the tableau seven onto the 2 in the third tableau.

We first use our newly-empty tableau to make another empty tableau. That is, we’ll move the 5 of Spades.

Let’s focus on the second tableau. First, move the 3 onto the 4 in the tableau seven, pick up both cards and move them onto the 5 in the tableau six. Then, move the just-released 4 onto the 5 in the tableau five.

Now we focus on the tableau nine. First, let’s move the stack beginning with the Jack of Spades onto the Queen in the first tableau. Then, move the 5 of Hearts into the empty tableau seven. Finally, let’s move the stack starting with the Queen of Spades onto the King in the tableau four.

We want to build a full stack in the tableau four. To do that, we’ll take 4 and 5 from the tableau five, put them on the 6 in the ninth tableau, then collect the entire three-card stack and place it on the 7 in the tableau four.

Move the stack in the tableau four over to the fifth tableau. Also, move the 5 from the tableau seven onto the 6 in the tableau nine, then move both cards back to the tableau seven.

We can finally finish building our first full stack. To do so, we need to take the newly-discovered Ace in the tableau four and place it on the 2 in the tableau nine, take both cards and move them to the first tableau, and then take the sub-stack of Ace, 2, and 3 and move it over to the tableau five. Our first full stack is ready!

Now, we can move the 8 in the fourth tableau and place it on the 9 in the tableau two. Next, we can take 8, 9 and 10 from the tableau two and place it on the Jack in the tableau nine.

Notice that we now have two empty tableaus! We are virtually indestructible, and it will be hard to lose the game now. We can continue by moving 6 and 7 from the second tableau onto the 8 in the ninth tableau.

Look at this beautiful board! Do you have an idea what to do next? Can you figure out how to achieve three empty tableaus?

The most difficult game mode is playing with two full decks - that is, with four colors. This difficulty level is for really good players, and so we decided not to include it in this elementary tutorial. You’ll have to figure out how to play 4-suit Spider Solitaire on your own!

History

Spider Solitaire originated in 1947 when it was first played using (surprise, surprise!) real cards, and not a computer. Rumor has it that Spider Solitaire was a favorite patience game of US President Roosevelt. The game was always quite popular because of its difficulty and potential for strategic thinking and analysis. Its first common computer implementations appeared in the early 1990s with the Microsoft Windows 3 operating system. A Unix version was developed even earlier (in 1989), but this version was not as popular. Since then, Spider Solitaire has come bundled with most major distributions of operating systems, with the most popular versions being those that came included with Windows 7 and XP. This online version of Spider Solitaire is inspired by those iterations.

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