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Ultimate Guide To Russian Solitaire

Solitaire is a game that has endured over time. One of the reasons it has continued onward even in the face of other, more accessible and detailed games is because it’s a great base to build on.

Being a great base means it grows variations of itself. Each time it fathers a child that is somewhat similar to it, but different enough that it’s a whole new game. Sometimes those games themselves became a whole new type and spawn their own variations. It’s quite an interesting thing to see.

Online playable gaming definitely kickstarted from the moment that computers started. The original windows came with Solitaire installed right on it to play; later versions included Pyramid. Now there are websites where you can play solitaire and all its grandchildren without the stress of having to set up the cards.

It is so easy to try new things thanks to the internet. Card games and chess are also available online, and it’s a wonderful way to teach yourself games when you might not have a partner to play them with. Even games that are meant to be played alone can be more fun online.

Russian Solitaire is actually considered a harder variant of another type of solitaire called Yukon. Only one regular deck is needed and there is no re-dealing. This game is one of the more challenging types that you can come across, but many are addicted to pitting their brains against it.

The end goal is, as always, to get all the cards in the foundation. In Russian Solitaire they need to be by suit counted to Kings. Definitely one of the more difficult versions to play.

The harder the card game the more fun it can be to play, but also the more annoying. It can be very frustrating to keep getting trapped and finding yourself unable to continue. But that is why strategy games can be so enticing. When you win, there’s no feeling better.

How To Play Russian Solitaire

Only one deck is needed to play Russian Solitaire. For your tableau you make seven columns and you build them down, unlike in classic solitaire. You go from one card facing up, to two cards facing down with four cards facing up, , to three cards facing down with another four facing up, and so on and so forth.

There needs to be four slots available for the foundation, and this is where your Aces will go as you break them free and play. All cards are in use and there is no stock, reserve, or waste. You have to use up the cards that are facing up to get to the ones that are facing down.

You have to build the cards down in the columns by suit. Some say that this is actually more difficult than building by alternating colors, and that this is what is so challenging about Russian Solitaire.

You can move all of the cards facing down. One of the surprises of Russian Solitaire is that it is possible to move a whole fan of cards regardless of suit if you so desire. Only Kings can restart an empty column though, or a pile that ends in King.

Once a card is placed in the foundation then it is locked in and unplayable. That means it cannot be moved again and has to stay in the foundation.

Playing Russian Solitaire

To get started in Russian Solitaire, you have to move cards that are available to match up to other cards, building downwards. This way you can access first the Aces and then the other cards that must follow suit.

Playing cards can only be moved to a new column if the card is one lower than the card at the bottom of the fan, and of the same suit. So the only card that can attach to a 6 of Diamonds is a 7 of Diamonds.

This can make the game difficult because you have to be able to access the number you need, and you better hope it’s not in the foundation or one of the face down cards at the top of the column.

What makes this game feel so unplayable is that you can only move cards by suit downward. It seems like it’s a blessing to be able to move stacks of cards, but it’s really just the only way to make this game even possible to play.

Organizing all your cards downward by suit when half aren’t even visible is quite a tough way to play. Make sure you have time to get down to business with this game and do not rush.

It’s important to focus on your Aces from the beginning. You need to rush those over the foundation as soon as possible so that you can start building; otherwise you’ll have too many cards to maneuver as once.

Try freeing out your face down cards quickly too because the more they’re playable the better chances you have of filling your foundation. Moving cards by stacks is the part that helps the most, and try to pay attention to what is available.

Russian Solitaire Strategy

Russian Solitaire is one of those harder games to play where figuring out a strategy is really important for your gameplay. People just starting out in the wonderful world of solitaire variations should probably wait a bit before attempting.

The strategy is for those with plenty of patience. For those willing to take their time and not only examine their tableau but be willing to repeat it more than once for accuracy. This can feel mind numbing at times and is not for the faint of heart.

As always, get those Aces free and slap them into your foundation. It’s key to get them there so you can start pushing your suits in there. It can be a bit complicated because you have to build them by suit to King, and you can only move the cards by suit as well, but it’s doable.

Play slowly and scan over your tableau more than once. This is important because this game is so hard to play. Try and keep in mind what numbers are open and where. Being aware of that will help you make your moves when you find them. Keeping the bigger picture in mind is the best way to move forward in this game.

Keep your foundations matched as you build. You don’t want to need a number only to not have access to it. Keeping the foundations even makes sure you don’t get stuck the odd one out.

Move your cards by stacks when you can and free up those face down cards. You need to be able to see them to play them, and when they’re available it will be easier and more efficient to build your foundation to Kings the way you need to.

Try not to make any moves that aren’t in an effort to get to the face down cards, not even to fill your foundation unless literally all the next number are available. Do this because you need to have those unseen cards to finish the game.

Make every move count. This is methodical and careful. You don’t want to waste time. You also need to try and empty a whole column if you can, that way there is space to move Kings. If you can’t move a King you might have effectively trapped a whole section of cards. The Kings are not needed until the very end so they can definitely disrupt the flow.

Glossary of Terms for Russian Solitaire

Often there are terms which are well known to the average card player. It is important to know the right terminology so that you can play the game properly and be informed enough to know what you’re talking about.

Basic card terms:

Available Cards: Cards that have no restrictions and can be played.

Base Card: The first card that can be placed down to start playing; like the Aces in the foundation.

Marriage: Placing a card in the same suit on the next number, lower or higher.

Released Cards: When you use a topmost card and the one beneath becomes accessible.

Suitable Cards: Cards that fit into the game and can be played from the position that you’re in.

Some basic solitaire terms:

Fanned: The cards are spread out in a fan like shape, overlapping over one another. The card suits and numbers can still be seen.

Foundation: The topmost row in front of you. It’s where you start squaring up your cards from Ace onwards.

Reserve (Boquet): The cards pulled from the stock available to play.

Squared: The cards are stacked in a way that the edges are aligned with one another.

Stock: The pile of cards from which you draw your next card.

Tableau (Garden): The row of cards in front of you from which you start your game. Some are face up, some are face down, and you sort them.

Waste: The pile of cards where the stock goes after you’ve drawn your cards into play.

Instructions for building are pretty straight-forward. Here are a few examples:

By Suit: Cards have to be placed on their same suit.

By Suit Sequence: Cards have to be placed on their same suit in order of numbers.

By Color: Cards have to be placed on like colors.

By Alternating Colors: Cards have to be placed back and forth on alternating colors.

Other Variations Of Russian Solitaire

Double Russian- Russian Solitaire but with two decks of playing cards instead of one.

Odessa- Different starting tableau than Russian Solitaire.

Russian- Another version of Yukon that is generally considered to be harder. You have to build down in the same suit, not alternating colors.

Russian Cell- A variant of Russian Solitaire that adds cells to it.

Ten Across- Like Russian Solitaire but with a different tableau and two cells that begin full.

Triple Russian- This is basically Russian Solitaire but with three decks of cards instead of the usual one.

Ukranian- A seemingly unwinnable variant of Russian Solitaire in which only complete sequences can be moved to the foundation.

Yukon- Similar to solitaire but there is no stock available to use. Groups of cards can be moved, which is why Russian Solitaire is branched off of this.

Russian Solitaire FAQ

Why is Russian Solitaire so hard to play?

Russian Solitaire is made difficult not only by the fact that half the playable cards are face down and locked in place, but also because you have to build downwards by suit. That means only a 7 of Hearts can attach to the bottom of an 8 of Hearts. You also have no place really to sort Kings until the very end because of this, which can effectively trap you.

Do I need to use cards with different colors?

Because Russian Solitaire is organized by suit, no you do not need to have a deck of cards with different colors. It’s just fine to have the ordinary four suits because that’s all you need to play. If you want to be a bit colorful then by all means, be colorful.

Can you point any card in your foundation?

No, the foundations have to be started out with Aces and then built up by suit all the way to Kings. This can be complicated. Some games allow your foundation to be random or start out with the Aces in place, but not Russian Solitaire. That’s why it can be hard to defeat.

How do I move stacks of cards?

You have to have a card in the stack that is one number lower and in the same suit as another card at the bottom of another column. Then you can connect that topmost card with a bottom card. This can end up in really long columns so make sure you know what numbers and suits are needed where. If you can free up a column for King then do so.