Other Fun Solitaire Games!


Ultimate Guide to The Fan Solitaire

The Fan solitaire is one of the most challenging games in the realm of the British “Patience” games. This game is deceiving based on how it is set up. When you see all the cards face up, the ignorant player thinks to themselves that this must be an easy puzzle to solve, like Pyramid or Grandfather’s Clock. That’s hardly the case! Solving The Fan is quite difficult because there are only so many types of moves that can be played, thus making the player think very strategically.

Though this game is quite complex, many people report having a good time with the game. There is a lot to it and even though it is ostensibly a solitary endeavor, there is much to gain by having two people play one tableau. This is a good way to think together. That said, the game is designed to be played in a solitary environment. From The Fan’s beginnings in Victorian England to today’s modern electronic versions, this complex game has become a favorite for many.

Playing The Fan solitaire is easier than ever because the electronic versions of the game can be found anywhere in the world.

The Rules of The Fan Solitaire

The rules and the set up of The Fan solitaire are incredibly deceptive. Everything seems quite simple and then the game is played and it quickly descends into frustration and angst, if you are competitive with yourself. Understanding the rules of the game is not very difficult though. The good news is a brief glance at the game and a player can pick up what the rules are. In fact, the beauty of the game is how simple it is and yet how difficult the game is to solve.

So, how do you play The Fan? Well, if you are someone who can count, the game is fairly easy to learn. The goal, as with all solitaire games, is to make sure all the cards are put into the same suit. Getting from the fanned deck to the suited cards, that is the difficult part. The set up for the game is quite nice to look at though, and if nothing else an aesthetically pleasing tableau can go a long way.

When the cards are to be dealt, they will be all dealt face up. There will be 17 fans, and these fans will have three cards that are facing up. The remaining card will be on its own, occupying a space at the bottom of the tableau next to the last fan. Once the tableau is set up, there are some rules to observe that make playing the game an adventure.

The first thing to understand is that foundations can be built with aces. So, if there is an ace staring back at you and another card is not covering it, put that ace in the foundation. This will open up some more moves for you. Cards can be played in descending order. This means if you see an 8 of clubs, you can move it one of two places: onto a foundation where the 7 of clubs is present, or onto a fan where the 9 of clubs is the card in the top position on a fan.

Further complicating the game is the rule that cards are not allowed to be moved if they are underneath. Those cards stay put. There will be loads of moves that you can see, but unfortunately these moves are not allowed in the game. In The Fan, the wrinkle most folks enjoy is that when a fan is empty it can be occupied with a king. This allows for a new, larger fan to be built.

When cards can be sent to the foundation area, they can go there at the player’s discretion. Some players choose to leave cards on fans for a while so that they can shake out some other moves, while others prefer just to get the cards off of the fans. Because of the complexity of this game, anything that can help solve it is always welcome.

Finally, the last thing to discuss is dealing the cards. Cards can be reshuffled and redealt twice before the end of the game. If within two re-deals the game has not been solved, then the game has been lost. When the game is reshuffled, this means all of the cards are cleared from the tableau – including foundations – and reshuffled.

How to Play The Fan Solitaire

Playing The Fan solitaire is not very easy, in fact, with the limited number of moves that can be made, players often feel as if they are boxed into a corner. This leads to much frustration, and that is why the most patient players who look at the tableau for a while are the players who are most successful in this game. In fact, if you are a player who is willing to spend a lot of time looking at the tableau and strategizing how to attack it, you are a player who will succeed in this game.

Once the cards are dealt, the key is to find the places where the moves can be made. This is pretty simple – cards can be put on fans in descending order, or they can be placed in foundations in ascending order. Getting from point A to point B is much more difficult. In fact, when trying to make the moves it can be awfully trying for new players.

The key to making this work is understanding how to use the fans and the different spaces that open up. This is a game of strategy, so as you move the cards around on the tableau, pay special attention to the arrangements of cards. If there’s a chance to get to the bottom card in a fan, that is a great opportunity to work on building a fan that can help with a foundation.

Origins of The Fan Solitaire

The Fan solitaire has its origins in Victorian Britain. Like most endeavors at the time, patience and prudence was most valued. It is said the game, which derives from “La Belle Lucie” was first published in the English language by a very famous woman in the card playing world, Lady Adelaide Cadogan. As a woman born into high society, she was responsible for setting many standards as to how women conducted themselves and entertained themselves; her influence is found in many of the British “Patience” games.

Since the game was published in 1870, it has taken off. Since then, The Fan solitaire has become a big part of the different card games in programs like Microsoft windows. Today, this game is considered one of the anchors of these programs and has become one of the more popular pastimes.

The Fan Solitaire Strategies

When playing The Fan solitaire, you must be a person who is extremely patient and very willing to entertain different moves and their consequences before you go ahead and make even your first move. In fact, it is great strategy to spend a lot of time looking over the board. This will help you get set up to make the best plays. If there is an opportunity to move a king into an open fan, that is a great way to clear out some fans. Be sure to move aces and other cards into foundations as quickly as possible. This will keep other moves open.

Some folks prefer to work in suits but others find that regardless of working on a specific suit or all the suits, it is just as well to try working on them all.

Some folks find that knowing the safest plays are the best plays. The safest play is moving the cards into the foundation. This is a great way to make sure that your cards are going where they should go. As soon as a card is revealed and that card can be sent up to the foundation, get that done. This allows you to work with a cleaner tableau and makes it so you can see moves with greater ease.

Likewise, it is important to note the sequential nature of the cards. Kings are fantastic to use because they are easy to build on. Finding kings and working from there is a great way for people to build out their fans. Resist the urge to just slap cards onto the first place you see them. Once the card is placed there, it can’t be moved unless it is to the foundation area.

For many people, playing The Fan is quite difficult and some make modifications so that the game can be more manageable. This is not a bad thing! If people are interested in the game and trying to learn it, only good can come from having your own house rules. Understand though, that means the game isn’t truly The Fan, and though there is a sense of accomplishment in solving the game, it is just not the same.

The Fan Solitaire Terms

There is some vocabulary people who play solitaire should know. These words help when learning a new game. Most guides are somewhat technical, so thanks to having a rudimentary understanding of these terms, it is easier to navigate this game:

  • Cells: This is where the cards are played, that being said, The Fan is not a cell game

  • Fanned: This is where the name The Fan comes from – cards are fanned out starting with three cards in a fan

  • Foundation: This is where you want your cards to go – the foundation; aces start the foundation

  • Reserve: This is where cards are not allowed to be played on the tableau

  • Squared: Cards face down on top of each other – not present in The Fan

  • Stock: A face down pile of undealt cards that is not present in The Fan

  • Tableau: The place where all cards are played

  • Waste: When cards are no longer needed to play the game, they go here

In terms of building, there are simple terms, which is “by suit”, “by suit sequence”, “by color”, “by alternating color.” These terms are exactly as they sound.

Terminology for playing includes:

  • Available Cards: These are cards that can be played

  • Released Cards: Cards that were once blocked, but now aren’t

  • Suitable Cards: Cards that can be placed

  • Base Cards: Cards that are at the bottom of the base

Variations of The Fan Solitaire

The Fan solitaire comes from the La Belle Lucie game of solitaire. These games all have the same function of suiting fanned cards. Famous versions of this game include include:

  • La Belle Lucie: Unlike the fan, once a fan is cleared, it can’t be restarted with a king

  • Three Shuffles and a Draw: When the game is unsolvable, you can pull one card to end it

  • Trefoil: Aces are sent to foundation automatically in this game, and the game is played with 48 cards

The Fan Solitaire FAQ

Here are some of the most asked questions about The Fan solitaire:

  • Are jokers used in The Fan solitaire?

Jokers are not to be used in The Fan, however if using a deck of cards and you are missing a card because the kids were throwing them around the house, use a joker as a replacement card.

  • Are there unsolvable games of The Fan solitaire?

Most games of The Fan are unsolvable. This is why it is such an accomplishment to finish the game.

  • Can I remove cards from the foundation?

This is a really bad idea, because the goal is getting the cards into the foundation. When you remove them, you make the game that much harder.

Final Thoughts on The Fan Solitaire

The Fan solitaire is a difficult game that many folks try and find little success with. The truth is it takes practice, patience, and persistence. If you are willing to invest the time to learn the game, like you would with Euchre, you will find this is a great way to spend your hours. Try out The Fan solitaire and keep working at it. Solving your first game is a blast!