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How to succeed in the 'Freecell' card game

The hugely popular 'Freecell' card game is a form of solitaire most notably included in Windows operating systems. Created as a variation of 'Baker's Game', Freecell differs from regular types of solitaire as all 52 cards are visible at the start of the game, allowing for almost all variations of game to be solved with the appropriate strategy. This article aims to summarise the rules of Freecell, whilst also providing hints and tips for succeeding at the card game.

Layout and aim of Freecell

The layout of a game of Freecell can be broadly split into three main sections: -Free Cells,
-Foundation (or Home) Cells and
-Tableau Piles. The game begins by dealing the pack into 8 Tableau Piles, the first 4 of which contain 7 cards, the latter 4 contain 6 cards. Above the Tableau Piles on the left are the four Free Cells, which act as a storage space for any one card in the deck; cards in the cells can be moved either back to the tableau or to the Foundation Cells. These Foundation Cells lie adjacent to the Free Cells and above and to the right of the Tableau Piles. There are four Foundation Cells, arguably the most important element of a game of Freecell. The game's aim is to build the four Foundation Cells up in ascending suit sequence, from Ace to King (like Klondike Solitaire).

Playing the game

Initially, the exposed card at the end of each Tableau Pile is available for play. One can move it to an empty Free Cell at any time to release the card beneath, although it's useful to keep the Free Cells empty for as long as possible. As each Ace becomes available at the start of the game, it can be moved to a Foundation Cell. When each Ace has been placed on the four Foundation Cells, subsequent cards may be placed in ascending order once they have been freed of the Tableau Piles. One can also move an exposed card from the end of a tableau column or from a FreeCell to another tableau column if it will form a descending sequence of alternating colours.

Hints and tips for succeeding at Freecell

Firstly, it is important to find the aces which are closest to the top of a pile. Once you've freed an ace, it provides an extra space to move cards. Furthermore, it is very important to keep the Free Cells as empty as possible (especially near the beginning of the game) so that you can move cards around freely. Finally, try and develop all suit piles simultaneously and don't be afraid to take risks! The more times you play Freecell, it gets easier to win, so go out and start playing!

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