Solitaire, also called patience is a family of card games played by one person.
It was originally called (in various spellings) either patience, as it still is in England, Poland, and Germany, or cabale, as it still is in Scandinavian countries.
Patience is thought to be German or Scandinavian in origin.
According to one legend the game of solitaire was invented by a French aristocrat during his imprisonment in the Bastille, or at least that is what some versions of the game’s origin story claim, which would date it back to the first half of the 17th century, a time when King Louis XIV used the fortress to imprison nobles who were not related to him.
Patience was first mentioned in literature shortly after cartomantic layouts were developed circa 1765, suggesting a connection between the two. This theory is supported by the name of the game in Danish and Norwegian, kabal(e). An 1895 account describes a variant of the game exclusively used for cartomancy.
From there it would have quickly spread to the rest of Europe, as witnessed by the fact that the first reference to the term in the Oxford English Dictionary dates from 1801.
Although we associate solitaire as a game of patience, it used to be a form of fortune-telling during the 18th century. Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, the author of War and Peace, mentions how he used the solitaire game as an illusory way of decision making. This happens to be during the Napoleonic era when on April 11, 1814, Napoleon was exiled to St Helena because he was perceived as a threat to the stability of European politics. In order to relax, he would play the patience game, which was perfect for him as he was alone. St Helena is an island in the South Atlantic, deserted from anywhere significant, so the games of patience allowed him to reflect.
The game became popular in France in the early 19th century, reaching Britain and America in the latter half. The earliest known recording of a game of patience occurred in 1788 in the German game anthology Das neue Königliche L’Hombre-Spiel. Before this, there were no literary mentions of such games in large game compendiums such as Charles Cotton’s The Compleat Gamester (1674) and Abbé Bellecour’s Academie des Jeux (1674).
The first collection of patience card games in the English language is attributed to Lady Adelaide Cadogan through her Illustrated Games of Patience, published in about 1870 and reprinted several times.
In the 19th century players went in for elaborate pictorial layouts with descriptive titles—such as zodiac, flower garden, British constitution, and the like—many of them purely mechanical exercises requiring little
The 20th century saw a preference for more-intelligent games based on relatively simple layouts with many, sometimes all, cards exposed from the outset, making them games of perfect or near-perfect information. The advent of the personal computer in the late 20th century gave solitaires a new lease on life. Many traditional games became available as software packages, and more-or-less new ones were developed for the medium, though most of these are minor variations on well-worn themes.
At the end of the 20th century, solitaire experienced a new and unexpected boost in popularity with the appearance of personal computers. Thanks in large part to Microsoft, which decided to incorporate the game —specifically, the version known as Klondike— into the Windows 3.0 operating system, arguing that it was a pleasant and intuitive way for the new user to become familiar with the handling of the mouse and the graphic interface. Since then, not only has it been maintained in all subsequent versions of Windows, but Microsoft has also introduced new versions of the game in what is surely a safe bet, since, according to the tech giant, Solitaire is the most used of all its programs, even ahead of Word and Excel.
The fastest game of solitaire (boardgame) was completed in 10.0 seconds by Stephen Twigge of West Yorkshire on Aug 2, 1991.
Australian gamer “DDos-Dan” finished the 1990 PC game Solitaire – in “Draw One” mode – in just 8 seconds on 23 October 2015. This was the fastest completion time as of 4 April 2017, as verified by Speedrun.com.
Solitaire Overload (Telegames, 2007) for the Nintendo DS was released on 24 October 2007. By 6 August 2012, more than 400,000 copies had been sold around the world. Billed by Nintendo as “the most comprehensive and feature-rich compilation of Solitaire games ever released for a portable gaming system”, it includes 101 different versions of the game.