Three (3) suits from a standard deck of playing cards are shuffled and dealt into five (5) columns.
The object of the game is to remove all of the cards from the columns by collecting sets of matching values.
There are 3 rules to learn in Match Solitaire: Matching, Stacking, and FreeCells:
You can collect a set of cards with matching values (suit does not matter) as long as none of the cards in the set are covered by another card.
You can move any one card from the top of one stack to the top of another stack, as long as you're stacking cards in sequence by suit.
You can stack cards up, down, or both ways. Values "wrap", too, so you can put a King on an Ace or vice-versa. You may move only one card at a time.
At the bottom of each column is a FreeCell, into which you can place any one (and only one) card.
Collect all of the matching sets to win.
Many of the easier game variations can be won by eagerly collecting matches.
Other games require a stacking strategy where matches aren't collected until the end of the game.
The most difficult games require a combination of strategies where matches must be collected at a specific moment (not too early) and in an order that allows stacking between matches.
The particular strategy necessary to solve a given puzzle is not always obvious, and that's what keeps Match Solitaire challenging play after play.
A standard game contains 13 matches. You can remove sets of matching values (for example, the face cards) from the deck for an easier game, or add more cards from a second deck for a more difficult game.
A standard game uses 3 suits (and therefore a match contain 3 cards). You can also use 2 or 4 suits (with matches of 2 or 4 cards, respectively).
A standard game uses 5 columns. You can add or remove columns for an easier or more difficult game (see Column Layouts below).
You can also ignore suits when stacking cards for an easier game.
When using a second deck, use the same suits as the first deck to double the number of matches. The number of cards in each matching set does not change when using a second deck.
You can also deal the cards from the deck one row at a time and move or collect cards in-between deals, which makes for an easier game (called a "Closed" or "Blind Deal" game).
The number of columns determines the difficulty level of the game and its win rate. The following table describes the standard column layouts.
|Match Count||Suit Count||Card Count||Column Count||Win Rate|
A Match Solitaire game is described as the game-id followed by a sequence of moves.
Stacking and freecell moves are noted in from—to pairs where stacks are labeled '1', '2', '3', ... from left to right and freecells 'a', 'b', 'c', ...
A matching move starts with '*' followed by the stack labels in the match.
A deal is noted as a '+'.
game-id = match-size 'x' suit-count 'x' match-count 'x' column-count game-type shuffle-id
game-type = '+' / '-' ; open / closed
The following example is a solution for shuffle #1 with 3 cards per match, 3 suits, and a total of 13 matches arranged in 5 columns in an open deal:
3x3x13x5+1 1a 23 42 12 1b 5c *125 5d *45b *25a 54 2a 25 1b 2e *123 c4 2c 21 24 34 12 12 31 d1 3d 35 15 15 15 31 *23d *345 b3 1b 41 41 41 41 e1 4d *4bd 4b 43 *24a b3 12 12 12 12 *135 *235 *235 *235 *25c
The following example is a partial solution for the same game with a closed (blind) deal:
3x3x13x5-1 + 1a + 21 3b + b1 41 41 34 32 13 13 13 13 ++ 35 41 *134