A Solitaire Glossary

The terms defined in this glossary are:

alternate color, available, blocked, build (up or down), deal, discard, fan, follow rank or suit, foundation, hand, layout, pile, rank, stock, stuck, suit, tableau, talon, topmost, wastepile.

Brought to you by Semicolon Software, makers of Solitaire Till Dawn.


 

Available:
Cards which can be legally moved from one pile to another are said to be available. (Note that a card can be available even if there's currently no other pile to move it to. Another way to say it is that the available cards are the ones you could move, if you had a place to move them to.)
Blocked:
You are blocked or stuck when you can't find any more moves to make.
Build:
An ordered sequence of cards in a pile. In some games, the tableaus are built down by alternate colors. This is the official way to say that a red 6 goes on a black 7, and a black 5 goes on a red 6. In many games the foundations are built up by following suit, which means that the 6 of Spades goes on the 5 of Spades. Some games build by following rank, which means a 4 goes on a 4. Some games allow circular building, in which an Ace can be built up on a King, or a King built down on an Ace. Some games allow you to move a partial build from one pile to another; in other words, you can break a build in two and take the topmost part of it away. Other games require you to move full builds only; you are not allowed to break up a build.
Deal:
Adding cards to the layout by taking them from the hand. Dealing is different in every solitaire. In some games there is no hand and therefore no dealing at all. In others you may occasionally gather cards from the layout back into the hand, and deal them again.
Fan:
A pile that has been spread out, so that all of its cards are visible. Only the topmost card in the fan will be completely visible; the other cards will be partially overlapped and hidden. Fans may be spread left, right, up, or down; fanned down is the most common.
Foundation:
A kind of pile. The goal of many solitaire games is to eventually move all the cards onto the foundation piles. Usually the foundations are empty at the start of a game, but in some games they may begin with a starter card.
Hand:
The cards that are not part of the layout. Generally these are held in a pack in your hand, and periodically you may deal cards onto the layout from your hand. In Solitaire Till Dawn, the hand has a special appearance, and you can click it to deal.
Layout:
The pattern of cards on the table. The initial layout is the set of cards that you create at the very start of the game, when you're ready to play but haven't made any moves yet.
Luck:
The reason you lost that game. See Skill.
Pile:
A pile of cards. Piles may be squared, so that only the topmost card can be seen, or they may be spread out in a fan. Piles can be empty, if there are no cards in them. Most solitaire games involve moving cards among various piles, with the goal of eventually getting them all into a particular pile or group of piles. Sometimes a pile is referred to by number, for example "In pile 3, ..." This usually refers to the tableau piles, and they are numbered left to right, top to bottom, so that "pile 3" would be the third from the left. See also foundation, tableau, discard, stock.
Rank:
The number value of a card. In solitaire, the Ace counts as one and is the lowest-ranked card, while the Jack, Queen, and King count as eleven, twelve, and thirteen.
Skill:
The reason you won that game. See Luck.
Stock:
A kind of pile. Usually a single pile of cards that can be drawn upon, one card at a time, during the game.
Suit:
The suits are Hearts , Spades , Diamonds , and Clubs  of Clubs. Hearts and Diamonds are colored red, of course, and Spades and Clubs are colored black.
Tableau:
A kind of pile. The tableau piles are your "workspace." They're where you move cards back and forth while you look for opportunities to transfer cards to the foundations.
Topmost Card:
The topmost card of a pile is the one that is not overlapped by any other card, even when the pile is fanned down so that the topmost card is closest to the bottom of the screen.
Wastepile (Discard, Talon):
A kind of pile. Often the cards from the hand are dealt face-up onto a wastepile. The top card of the wastepile can then be moved onto other piles according to the rules of the particular game. In some games, wastepiles hold cards permanently removed from play.

 


Copyright 1995, 1996 by Semicolon Software. All rights reserved.
Last modified Wednesday, July 31, 1996 rick@kagi.com