Rules for Will o' the Wisp

Family: Spider
Categories: Thinker's
Variants: Spider, Spiderette
Also Known As:  

Will o’ the Wisp (like Spiderette) is a miniature version of the popular Spider, and is much easier to win than either Spider or Spiderette. This variant was invented by Albert H. Morehead and Geoffrey Mott-Smith, the authors of the excellent and comprehensive The Complete Book of Solitaire and Patience Games.


Will o’ the Wisp uses seven tableau piles and the hand, and nothing else. (Solitaire Till Dawn also offers four wastepiles to hold the King-to-Ace builds which the rules allow you to discard; but normally you’d just scoop up these builds and set them aside.)

Shuffle the deck, and lay out three cards in each of the seven tableaus. The tableaus are fanned down, with all cards face down except the topmost in each pile. Keep the remaining 31 cards in your hand.


Tableaus build down, without regard for color or suit. The topmost card of each tableau is available; in addition, full or partial builds in suit are also available. (Although you do not have to build in suit, there is an advantage in doing so because in-suit builds can be moved while mixed-suit builds cannot.)

Empty spaces may be filled with any available card or build. Note however that Kings can only be played into empty spaces because there’s no higher rank to build them on.


You may deal any time you wish, provided that no tableaus are empty. To deal, turn up seven cards from the hand and put one onto each tableau regardless of rank or suit. The final deal will have only three cards, which go on the first three tableau piles. Usually you’ll deal when you’ve run out of other moves.


Completed King-to-Ace builds in suit may be discarded. You are not required to discard such builds, and there may be an advantage to leaving them in the tableau for a time to help in untangling other tableau piles. When all cards have been discarded, the game is won.


Build in suit whenever possible. Uncover the face down cards. Empty piles are precious. The more empty piles you can create and keep, the better. Build on higher-ranked cards before lower ones. One or two long, tangled piles are okay if they help you empty out other piles.

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