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The History of Solitaire

Rate this Article Many of us play Solitaire in all its many and wonderful forms, but how old is this game of cards, and what are its origins? Solitaire Games Online - The History of Solitaire

With the rise of the computer age, many of us can easily and simply spend hours playing solitaire, whether the most simple games to the big adventure games where you have over 700 levels. These games continue to be popular, but solitaire was around for a long time before computers, but can you guess how far back it actually goes?

We were pretty surprised to see that the earliest written record of the game was of German origin and found to have been written in 1783, and describes a competitive form where 2 players will have a single deck of cards each, and have to race to complete what has become the main and standard classic format of the game.

These games also go by different names in the varying countries of the world, as you would expect. In England it is known as Patience, in Danish, Norwegian and Icelandic it is known as Kabal, in Poland it is Pasjans and France it is Réussite. Each of these names is unique but there is some grain of similarity, with a large amount of speculation that these names originate from fortune telling with cards too.

Even though there may have existed versions of solitaire before the discovery of the German book, since its publication there have been hundreds of works world wide describing the many different and varied versions of the game that you can play. There are roughly 100 unique types of solitaire across the world. And yet many of us when we see the word Solitaire know what game you are talking about, and the basics of how to play it.

Over the last 3 and a half centuries, yes 350 years, there have been many different references to the game either in poetry, diaries or stores told of royalty and nobility. There were rumours that Napoleon played while in exile but these have been refuted. Though it is known that Prince Albert, husband to Queen Victoria did play and was quite a fan of the game.

The first printing of the game in the English language came from Lady Adelaide Cadogan, a noble of the English court who wrote her book in around 1870, a fully illustrated guide on the rules and patterns of solitaire games. There were several other works around that time and this began the formalising of the game as we know it today.

In more recent times there have been several guides printed, and more than one competing theory as to the older origins of solitaire, but several key facts remain true, and the very first book to describe this game in any particular detail was printed in Russia in 1826, as Sobranie kartochnykh raskludok, izvestnykh pod nazvaniemn Grand-pasiansov - "A collection of the card layouts usually known as Grand-patiences" Quite a long title for such a simple yet elegant game.

In more modern times there is much more access to solitaire games, especially on computers but there are still books to be found with guidelines on how to play with real cards. You can also still play competitively, just like they did back in the mid 1700’s. There is a rich and long history going back for Solitaire, and that is both interesting and somewhat satisfying at the same time. There have been some pretty famous people to play this over the last hundred years, and we am glad to be in their company.

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