A Brief History of Pyramid Solitaire

By Glenn Wilson |

When many of us think of Solitaire we think of the default game that came bundled for free with generations of Windows operating systems. 

But that’s just one variant of this ancient card-based pastime. There are hundreds more. 

One of them – arguably the least well-known – is called Pyramid Solitaire, and you can play it for free on pyramidsolitaire.com.

But before you do, here’s a bit of background. 

Pyramid Solitaire has been around for centuries, appearing as long ago as 1808 in a book you’ve probably never read called “Neue Königliche L’Hombre”. 

The version that appeared in that volume, however, is completely different from the one we play today. Pyramid in its current form first appeared in a 1949 book by Albert Hodges called “The Complete Book of Solitaire and Patience Games”. 

As we all know, the many variants of Solitaire didn’t really come into their own until the advent of Windows 3.0, when Microsoft decided to include a free version played with a mouse. 

It turns out that the inconvenience of having to carry cards around with you and shuffle them between deals was really holding Solitaire back. 

So how do you play Pyramid Solitaire

Like Klondike, it uses a standard deck of 52 cards, 28 of which are dealt face-up into a pyramid shape, with seven cards along the bottom and one at the top. The other 24 cards go in a face-up pile. 

The aim is to clear all of the cards from the table by making pairs that add up to 13 – for example, a 7 and a 6. You can only use a card in a pair if it’s completely exposed, and if you run out of pairs in the main deal you can pick a card from the stack of leftovers. 

A King in Pyramid Solitaire is worth 13, a Queen is worth 12, a Jack is worth 11, and an Ace is worth 1. 

And that’s it. Pyramid Solitaire is a fairly straightforward game, but, like all good Solitaire variants, it has hidden depths. 

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