How To Play Penguin Solitaire

By Dan Fletcher

Penguin Solitaire is a captivating solitaire game, that will keep you amused for a long time. It's based on freecell solitaire, but with a few differences that make it very interesting.

Differences between Freecell and Penguin Solitaire

Before going into the details of how to play penguin solitaire, here is a quick run down of the differences between freecell and penguin...

  • In penguin solitaire blank columns can only be filled with a certain card. In freecell, they can be filled with anything.
  • Sequences are built in freecell in descending alternating colors. Sequences in penguin are built in descending same-suit.
  • Penguin solitaire allows you to move sequences of any length (as long as they are the same suit). Freecell solitaire lets you move sequences based on how many empty columns and freecells are available.
  • Freecell solitaire moves cards to the foundation starting from Ace. The base rank in penguin solitaire can be any rank.
  • Penguin solitaire has 7 free cells, while standard freecell solitaire uses 4.

Dealing Penguin Solitaire

When the game starts, 3 cards are dealt straight away to the foundations. These are all the same rank (not necessarily an Ace). The remaining base card will always be at the top of the first stack.

There are 7 stacks, each with 7 face up cards. There are 8 free cells, all empty.

Playing Penguin Solitaire

Cards are played to the foundation, and they wrap through the King.

So for example, if the base rank is a 6, then the cards will be played to the foundation in the following order: 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A, 2, 3, 4, 5

Cards in the tableau are built in descending rank, with the same suit. Multiple cards in sequence can be moved in one go. (Unlike Freecell solitaire, the sequence length is not based on the number of empty free cells and columns)

An empty column can only be filled with the card 1 less than the base rank. So if the base rank is a 6, only a 5 can be placed into an empty column. If the base rank is Ace, only a King can be used.

Penguin solitaire strategy... Penguin solitaire is generally easier than freecell solitaire, but occasionally there are deals which are very hard to play.

These deals require extra special attention, and it's worth thinking about the following points...

  • You should play any card to the foundation, as soon as you can. If a card can be moved to the foundation, there is no point in holding onto it, as there is no strategic advantage in doing so.
  • Carefully consider play at the start. Sometimes it pays to empty the first column, and sometimes it doesn't.
  • Dont move a card just because it can be moved. Sometimes it's better NOT to form a sequence, so that there are less cards to move later on.
  • Try to keep as many free cells empty as possible.

Dan Fletcher is a developer at dogMelon. They make classic solitaire, a fun pack of solitaire card games for Palm, Mac, and PC. Classic Solitaire includes many great solitaire games, including Freecell Solitaire, and Penguin Solitaire. [source]

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Last Update: December 20th, 2013