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How to Play Spider Solitaire

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Izzy is a longtime online writer who loves writing about a wide range of topics—from recipes to gardening to exotic plants.

What Is Spider Solitaire?

My name is Izzy and I am a Spider Solitaire addict. There—I've said it. Ever since my brother sent me a disk (Windows 98 Plus Pack) that contained Spider Solitaire, I've loved the game. It's a very easy game to learn, but a difficult game to win.

Microsoft originally shipped games such as Spider Solitaire and Minesweeper to get us all used to using computers. This was at the start of the computer revolution, and most of us had heard of computers, but had never touched one.

Playing the packaged Microsoft games taught us how to use a mouse, how to use keyboard short-cuts, and how to drag items around. Quite clever really, when you think about it. They know that games can be addictive, so we play them and play them until we succeed, by which time we are really quite proficient at using both a mouse and a keyboard.

I actually got my first computer shortly after Windows 95 was launched, and I admit I was terrified of it. I was so scared it was going to break if I pressed the wrong button, and of course, with most of us being very new to computers, it was easy to believe the vicious rumors that one wrong move would wipe your computer of all its data.

But I'd learned enough to upgrade my Windows when 98 came out, and to install the Plus Pack. It used to have its own little folder under "Start>Programs," and through playing it I first learned how to make a desktop shortcut.

Ever since then, I've always had Spider Solitaire as a desktop shortcut, and play it whenever I have a spare hour or two to waste (or even when I don't have a spare hour or two to waste!).

Spider was with me after I got connected to the web (before that Spider and I became best of friends) and came with me each time I upgraded my Windows version. After the Plus Pack, Windows loaded their operating systems with Spider Solitaire integrated.

Soider Solitaire - Win Vista Icon

Soider Solitaire - Win Vista Icon

How the Game Works in Windows

The first Spider Solitaire (the one that was the Windows 98 Plus Pack disk) had only one difficulty level, and that was the hard one with 4 suits.

You could 'undo last move' (keyboard short-cut ctrl+z) but only back to the last card deal. The game was much more difficult then, than it is now.

The next operating system I got was Windows XP. I can't say anything about ME because I didn't use it.

In Windows XP, Spider Solitaire had three difficulty levels.

They were:

  1. Beginner with 1 suit
  2. Intermediate with 2 suits
  3. Advanced with 4 suits.

Ha! So I'd been playing the advanced level all along and didn't know.

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Also, if you can remember back to the first Spider Solitaire, computers were a lot slower then than they are now. So Spider played slower.

When you got a suit away, it used to flutter away! It was worth watching!

Now, when a suit is completed in a column, it just disappears in a flash! When the cards were dealt, they came out one at a time, now you hit a button and whole row is there in an instant.

Start to play Spider Solitaire - deal the cards

Start to play Spider Solitaire - deal the cards

Spider solitaire - the last line of cars turn face up

Spider solitaire - the last line of cars turn face up

Aim to clear a column - this lets you play around a bit more

Aim to clear a column - this lets you play around a bit more

spider solitaire - work to get the cards in order while keeping a column empty

spider solitaire - work to get the cards in order while keeping a column empty

spider solitaire - starting to look good

spider solitaire - starting to look good

Wheeeee- there goes a suit!

Wheeeee- there goes a suit!

How to Play Spider Solitaire

  • When playing Spider Solitaire, the aim is to line up your suits just like in any other games of Patience.
  • So, you will want, say, the King of Clubs to have the Queen of Clubs below it, the Jack of Clubs below the Queen and so on down to the Ace.
  • They won't stay there. The minute you complete a suit it disappears and appears in the bottom left of the screen in one pile, with the king at the top.
  • The cards you still have to deal are face down in the bottom right.
  • You get 6 deals per game over and above the first one where all your cards come out in rows with the final row being face up.
  • You can put any color or suit of card on top of another, so long as it is numerically one less. ie a 9 can go on a 10, a Jack on a Queen, and ace on a 1.
  • You are aiming to have all of the same suit in the one column in the right order.
  • When you have succeeded, all the cards disappear.

You can undo a move at any time by pressing the undo button on the top left hand of the screen, under Game.

It is much easier to use the keyboard short-cut Ctrl+Z. My Ctrl and my Z buttons are shiny with overuse.

You can undo right back to the start of the game if you choose now. This is new feature that came out with Windows Vista. Just press and hold down the ctrl+Z buttons and it will undo the lot if you want.

All the keyboard short-cuts are listed under Game in the top left hand of the screen.

M = move, as in what moves can I make?

H = hint, same as above

D = deal the next row of cards

Ctrl + Z = undo

F2 = start a new game but it brings up the "Do you want to start a new game?" box

The other shortcuts are for change appearance F7, statistics F4 and options F5.

Always work with at least one empty column if at all possible

Always work with at least one empty column if at all possible

The row of hearts to the right is complete, I just captured the screen shot a moment too soon

The row of hearts to the right is complete, I just captured the screen shot a moment too soon

caught this suit going

caught this suit going

Am I going to win??

Am I going to win??

Spider Solitaire Tips

  • If you want to succeed at Spider Solitaire, you want an empty column to work with. This can be done by piling the cards onto others, even if they are not of the same suit.
  • Each game, you should always aim towards getting an empty column at least once in each deal. Two or more empty columns are even better. This allows you to try moving different combinations of cards so you end up with the best possible position for your cards before you deal again.
  • You cannot deal while you still have an empty column.
  • It is not cheating to deal, then go back and change the positions of certain cards so that you get more advantage from your new deal.
  • It is not cheating to go back at all, and I really do not understand people that think it is. If it was cheating, Windows wouldn't have given us the function, would they?
  • The best time to get at least one empty column is on your final deal. I've played many games where I have not been able to do much at all with each deal, but got that precious empty column on my last deal, and have gone on to win.
  • The other important tip is not obsess over getting the cards out and away. Sometimes, completing a suit will stop your game in its tracks because you have no other move afterwards.
  • Say you have a 4 of clubs in one column, a 4 of hearts in another, and the 5 of hearts in yet another. Don't automatically assume you should put that 4 of hearts on to the 5 of hearts.
  • I usually check to make sure, especially at the start of the game, but sometimes the 4 of clubs may have a 5 of clubs right underneath it, and it is a move you would have missed if you automatically moved the 4 of hearts on to the 5 of hearts.
  • Check what is under all your possible moves. Undo if they are not of any use, and finally make the obvious move only if they isn't one better to make.
Woo-hoo! I won! Spider solitaire rocks!!

Woo-hoo! I won! Spider solitaire rocks!!

The other thing that has changed over the years with Spider Solitaire is the accolade when you win. Now (in Windows Vista) it is in the form of fireworks.

I must admit I see a lot of fireworks but then one good thing about wasting years playing Spider Solitaire is that you actually get quite good at it.

I don't play any other game so please don't send me questions about them because I really don't know. I'm not a gamer. I'm a Spider Solitairer.

Spider Solitaire Bug in WindowsVista

I forgot to mention above, but this video points it out. The Windows Vista version of Spider Solitaire has a bug. It false detects 'No More Moves' when in actual fact you do have moves left, and can in fact still win the game.

So if you are playing away quite happily, and the message pops up that you have no more moves and do you want to start another game, just X the box off and carry on with the game.


Rosy from UK on April 04, 2019:

I've always loved the game of Spider and even more when I found it can be playing online here

The Blagsmith from Britain on March 12, 2019:

I was more a lover of freecell, but I have enjoyed spider regularly too. I remember those earlier days when computers played slower and the days when MS DOS was needed. It is all called Retro these days - it does half make me feel old.

randomguy on August 15, 2018:

I just installed original spider solitaire on Windows 10.

I think I'm an addict too.

I play advanced exclusively.

I never use undo. (that's my personal preference)

I'm at 1% success rate.

Eric Farmer from Rockford Illinois on January 18, 2018:

I prefer to play standard Solitare and Freecell over Spider Solitare. I have a much harder time playing Spider Solitare. I guess I need to learn to play it better.

moonlake from America on August 04, 2011:

We are addicted to this game. Mine also came with Windows 7.

IzzyM (author) from UK on December 15, 2010:

I didn't know they were charging for them - mine came with my newest Windows 7 laptop as it always has done!

James on December 15, 2010:

For old times sake, the new solitaire games should not be sold by Microsoft! They have been free of charge since they first came out!

IzzyM (author) from UK on September 25, 2010:

Sometimes there really is no available moves. Other times, yes there is, so ignore the warning sign and double-check yourself :)

Glad to meet a fellow addict!

lisabeaman from Phoenix, AZ on September 25, 2010:

Izzy - I'm an addict too! I love Spider solitaire! I even have my 10 year old playing it. I didn't know about the Vista bug though - so I've always given up when I get the message about no more available moves... Hmmm, something new to try!

IzzyM (author) from UK on September 16, 2010:

Heard it all before! Just come along, son!

Tony from At the Gemba on September 16, 2010:

I have never touched this game and never will, you can't make me, no you can't...

Ok.. so I may have played a little..

Just a little...

But I'm not an addict, I can stop any time I like...

IzzyM (author) from UK on September 11, 2010:

Thanks. Start on the easy ones first and work your way up! Then you can join the club (spider solitaire addicts!)

kaltopsyd from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA on September 11, 2010:

I've 'mastered' regular solitare but I've never gotten the hang of spider solitare so this Hub will certainly help me out. I'm a visual learner so thank you for the images! Awesome Hub.

IzzyM (author) from UK on September 11, 2010:

Oh well done on the 25 games in a row! Your coffee must have been cold by the time you finished though!

Danny Lee Graham from Zephyr ,Texas , near Brownwood ,Texas on September 11, 2010:

Dear lady IzzyM ;

- Danny here ;

I also love spider , and We are not so sad , this is a good game brain excersize , like suduko and such , being simple minded I almost always play single suite it doesn't mater if i win or lose it is relaxation and fun ,good with my first cup of coffee before I get on to the e-mail , and just to be bragging a little , I have won twenty five games in a row , it is not that I am very good , it is just that the game is so very simple in single suite.

IzzyM (author) from UK on September 10, 2010:

Your game became corrupted? Oh I would die if that happened to me! I don't think overplaying it would have done that all the same, otherwise I'd have gone through several computers by now...oh wait...I have! lol

gramarye from Adelaide - Australia on September 10, 2010:

Izzy, so glad you came out of the closet! I also am pretty much addicted to spider solitaire... I once played it so much the game became corrupted and I couldn't use it any longer. When my computer crashed and all the software was re-loaded, it worked again. Now I don't over-do it! Great Hub!

IzzyM (author) from UK on September 10, 2010:

@Viking - do you remember what Win XP showed when you won? It wasn't fireworks because that was new in Vista - but I'm having problems remembering..

@Wendy - its better you start playing, that way you can neer get addicted!

Wendy Henderson from Cape Coral on September 10, 2010:

I've never played. I'm glad you enjoy it so much.

L M Reid from Ireland on September 09, 2010:

Oh IzzyM I was delighted to read this hub on Spider Solitaire. And yes I am a fellow addict too. The firworks display at the end when you win is really brilliant, I love seeing them lol

Great hub thanks

IzzyM (author) from UK on September 09, 2010:

Cheers! You've wasted hours and hours too when you could have been doing something useful, just playing and playing... sad aren't we? lol

dashingclaire from United States on September 09, 2010:

Love this game. Here's a fellow addict who appreciates this hub!

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