Golf Solitaire (Sometimes also referred to as Forty Thieves) is a fun solitaire game, requiring great anticipation, and a good degree of luck. Whilst it is not possible to win every game, there are certain strategies you can use to greatly increase your chances of winning Golf Solitaire, and this article will go into some of them.
The more important thing to realize with Golf Solitaire is that Kings and Aces are special. Every other card in the deck can be removed onto cards ranked directly above or below the card. For example, a 5 can be removed onto a 4 or a 6.
But Aces and Kings are different.
An Ace can only be removed onto a Two, and a King can only be removed onto a Queen.
This means you have to be particularly careful when you use Queen's and Two's.
Because of this, the very first thing you should do when you start a game of Golf Solitaire is to count all the Kings and Aces.
If all the Kings are in the tableau, then every time you remove a Queen, you MUST make sure you also remove a King, or you wont be able to finish the game. And if a Queen is dealt from the Talon, then you MUST remove a King straight away. If you can't, you may as well undo, or start a new game.
Similarly, if all four Aces are in the tableau, then every time you remove a Two, you MUST make sure you also remove a Ace, and if a Two is dealt from the Talon, then you must immediately remove a Ace.
If all the Aces and Kings aren't out, then you need to keep track of how many Two's and Queen's have been dealt from the Talon. In this case you don't need to use every Two or Queen on a Ace or King, but if you keep track and work out that there are not enough Two's or Queens left to remove all the remaining Aces or Kings, then it is time to undo...
Just being aware of this one facet of Golf Solitaire will immediately increase your chances of winning. It takes about 5 seconds to count the Aces and Kings at the start of the game, but it will help to dramatically improve your winning percentage!
There are other ways to further increase your chances of winning Golf Solitaire...
If you have a choice between removing two cards of the same rank, one being the last card in it's stack, and the other having cards above it, then make sure you choose the card in the stack with cards above it. Removing the last card in the column will not help you to remove any other cards, but removing the card with cards above it will expose new cards, which will help to form new sequences, and will give you more options later in the game.
You should also look at which cards will be exposed when given a choice between removing cards of equal value. There are two things to look for:
- Is the exposed card an Ace or a King? If so, it might be worthwhile exposing so it can be removed if a Two or a Queen is dealt.
- Does the exposed card help with any other potential sequences at the moment? If so, then it may be worth exposing because it might help make a longer sequence later. eg: If there are a lot of Fours and Sixes exposed at the moment, then exposing a Five might be worthwhile.
Finally, it's often worth planning out sequences, and playing around with alternatives, to see how long a sequence you can make. You will often find that the first sequence you can see in Golf Solitaire is not the best one, and a different sequence might help you to remove a lot more cards. You may find it helps to point your finger at the screen while planning out your sequence. It seems to help the thinking process, and helps you to remember the sequence!
If you follow these strategies, will you win every game of Golf Solitaire?
No, you won't. There is too much luck involved, and most games will not be finishable.
You will greatly increase your chances of winning Golf Solitaire though, and spend less time trying to finish games which can't possibly be won.