Cards arch across the screen after a player has won Solitaire Cards arch across the screen after a player has won Solitaire Whether or not you're a fan of Solitaire, you've got to admit – seeing the cards jump across the screen after a satisfying win is one of the most elating computer animations of all time. (Photo: Daniel Oines / Flickr)

5 fun facts about online Solitaire

The computer game is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a huge tournament. Here's what you might not know about the game of chance.

You probably had one of two main relationships with computer Solitaire. Either it was the only game you were allowed to play on your Windows 95 so you’re left in a state of ambivalent nostalgia, or you were completely addicted – and likely still are.

In an announcement that’s making even us Millennials feel old, Microsoft has clued us all in that this procrastination-enabling game is turning 25 this year. The tech giant is marking the occasion with a global tournament, in which Solitaire gurus from Italy to Israel to Idaho can take part.

So, how does a Solitaire tournament work, exactly? Isn’t the game mostly up to chance? Turns out, there are some very intriguing facts about this one-person game – and who knows, maybe one or two of them could even help you win.

Games of Solitaire on older and newer Windows operatig systemsSolitaire's design has streamlined over the years, but there's something special about the bright, blocky original. (Photo: Robert Jorgenson and Lasse Havelund/Flickr)

1. Solitaire was developed in 1989 by ... an intern?

Wes Cherry adapted the popular card game for Microsoft during his internship with the company. The game was included in Windows 3.0, which made its debut in 1990. It's safe to say that any '90s kid knows the familiar sight of the rounded, glass screen of the early Windows PCs, accompanied by the call of the glowing green game that could occupy hours of time.

Microsoft Solitaire was a way to get people relaxed and excited about using the computer at home – and look where we are now! (Bonus fact: Solitaire has been pre-installed on every Windows operating system since Windows 3.0 – except Windows 8!)

Selection of decks in Windows Solitaire from Windows 3.11 One of the earliest versions of Solitaire from Windows 3.11. All of the card back designs in the early versions of Microsoft Solitaire were designed by Susan Kare – and we all had our 'lucky' design, whether or not it helped us win! (Photo: Peter Bonnett/Flickr)

2. There are five main variations of Solitaire: Klondike, FreeCell, Spider, TriPeaks and Pyramid.

And that's not all! There are many variations of these Solitaire games, all customizable based on how many decks and suits you play with, how many cards are dealt from the top left deck and how the cards are arranged. In short? You can get bored of regular old Solitaire, but you will never run out of ways to make it more interesting.

3. The highest score you can earn in the standard version of Microsoft Solitaire is 24,113.

You get 10 points for each card added to an aces pile (aka "home stack") and five points for each time you move a card from the deck to a column (correctly). There is a time bonus for games that last longer than 30 seconds (faster ones are not considered for scoring) based on the formula: 700,000 divided by the total time (in seconds) it took you to finish.

Cartoon of cat running away Cartoonist Adam Koford's clever "Lough-Out-Loud Cats" comic #1769 draws a humorous juxtaposition between classic Klondike card game and digital Solitaire. (Photo: Adam Koford/Flickr)

4. Winning is more likely than you think.

Many tech-savvy people have made it their mission to analyze the game of Solitaire. According to Usman Latif of TechUser.net, 1 in 400 Solitaire games are unsolvable. Three factors play into a game that you can't win, according to Latif:

1. No aces are in the fifteen playable cards
2. None of the seven playable cards in the row-stacks can be moved to a different row-stack.
3. None of the eight playable cards in the deck can be moved to any of the seven row-stacks.

So, as it turns out, most games are lost because of user error.

5. It's not all luck – you really can increase your chance of winning.

By keeping the runs (that vertical line of visible cards) evenly distributed instead of focusing on completing one at a time, it enables you to make more moves elsewhere and can improve time dramatically. Focus on unlocking the face-down cards so you know what you're working with, instead of moving cards just because you can. Finally, don't be too eager with the stockpile. Only play a card from that pile if there are no other options available within the other stacks. Playing all three cards in the dealt pile is also not the best idea, as you want to be able to see as many cards as possible in that deck to know what options you have there and playing all three will keep them all in the same order. You can find more helpful tips on this handy list from MSN Games.

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