One of the oldest ancestors of FreeCell is Eight Off. Baker that is similar to FreeCell, except that cards on the tableau are built by suit rather than by alternate colors. Gardner wrote, "The game was taught to Baker by his father, who in turn learned it from an Englishman during the s. FreeCell's origins may date back even further to and a Scandinavian game called Napoleon in St. Helena not the game Napoleon at St. Helena, also known as Forty Thieves. Paul Alfille changed Baker's Game by making cards build according to alternate colors, thus creating FreeCell.
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This site might be useful: solitairelaboratory. Given that there's no secret information, undo is irrelevant to whether something is impossible to solve. Active Oldest Votes. But, if you are playing a random deal, there is no game number to determine if the game is impossible or not. As a reference tool the following game numbers are not winnable:.
Below is an image of each of these games when dealt. Using Proof by Exhaustion is probably the best approach for proving this Freecell game impossible, but even mathematical proofs have been later proven incorrect. Of course they all found to be impossible. And as a side note, for anyone who thinks they can solve , download FreeCell Pro and play the game so it will log your moves.
We know that no legitimate Freecell solution is going to involve moving two cards at once, or having a 5th freecell, or a 9th column, or starting a home cell at King and working our way down. In Freecell, nothing is hidden. Bugs can sneak past but, as a developer, you know we can test by example. The example test board included in the source an almost complete board takes less than a second to run, useful to double-check if the program will run to completion without exhaustively testing each element on the way.
As such, we can see that, at least, the system as a whole works correctly sometimes. In the results we can see cards are moving to and from every column and freecell area. In this case, we can look at card list in the source and see if there are cards missing, or in the wrong order, or check for indexing errors. Afraid not. The way the program works means the list of boards is initially populated by just one; the starting board. This is one of the easiest things to check, in fact; just see what moves can be made from the initial layout, and these will be the first set of moves in the results.
You can do the same check at any point, but bear in mind some possible moves may have resulted in a duplicate layout of an earlier one and so be shown earlier, with a different parent. Is that correct? I know later version of MS Freecell had higher numbers of puzzles with more unsolvable ones. My email address is right there in the source. Do you want a running tally of how often cards are moved from each area, to eliminate the possibility something is being missed?
Or maybe you just want full test boards, to prove that it can move every card, and is checking everywhere? Whatever it is, and this is an open invitation, my email is right there. Tell me what proof you need. But even if we had a billion other solvers all declaring the game impossible, a valid solution would prove them all wrong. However, with that being said, I concede FreeCell falls within the bounds of an NP-Complete problem and can therefore be computationally solved with brute force analysis as you have done.
Will look for it from now on. I have wins and 0 losses. Now I realize probably impossible. I discovered this forum and it confirmed my belief. My little game is to not use a free cell to win a game. Of my wins I was able to win 62 games Being a baseball fan, I call them perfect games that way. And yes, I do have a girlfriend,, play a shitload of golf and have a decent tan. Thanks to Dan, and to Adrian for his computer-generated proof of the insolvability of using the method of exhaustion.
Freecell is much simpler than chess, which is not solvable in such a way or any way, for that matter. For me, had been the most recalcitrant. However, after about 50 tries at , I consulted the Internet.
Thank goodness! One shorthand of the play of the game would be to give the origin and destination of each card.
So moving a card from col 1 to the holding zone might be written 10, or moving a card from col 7 to its appropriate suit So a game might begin 59 18 82 and so on. This is clearly a unique and complete way of writing the game. Incomplete but suggestive would be simply to use the column of origin: the same game would start in this notation.
Might use 0 for promoting from the holding zone. This latter method would be more in the nature of a hint than of a replay. A unique notation would differentiate the four places in the holding area, say as a, b, c, d.
Sorry for the slip. I thought I could beat them all. Not this one. Usually, if it takes more than 30 minutes like one in a thousand games , I look up a solution online. Your posts here have been very helpful in convincing me to go ahead and ruin my game winning streak.
I hope I remember to skip over next time. I will stop playing for a few days in case a work around gets suggested here. That should only take a few months or so. And the steps to beat it. Have been playing for years but just now finding this site. Enjoyed reading all the comments esp regarding the elusive I mean the impossible Can anyone give me a heads up on how to do it?
Many thanks! As both of those deals are as probable as as other single random deal of the 52 cards, then that is proof positive that there are AT LEAST TWO hands which simply can not be played to winning. Perhaps there might be thousands of un-winnable hands?
I wanted to know how many ways it is possible to deal the 52 cards into a Freecell layout. Wikipedia says: There are 52! However, some games are effectively identical to others because suits assigned to cards are arbitrary or columns can be swapped.
After taking these factors into account, there are approximately 1. As like others, i too have solved all up to 11, before been stuck for 2 weeks on the infamous 11, before going to the net to find out it is unsolveable. It would take billions of billions of billions of years, probably longer than the universe will last. I have other things to do — like wash the car?
Hmmmm … maybe not today — I need time for another few Freecells! I got stuck on five days ago, after solving random games in a row. Finally googled this morning and got my suspicions confirmed. Welcome to the club I guess. Has anyone considered creating other unbeatable free cell games by starting with the layout for and then switching any 2 random cards before starting the game?
No one seems to have discussed this possibility. Hard to believe that all such switches of just 2 cards would all result in solveable games. Sure there is! Write it somewhere else, then paste it in. You can add as much content as you want. Or, email me your solution to me by changing the first dot in the domain to an. But plenty of people have said they solved it, but not a single one of them has ever had any proof.
As the saying goes, talk is cheap. Another one that might be impossible to solve: For me the first unsolvable one after games. Proving by brute force might be practically impossible — not enough time of living. An active Freecell forum in this day and age? FCPro also includes a Next Game function F5 which allows the deals to be easily played in sequence, a new Options menu which allows player preferences to be saved in the program registry, and a Custom Game function which allows any possible deal to be entered through a simple text file.
It is solvable, but it is the most difficult deal I have yet found outside the first 32, Since Microsoft FreeCell for Vista has now corrected its handing of supermoves , a few of the catalog solutions recorded with FreeCell Pro will no longer play back correctly. In particular, when moving a sequence of four cards from a column to an empty column, when there is another empty column and one empty freecell, is broken up into three separate two-card moves by FC Pro to match what older versions of MS FC did.
The biggest flaw in Microsoft FreeCell is its dialog box which pops up every time you want to move to an empty column, asking if you want to move a single card or a sequence of cards.
Moves of single cards to empty columns when a move of more than one card from a column is possible are very rare the standard notation allows for this, but there is not a single instance of it in the catalog of over solutions; I do not remember ever doing so when playing MS FreeCell , and it can always be done anyway in two steps by moving the single card to a freecell first, then to the empty column.
This dialog box was eliminated very early in the development of FreeCell Pro, and most good versions of FreeCell either automatically move the maximum number of cards to an empty column, or use a drag-and-drop interface though this is not as good an interface for FreeCell; NetCELL, strangely, allows drag-and-drop for single card movement only. Yahoo's version of FreeCell makes a different mistake -- it uses the selection method, but requires the player to select the top of the sequence to be moved, rather than simply choosing the column to be moved from the rare cases where it is desirable to move part of a sequence to an empty column can also be handled by individual moves to freecells; a well-designed program would use shift-click or control-click to select an exact partial sequence -- I have never seen this implemented.
A first-rate program would allow the user to customize the selection method to behave exactly as preferred FreeCell Pro allows the user to choose what action, if any, is taken on double clicks. Every program should have autoplay of all cards which are safe to move to the homecells preferably using the strong NetCELL autoplay rules described at the end of section 2 ; this speeds up play, especially at the finish.
Being able to turn off autoplay completely is a nice optional feature. Poorly designed programs often make one of two errors: either not having autoplay at all, or playing every possible card to the homecells as discussed earlier under AllPlay, this makes many deals much harder and on rare occasions impossible. Every program should have selectable, numbered deals; part of the culture of FreeCell is the discussion of hard or unusual deals.
Many versions of FreeCell, even non-Windows versions, have adopted the Microsoft deal numbers, at least for the first million deals. FreeCell is an open solitaire -- the identity of every card is supposed to be visible at the start; this can be a problem with aces in particular if the cards are tightly packed together.
Spreading the cards in each column far enough apart is the easiest way to do this a large enough screen, as in FreeCell Pro, can easily hold the maximum possible 18 cards in a column. Microsoft FreeCell, which uses a very small screen, allows any card to be identified by a right-click, which momentarily displays the entire card this is an easy feature to program and is quite useful in other games where there are often many cards in a column, where the spacing between cards in a column is automatically adjusted when it contains more cards than normal.
Some programs use specially designed cards with extra suit indices on the upper right corner, visible even with minimal spacing between the cards. Some very bad versions of FreeCell give the player no way of identifying an ace which is covered by another card; this perverts the nature of the game, which is strategic planning without guesswork. FreeCell Pro is now over eleven years old and starting to show its age no new versions have appeared in six years and it is not currently being developed.
A relatively new program is the Faslo Freecell Autoplayer developed by S. Reddi and Gary Campbell, which incorporates Gary's very strong solver. There are also new features not found in FCPro: its game playing function can detect losses up to four moves ahead of time , even when there are moves still available. FFA also has a Hint function which almost instantly suggests the next move or two if desired if the deal is still solvable; this was one of the most-requested features for FCPro, which was never implemented there.
Since the suggested moves come from the solver, they are always going to be good suggestions, unlike some other programs which merely suggest a legal move. You can use backspace to undo moves anytime, even after a loss is signaled. One of the coolest features another FCPro suggestion never implemented is that when the program signals impossible, you can backspace one move at a time until it signals solvable no need to rerun the solver and click OK as in FCPro.
Displayed solutions are much shorter and cleaner than those of FreeCell Pro, and incorporate multi-card moves. Solutions can be played through using the right and left arrow keys.
Gary also notes that deals and full or partial solutions can be output to the Windows clipboard and then to a text file using the F9 key, and F6 reads a deal from the clipboard, so you can type a hand-dealt deal or a deal from a non-MS-compatible program into a text file, select, copy, and read into FFA for play and analysis.
The format is a little tricky; the best method is to save an F9 template as a text file and replace the layout text with the deal you want to input. The program can be downloaded and used for free, though donations to Gary for its development are gratefully accepted. This powerful program may become the new standard for FC analysis programs; at the present its major limitation is that it only handles the standard four-freecell game.
Gary's website includes a detailed tutorial. Two other new programs with solvers are being developed in Java. Junyang Gu is developing a solver. A group of students at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands , led by their professor Daan van den Berg, are trying to use the results of human-played FreeCell deals to develop a solver. There are quite a few packages for Windows which include FreeCell and sometimes variants among their many games.
BVS Solitaire Collection is a large package of solitaire games, with many powerful features, including an autoend function which tells you when you are stuck. Their version of FreeCell allows some of the rules to be changed, but does not appear to allow variable numbers of columns and freecells. The deals are numbered, but are not compatible with MS deal numbers. The program allows either drag-and-drop or select-source-and-destination movement interfaces. Solitaire City is a program recently expanded to 13 games 53 including variants , including FreeCell, Klondike, and Spider.
Their version of FreeCell includes seven game variations, six of which can be played against the clock to score points and compete against others tables of the highest scores in each game are published on the website. The variants are standard, easy similar to low levels of NetCELL where low-ranking cards tend to be dealt later , hard the reverse, like high levels of NetCELL , and one, two, and three freecells.
Because the competition is speed-based, the designer, Peter Wiseman, chose not to implement autoplay, and numbered deals are only available as a seventh variant. The deal numbers go up to , and are compatible with MS deal numbers higher numbers also match those of FreeCell Pro.
Solitaire City includes a number of features, including autoend, a tutorial for each game, and a move hint feature which seems to give intelligent suggestions. Well, most of us are using a computer to deal and keep track of the deals, and FCPro can record solutions automatically. I think it is quite reasonable to use a computer to do things which would be impossible, tedious, or time-consuming to do otherwise. The variable-freecell solver makes it possible to categorize random deals into six groups based on a rough difficulty rating, while leaving the more interesting task of actually solving individual deals to humans all of the solutions in the catalog were found by humans without computer assistance.
While there are probably at least a dozen in Windows, I know of a few versions for Macintosh: the first freestanding version was David Bolen's Super Mac Freecell the old home page seems to be gone and the program may no longer be supported. I have no access to a Macintosh, and have only seen Solitaire House and Super Mac FreeCell, both of which run on experimental Macintosh emulation programs.
If anyone has played these and can comment further on their features, or knows of other versions of FreeCell, please let me know. Among the other Windows versions are the Windows 95 version Xcell. There used to be a version of FreeCell and other solitaires for Web TV, from Epsylon Games; this did not work well on an ordinary browser, and I received conflicting reports on how well it worked on Web TV. The site vanished entirely in A package which runs on a wide variety of platforms is a new edition of the Solitaire Antics package, called Solitaire Antics Ultimate, by Masque Publishing.
Other packages available for both Windows and Macintosh are Burning Monkey Solitaire, which has 30 games including FreeCell [apparently no longer available], Solitaire Plus! I wish I could say it was well done. The screen is tiny about 49x42 mm , and is in color but the suits are red and white and it is easy to mistake hearts for diamonds and clubs for spades.
There are apparently only about different deals the reason for this limitation is not clear , and they are not numbered. The interface is somewhat clumsy, requiring multiple buttons to be pushed for many simple operations such as moving sequences the whole sequence must be selected with a roll up button and moves from freecells other than the lefthand one similar to keyboard notation.
Only six cards per column can be displayed, and the roll up button must be pushed to view deeper cards. This has free versions of FreeCell, TriPeaks, and Klondike deal 3 , and can be expanded to include more than 50 other games and variants. I have also seen a countertop version of FreeCell this is a touchscreen unit, similar to a video game, which can be found in restaurants and bars.
Levitan Enterprises, Ltd. Jeffery K. Hughes, the programmer for ESI's version, notes that the deal numbers in this version match those of the standard Microsoft Windows version exactly. It's been years since I played any video games Intellivision and the original Nintendo , and I have no idea whether there are any other solitaire card games for them.
Shlomi Fish has a solver available at his home page it is written in C and runs on various platforms, including DOS. It has many features and can solve deals from FreeCell and a variety of solitaires related to FreeCell.
A new solver by Gary Campbell , which originally ran as a command file under DOS, has recently been integrated into the Faslo program mentioned above. There are a number of other FreeCell solving programs; none of those I have seen appear to be as fast or powerful as the programs mentioned above. Lingyun Tuo wrote a solver as part of his Autofree program.
Luc Barthelet wrote a solving application notebook for the analysis package Mathematica. XCell also had a built-in solver the links for these have all disappeared. There are a number of unpublished solvers I know about. Jones has a very powerful one, which he has used extensively to find solutions and win rates for this FAQ. His standard solver, running under Windows XP on a 1.
Adrian Ettlinger, using Don Woods' solver with some extensions of his own, analyzed 20 million deals, starting with the standard 32, of the Microsoft version, and continuing on through deals numbered up to 20,, using the same random number scheme as Microsoft FreeCell, thanks to Jim Horne. Most notably, we verified the result of the Ring project: all but one deal of the 32, standard deals is solvable!
No more unsolvables turned up for more than , more deals. Jones has extended the analysis to 20 million using his own solver of the first 25 million, are impossible , and Ryan L. Jones, and Gary Campbell has extended it to million. Of the first million, are impossible, a win rate of nearly A more difficult variant of FreeCell, as mentioned above, is to play with fewer than four freecells. The deals below which require four freecells to win are: , , , , , , , , , , and A full list is in the list of difficult deals page.
Based on analysis of the first 32, deals, we can also give some results for smaller numbers of freecells. It has been found, as a result of recent work by Shlomi Fish following earlier work by Danny A. Jones , that 25, of the first 32, deals are solvable and 6, are impossible. The last of these to fall was number , which was intractable for quite a while but eventually proved impossible.
Shlomi Fish and his colleague Jonathan Ringstad who provided computing resources and support at the University of Oslo have extended their analysis through the first , deals, finding , solvable and 82, impossible. Only deal number has still proved intractable. More details are available in the September 2, posting on Fish's blog. Jones and Shlomi Fish and their solvers for these results. The win rate for zero freecells discussed in section 3 is about 0. The approximate win rates per deals for variant games with different numbers of freecells across top and columns down left are:.
White boxes with zeros indicate variants where no winnable random deals are known. When Windows 95 was released, FreeCell nearly instantly became a highly played solitaire game and Pretty Good Solitaire was one of the few programs that could play FreeCell on the still popular Windows 3.