Player's Guide to Solitaire Virtuoso

Solitaire Virtuoso is an omnibus solitaire program with the capability of playing a wide range of solitaire games, modifying the rules and parameters of existing games, starting from a random or specified initial position, and saving solutions.  The program starts with a small splash screen, which disappears if you click on it or select a solitaire game from the Open Games or Closed Games menus under Solitaire. (We will designate all of the menus using boldface, with slashes indicating submenus).   We will also use the term game to mean a kind of solitaire and deal to mean a random initial shuffle of the deck.

Games are classified into two groups:
Solitaire/Open Games gives a list of games in which the whole deck (or the only portion being used) is dealt face up at the start
Solitaire/Closed Games gives a list of games in which only part of the deck is dealt, or some cards are dealt face down

After you select a solitaire game (e.g. Klondike or Spider), you
can change some program parameters (e.g. number of columns) in many games by choosing from the Parameters menu.   Not everything works yet; in particular, foundation games are not supported yet for multiple decks.   You can also change some general rules from the Rules menu (more on these in a moment).

Once you have the game and rules you want, you need to deal a random set of cards by selecting from the File menu:
New Deal selects a five-digit random seed based on the seconds of the day (up to 86399)
Next Deal deals the next seed in sequence from whatever was dealt last (or the five-digit seed which came up at the program start)
Select Deal allows to you enter a deal number up to 4 billion or so
Same Deal redeals the current deal (allowing you to restart the current deal)
Previous Deal goes backwards one deal number

The current deal number is shown in the lower right corner.

Some games (eventually all) will allow you to enter your own deal through a text file which looks like a FreeCell deal:

65269
JH AC AD 8H 7D KD 9D 7S
3C 4D 9C TC 3D 6H TS 4S
7H JS KC 3S 5H 4H 6D TH
8C 2H 9S QD 2S 7C TD QC
QS 9H 5S 6C JC KH KS 2D
AS 4C 5D 5C AH 8S 6S QH
8D JD 2C 3H


Once you have any deal showing, Select Options/Read Deal, select the filename, and click File/Same Deal again.
  You can also enter a deal with the mouse through the menu Show/Card Tracker; this is still experimental, but should work in most Open games.

Changing the Rules and Game Parameters

Parameters/Building Rule allows you to change how the foundations are built: Up in Suit (e.g. Klondike), Regardless of Suit (Beleaguered Castle), Up in Alternate Colors.
Parameters/Moving Rule allows you to change how cards are moved between columns: Groups in Suit (Spider), Groups in Alternate Colors (Klondike/Spider)
Parameters/Packing Rule allows you to change how cards are packed on columns
Parameters/Shuffle Method allows you to choose one of three shuffle methods:
Standard Demo was the original method, used in many of the individual game tutorials.
Riffle is the current method, using an experimental system simulating an actual set of riffle shuffles.
MS deal numbers is a slot reserved for producing deal numbers compatible with Microsoft FreeCell (it does not do so yet)
Parameters/Number of Decks allows you to play with more than one deck for certain games.   Using more than two will probably make the program crash unless you reduce the number of suits (Spider: 1 Suit, for example, uses 1 suit and 8 decks).   Games with foundations are not supported yet for multiple decks, but you can play with up to 8 suits.
Parameters/Number of Ranks allows you to play minigames (Montana is especially good) by reducing the number of ranks below 13.
Parameters/Number of Suits allows you to play with up to eight suits: Stars (T in notation) and Moons are blue suits;  Bells and Hourglasses (G) are green suits.
Parameters/Number of Columns allows you to make the tableau up to 20 columns wide.  The screen will expand as needed.
Parameters/Number of Rows allows you to make the tableau up to 12 columns deep.
Parameters/Number of Depots (Freecells) allows you to increase or decrease the number of freecells in games such as FreeCell, Eight Off, or Penguin.
Parameters/Ephemeral Freecells allows you to make some of the freecells temporary, so that they vanish after one use.
Parameters/Number of Redeals allows you to increase (to unlimited if desired) or decrease the number of times the wastepile can be turned over and dealt as a new stock.
Parameters/Stock Deal allows you to change the way in which cards are dealt from the stock: one or three at a time (e.g. Klondike), or one to each column (Spider).
Parameters/Storehouse Size allows you to change the number of cards dealt to the storehouse in games such as Canfield and Beehive.
Parameters/Accordion Leap Size allows you to change the leap distance in Accordion from 2 to 12.

Playing the games

Most of the games work on a click-to-select system: click to select the card(s) you want to move (this shades the card in gray), and then click where you want it to go.  Clicking on the top of the stock causes the next card or set of cards to be dealt according to the current rules.   Clicking the selected card a second time will unselect it.   The program understands the rules of the game you are playing and will select a group of cards automatically if appropriate, so in Klondike, for example, you can click anywhere in a column and the entire movable group will be selected.

Clicking with the right mouse has multiple functions, depending on the game.  It will send a card to its foundation pile if possible, otherwise to a freecell if possible, otherwise to an empty column if possible (see individual articles on the Virtuoso page).   Right mouse click also forces a card in Accordion to leap instead of slide.

Undo allows the last discarded card to be returned to its location, or the most recent column move to be reversed.   Eventually every action except shuffled redeals (as in Montana) will be reversible, but at the moment you cannot undo plays to foundations and deals from the stock.

The program is set up to save won games by default, but this works only for discarding games (Nestor, Black Hole, Giza, etc.) where the solution is recorded by listing the cards discarded.  For most games, the solution in proper notation (by designating column moves as in FreeCell) is saved in a text area, visible by selecting Options/Solution Recording.  This solution can be saved to a text file with a standard name (three letter game prefix and seven digit deal number) by clicking Options/Write Solution.   Eventually this will be transparent, and you will be able to turn automatic solution recording on or off by default.

This article is copyright 2015 by Michael Keller. All rights reserved. Most recently edited on January 31, 2015.