“Aunt Dian Solitaire”

6 Aug

JediBoy has been asking to learn how to play solitaire the past few weeks, and we’ve had lots of fun teaching him. First, he learned 10-20-30 (thank you, Paskowitzes – this is still our favorite and most common solitaire).

For 10-20-30, you start by dealing out seven cards face up to form seven rows. You continue the game by adding a new card to each row in turn, and then again, and again. In this game you are constantly dealing the cards, and hoping to pick some back up along the way. You are looking for patterns of 3 cards together (the bottom 3, the bottom 2 and the top 1, or the bottom 1 and the top 2 cards) which add up to 10, 20 or 30. Aces are 1, and all face cards are 10. When you see a combination of 3 cards that adds up to 10, 20 or 30, you pick it up and put it, face down, at the bottom of the deck in your hand.

For example, here’s a game I started dealing out. When I got to the 5th pile dealing out the 3rd row, I saw I had 30 (three face cards). So I can pick those three cards up and put them at the bottom of my deck.


Continue dealing with the next pile. If taking one combination reveals another in the same pile, take that one too. If taking a combination eliminates a pile, you don’t deal to that pile again. To win, you need to eliminate all seven piles and have the whole deck in your hand.

I continued dealing, finishing the 3rd row and moving on to the 4th. I skipped the 5th pile as I’d already eliminated it. Here on the 6th original pile, you can see a 4 and 5 at the bottom and an Ace at the top – I can pick up those three cards and put them on the bottom of my deck.

102030 step 2

JediBoy liked this active game, but found it hard to watch the bottoms and the tops of the piles at the same time, so he learned Clock Solitaire next.

Clock Solitaire is pretty common, I think. You deal 51 cards out – 12 piles of 4 cards each arranged in a circle, corresponding to the 12 numbers on a clock, and 3 cards in a pile in the center of the circle. The remaining card is your start card. Flip over the start card and put it on the matching pile, in the spot where that number would be on a clock. Kings go on the center pile. Then take the bottom card off the pile you just played on, and flip that card over next. The goal of the game is to flip over all the cards, and put home all the 48 cards around the outside of the clock before you find the 4th king (which stops the game since there won’t be a 4th card to take away from that pile).

It looks something like this:

JediBoy loved Clock Solitaire, but he seemed to realize that it isn’t one of our favorite versions, so he asked to learn the other type we play frequently.

We call this “Aunt Dian Solitaire” because Aunt Dian taught it to us, but we’re hoping that someone out there somewhere knows the official, Hoyle name for this version.

In “Aunt Dian Solitaire,” you deal out all 52 cards into 7 piles: 1 card face up, then 6 face down for the first row, then 2 face up and 5 face down for the second row, etc. Keep dealing – the extra three cards go on the first three piles, face up. Here’s what the original deal looks like:


Now you look for moves. You can put cards together by suit, smaller on larger in consecutive order. If the smaller number has cards on top of it, you move that whole section of the pile all at once. When an ace is revealed (no cards on top of it), you put it above the tableau, and then you are able to build up on it, in suit, in the same way you build on aces in Klondike Solitaire.

Here’s the game a little farther through. I’m about to move the 9club, Aheart, 2heart and Jdiamond from the bottom of the 1st pile onto the 3rd pile where the 10club is face up. I’m moving the 9 onto the 10, and all the cards that are on top of the 9 come along with it. You can only place cards or piles of cards onto cards which are at the bottoms of the columns.

auntdian step 2

When you move all the face-up cards off a pile that still has face-down cards, flip over the top face-down card, which gives you a new number to work with. When you move all the face-up cards off a pile with no remaining face-down cards, you can move a king (and any cards on top of it) to that spot to restart the pile. Your goal is to get all the cards built up in suit on the 4 aces. This game is quite hard to win, and takes a lot of time to deal out. But we enjoy it!

PisecoDad mentioned last night (as I was playing solitaire in bed, which explains the quality of the pictures) that we would all enjoy Aunt Dian Solitaire more if we could find a version of it on the computer, or for the DS, because that would eliminate the 50% of your time spent in shuffling and dealing. Sometimes you shuffle and deal this whole tableau just to find you have one move and then you’re stumped, and you have to pick them all up, shuffle and deal all over again.

So please, if you have any clue what this solitaire version is officially named, or where we can find it online, we would be so grateful! (I’ve already checked the more common lists of top 25 solitaire versions, and it’s not there.)

9 Responses to ““Aunt Dian Solitaire””

  1. John August 6, 2008 at 9:08 pm #

    Never heard of any of these. Funny how solitaire games get passed down in families. I’ve been thinking of teaching Ethan to play and I think I’ll have to try now. The Aunt Dian Solitaire reminds me of Klondike, but obviously different. My favorite variation to play with my brother growing up was 2 person Klondike. Play with 2 decks opposite each other on the table and use a shared tableau. There will eventually be 8 piles, but you can put your cards on his and vice versa, creating a race to see who can finish first.

    I have to be a purist and say stick with the cards. While we might be getting old and crotchety, our kids have the same patience for dealing out the cards that we did. Don’t short cut.

  2. piseco August 7, 2008 at 6:53 am #

    Yes, I used to play 2-person Klondike with my grandmother. My mom used Klondike as a way to meditate/relax before cooking dinner every night, when All Things Considered came on NPR you could be sure to find her near the radio with her cards.

    And don’t worry, I wasn’t really planning on having JediBoy play the computer version… it’s really just for the two old and crotchety grown-ups!

  3. tribeofautodidacts August 7, 2008 at 7:01 am #

    I used to love solitaire, but I only ever knew one version. Thanks for this great post!

  4. Andrea August 7, 2008 at 7:53 am #

    It looks like Free Cell (the last one) but not quite. They’re very similar though.

    We love solitaire.

  5. Meg August 8, 2008 at 11:40 pm #

    I know the clock one, though I haven’t played it in ages. The 10-20-30 looks like fun, but I didn’t know it.

    The one from your aunt reminds me of one my mom taught me years ago, that I was just trying to remember. In ours you do 3 cards face down and then 4 face up for 3 rows; and then all 7 cards face up for 4 rows. The extra 3 cards are set aside to be added as needed.

    Then movement is similar, but you are stacking from king down, and kings are the only thing that can move into an empty column – but there was some catch on moving them that I can’t remember.

    I do remember that it was very hard to win.

    At one point I had a program that let you program in your own solitaire game but it couldn’t handle our version.

    Oh, and I don’t have any idea what the name of our version was.

    I family has played double (triple etc.) sol forever. In fact with step-mom here this weekend she and I are playing every night.

  6. Pat February 18, 2009 at 12:15 am #

    “Aunt Dian Solitaire”
    I play this version, but I add up to 9, 19 and 29. When I play steady, I win about once every 3 weeks.

  7. Chris March 23, 2009 at 1:16 pm #

    I learned 9, 19, 29 as passed down from my mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Over a hundred years in our family. I’ve never found anyone else who played it before.

  8. Gail Owino January 8, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    I used to play the 9-19-29 a lot too but its been years. I am trying to remember if you lay down five or seven cards to start. Can anyone help me? Thanks.

  9. Jimmy July 16, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    I have never played 10-20-30, but I have played 9-19-29 which is the same thing that add up to those different numbers. Everything is played exactly the same, start with seven rows and so on and so forth. My mom taught me this game. She said her father, my grandpa who passed a few years before I was born, played it all the time in the Navy. According to my mom, he said that he only won one time in his whole life. I have played it countless numbers of times and beat it once with a brand new deck of cards that had never been played before. I wish I kept track of how many times I tried before playing so I could give some odds of winning. I would guess 1:1000. Maybe more, anyone else have a guesstimate of the odds of winning?

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