The Rules of Accordian Solitaire

A Variation on Classic Solitaire

Man playing solitaire

Portra Images/Getty Images

Playing by the standard rules, accordion solitaire is a difficult card game to win. However, it provides plenty of opportunities to plan ahead and make tactical choices.

Because winning can be such a challenge and can take a long time to complete, the card game is also called "idle year," or names with a Biblical reference, the "Tower of Babel," or "Methuselah." The goal of accordion solitaire is to compress the entire deck, which is spread out, into a single pile.

Like all other solitaire games, the game is for one "solitary" player. 

Game Setup

The game requires one standard, 52-card deck, shuffled. As well as a large tabletop surface. 

There are two ways to play the game. You can start the game by spreading out the entire deck of 52 cards out on the table in a single row. As you reveal the cards in the row, the cards can be immediately put into play if possible (more about this in gameplay). Using this method, this decreases the puzzle element of the game and makes this more a game of chance.

Or, you can lay out every card in one long row (or two or three long rows) and then plan out your moves, which makes the gameplay feel more like a puzzle that needs solving. This game does feel more cumbersome.


You can make a tableau or a pile that can be moved on top of another pile immediately to its left or separated to its left by two piles if the top cards of each pile have the same suit or rank. Gaps left behind are filled by moving piles to the left.

When a card is moved, any cards it previously covered are moved along with it. Once a card is covered, it cannot be uncovered. The game is won when all cards are compressed into one pile, or depending on the version you play, it is considered a win when there are five sequential piles or less at the end of the game.

History of Solitaire

The game of solitaire, also called "patience," is most likely German or Scandinavian in origin. The game became popular in France in the early 19th century reaching England and America in the latter half. The earliest known recording of a game of patience occurred in 1783 in the German game anthology "Das neue Königliche L'Hombre-Spiel." Before this, there were no literary mentions of this style of card game.

Playing cards were first invented in China during the Tang dynasty during the 9th century. The "four suited" cards, most like the 52-deck of cards we currently use now, most likely got its start in southern Europe in the 14th century.


  • To make the game easier to win, some players adjust the allowable moves so that a card can be placed on top of additional cards. For example, allowing a card to be placed on any of the three cards to its left makes the game significantly easier to win.
  • Before you start playing, locate four cards with the same rank that are close and near the end of the layout. Try to get the four cards to the end of the layout. You do not want to cover them with other cards until the end of the game.