5 Facts about FreeCell

Here are 5 basic facts about the solitaire card game FreeCell. FreeCell can be played on Windows, Mac, or iPad using the game Pretty Good Solitaire. All of the game numbers referenced below work in Pretty Good Solitaire or FreeCell Plus.

Download Pretty Good Solitaire Now »

1. Nearly every FreeCell game is winnable.

Nearly every FreeCell game can be won. Only a very few FreeCell games are unwinnable. Using the basic deal numbering system that virtually all FreeCell games use, game #11982 is the first unwinnable game of FreeCell. After that only the games #146692, #186216, #455889, #495505, #512118, #517776, and #781948 are unsolvable out of the first million games. Therefore, unsolvable games of FreeCell are literally eight out of a million.

Unsolvable FreeCell Game #11982
Screenshot of unsolvable FreeCell game #11982 from the iPad version of Pretty Good Solitaire.

2. FreeCell was invented by Paul Allfile on a mainframe educational computer system.

Baker's Game

A student named Paul Alfille invented FreeCell and wrote the first FreeCell computer program for the PLATO educational computer system at the University of Illinois. This was a mainframe computer in the days before PCs. FreeCell itself is actually very much Like another solitaire game called Baker's Game. The only difference between FreeCell and Baker's Game is that the cards are built down by alternate color in FreeCell and by suit in Baker's Game. While this difference seems tiny, it makes a huge difference in how often the game can be won. Baker's Game has many, many more unsolvable deals than FreeCell.

3. FreeCell became wildly popular when it was included in Windows 95.

FreeCell became a wildly popular solitaire game when it was included as a game in Windows 95 along with the regular solitaire game (which is actually the solitaire game Klondike). It quite possibly even became more popular than the regular solitaire game. The Windows 95 game was written by Jim Horne. He developed the game numbering system by which the original 32000 games were numbered. This was later increased to 1,000,000 game numbers in later versions of Windows.

FreeCell in Pretty Good Solitaire on a Mac
Screenshot of FreeCell from the Mac version of Pretty Good Solitaire.

4. Although most games are winnable, some games can be quite hard.

Even though nearly all FreeCell games are winnable, some FreeCell games can be quite difficult to solve. The low number games that seem to give people the most problems are #178, #617, and #1941. If you want a challenge, try one of these games. After that, try #10692 and #18872.

Difficult FreeCell Game #617
Screenshot of the difficult FreeCell game #617 from the iPad version of Pretty Good Solitaire.

5. FreeCell was one of the original 5 games in Pretty Good Solitaire.

The first version of Pretty Good Solitaire released in 1995 for Windows 3.1 contained FreeCell as one of its 5 first games. At the time Windows 95 had not even been released yet and most people had never even heard of FreeCell. 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 3.1.

Today Pretty Good Solitaire has grown to over 1000 games and works on all types of desktop/laptop Windows. It not only contains FreeCell but also nearly 60 different FreeCell type games, including Baker's Game, Sea Towers, Eight Off, and Penguin.

FreeCell on Pretty Good Solitaire for Windows
Screenshot of FreeCell from the Windows version of Pretty Good Solitaire.

Learn more about FreeCell »