FreeCell: What Is the Best Move?

Here is the opening position for game 248,185,456:

What is the best way to start? As always at the beginning, we want to ask: which column or columns do we want to clear first? I see some good possibilities in C3: we can easily place most of the cards in this column:

  • The black Q at the bottom goes on the red K.
  • The red 7 goes up. We know we can place it on the black 8 shortly.
  • The black A goes up.
  • The red 8 goes to the black 9 in C8.

At this point, you can see how the rest shapes up: we have red and black sevens, red and black eights, and red and black nines in C1, C3, and C8. We just have to maneuver the red 10 over to one of the black Jacks in C5 or C8.

C3 is a good starting column because the cards are easy to move, or they take care of themselves. The black A in the middle and the black K at the top take care of themselves because we don’t have to move them. As for the red 10, we have some flexibility with that one. We can stash it above for a short time if we like, or place the black 9 in C8 on it until one of the black Jacks is available. Best is to keep the red 10 down below until the black J is free.

Whenever you free your first column, the game seems a little easier. Sometimes it becomes a lot easier. After 29 moves, we have a good foundation in C3, and a king at the top of C1. But be flexible! Later that black K in C1 goes up top to make way for the red K in C5. You’ll see that at move 60.

Our next job is to free the cards in C5, C6, C7, and C8. They are all short columns, and they all contain cards that we need. That wasn’t so difficult. 31 moves later, we are about to win. We just need to free the cards in C2:

What is the best way to do that? Just play C2 – C7 (3), C2 – C6, and C2 – C5. The ace goes up, and the rest follow.

This was a fairly simple game.

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