1850,  Amusements & Games,  Browse By Era,  Browse by Subject

The Game of Solitaire

If you have ever visited a Cracker Barrel restaurant in America you are quite familiar with the little triangular Peg game. My kids sure love that game!  Well interestingly it isn’t a new type of game and actually has quite a bit of history to it. I found a similar peg game while perusing the book entitled, Fireside Games of 1859. This board however has 37 holes and isn’t in a triangular shape.

The Fireside Games book says the following,

“The game is named “Solitaire” because it is played by one person only. It is supposed to have been invented in America, by a Frenchman, to beguile the wearisomeness attendant upon forest life, and for the amusement of the Indians, who pass much of their time alone at the chase, often lying in wait for their prey for hours together. From the children of the forest this game has become popular among the fashionable circles in our own country, and has also passed into Europe where, at the present day, it is sufficiently in vogue to be known and played by all classes of society.”

But that is just one theory with the game’s history.  According to The Young Folk’s Cyclopædia of Games and Sports –

“This game of Solitaire was fashionable in France about 1700 and some writers say that it was invented by a prisoner in the Bastile for his amusement. Others say that it was suggested to a Frenchman in America by the way in which the Indians stuck their arrows in the quiver when they returned from hunting. Others still derive it from the Magic squares early in use in the East. Leibnitz, the great German mathematician, was very fond of the game and said of it,’It is good to play reasoning games not for themselves but because they aid in perfecting the art of thinking.'”

So whether is was invented in Bastile, America or somewhere in the “East” it became quite popular. The Fireside Games book continues,

“This game is played with a board pierced with thirty-seven holes, in each of which is placed a small peg, with the exception of one, which is left empty ; thus there are thirty-seven holes and thirty-six pegs.

The above diagram points out the place which each hole occupies on the board.

One peg takes another when it can leap over it into an empty hole beyond, as the men are taken in the game of draughts.

It is necessary, therefore, for the player so to calculate his progress that, at the close of the game, but a single peg should be left upon the board. To accomplish this requires much more attention and calculation than one would at first sight believe.”

The book even goes on to give you examples of how to play the game. Some are named as such : The Curate in the Midst Of His Flock, The Corsair and The Triplet.

“We proceed to give some examples of the method by which this may be effected, which will facilitate the discovery of others that may be equally successful.”

THE METHOD OF PLAYING THE GAME BY REMOVING PEG NO. 1, AND THE MINATING BY PEG NO. 37.

Remove Peg No.  1 From        33   to   20 From         5  to   18
From        3    to    1                   20   to     7                  18   to  20
                12    to    2                     9    to   11                   20  to  33
               13    to     3                    16   to   18                   33  to  31
               15    to   13                    23   to   25                     2  to   12
                 4    to     6                    22   to   20                     8  to     6
               18    to     5                    29   to   27                     6  to   19
                 1    to   11                    18   to   31                   19  to   32
               31   to    18                    31   to   33                   36  to   26
               18    to     5                    34   to   32                   30   to  32
               20   to      7                    20   to   33                    26  to  36
                 3    to   13                    37   to   27                    35  to  37

THE METHOD OF PLAYING THE GAME BY REMOVING PEG NO. 37 AND FINISHING BY PEG NO. 1.

Remove Peg No. 37 From   5 to 18 From  33 to 20
From          35 to 37            18 to 31            20 to 18
                    26 to 36            29 to 27            18 to   5
                    25 to 35            22 to 20              5 to   7
                    23 to 25            15 to 13            36 to 26
                    34 to 32            16 to 18            30 to 32
                    20 to 33            9 to 11            32 to 19
                    37 to 27            20 to 7            19 to   6
                      7 to 20            7 to 5              2 to 12
                    20 to 33            4 to 6              8 to   6
                    18 to 31            18 to 5            12 to   2
                    35 to 25            1 to 11               3 to  1

THE METHOD OF PLAYING THE GAME CALLED THE CURATE IN THE MIDST OF HIS FLOCK.

Remove Peg No. 19 From  11 to   9 From  29 to 27
From             6 to 19             26 to 24             14 to 28
                       4 to   6             35 to 25             27 to 29
                     18 to  5             24 to 26             19 to 21
                       6 to  4             27 to 25               7 to 20
                       9 to 11             33 to 31             21 to 19
                     24 to 10             25 to 35

THE METHOD OF PLAYING THE GAME CALLED THE CORSAIR.

Remove Peg No.  3 From   3 to 13 From     4 to 17
From          13 to   3            10 to 12              16 to 18
                    15 to 13            24 to 10              25 to 11
                    28 to 14            26 to 24              23 to 25
                      8 to 21            36 to 26              26 to 24
                    29 to 15              1 to 11              30 to 17
                    12 to 14            11 to 25              35 to 25
                    15 to 13              9 to 11              34 to 32
                    20 to   7            12 to 10

Take nine Pegs of the eleven which remain with the “ Corsair 1 ” (which is Peg No. 2, and which is taken afterwards by Peg No. 37), these are Pegs Nos. 6, 11, 17, 25, 19, 13, 21, 27, 32, Peg 37 to 35.

THE METHOD OF PLAYING THE GAME CALLED THE TRIPLET.

Remove Peg No. 19 From 31 to 18 From 22 to 20
From            6 to 19            19 to 17              8 to 21
                    10 to 12            16 to 18            32 to 19
                    19 to   6            30 to 17            28 to 26
                      2 to 12            21 to 19            19 to 32
                      4 to   6              7 to 20            36 to 26
                    17 to 19            19 to 21            34 to 32

When two persons play together with two separate boards, or alternately with one, the player who leaves upon the board the fewest isolated pegs is the winner.

Offsite Link: More information on the French Solitaire game here.