How to play: Scorpion

Scorpion is a highly recommended twist on solitaire for those who enjoy some of the popular games Klondike and Yukon. Its gameplay is a cross between these two games, but without foundations. It is played with a mostly open layout, meaning that there is opportunity for planning ahead, and this is often necessary in order to win the game.


Scropion solitaire is played with a layout of 7 columns of 7 overlapping cards. The cards are all dealt face up, with the exception of the first three cards of the first 4 columns. These are dealt face down and will be turned face up as they come into play.

The 7 columns contain a total of 49 cards, meaning that three are left over. These three cards form the reserve and will be available as a special "re-deal" the first time that the game gets stuck.

The layout for Scorpion solitaire is illustrated below— notice the that leftmost four columns have three facedown cards:

Scorpion solitaire layout (Solitaire Whizz for iPad)

Scorpion solitaire layout in Solitaire Whizz for iPad


When playing Scorpion solitaire, there are no foundations. Instead, the aim of the game is to get all of the cards in order. In other words, you must end up with four columns of cards, one per suit, with cards in descending order from King to Ace.


In Scorpion solitaire, any face-up card is available for play on each turn. You can move the chosen card to the bottom of any other column, in descending suit sequence. But crucially, only the "main" card you are moving must follow the sequence. Any other cards that are on top of the card you are moving will move with it, and do not have to be in sequence.

In the illustration below, for example, the 3 of clubs and the two cards below it (Queen of Diamonds and 10 of Hearts) may be moved on to the 4 of Clubs.

As in Klondike and other games, whenever a facedown card is at the bottom of a column, it is turned face up.

Empty columns may be filled with a King.


When the game gets stuck, a single redeal is available. The three cards that were left over when the game was laid out are now dealt, face up, one on to each of the first three columns.

Scorpion solitaire: strategy and feel

Scorpion solitaire plays differently from games such as Klondike because the sequences of cards evolve "gradually" rather than having to move whole sequences at a time.

Although the gameplay can seem freer, remember that there will only be a handful of moves available at any one time: generally up to six moves between columns unless multiple kings are available to move into an empty column. A little bit of forward planning may be required, therefore, to ensure that the game does not suddenly get stuck. To avoid reaching a dead end, try to avoid situations where cards that belong together end up apart in the same column, since each move must involve moving cards to a different column.

Chances of winning at Scorpion solitaire

Despite the apparently simple gameplay, only about 1 in 8 games are winnable (more precisely, around 12.3% of games). The game will most commonly get stuck at around 22-24 moves and in some cases can come to a stalemate after just a few moves. Picking your moves carefully more than doubles your chances of winning (the "strategy" of picking any available move on each turn will result in a win in just under 5% of games!).

Start playing Scorpion solitaire

Scorpion solitaire is one of the games included in Solitaire Whizz for iPad and Mac OS: