Dominoes Freecell Solitaire

Contributed by Ecks Why

Dominoes Freecell Solitaire is based on the Freecell card game but instead of cards uses a double 6, double 9 or double 12 set of dominoes.

Setup

Place all tiles with one or both ends blank face up in numerical order. These tiles do not move - they just mark the positions of the columns. Shuffle the remaining tiles and place them face up in columns underneath the tiles with blanks. The column under the double blank tile begins empty while the other columns are as nearly equal as possible. With a double six set there are three columns of 3 tiles and three columns of 4 tiles as in the figure below. With a double 9 set there are 9 columns of 5 tiles. With a double 12 set there are six columns of 6 tiles and six columns of 7 tiles. Tiles are always placed with the higher pip count at the top. The top number is considered the "suit" and the bottom number is considered the "rank".

domino freecell setup
Play

  1. The bottom tile of any column can be moved to the bottom of another column whose existing bottom tile is one higher in rank, irrespective of the suit. For example in the diagram above the [4-2] can be moved under the [3-3].
  2. The bottom tile of any column can be moved up to the top of the layout above a tile one lower in rank of the same suit. For example in the diagram above, after the [4-2] has been moved, the [3-1] can be moved up above the [3-0].
  3. The bottom tile of any column can be moved to an empty column.
  4. If a stack of tiles at the bottom of a column are in descending rank order, reading downwards, irrespective of suit, the whole stack can be moved to an empty column or to a column whose existing bottom tile is one rank higher than the top card of the stack. For example in the diagram above the [4-4] and [3-3] could be moved together under the [6-5].

The diagram below shows the game above after the following moves have been made: [3-1] moved up, [4-2] moved below the [3-3], [4-1] and [4-2] moved up, [5-3] moved below the [6-4]. In this diagram it would be legal to move the stack [5-5], [6-4], [5-3] into either empty column, and the [3-2] could then be moved to the top.

domino freecell play

To win, all the tiles must be stacked above the columns corresponding to their suits in order of increasing rank, as in the diagram below. Play continues until you are stuck or win !!

domino freecell finish

Differences from Card Freecell and Variations

You may notice three significant differences between the rules of play in this game and card freecell.

  1. In Card Freecell the free cells can only accept one card. In Domino Freecell the 'free' [0-0] position can accept a stack of cards. Therefore it is not a true freecell but an empty column.
  2. In Card Freecell cards can only be moved one at a time. In practice computer versions allow stacks to move, but only to save time when there are enough freecells or empty columns to enable the same move to be done one card at a time. In Domino Freecell stacks can be moved freely.
  3. In Card Freecell, columns can be built downwards only in alternate colours. In Domino Freecell columns can be built irrespective of suit.

These differences all make Domino Freecell much easier than the card version. In particular the double 6 version of this game is significantly easier to solve than Card Freecell, though with larger domino sets it becomes progressively more difficult.

As with Card Freecell, many variants are possible. For example.

  1. Moves could be restricted to one tile at a time, with stack moves allowed only if there were enough empty columns to achieve the same thing with single tile moves - i.e. 1 tile with 0 empty columns, 2 tiles with 1 empty column, 4 tiles with 2 empty columns, etc.
  2. The initial empty [0-0] position could be made into a freecell accepting just one tile rather than an empty column. If this makes the game too hard to solve, the number of freecells could be increased.
  3. Downward building moves could be restricted to tiles of the same suit. Or by analogy with the card game built cards could be required to alternate even and odd suits. However, the even/odd version could be awkward to play unless the even and odd suits could be distinguished clearly, for example by making the tiles different colours.

References

Dominoes Freecell on BoardGameGeek

Freecell at the Solitaire Laboratory