Solitaire (also called Patience) often refers to single-player card games involving a layout of cards with a goal of sorting them in some manner. However it is possible to play the same games competitively (often a head to head race) and cooperatively. The term solitaire is also used for single-player games of concentration and skill using a set layout of tiles, pegs or stones rather than cards. These games include Peg solitaire and Shanghai solitaire.
These games typically involve dealing cards from a shuffled deck into a prescribed arrangement on a tabletop, from which the player attempts to reorder the deck by suit and rank through a series of moves transferring cards from one place to another under prescribed restrictions. Some games allow for the reshuffling of the deck(s), and/or the placement of cards into new or "empty" locations.
There are many different solitaire games, but the term "solitaire" is often used to refer specifically to the most well-known form, called "Klondike". Klondike and some other solitaire games have been adapted into two-player competitive games. See List of solitaire card games for more.
There is a vast array of variations on the solitaire/patience theme, using either one or more decks of cards, with rules of varying complexity and skill levels. Many of these have been converted to electronic form and are available as computer games. Basic forms of Klondike solitaire and FreeCell come with every current installation of Microsoft Windows.
The game is most likely German or Scandinavian in origin. The game became popular in France in the early 19th Century reaching England and America in the latter half. Patience was first mentioned in literature shortly after cartomantic layouts were developed circa 1765. The earliest known recording of a game of patience occurred in 1783 in the German game anthology Das neue Königliche L'Hombre-Spiel. Before this, there were no literary mentions of such games in large game compendiums such as Charles Cotton's The Compleat Gamester (1674) and Abbé Bellecour's Academie des Jeux (1674).
There is an old tradition in the German or Scandinavian countries to use "patience" as a guide to what the near future has to offer, a kind of "luck" meter. This belief assumes that a person’s "luck" will vary from time to time and important matters should not be initiated or conducted when the cards are not favourable. If there are no winnings in the game for a number of tries it spells caution in what you do. If you win at the first try times are good and “luck” smiles at you, thus the immediate future can be used for important decisions. Timing the game is a further indicator of the strength of the outcome.
Napoleon was said to have "played patience" during his exile; however from written accounts, he played Vingt-Un, Piquet, and Whist but not Patience. The story is thought to have arisen from a misinterpretation. Nonetheless, many solitaire games were named after him, such as Napoleon at St. Helena, Napoleon's Square, etc.
Magda Goebbels played patience in the Führerbunker after she killed her six children. 
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