Rules for Accordion

Family: Accordion
Categories: Thinker's, Challenging, Long, Unusual
Also Known As: Idle Year, Methuselah, Tower of Babel

Also called “Idle Year”—consider that a warning! This game can be as mindless or as intricate as you feel like making it. But if you play mindlessly, be prepared to lose, a lot. It took us 25 years to win our first game; but when we finally found a good strategy (suggested by a won game that one of our customers sent in!) we began to win about one-third of our games.


Begin with the complete deck in your hand. Make piles by dealing out cards face up in a row, one card to a pile. You can lay out as few or as many cards as you like; keep the rest in your hand to be dealt out later. (To fit on the screen, we’ve had to wrap the row of cards into several lines, but you should pretend that they’re all in a single line, left to right.)


Any pile can be picked up and moved onto the pile to its left, or the pile third to its left, provided the top cards of the piles match in either suit or rank. You must move entire piles, never partial piles. When you move a pile in the middle of the row, leaving an empty space, just shift all the other piles in to fill it. (Solitaire Till Dawn will do that for you automatically.)


Deal by playing any number of cards onto the end of the row, one to a pile, any time you like.


The goal is to finish the game with all the cards in one pile.


It’s best to lay out all 52 cards at once, before beginning play. (Solitaire Till Dawn provides a special button so you can do this easily.)

Now look for several cards of the same rank near the end of the layout. Three is good; four is better but doesn’t happen often. Sometimes you have to make do with two.

All four cards of your selected rank are called sweepers. Never move any other card onto a sweeper (until the very end of the game). Instead, do your best to get your sweepers together at the end of the layout, then move them toward the beginning, “sweeping up” other cards as you go. This isn’t always as easy as it may sound, but it’s crucial to winning. Eventually you want to wind up with only four piles left, each with a sweeper on top. Since all sweepers have the same rank, you can then easily pile them onto each other for the win.

Often the end of the game can’t be managed so smoothly. If not, abandon the sweeper technique when it no longer works, and use your creativity!

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