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Winning at Picture Gallery Solitaire

I did not expect to like Picture Gallery.  A customer requested it for our Solitaire MegaPack for Android and I was really surprised that it became one of my favorite card gamesPicture Gallery Solitaire is also available in our Solitaire Free Pack.  All you need is an Android device and you can play this game today!

Let’s take a look:

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The three top rows are Foundations and they build up in suit by threes as the diagram shows.  In the beginning of the game, cards are dealt onto each place and then Aces are removed to free up some empty spots.

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For example, the top left corner is empty so we can move the 2♣ up to it.  Once the 2♣ is in position, it should get a 5♣ on top of it.  However, in this situation, there are two 5♣ available to be moved (since this is a double-deck game).

So here’s the first tip:  don’t just make a move because you can.  Wait, first, to see if you should.

If we don’t move the 5 on the bottom row, it’s likely to get blocked later in the game.  This bottom row is the Tableau.  When play comes to a standstill, tap the deck to deal out 1 card to each tableau pile.  There is no building on the Tableau – you can only move these cards to the Foundations.  So if a J♣ gets dealt on top of that 5♣, it could potentially block you from a win.

Let’s examine the board and see what other, more certain moves we can make first.

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Here’s an easy one!  Since both 4♦ are already in the right row, we shouldn’t hesitate to move the 7♦ up onto either 4♦.

You’ll notice that most of the Foundation cards are dimmed.  That’s to indicate that those cards are not in their proper place yet.  Otherwise you might think the 7♠ between the red 4s was ready to accept a 10♠.  It isn’t!  The 7♠ needs to be on a 4♠ first.

Now I’d like to create some openings in the Foundations.  If I move the 3♠ up to the 3s row, I can then build up with the 6♠ from the 2s row, the 9♠ from the 3s row and the Q♠ from the 4s row, like this:

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After that, I’ll have open spaces in each row.  Most importantly, I found a home for one of my many threes, but I still have two open spaces in the 3s row.

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So where does this leave us?  There’s an opening for a 2 or a 4.  We have no 2s or 4s.  We have three 3s and only 2 openings.  Now what?

The best strategy here, at the beginning of the game, is to move those Tableau cards up before they get blocked in.  Getting blocked is the most likely cause to lose a game.  So I’m going to move the 3♥ and 3♣ to the 3s row and then I’ll move the 5♣ from the Tableau onto the 2♣.

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 Now there is nothing left but to deal out a new row of cards by tapping the deck.

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Here’s a quick view of what I’d do with these cards.  The only interesting part here is that I don’t move the J♣.  I think I’ll need the extra space in the 3s row, but I don’t want to move another 3♥ or 3♣.  I’m waiting to see if the 3♦ shows up.  But if, on the other hand, the 2♦ is dealt out the next time I tap the deck, I’ll use the other J♣ instead so I can access the 5♦ underneath.  I’ll save that decision for later.  If the Tableau Jack is irretrievably covered, I can still get to the Foundation Jack any time.

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Move cards up from the Tableau unless you have a good reason not to.  That’s a basic rule of thumb.

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I might have wanted to leave the last open space in the 4s row open waiting for the 4♠, but since there is no 4♣ in play either, it’s probably a good idea to move it up.  I’m moving the 3♦ rather than the 3♥ because I’d like to clear the 9♦ and Q♦ sooner rather than later.  Now I’ll deal a new row of cards.

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It may turn out to be bad judgement to move the 5♠ from the 4s row instead of moving the one that’s currently under the 2♠, but we will see.  I’m thinking the 4♠ may show up any time and I want an opening in the 4s row for it.

No, I’m not going to move the K♦ up onto the 10♦, and there’s a good reason.  Right now, the K♦ is only blocking one card – a J♥.  The J♥ won’t be needed until the end of the game, so I’m in no hurry to get it.  The next K♦ may end up blocking a lower ranked card which could result in a lost game, so I’ll wait and move that one on the 10 instead.  Worst case scenario, the King may end up blocked so I’ll have one fewer point in a lost game.  But I’m playing for the win.

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Again, it’s a judgement call regarding which J♠ to move.  I was tempted to move the one in the 3s row, but then I remembered that J♣ in the 3s row that I could move up instead.  That makes room for the 3♥.

Now, let’s look in on our game after a little while.  Here is a situation you want to watch out for:

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We DO NOT want to move that 2♦ up to the open space.  Why not?  Because then there will only be one more Foundation in the 2s row that doesn’t have a 2 in it.  It’s the space that has the 3♣.  BUT the 3♣ only has one possible place to go in the 3s row, and that space is currently occupied with the J♠.  Where can the J♠ go?  It will need to go onto the 2♠.

Unfortunately, I see the 2♠ is already there, three cards BELOW the 2♦.  So this game is unwinnable.  If only I had played that J♠ from the 3s row instead of the J♠ from the Tableau!

Well, since this is an illustration, I guess it couldn’t hurt for me to “cheat” by undoing a few moves and seeing what a different choice would have gotten me.  What if I had used the other Jack…

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Here is a look at the exact same point in the game, but in this case, I used the other Jack and made whatever different changes resulted from that change.  Now the 2s and 3s rows are about to be all full of their 2s and 3s without any blocking, so that’s an improvement.

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Now we’re able to make a lot of moves!  There is less call for hesitation near the end of the game because you no longer have to account for the “twins”.  For example, one 3-6-9-Q♥ is already complete so there’s no fear in moving the second Q♥ up to the Foundation now.

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Once we’ve made all possible moves, we can deal out another row.

Pop quiz!  Once we move the 5♦ up to the Foundation, which 8♦ should we move?

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The answer is, move the one on the left.  Why?  Because it’s blocking the 5♦.  If you don’t move it now, it will be blocking the card it will need to go onto later.

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This is the end of the line.  We are so close to a win, but the K♥ is blocking us from the 7♥.  Alas!

But, as you can see, there is a lot you can do to change the course of the game using strategy.  And that, to me, makes for an interesting card game.

If you’d prefer a little more maneuverability in your game, try playing Mod3, a variation of Picture Gallery.  In this game, the Aces are not automatically removed.  Looking for them is a bit like hunting for Easter eggs :~)  Also, empty spaces in the Tableau can be filled with any card.  This makes Mod3 much easier to win and less frustrating to play.  Mod3 is already included in the Solitaire MegaPack and coming to the Solitaire Free Pack in the next update!

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  1. Pingback by My last Solitaire Tips article did surprisingly well.  Even though I published it… | Tesseract Mobile on April 2, 2014 at 1:20 am


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  2. Comment by Paulo on June 1, 2015 at 9:32 am


    Thank you for including this game, I love it too. I have a few suggestions for modifications:

    * Mod3: it seems it always starts with 2-3-4 on the first column. Is that a bug or a feature?

    * You could add an extra rule: cards can only be dealt to the tableau if there are no open spaces in the foundations. This means you can only move a card (even removing an ace) in the foundations if some other card will fill its place.

    Thanks again.

  3. Comment by Laura on June 2, 2015 at 10:30 pm


    Hello Paulo! Thank you so much for your feedback.

    Regarding the 2-3-4 in Mod3, yes, it is a feature of the game. It is like in Canfield or Penguin when some Foundation cards are already placed at the beginning of the game.

    In regard to idea of keeping the foundations filled, that is a feature of the game called Virginia Reel, and it is currently in work. We will be adding it to our Solitaire MegaPack soon and eventually it will go into the Solitaire Free Pack too. If you would like, please email us at support@tesseractmobile.com and we will send you a notice when the game has been added.

    Thanks again for taking the time to comment and have a terrific day!

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