Freecell Power Moves

One of the least understood parts of Freecell is the powermove. Many people believe you can always move a sequence of cards of any length, which isn’t true. It doesn’t help that many lazy programmer’s haven’t implemented Freecell properly, so if you’re playing a poorly programmed version of Freecell, maybe you CAN move a sequence of any length!

 

Whenever you move multiple cards in Freecell, you’re doing a “power move”.

 

This is just a shortcut move. Every power move can be done by hand, moving 1 card at a time.

 

The number of cards you can move depends on how many empty freecells and columns you have.

 

Imagine you have 1 empty column, and 1 empty freecell

In this case you can move a maximum of 4 cards onto another stack.

If you’re trying to move a sequence 3,4,5,6…

  • A: 3 would go into the freecell
  • B: 4 would go into the empty column
  • C: 3 would go onto 4
  • D: 5 would go into the¬†freecell
  • E: 6 would go to the destination

From here we just “unwind” the early moves, and put them onto the new destination stack…

  • F: 5 would go onto 6
  • G: 3 would go back into the freecell
  • H: 4 would go onto 5
  • I: 3 would go onto 4

 

 

 

We’ve used the empty column and the freecell as efficiently as we can. There is no way we could move any more cards without using other columns. The powermove doesn’t let us move any more cards than we could by hand, which explains why when you have 1 empty column and freecell, you can only move 4 cards. All the powermove does is provide a shortcut, so you don’t need to do the moves by hand.

Notice how I said “without using other columns”. This is an important point- power moves only try and use the empty freecells and columns. They don’t try and use extra stacks.

Look at D, where we put the 5 into a freecell. Imagine there is an available 6 somewhere to use instead though. If there was we could do this instead…

  • D1: 5 goes onto the spare 6
  • D2: 6 goes into the freecell
  • D3: 7 goes onto the destination
  • D4: 6 goes onto the 7
  • D5: 5 goes onto the 6

By doing the move ourselves and using other columns, we’re able to move an extra card that we otherwise weren’t able to. This doesn’t happen all the time, but it’s worth checking for- If you’re not able to move as many cards as you need in a ¬†powermove, have a quick look to see if you could maybe move more by doing it yourself.

There is a formula for determining how many cards you can use, but it’s easier just to view the data in a table…

Empty Columns Empty Freecells Card Sequence Length
0 0 1
0 1 2
0 2 3
0 3 4
0 4 5
1 0 2
1 1 4
1 2 6
1 3 8
1 4 10
2 0 4
2 1 8
2 2 12
2 3 16
2 4 20

 

Notice how useful extra columns are. By the time you have 2 empty columns, and 1 empty freecell, you can move a sequence of 8, making it much harder to lose.

Now you know about power moves, if you’re interested in playing some Freecell on Android, check out 5 Free Solitaire games.

You can play for free on Windows, Mac, and iOS too- go to solitaire for more information.