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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

This document, together with Michael Keller's Freecell FAQs and the About page here at Freecell.net answer to most questions about Freecell, in general, and this site, in particular.
I can't select the player name I want

If you are trying to enter a player name, and then it asks you for a password, then you have a chosen a name already in use by another player. In that case, you will have to pick a new (and hopefully unique) name.

I have [substitute flavor of problem] and it's been happening for [# of days]. What should I do?

Have you tied the quick refresh operation described on the Problems page? It cures 95% of such browser flakiness.

Then read through the information on the Problems Page to see if your issue is discussed there and try the recommended solutions.

If that doesn't get it, read about what info to provide when reporting a bug and pass it along by posting on the Discussion Board.

I can't get into a tournament. Why?

Did you register? You have to sign up to play. Just put in your email address and a little more info, then you can play, no problem.

And read here for more information on tournaments at freecell.net.

Is there any way to undo moves....if not WHY?!?

When you are logged in using a player name you cannot undo moves. That's because you're in "competitive" mode and it wouldn't be fair if you could just back up when you made a mistake.

To use undo/redo, log out of the player name and log back in using Anonymous and the undo/redo facilities will become available. Your scores obviously will not be tracked here on the main web site though.

Words at the beginning of the freecell site mention game numbers. Where are the numbers of the games listed? I have looked but not been able to find them?

It seems like you are asking about the online game at freecell.net, called NetCELL, so let's cover that first:

FOR NETCELL

Game numbers are NOT shown while you play the game. This would allow you to get information about the game while it was still in progress and possibly adjust your approach. For instance, if you saw it was a game with a low win rate you could adjust your playing style and play with more caution. This would not be fair in competitive play.

The game number is shown on the little window which pops up at the end of the game, whether you win or lose. Along with the "OK" button, you should see a line of text that looks something like this: (8x4 #23359-5) Elapsed: 3:29 Streak: 10

In the above example:

  • "8x4" indicates the number of columns and freecells you selected for your game (8x4 is the "standard" game),
  • "23359" is the game number
  • "5" is the difficulty level,
  • "3:29" is the time it took to win (or lose),
  • "10" is your "streak" (the number of consecutive games you have won so far). This drops back to "0" when you lose.

Since there seems to be constant confusion here between the Windows version and the NetCELL version of the game, let's answer that question for Windows, as well:

FOR WINDOWS FREECELL

Game numbers are shown while you play the game. The number of the game which you've been dealt will appear in the "title bar" of the FreeCell game window.

I've just found this site, and when I play a game, I can't get the whole board on my screen. I can't see all the rows at once. Any suggestions?

Yes, assuming you are playing under Windows, you will have to change your screen resolution. In the control panel, click on Display, and select the Settings Tab.

With Small Fonts, you will have to set the screen area to at least 800x600. This is what I use. The 10-column games don't quite fit, but you can see at least part of all of them.

Can anyone explain the process of selection and location of the individual cards at the start of each game?

Have a look at Denny's explanation of difficulty levels on the NetCELL Instructions page. As you can see, games of difficulty level 10 are completely random deals. So there will be easy and difficult games at level 10. Games at other difficulty levels employ an algorithm that changes the likelihood that high cards will be buried in the columns. Games at difficulty level 1 receive the most tweaking. In general, the games with lower numbered difficulty levels will be easier than the those with higher numbers; however, none of this guarantees that a particular game number at difficulty level 1 will be easier than one at difficulty level 2 or 3, or even 10. Here's an counter-example: Suppose game #n-10 is the following random deal:

	7S 7C 7H 7D 6S 6C 6H 6D
8S 8C 8H 8D 5S 5C 5H 5D
9S 9C 9H 9D 4S 4C 5H 4D
TS TC TH TD 3S 3C 3H 3D
JS JC JH JD 2S 2C 2H 2D
QS QC QH QD AS AC AH AD
KS KC KH KD

Then any application of the "burying" algorithm will actually produce a harder game; therefore, game n-m (such that m is less than 10) will be harder than game n-10.

I use Internet at work, and for some time, I have not been able to access freecell. The firewall appears to block access. I have enjoyed many months of playing. Now I cannot get in. Can you help?

I am assuming from your description that you used to connect to freecell.net from the same employer and that, beginning sometime after you started playing, you stopped being able to connect.

If that is correct, then the problem is at your end, not at freecell.net's. (It has been many months since freecell.net changed its physical location and firewall.) So, it would seem that your employer has either recently changed or reconfigured the firewall there and, in so doing, has blocked this game. I guess you can but ask your employer if a hole can be made in the firewall to let freecell.net applications through but I'm not sure that's a career-building move.

What hardware is used to run the freecell.net site?

That changes over time but it's on a dedicated Linux Centos server running out of a hosting facility in Texas.

Do they have a handheld version of Freecell like they do many other games? Is there a phone app?

You can hit freecell.net with the browser on any modern phone and play the game. You need to have network connectivity of course to talk to the server.

I had Freecell on my computer previously. I had to reformat and reload Windows, but no longer have Freecell. Where do I get it?

If you're talking about the Microsoft Freecell program, that's a Microsoft application and comes with Windows. Use a search engine as it has changed over time and you'll want to find out how to do it for your particular flavor of Windows.

That said, you should also be able to play here immediately and enjoy a number of benefits over the Microsoft Freecell game. Just click the 'play' link (or click on the 'Play Now' image on that home page).

So 11982 is the only insolvable MS Freecell? What about "-1" and "-2"?

A You're not at all stupid, Per! To find the answer to your question, I once again consulted the font of all Freecell wisdom, Freecell FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) by Michael Keller:

The help file for Microsoft FreeCell contains the claim, "It is believed (though not proven) that every game is winnable." When [Jim] Horne wrote this, he already knew that unsolvable deals could be constructed (see Hans Bodlaender's example).

As a joke, the Windows version includes two unsolvable games, numbered -1 and -2. Horne purposely made his claim ambiguous in order to challenge people to find such impossible games, but intending it to mean that all of the 32,000 included deals were winnable. This comes as close as possible to being true...

Note: your mileage may vary depending on the version of Microsoft Freecell you have.

Another note: it later turned out that 11982 was, in fact, also impossible.

Is there a program that will show me how to solve individual Microsoft Freecell games?

Yes, see FreeCell -- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for information about FreeCell Pro and Autofree.

Denny, could you summarize costs and revenues so we can have a basic awareness of the reality that freecell.net isn't really "free"?

No, sorry, I don't keep detailed records. But we do donate all adrevenue and more to charity each year. We're currently donating $10k - $12k per year.

What software is used to manage the Freecell Discussion Forum?
Is there censorship here?

The Discussion Forum is moderated, and we reserve the right to delete messages for any or no reason. In practice, the main reasons why postings disappear are:

  • postings that are illegal, obscene, or that slander or reveal information about the private lives of individual members of our community
  • if the majority of authors of a given thread request it, the thread may be removed;
  • advertisements and commercial postings are normally removed
  • obvious multiple copies of postings will be deleted;
  • postings that are detrimental to freecell.net or the community it serves will be removed.
  • anything that ventures into non-Freecell potentially inflamatory territory likes comments about politics or religion. There are many more appropriate places to discuss such things on the big ol' Internet.
Are all these posters real?

It is certainly true that the names on the postings here include many famous living and dead people, as well as some very original characters, such as Lumber Jack. Suffice it to say that these are all the genuine alter egos of, or identities assumed by, real contributors. Remember that you can normally assume that these names are used just for fun. Contact me if you have any questions.

I've seen mention of a Java version of the game. How do I get to that?

The original version of the game was written in Java back in 1996. But the Internet has moved on and Java in a web browser is not very common now. As Java waned the browsers developed more capabilities and now you can play the game in about any modern browser without any add-ons.

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