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English Board Solitaire
What you will make:
Most people think of solitaire as a type of card game, but the name applies to any game played by one
player. In this project make a simple game board for the English or French version of board solitaire, sometimes called
peg solitaire. No gluing is needed, just print, cut, and play. These boards can also be made more durable
with optional materials.
Learn more about the history and
rules of board solitaire, including rules
for French board solitaire at the
end of the project.
Here's what you need:
- Cardstock or computer paper
- Pennies for use as game pieces
- Optional: Colored pencils or markers, glue, cereal box cardboard, and clear contact paper.
Contact paper is self-adhesive shelf paper usually available on rolls in hardware and discount stores.
This project is rated VERY EASY to do.
When was Board Solitaire invented?
Board Solitaire is more commonly known as Peg Solitaire, and is called the hermit's game in Germany.
The origins of the game are unknown, but it appears to be based on the older Fox and Geese board. One legend
holds that a French nobleman invented the game while in solitary confinement in the Bastille. The game was
very popular in France during the 17th century, and was shown in engravings from 1697 and 1698. The first written
reference to the game came in a 1710 paper by Gottfried Leibnitz for Berlin Academy.
It seems likely that the game was invited long before the 17th century. What facts backup this theory?
- The game has very simple rules.
- The English and French boards are similar to the Fox and Geese board, which is centuries older.
- There are many variations of the game, and the game is played in many different countries.
What do you think?
Variations of Board Solitaire...
The game came to England in the 18th century, and was very popular during Victorian times. The English board
has 33 holes to hold pegs or marbles, and is identical to the Fox and Geese board.
The French play the game on a board with 37 holes. It is the same as the English board, but has an additional
hole in each corner. The French game has more variations with goals other than simply removing the most pieces.
One of these is Le Lecteur au milieu de ses amis. The goal in this game is to leave one piece in the
center and 16 pieces in a circle around the outside edge. There are many other popular ending patterns like a
cross or a diamond. Can you think of other ending patterns to try?
The game was less popular in the 19th century, and was almost forgotten. In recent decades it has regained
its popularity, and new versions of the game have been introduced. There are triangle versions of the game and some
of the new shapes are diamond, double-diamond, and three square. Maybe you can design another shape?
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