Klondike: A Brief History of the Most Famous Solitaire Card Game
You may know it by another name, but chances are, if you have ever played a Solitaire card game, then the version you have been playing is the one popularly known as Klondike. The history of this game is one steeped in mystery – with several sources claiming it originates in 17th century France. Meanwhile, other stories suggest the name Klondike comes from Canada and that the game became highly in demand in the 19th century during the gold rush. However the game started, it is still just as popular today as ever. Below, we take a look at some of the fascinating theories relating to the history of this long-running game - and who might have started it.
Vive La Revolution!
It may not have been the most glamorous of places to spend your time, but the infamous Bastille prison in Paris is supposed by some to be the original home of Klondike. Some suspect that disgraced French nobles created the game after being imprisoned by King Louis XIV, as a way to while away their long lonely sentences in isolation.
The French Theory Continues
While it seems highly unlikely the claim is accurate, it has been suggested by some that it might have been another French man who was responsible for Klondike's invention. Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte has previously been cited as the original inventor of the card game. There are theories that he created a Solitaire card game while exiled on the island of St. Helena. There are several variants named after both him and the island itself. However, historians refute the suggestion that Napoleon started the game himself. Instead, it seems that he simply enjoyed playing card games, not inventing them!
The Power of the Cards
Another story is that there may be a link between Klondike and cards used for divination and fortune-telling. While we are not sure if this is true, it certainly would make playing the game spookier. In reality, it is probably likely this theory relates to the rise in requests for tarot card readings in the 18th century. This in turn, helped boost the popularity of playing card games in general.
A Little Patience
In the UK, Klondike is sometimes also called Patience. Eagle-eyed literary fans might notice that in Charles Dickens's famous novel Great Expectations, released in 1864, one of the characters is playing the game when the reader first meets them. Other names the game goes by include Fascination, American Patience and Triangle.
A Modern Era
Most people will be familiar with the digital version of Klondike, thanks to Microsoft incorporating the game into their Windows 3.0 operating system. Many people still use the game as a way of improving their computer skills while having fun. It remains the most widely used digital card game globally.
If you haven't played it yet, now is a great time to give it a try. Klondike has been around for a long time, and we’re happy to say it isn’t going anywhere. You can find out more about Klondike and our many Solitaire card games available by taking a look at our selection of games and downloading them for yourself.