Solitaire vs. Chess: Which Is Harder To Learn and Master

People from all over the globe have been playing both solitaire and chess for centuries. The question at hand is, which game is more difficult?

Chess is harder to learn and master than solitaire. Though solitaire involves critical thinking and reasoning, luck is also at play. Chess is a more complex game requiring concentration and strong offensive and defensive strategies against an opponent, making it a more challenging game.

Of course, the answer given above requires some explanation. Let’s discuss the components of both games and compare them. I’ll teach you precisely why chess is more challenging than solitaire and let you know how long it’ll take you to learn and master each game.

solitaire vs. chess
Chess is a very popular game that takes minutes to learn and years to truly master. on the other hand, solitaire is a casual game that you can play by yourself and you can get decently good at it in a single day.

Basics of Solitaire 

As the name suggests, solitaire is a one-player game, which is part of why so many people love it! You don’t need much to play solitaire, and it combines luck with strategy and logic. 

So, let’s look at the basics of Solitaire:

  • Solitaire is a single-player game.
  • It requires a full deck of cards (not including jokers).
  • The game set-up involves seven-card piles, a draw pile, and four foundation piles.
  • You can move cards to different piles, but they must be in descending order and in an alternating pattern according to color. For example, if a player wishes to move a red card to another pile, it must be laid on top of a black card of a higher value. A red card cannot lay on top of another red card, nor could it lay on a higher numerical value card.
  • The game’s object is to transfer all cards into the Ace foundation of the corresponding suits. Foundations begin with Ace and end with King.
Video: How to Play Solitaire

Basics of Chess 

Chess has always been a popular game, and it is known for its ability to help you strengthen your ability to use logic and strategy. This game, based on battle tactics, has evolved to become one of the most popular, classic games. 

So, let’s dive into the basics of chess: 

  • Chess is a two-player game.
  • The game requires a standard chessboard with 64 square spaces.
  • The game’s object is to capture your opponent’s King, otherwise known as checkmate.

In this game, chess pieces all move in different ways. These pieces are part of the game’s complexity since you will have to memorize these possible movements and strategize to capture your opponent’s pieces. 

Here’s a rundown of the pieces, how many each player gets, and how far each can move:

  • Rook (2): Can move horizontally and vertically.
  • Knight (2): Can move in an L-shaped pattern.
  • Bishop (2): Move diagonally.
  • Queen (1): Can move any amount of free spaces horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.
  • King (1): Can move one square at a time horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.
  • Pawn (8): Except for a player’s first turn (when two forward spaces are permitted), they can only move one square forward.
Video: How to Play Chess: The Complete Guide for Beginners

The Differences Between Solitaire and Chess

While solitaire and chess share a few similarities, these similarities are only applicable at the most basic level. 

When determining which game is harder to learn and master, it is vital to pay special attention to the differences between the two. I’ll use the table below to show you some of these differences:

PlayersSingle-playerTwo players 
Game PiecesOne full deck of cards (not including jokers)One chessboard and all chess pieces
Game Set-upCards are shuffled and dealt at randomGame board is always set up the same way
CompetitionCompeting against the deck and the luck of the drawCompeting against an opponent
Notable RulesColors, suits, and the numerical value of each card comes into playSix different types of chess pieces (each player has 16 total), all permitted to move and capture in different ways
FocusUse deductive reasoning to determine what cards have not yet been openedThink ahead and anticipate future moves for yourself and your opponent
StrategyMove all cards with a purposeKeen offensive and defensive tactics
ObjectiveTransfer all cards into their appropriate foundationCapture your opponent’s King
Table: Differences between Solitaire and Chess

How Long It Takes To Be Good at Solitaire

Once a player has mastered the game’s rules, it should not take long to become good at solitaire (otherwise known as Klondike). Although some players might find solitaire hard, there are some simple tricks and tips that will instantly make you win more games.

Since the gameplay is pretty simple, you can likely become good at solitaire after about a day of practice. Then, after around 50 games, you’ll probably find that you’ll win about half of them.

You may get better as you gain experience and figure out all the game’s complexities, but as I mentioned, you can’t expect to win every time. 

Because luck plays a significant role in solitaire’s gameplay, you can only win the game around half of the time. If you’re curious to know if you’ve become a skilled player, keep track of your stats.

If playing the game digitally, it should be easy to check your winning percentage in the settings function. If playing the old-fashioned way with a physical deck of cards, keep a tally of your wins and losses over the next ten games, and see how you score.

How Long It Takes To Be Good at Chess

The International Chess Federation awards the title Grandmaster to the best of the best. As of November 2021, there were 1742 Grandmasters ever to receive the title. Most Grandmasters practice and study the game several hours a day for 8-10 years before earning the title.  It’s safe to say these players are far beyond “good” at the game – they are experts.

So, what does it take to be less than a Grandmaster but still a skilled chess player?

It takes hundreds of games and hundreds of hours studying the game to become good at chess. 2-3 games of chess per week for one full year would likely result in someone becoming a very skilled player.

To play the game well, you have to learn it. Learning chess starts as you memorize each piece’s movements. Then, you can begin to get involved in the gameplay. If you want to become good at the game, you’ll have to develop strategies and reassess your approach every move. 

As previously noted, chess requires critical thinking, strategizing, patience, and concentration. Another essential element of chess is learning to read your opponent and master end game strategy.

End game strategy is getting yourself in an optimum position to corner (checkmate) your opponent’s King, thus winning the game. When players have become efficient in various end-game strategies, they will likely win most of their matches against players of lesser skill.


Like with any game, the best way to learn is to practice. The more you practice, the better you will become. Both solitaire and chess are excellent games for critical thinking and memory. While both games require different elements of strategizing, having an opponent in chess adds a level of difficulty that solitaire can not compete with.