Peg Solitaire Rules

By Kristen May

Although peg solitaire is a challenging game with numerous variations that keep even seasoned puzzlers interested, the rules are simple enough for young children to learn how to play. Peg solitaire has been played for over 300 years and is also known by other names, such as Hi-Q and marble solitaire.

Equipment

Peg solitaire is traditionally played on a board with 33 small holes arranged in the shape of a plus sign, with three columns of seven holes intersecting with three rows of seven holes. Also included with the game are 32 pegs that fit into the holes. Peg solitaire can be played on other boards with the same arrangement, such as a piece of paper with circles drawn on it for the holes and pennies as the pegs.

Setup

Before beginning peg solitaire, the player should set up the board by placing one peg in each hole except for the center hole.

Rules

Peg solitaire is played by jumping a peg over another other peg into an empty hole on the other side. Pegs cannot jump diagonally, nor can they jump over more than one peg at a time. They can, however, chain together multiple jumps by hopping over one peg into an empty hole and then, either in the same direction or a different direction, hopping from that hole over one more peg into another empty hole. Multiple jumps like this can continue as long as possible, as in Checkers. When a peg is hopped over, it is immediately removed from the game board.

Winning the Game

The goal of peg solitaire is to remove all the pegs from the board except one, which should end up in the center hole that was empty at the beginning of the game. In 1912, Ernest Bergholt developed a winning solution that required only 18 moves, where a move was picking up a peg and legally jumping it over one or more pegs before setting it down. For young children, a more appropriate goal may be to end with five or fewer pegs on the board.

Variations

Peg solitaire has a number of alternate initial configurations of the pegs, including an arrow, pyramid, fireplace and diamond. In addition, peg solitaire can be played on alternate boards such as a board of 15 holes arranged in a triangle, where pegs can jump horizontally or diagonally.