Occasionally I deal myself a hand in solitaire - Klondike - that is unplayable. It's so infrequent that I feel as if I've dealt myself a winning hand - in Bizzaro world possibly. I was thinking there's some poetical quality to this hand I'm unable to use. Is there a term for that I might use? Are there any playing card scholars out there?


At casinos I have played at it is called a "trash hand". The casinos allow redeal if unplayable. This happens 1/400-500 times. I have never had this happened but have seen it happen and the redeal. Not sure "trash hand" is local or a given for Klondike.

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  • I think you could apply it but, as I mention in my answer, I think it is essentially a poker/casino term. – Neil Coffey Sep 4 '13 at 19:17
  • Trash hand or garbage hand is an unplayable hand in casino lingo. You hear it in almost every game. I have seen signs at casinos that say "Redeal on all trash hands." Not that I look for my local casinos for the meanings of words. But if you said "I was dealt a trash hand", I think most people would understand you. – RyeɃreḁd Sep 4 '13 at 19:20
  • Yes, that was my suspicion -- there's nothing wrong with the term per se other than that it's essentially casino lingo rather than solitaire lingo. – Neil Coffey Sep 4 '13 at 21:55

In the games literature I've read (I'm not a "patience scholar", but I am the author of a couple of pieces of patience software, so I have read a few books on the subject), I'm not sure there's a single term for precisely what you're asking for. However, the following may help:

  • A game is described as being blocked if no moves are possible, and that state can be referred to as a block.

  • The word stalemate can also be applied to patience.

  • An impasse is either a combination of cards/part of a layout that blocks the game.

You could adopt RyeBread's casino term, but I don't think it's generally used 'in the patience literature' as it were.

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you could say you are stumped or stymied or snookered

The last two can be used in their noun forms for the hand - as in that's a snooker/stymie


at a loss, at one's wits' end, at sea, baffled, brought to a standstill, floored


a situation or problem presenting such difficulties as to discourage or defeat any attempt to deal with or resolve it.

in golf: to impede with a stymie


To leave one's opponent in the game of snooker unable to take a direct shot without striking a ball out of the required order.

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  • Neil has some context. Not a downvote but have never heard those in the terms of card games. – RyeɃreḁd Sep 4 '13 at 19:21
  • I've heard stumped quite often. I thought snooker is quite apt. Nothing wrong with transferring concepts. – user49727 Sep 4 '13 at 19:23
  • Stumped maybe, but refers to no more moves not no moves from the start. – RyeɃreḁd Sep 4 '13 at 19:28
  • in that case you say 'stumped at the start' - when you have a hand during the game and reach an impasse you say I'm stumped. 'Snookered' is a common enough usage too. And I think 'stymie' works as a noun to describe the hand rather than your situation. – user49727 Sep 4 '13 at 19:31
  • as for stymie the concept is transferrable from the game of golf. – user49727 Sep 4 '13 at 19:38

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