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Under Microsoft Windows 95 (or later), whenever you exit the FreeCell game program while the game is not finished, Windows assumes you have lost the game and records the loss in its registry.

This is not necessarily fair: You may have other reasons for exiting the game than giving up for not being able to solve it.

For example, you may have to go to work, or perhaps you need to turn off the computer because of an impending storm.

You can prevent FreeCell from recording a loss if you exit the program in one of two ways:

  • First of all, if you shut down (or restart) Windows with FreeCell running, no loss is recorded. So, if that storm is coming, just click on Start, then on Shut Down, without worrying about your game score.
  • What if you want to exit FreeCell without shutting down the system, yet without recording a loss? Simply press Ctl-Alt-Del, then select FreeCell in the popup window, then click on End Task. The game will then ask you if you want to quit. Say no! A few seconds later, Windows will pop up a window stating FreeCell is not responding, and will ask you whether you want it shut down. Say yes!

What if you make a mistake and say yes, or otherwise exit the game? A loss will be stored in Windows registry. Do not despair! The registry is just a file which is easy to fix.

Click on Start, then Run. In the popup window, type regedit and press Enter. This will open the registry editor. It consists of two panes. The left pane looks--and works--like a directory. By clicking on the appropriate "folders", go to My Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\CurrentVersion\Applets\FreeCell.

Now, in the right pane you will see (among other things) losses and lost. If either contains a non-zero value, double-click on it (the name, i.e., losses or lost, not the value). A window will pop up and let you edit the value. Just set it to 00 00 00 00 and click OK.

Once both losses and lost are set to 00 00 00 00 press Alt-F4 to quit the registry editor. Your FreeCell statistics now show no losses while still showing all the past wins.

Under Windows NT (Win2000), it is rather simple to kill the freecell.exe process. Simply hit Ctrl-Shift-Esc to bring up Windows Task Manager, and find freecell.exe in the list; right click, selecting End Process.

For those more desperate, you can simply yank the power off of your machine. If you are on a public internet terminal, and still want to be able to keep your score, you may not have access to regedit, or Task Manager, you are in tough times. This is when desperation comes into play. Since there is no really good way to jam the game so that it doesn't respond; you will either have to win or employ a well known cheat ctrl-shift-f10. There are also auto-win codes and the like for this.

Because of the Windows event model and the way freecell draws it's dialogs (probably with DialogBox()), it's really hard to get it to think that it is not responding. Windows 2000 normally tracks the (X) in the corner and numerous clicks to the program without response will cause it to bring up the End Task dialog. However, since it draws a modal dialog, you cannot kill it like that. Of course the Alt-Ctrl-Del trick mentioned above won't work, because that will bring up the lock workstation WinLogon Dialog.

Back to the point: If you are THAT desperate to win FreeCell, you can kill the process. I will sadly admit, I have done that in a fit of rage several (hundred) times... And to this day, I have rarely ever lost at Freecell, but that's because of my sheer skill at it. Um.... yeah.

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