In endeavoring to catalog single player card games, one first finds that the word Solitaire must be included in every entry. For the word itself defines the content, meaning ‘a game for one player’. Alternate definitions describe a single inset gem. Think a dagger with a lone ruby in the pommel, which would be called ‘a ruby solitaire’.
Something to wager with once the shoes are gone, eh?
Let’s find our own diamonds.
1. The Idiot
Hopefully named after the Dostoevsky novel and not the intelligence quotient of its players, this Swedish game is simple yet devilishly difficult. It starts with 4 decks. One card is taken from each pile and laid down. If there’s more than one visible card in each suit, the lowest is removed, and so on, until only 1 visible card remains of each suit.
Four new cards are laid on top of the existing ones, rinse and repeat until there’s none left. Once a pile is exhausted, the top card from another pile can be moved to the empty pile. The overall objective is to get all four Aces in the bottom of each.
The king of hermetic card games; Solitaire is a staple of office workers and computer idlers worldwide. Patience games, while typically performed singly, can involve upwards of 2 players. In case you’re not familiar with this hour-whittling, dangerously addictive game, it involves manipulating and sorting cards. The most common variant involves dealing shuffled cards in a prescribed arrangement, while the player seeks to re-order the deck by means of shifting cards by suit and rank. If you haven’t yet, do.
3. Canfield – solitaire
Canfield to our American counterparts, Demon to our European contingent, is a solitaire variant reputedly named after the casino in which it was invented. Canfield players take misery in their stride, given the extremely low percentage chance of victory in a given game.
To play, thirteen face cards are dealt face up and then turned down. These are the reserves, and only the top can be played. A card is then placed on the first of four foundations to the right of the reserve, from whence all cards of the same rank must also start the other three foundations. Someone wins when all cards are placed on the foundations, statistically very unlikely, which Mr. Canfield knew deviously well.
4. Chain solitaire
Another patience game involving careful planning, with a higher likelihood of finishing. The objective is to make chains with cards while obeying the rules of regular solitaire; the cards need be in ascending or descending order, alternating between red and black cards.
5. March Same Rank
Similar to the above, only a slight variation whereby players seek to discard all cards by matching cards of the same rank, devoid of suit rank or colour.
6. Napoleon at St. Helena
If ever a man knew about whiling away the lonely hours, it was Napoleon. When not spurning the advances of his wife, setting the foundations for modern Europe, or drastically changing the meritocracy of his enormous armies, he played cards between rebellious power seizures.
Two full decks are required, shuffled together to start. The object of the game is putting Aces at the foundations as soon as they become movable, then discovering ways to build up all eight foundations from Ace through King, while moving a single card at a time. Variations include Lucas, Maria, Limited, Streets, Indian, Rank and File, Forty Thieves and, a personal favourite, Roosevelt at San Juan.
7. Devil’s Grip
While researching these articles, I found that the games were recommend for players 8 and upward. I don’t know about anyone reading, or whether we have among us genetically modified children with enormo brains visible atop their head in glass belljars, with nodes and whirring electricity boxes writhing like a Gorgon’s hair, but at age 8, my only skill was eating paste and pressing against windows so I resembled a pigboy. Fair play to anyone nailing these endless variants before double figures. You’re probably my boss now.
The object of the game is to place the entire deck into piles on the grid; jacks on top, queens in the middle, kings in the bottom. I’m not sure whether it’s a statement on the monarchy and the risen workman, or whether it just falls that way for entertainment purposes. I’m choosing to believe the latter, extolling my own virtues are a revolutionary while I do.
Klondike is the standard North American and Canadian solitaire variant, so much that the word ‘Solitaire’ is substituted entirely for ‘Klondike’.
During the Gold Rush in the early 19th century, before poker ascended to become part of the cultural zeitgeist, it left the military encampments, travelling back thither with those who’d learned, who then taught their friends and so on in this fashion until GGPoker. A mass exodus of fortune-seekers left Eastern safety towards the Western and Northern Frontiers, spreading solo games like wildfire.
Lonely prospectors whiled away long evenings with games of patience and chance. Klondike experienced unprecedented growth around this time, when shimmering ingots and untapped veins were found plentiful beneath the clod.
All that glistens.
9. Spider Solitaire
Spider Solitaire is the standard boredom killer every PC comes equipped with. Whether it’s a long bus journey, sitting in for a package or brain games to make your thinking muscles bulge, Spider Solitaire makes fine company. Similar to other patience games on this list, the objective is to build cards of descending suit sequence from King to Ace. Once you’ve nailed one, it’s automatically jettisoned out the airlock to one of the 8 foundations. The game is won when all cards are played, with 8 separate King to Ace rows.
10. Beleaguered Castle
Rotten animal corpses are flung across the walls using catapults. Wells are poisoned. Rivers choke with bodies. Arrows darken the sky. Inside, the terrified denizens, frozen by the hiss of arrows tearing the air, which to their frightened ears sound like soaring serpents.
At least, they’re the images conjured in the mind upon hearing the name. In action it’s less complicated. There’s more maneuvering of rows and careful cunning, less sallying forth and breaching boundaries. A row of aces, first removed from the deck, are aligned vertically, forming the foundations of each row. Eight rows of six cards are placed either side, like the wings of a plane. If you’re playing with physical cards, it should resemble tiered seating leading to a central walkway once set.
Once all the dealt cards are built onto the foundations, rising to tear the clouds like Babel. There are several variants, each with a more fantastic name. Take Castle of Indolence for example, which wouldn’t sound out of place played in the longhall where Beowulf slumbered awaiting Grendel’s arrival, or a game advertised on the swinging sign outside the Prancing Pony.
Other Medievally-titled iterations include Citadel, Streets and Alleys, Selective Castle, Siegecraft and Stronghold.
11. Seahaven towers
Here’s one available in physical and video game format. Seahaven Towers, although sounding like a Westerosi town name, involves cards built down in suit, with kings or sequences beginning with kings exclusively filling empty tableau spots.
12/13. Pyramid/Pile of 28
No, it’s not a Sherlock Holmes title. Pile of 28 is dynamic and simple to set up, with the final goal being that all cards are removed from the pyramid and paired to a combined value of 13 points.
The list goes on forever. Every casino has its own twists. Every windblown shack that ever hosted a game wrote their own rules. Try the ones we’ve listed. If you don’t enjoy them, choose from a million others, some slightly altered, others unrecognizable from the initial iteration.
Whichever you prefer, we hope you’ve learned something. Next time you’re on a train, idling funneling cards and staring at the window, wondering which of the fifty new single player card games might serve for such a trip, spare a thought for GGPoker.