Rules for Miss Milligan

Family: Spider
Categories: Popular, Thinker's, Rewarding, Two-Deck, Large, Long
Variants: Miss Milligan - Easy
Also Known As:  

The author’s personal favorite, Miss Milligan is a challenging mix of Spider and Klondike. The charm of this game is the use of the pocket, which always feels deliciously like cheating.


Shuf▀e two decks together, and lay out eight cards face-up in a row to form the eight tableau piles. Above the tableaus are the eight foundations, which start out empty. To the right of the tableaus is a special pile called your pocket. Keep the rest of the double deck in your hand.


Build the foundations up by following suit; only Aces may be played on an empty foundation. Build the tableaus down by alternating color; only Kings may be played on an empty tableau. Available full or partial builds may be moved among the tableaus. Top cards of tableaus and the card in the pocket may be moved to the foundations. Miss Milligan also allows moving the top card of a foundation back down into the tableau, a move not often needed but occasionally handy.

The top card of a tableau may be picked up and “put in your pocket,” provided that the pocket is currently empty. This is a very convenient and powerful way to unblock a difficult position. But be careful, because you can only take the card out of your pocket when it can be correctly built onto a tableau or foundation.


Whenever you wish, deal eight cards at a time from the hand, one onto each tableau regardless of rank or color. Usually you’ll deal when you run out of other moves.


The goal is to move all the cards onto the foundations.


Empty piles are precious. The more empty piles you can create and keep, the better.

Never move a card to the pocket unless you already know how you’re going to move it back into the tableaus or foundations. The pocket is too important a resource to waste, and a foolish move may leave a card marooned there, blocking its further use.

Build sequences that are as long as possible. When you have the opportunity, turn two builds into one build and one singleton card. A singleton card (one that isn’t part of a longer build) may be usefully moved to the pocket when you need to.

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