Rules for Strategy

Family: Calculation
Categories: Thinker's, Small
Also Known As:  

Strategy, like the more difficult Calculation, is an exercise in planning ahead. A good memory for cards is a big help too! The game was invented by Albert H. Morehead and Geoffrey Mott-Smith, the authors of the excellent and comprehensive The Complete Book of Solitaire and Patience Games.


Four foundations start the game empty. Below them, eight tableaus also start out empty. Shuffle the deck and place it face down to form the stock; turn the topmost card of the stock face-up.


Deal cards one at a time from the stock onto the tableaus. Any card can go on any tableau pile, but once placed it cannot be moved again until the stock is empty. Aces (only) can be played onto the foundations as they appear.

When the dealing’s done and the stock is empty, start moving cards from the tableaus to the foundations, building up in suit.


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


When dealing cards, never put a higher rank over a lower rank of the same suit. This will block the game instantly.

Always try to build down while dealing to the tableaus: that is, put lower cards on top of higher ones.

Pick a tableau at the outset and dedicate it to Kings. Do the same for Queens and Jacks, and perhaps tens. This will help to keep those highest cards from blocking lower ones.

There are not enough tableaus to dedicate one to each rank. (If there were, there would be no challenge!) So most tableaus will have to have more than one rank in them. Sometimes you will have to guess whether it’s safe to play a 9 of Hearts onto a pile that may or may not already contain the 8 of Hearts. To try to avoid this problem, remember that it’s okay to play the 9 onto the tens pile if you are sure that you’ve already played the 10 of Hearts there.

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