Play Canfield Solitaire Free Online

Canfield solitaire is one of the more unusual solitaire types. When most of us think of solitaire, the game we tend to think of is what’s more specifically known as Klondike solitaire. There are many variants of solitaire, and Canfield can be one of the more challenging in some ways.

There’s a lot to learn about this fascinating game, so let’s dive into it.

What Is Canfield Solitaire?

Canfield solitaire, also known as demon solitaire, is a version of patience that is distinguished from other versions by its low probability of winning. Running computer simulations of Canfield games showed that only around 71% of deals are winnable. This is because this game is a great deal more strategic than other forms, and mistakes can be a lot more costly. 

Naturally, this low probability of winning isn’t the only thing that sets Canfield solitaire apart. The rules and the way the game is played differ significantly from other forms, as we’ll see soon.

Interesting Facts

  • Canfield solitaire was first recorded in 1891 by English patience author Elizabeth Whitmore Jones.
  • The name ‘demon patience’ comes from the fact that players are often beaten by the unfortunate position of a single card.
  • The name ‘Canfield’ comes from the casino owner Richard Canfield. It was rumored that he had turned it into a gambling game – in fact, he had done so with Klondike and not Canfield! 
  • There is a competitive, real-time version of the game called Racing Demon, in which multiple people play simultaneously to see who can finish first. 

The Rules 

The rules of Canfield solitaire are different in some important ways to more common forms of the game but nonetheless rather simple. Whether you’re a first time Solitaire player or a long-time professional, this version is easy to learn.

Setting Up the Game

  • In Canfield solitaire you have a stock pile, a waste pile, four foundation piles, a reserve pile, and the tableau.
  • At the start of the game, one card will be dealt to its matching foundation suit. The other three foundation piles are left empty.
  • Another 13 cards are dealt to the reserve pile – the top card is available for play and dealt face up.
  • One card is dealt to each spot in the tableau.

The Gameplay

The sequences of cards in the tableau are built according to the same rules as in classic solitaire: to put a card in a tableau pile, it must be next in sequence and alternate in color to the card beneath it.

Your ultimate objective is to get all 52 cards into their respective foundations. With that, those are all the rules you need to know – so now let’s look at how to play.

How to Play

There are a number of moves you can make in Canfield solitaire to achieve the goal. Let’s go through them step by step:

  1. Move cards from the stock to the waste pile three at a time. The top card of the three can now be placed in any of the foundations or tableau piles, you can move it there.
  2. Move cards from their foundations back to the tableau. Remember, Canfield solitaire is highly strategic, and once a card is in the foundation doesn’t necessarily mean you’re done with it.
  3. Move cards from the reserve pile to any tableau or foundation. If at any point a tableau pile becomes empty, the top reserve card must be moved into that free space.
  4. Move cards from one tableau pile to another. Whether it’s a single card or a stack of cards, you can move cards from one tableau pile to another if they make a sequence and alternate in color.
  5. Most online versions of the game feature an undo button and potentially limitless undos, allowing you to reverse moves you’ve made if you need to.
  6. Finally, you can move cards from the tableau onto the foundations. This, ultimately, is the aim of the game.

Now that you know what moves you can make, let’s think about strategies for winning.

How to Win

The most important thing to remember is that Canfield solitaire is as much a game of strategy as of luck. Every move you make counts, and especially in harder deals, every move can make or break the game. Decide carefully about where you place each card, and try to think a few steps ahead.

Early in the game, you want to create as much as space you can. This will give you opportunities to create more sequences later. Before you deal from the stock, make sure you have made any other possible moves.

Foundation piles should be built up evenly, or you may end up having difficulty finding certain cards later on if you play lower value cards prematurely. Don’t allow one foundation to build up while leaving the others behind otherwise you risk ending up stuck fairly soon.

You will ultimately win the game when all four foundations are built up with each card of every suit. There is certainly an element of luck involved, though in this particular form of solitaire the luck is not at all on your side. Chances are you will get stuck and not be able to finish the game, and chances of this are further increased if you don’t carefully consider every move. Remember – it’s called demon patience because you can so often be foiled by the awkward position of a single card!