Canfield Solitaire is a classic card game made popular in the 20th century in the United States by Richard A. Canfield, a casino owner. Nevertheless, this Solitaire game already enjoyed its fair degree of popularity worldwide prior to its boom in the US, and it is still commonly known by its original name: Demon Solitaire or Demon Patience.
This ominous name is self-explanatory once players have a go at a challenge. It is one of the hardest Solitaire games, with numbers pointing to only 71% of winnable deals on the three-card draw mode and an average of 35% wins by expert players, with this value dropping significantly for occasional players.
Canfield Solitaire: set up the tableau
Canfield Solitaire uses a standard 52-card deck. The tableau is divided into four areas: the 4 foundations, the stock pile, the reserve pile, and the game area.
To form the reserve pile, 13 cards are dealt face down to form a column on the left of the player. Only the last card closer to the player is facing forward. The next card on the deck is placed at the foundations, face-forward.
As with the majority of Solitaire card games, the goal in this game is to build the foundations by suit, in ascending order. However, this card removed from the deck will be the one serving as the base for all. For example, if the card is a 7, then all the foundations must start with the 7 too and the next card would be an 8. The Kings are topped by aces and the sequence continues in ascending order.
Next, 4 cards are dealt face-forward below the spaces for the foundations to form the game area. The remaining cards are grouped into the stock pile, which must remain face-down.
How to play Canfield Solitaire
Only the cards in the game area are playable. Here, the players can shift them around to create descending sequences in alternating colors. A card can only be placed on top of a free one (with no cards covering it). As with Klondike Solitaire, it is also possible to move partial sequences. For example, a sequence of 7-6-5 can be moved to top an 8 in another column.
The card facing forward on the reserve pile cannot be played unless it is sent directly to the foundation or is moved to the game area. In this online Canfield Solitaire game, this card will be sent automatically to an empty slot in the game area. The players can also build sequences in this area to target the card in the reserve. For example, if the card is a 4 they can move it to the game area when a 5 is free.
Once the face-forward card is removed from the reserve, the next in line will be turned around. When the reserve ends, any card can be placed in an empty slot.
In the stock pile, the players can find useful cards to build the foundations or sequences in the game area. There are two game modes available. In the easier one, the stock turns one card at a time. In the harder, it turns three cards.
Tips and strategies to win at Canfield Solitaire
Create empty slots
Empty slots are the easiest way to move the cards from the reserve into the game area to make them playable, as you are not dependent on sequences nor on the cards available in the stock to build said sequences.
Best of all, once the reserve ends, any card can be moved into an empty slot which is a great advantage as it gives you the opportunity to move around the cards and create sequences with more ease.
Balance the foundations
It is important that you do not try to build the foundations one at a time, even if that is your first impulse.
The sequences in the game area must be built in alternating colors. If you complete a red foundation ahead of all the others, for instance, you may lack the necessary cards to move the blacks on the sequences and make it impossible to reach or unlock the ones you need to progress in the game.
Prioritize the reserve and not the stock
Regardless of the game mode you choose, there is no limit to the stock pile. Once it is finished, you can set it back and go through it again from the beginning.
The cards in the reserve, however, are harder to reach since they only become playable once they are in the game area and because they are facing down and can only be turned around one at a time.