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Canfield is a variation of Klondike Solitaire with some key differences, such as the starting card of the foundation. The game is also called “Demon Patience,” reflecting the difficulty of game play.

How to Play Canfield Solitaire

If you find yourself winning a lot of Klondike Solitaire and want to increase the challenge, then Canfield Solitaire may be the game for you. Best for expert players, Canfield uses just one deck of cards, a deceptively simple setup, and distinct rule differences from Klondike that create a true game of patience.


Clear all the cards by building sequences in the foundation piles that ascend in order, separated by suit, beginning with whatever card is the base foundation card.

Canfield Solitaire Setup

Using one 52-card deck, you arrange your game space into these parts, and in this order:

  • The reserve: You first deal 13 cards facedown in a vertical column of overlapping cards, and flip the last card at the bottom of the column face-up. You can play face-up reserve cards in the tableau when arranging columns and in foundation piles when building sequences. An additional use for the reserve is to fill an empty column in the tableau.
  • Foundation piles: Deal a single card into one of four foundation piles at the top left of your game space. This one card becomes the base card. Although you will build one foundation pile for each suit in ascending order, unlike Klondike Solitaire, you don’t begin foundation piles with an ace. Instead, whatever the base card is becomes the starting card for each foundation pile. So if the base card is a six of hearts, then the other three foundation piles need to start with a six, and all will end with a five.
  • The tableau: Deal four face-up cards in a row, from left to right, under the space for the foundation piles. Like Klondike Solitaire, the tableau is the main area for arranging cards to play. You’ll use these four columns to arrange cards into descending order, alternating by color, as you try to move cards to the foundation piles.
  • The stockpile: The remaining 34 cards are placed at the top left of your space facedown for the stockpile. The stockpile feeds your waste pile so you can have additional face-up cards to play. You flip over three cards at a time from the stockpile and place them face-up into the waste pile. You can sift through the stockpile as many times as you want to as you play the game.
  • The waste pile: Three cards at a time are turned over from the stockpile into the waste pile. Only the top card of this pile can be played, but if you play it, you can then play the next card in line. You can cycle through the stockpile as many times as you need to.
Canfield Solitaire setup

Canfield Solitaire Rules

Even if you’re familiar with Klondike Solitaire, Canfield has some distinct differences, so understanding the following rules can help you learn to play the game:

  • Move face-up cards only. Like all Solitaire games, you can play face-up cards into the tableau or foundation piles. You can move cards in the foundation piles back to the tableau and move reserve cards into foundation piles. Hidden cards are kept in the reserve or the stockpile. Flipping through the stockpile once can help you see most of the hidden cards.
  • Build tableau piles in descending order and alternating color. To arrange columns in your tableau, they must be in descending order, alternating by color. So you can place an eight of hearts on a nine of clubs or spades. You can also move a sequenced column of cards as long as you place the column on top of a card that is one rank higher and an alternate color from the top card of the column moved. For example, if the column you’re moving begins with a ten of clubs, then you can place that entire column on top of a jack of diamonds or hearts.
  • Build foundation piles in ascending, wrapping order. Foundation piles won’t necessarily begin with aces. Whatever your base card is becomes the base card for all foundation piles. So if the base card is a five of diamonds, then each foundation pile will begin with a five. Then you build sequences in ascending order, and when you get to the king, you wrap back to the ace. You should continue building until you reach the card that precedes the rank of your base card. In the case of the five of diamonds, each foundation pile will end with a four.
  • Fill empty tableau columns only with reserve cards. In Klondike Solitaire, only kings can move into empty spaces, but in Canfield, you can only fill an empty column with a face-up card from the reserve pile. If the reserve pile has run out, however, you can use other face-up cards to fill empty columns.
  • Use the stockpile and waste pile if you run out of moves. When you’re unable to move any more cards, you can click the stockpile, which will flip three face-up cards into the waste pile. The first card in the waste pile can be used to play in the tableau or foundation piles, and then you can play the next face-up card revealed. Continue cycling through the stockpile as often as you need to.

Strategies to Win Canfield Solitaire

Canfield Solitaire is an advanced Solitaire game, so using these strategies can help increase your chances of winning:

  • Cycle through the stockpile before making any moves. You can only play face-up cards, and you have very few to play at the beginning of the game. So cycling through the stockpile allows you to see all of the cards hidden in that pile. You can see if any cards match the rank of the base card, which means you have foundation pile starter cards in the stockpile. You can also figure out which 13 cards are left in the reserve, hidden cards you can’t reveal like you can the stockpile. Cycle through as many times as you want to so that you get a feel for where all of the cards are hidden before you begin playing the game.
  • Delay moves from the waste pile when necessary. You only get to use every third card that is turned over from the stockpile. When you use a card in your waste pile, it shifts the cards that fall after it on the next cycle through. If you just use one card, you shift the positions of the rest of the cards after it down by one. The more you use, the more you shift their positions. So if you need to get to a particular card, it may require you to delay another move so that you can cycle back through the stockpile and pick up a crucial card.
  • Plan for cards that can block your tableau. Unlike Klondike Solitaire, you have just four columns to work from in your tableau, and you can’t move any cards you want, like you can in Spider Solitaire, except those from the reserve into empty spaces. You are further limited by the rank of card that begins your foundation piles. For example, if your foundation piles begin with sevens, then anything from six and below can end up blocking your moves. You won’t have sevens to place any sixes on, and lower ranks don’t offer a lot of space for building sequences. So recognize what cards can block movement in your tableau and create a plan to work around them.
  • Build foundation piles evenly. It’s important to build foundation piles evenly so that you don’t bury cards you need. If you place six cards into the spades foundation pile but only have one or two cards in the other piles, you may need the spades from your foundation pile to build sequences in your tableau.
  • Play cards from the foundation. If you build a foundation pile too quickly or discover you need the card to open up more moves, use a card from the foundation pile in your tableau.
  • Prioritize playing from the reserve. Try to reduce the reserve pile as quickly as you can by emptying columns in your tableau. You should know what cards are hidden in the stockpile, so if any foundation starter cards aren’t in the stockpile, they’re in the reserve, and you need to access them to build foundation piles. Without getting them into play, it’s more difficult to progress with your builds and impossible to progress with them evenly. Once all of the reserve cards have been used, you can move any cards into empty tableau columns, freeing up your gameplay.

How Difficult Is Canfield Solitaire?

Canfield Solitaire is considered hard in difficulty. When looking at 122,678 random games played, 10,962 were won, making the win rate 8.94%. This is much lower than Klondike’s win rate of 32.91%.

Other Games You’ll Enjoy

If you enjoy Canfield Solitaire, but you’re finding it difficult to win, you can try less difficult versions of one-deck Canfield or continue challenging yourself with these other Solitaire games:

  • Double Canfield Solitaire: This version is actually easier because it uses two decks of cards.
  • Spider Solitaire: Using one deck of cards, this Solitaire variation has you arranging sequences in the tableau first, and then complete sequences get added to your foundation piles. You can increase the level of difficulty by playing with additional suits.
  • FreeCell: With an entire deck of cards dealt face-up into columns, you must arrange cards into foundation piles in ascending order, but you can use the open spaces (free cells) to hold onto cards while arranging your tableau. With different variations that add more cards, you can increase the level of difficulty.
  • Mahjong: For a break from cards, you can try your hand at matching open tiles until you clear the board.

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