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Forty Thieves Solitaire - Card Game Rules

A family of solitaire card games that require significant skill to win.

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The entire family of Forty Thieves solitaire card games is popular with players who enjoy solitaire games that tend to rely on strategy as much, if not more than, luck. The main game is rather challenging, as are many of the variants.

Forty Thieves (the name comes from the fact that 40 cards are initially dealt to the tableau) is also known as Big Forty, Le Cadran, Napoleon at St. Helena, and Roosevelt at San Juan.

Players

One player.

Deck

Forty Thieves is played with two standard 52-card decks, for a total of 104 cards. Ace is low, King is high.

Goal

The goal of Forty Thieves is to build eight foundations up from Ace to King, keeping suit.

Setup

Deal 40 cards to the tableau in 10 columns of four cards each. The cards in each column should overlap so that all 10 cards are visible.

The remaining cards are set aside in a single face-down pile. This is the stock.

Leave space for the eight foundations either above or below the tableau, whichever is more comfortable for you. Also leave space for a discard pile.

Moving Cards

Only one card at a time may be moved.

In the tableau, only the top card of each column is available to be moved. Cards in the tableau may be moved either to a foundation or to another column in the tableau.

In the tableau, a card can only be added to a column if it is one rank lower and the same suit as the card it is being played on. EXAMPLE: The 10 of Hearts can only be played on the Jack of Hearts.

A foundation must be started with an Ace. A card can only be added to a foundation if it is one rank higher and the same suit as the card it is being played on. EXAMPLE: The 4 of Spades can only be played on the 3 of Spades.

The top card of the stock can be drawn at any time and played to a foundation, played to a column in the tableau, or added face up to the discard pile.

The top card of the discard pile can be played to a foundation or to a column in the tableau at any time.

If there is an empty column in the tableau, any card which can be legally moved may be played to that column.

There is never a redeal in Forty Thieves.

Winning

A player wins Forty Thieves if all eight foundations are completely built, from Ace to King.

Related Games / Variants

These related solitaire card games all use the basic rules of Forty Thieves, except as noted. Most are easier to win than Forty Thieves.

Indian: The tableau has ten columns of three cards each. The bottom card of each column is dealt face down. In the tableau, a card can only be added to a column if it is one rank lower and a different suit than the card it is being played on.

Limited: The tableau has 12 columns of three cards each.

Little Forty: Sequences in the tableau may be moved in part or in whole. In the tableau, a card can only be added to a column if it is one rank lower and a different suit than the card it is being played on. Cards are dealt from the stock three at a time. There are three redeals.

Lucas: Before the cards are shuffled, the Aces are removed to start the eight foundations. The tableau has 13 columns of three cards each.

Maria: The tableau has nine columns of four cards each. In the tableau, a card can only be added to a column if it is one rank lower and a different color than the card it is being played on.

Number Ten: The bottom two cards of each column in the tableau are dealt face-down. In the tableau, a card can only be added to a column if it is one rank lower and a different color than the card it is being played on. Sequences in the tableau may be moved in part or in whole.

Rank and File: The bottom three cards of each of the ten columns are dealt face down. In the tableau, a card can only be added to a column if it is one rank lower and a different color than the card it is being played on. Sequences in the tableau may be moved in part or in whole.

Streets: In the tableau, a card can only be added to a column if it is one rank lower and a different color than the card it is being played on.

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