Patience cards are smaller than poker or bridge cards

Patience (Europe), or solitaire (US/Canada), is a genre of card games that can be played by a single player. Patience games can also be played in a head-to-head fashion with the winner selected by a scoring scheme.

In the US, the term solitaire is often used specifically to refer to solitaire played with cards, while in other countries solitaire specifically refers to peg solitaire. Both solitaire and patience are sometimes used to refer specifically to the Klondike form of patience.


The game generally involves manipulating a layout of cards with a goal of sorting them in some manner. It is possible to play the same games competitively (often a head to head race) and cooperatively.

Patience games typically involve dealing cards from a shuffled deck into a prescribed arrangement on a tabletop, from which the player attempts to reorder the deck by suit and rank through a series of moves transferring cards from one place to another under prescribed restrictions. Some games allow for the reshuffling of the decks, or the placement of cards into new or "empty" locations. In the most familiar, general form of patience, the object of the game is to build up four blocks of cards going from ace to king in each suit, taking cards from the layout if they appear on the table.

There is a vast array of variations on the patience theme, using either one or more decks of cards, with rules of varying complexity and skill levels. Many of these have been converted to electronic form and are available as computer games.


The game is most likely German or Scandinavian in origin.[1] The game became popular in France in the early 19th century, reaching Britain and America in the latter half. The earliest known recording of a game of patience occurred in 1788 in the German game anthology Das neue Königliche L'Hombre-Spiel.[2] Before this, there were no literary mentions of such games in large game compendiums such as Charles Cotton's The Compleat Gamester (1674) and Abbé Bellecour's Academie des Jeux (1674).

Klondike is a widely known form of card solitaire

Patience was first mentioned in literature shortly after cartomantic layouts were developed circa 1765, suggesting a connection between the two. This theory is supported by the name of the game in Danish and Norwegian, kabal(e). An 1895 account describes a variant of the game exclusively used for cartomancy.[1]

The first collection of patience card games in the English language is attributed to Lady Adelaide Cadogan through her Illustrated Games of Patience, published in about 1870 and reprinted several times.[3] Other collections quickly followed such as Patience by Ednah Dow Littlehale Cheney (1869),[4] Amusement for Invalids by Annie B. Henshaw (1870),[5] and later Dick's Games of Patience, published by Dick and Fitzgerald.[6] Other books about patience written towards the end of the 19th century were by H. E. Jones (a.k.a. Cavendish), Angelo Lewis (a.k.a. Professor Hoffman), Basil Dalton, Ernest Bergholt, and Mary Whitmore Jones.


In most games of patience the overall aim is to arrange all thirteen cards of each suit in order in a "family" running from ace to king. Normally the ace forms the "foundation" on which a two of the same suit is placed, followed by a three and so on. This is known as "building" and all such games are, technically, builders. However, in many games the cards must be assembled in reverse order on another part of the layout called the "tableau". They can then be built in the right sequence on the foundations. This interim process of reverse building is calling "packing". Games that use this technique are thus called "packers". Games that use neither technique are called "non-builders".[7]

There are also specials kinds of packer-games which may be further sub-classified as:[7]

  • Blockades
  • Planners
  • Spiders

Patience games may be classified by the degree to which the cards are revealed. In "open" games, all the cards are visible throughout the game and the player has to use powers of analysis to solve the patience. In "closed" games, cards are drawn from a face-down stock and the player has to use judgement because the sequence of cards is unknown until they appear. In between is a hybrid group which Parlett calls "half-open".[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Parlett, David. "Patience". Historical Card Games. David Parlett. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
  2. ^ (Anon.) (1788). Das neue königliche l'Hombre … (in German) (12th ed.). Hamburg, (Germany): Herold. pp. 173–174.
  3. ^ Cadogan, Adelaide (1874). Illustrated Games of Patience. London, England: Sampson Low, Marston, Low, and Searle.
  4. ^ Cheney, Ednah Dow Littlehale (1869). Patience: A Series of Games with Cards (2nd ed.). Boston, Massachusetts, USA: Lee and Shepherd.
  5. ^ Henshaw, Annie B. (1870). Amusement for Invalids. Boston, Massachusetts, USA: Loring.
  6. ^ Dick, William Brisbane, ed. (1883). Dick's Games of Patience, or, Solitaire with Cards …. New York, New York, USA: Dick & Fitzgerald.
  7. ^ a b Parlett 1979, p. 19.
  8. ^ Parlett 1979, p. 22.


  • Arnold, Peter. Card Games for One. London: Hamlyn, 2002 (ISBN 0-600-60727-5)
  • Crépeau, Pierre. The Complete Book of Solitaire (a translation of Le Grand Livre des Patiences). Willowdale, Ontario: Firefly Books, 2001. (ISBN 1-55209-597-5)
  • Lee, Sloane & Packard, Gabriel. 100 Best Solitaire Games: 100 Ways to Entertain Yourself with a Deck of Cards. ; New York, N. Y.: Cardoza Publishing, 2004. (ISBN 1-58042-115-6)
  • Marks, Arnold & Harrod, Jacqueline. Card Games Made Easy. Surrey, England: Clarion, 1997 (ISBN 1-899606-17-3)
  • Moorehead, Albert H. & Mott-Smith, Geoffrey. The Complete Book of Solitaire and Patience Games. New York: Bantam Books, 1977 (ISBN 0-553-26240-8)
  • Parlett, David (1991). A History of Card Games, OUP, Oxford. ISBN 0-19-282905-X.
  • Parlett, David (1979). The Penguin Book of Patience, Penguin, London. ISBN 0-7139-1193-X

External linksEdit