Forty Thieves is one of the most popular solitaire card games. It is quite
difficult to win, and relies mostly on skill. It is also known as Napoleon at Saint Helena,
Roosevelt at San Juan, Big Forty and Le Cadran.
Two decks are used (104 cards). There are ten tableau piles of four cards each, all face up
and all visible. Leave space for eight foundation piles above the tableau piles. Stock
and waste completes the layout.
The rules are as follows:
- You may only move the top card from any tableau. You may place any card in an empty tableau space.
- The tableaus are built down by suit.
- The foundations are built up by suit, from ace to king.
- You may deal one card at a time from the stock to the waste.
- You may use the top card from the waste for play.
- You may only go through the stock once.
- The object of the game is to move all the cards to the foundations.
Forty Thieves gives a real challenge to win. But there are some tips to succeed:
- Play to empty a pile as soon as possible, pick pile with best chance of clearing. Refrain from making builds that would block places earmarked for cards in this pile.
- Use empty piles to reveal cards, reserve empty piles for important cards.
- Move builds using empty piles.
- Near end of game, use empty piles to reduce the waste pile.
Forty Thieves forms the basis for several variant games, most of which have been made easier to win. Common variations are dealing the aces to the foundations at the start of the game, having the tableaus build down by alternating colour rather than by suit, and allowing cards built down on top of a tableau to be moved together. Other variations include allowing use of any card from the waste, dealing some of the tableau cards face down, and changing the number of tableau piles and/or the number of cards in each tableau. The number of possible permutations is vast, and solitaire suites often include several flavours. Here are some of these variants:
- In Lucas, the aces are removed and act as the foundations while the 13 columns of four cards each are formed during the deal. Also groups of cards in sequence down in suit may be moved as a unit.
- In Maria, nine columns of four cards are formed on the deal; during play, the cards are built down by alternating colour.
- In Limited, twelve columns of three cards each are dealt.
- In Streets, building on the tableau is down by alternating colour.
- In Indian, ten columns of three cards are dealt; the bottom card of each column is faced down. Furthermore, cards are built down by any suit other than its own. For example, any 5 can be placed over the 6 of Hearts except the 5 of Hearts.
- In Rank and File, in the deal, the bottom three cards of each of the ten columns are faced down and the top card of each is the only one exposed. Building is down alternating colour and sequences can be moved in part and in whole.
- In Number Ten, ten columns of four cards are formed with the top two cards of each pile faced up and the bottom two faced down. Furthermore, building is down by alternating colour and a sequence can be moved as a unit in part or in whole.