Beleaguered Castle

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Beleaguered Castle
A Patience game
Named variantsCastle of Indolence, Citadel, Selective Castle, Siegecraft, Streets and Alleys, Stronghold
DeckSingle 52-card
See also Glossary of solitaire

Beleaguered Castle is a solitaire card game played with a deck of 52 playing cards. It is one of the card games touted as "Freecell without cells" because its game play is somewhat akin to the popular solitaire computer game but without extra empty spaces to maneuver. This game is also called Laying Siege and Sham Battle.


First, the player removes the aces from the deck and aligns them vertically without overlapping them. They form the foundations. Then cards are dealt to the left and right of the aces, forming eight rows of six overlapping cards each.

The initial layout in Beleaguered Castle

The top card of each row (the cards that are exposed) is available for play either on the foundations or on any other row. The foundations are built up to kings by suit. Cards in the rows are built down in sequence regardless of suit. Once a row becomes empty, it can be filled by any card.[1]

The game is won when all of the cards are built onto the foundations. However, this is easier said than done because most games are doomed to fail in just a few moves.


  • Castle of Indolence is played with two decks (and hence eight foundations). Cards can be moved to the foundations regardless of suit. The top cards of four reserve piles (initially holding 13 cards) are available for moving on the foundations or rows.
  • In Citadel, any card can be dealt onto the foundations during dealing. The other cards that aren't built are played as in Beleaguered Castle.
  • In Streets and Alleys, the aces are included in the shuffling, resulting in the rows at the left of the foundations having seven cards each.
  • In Selective Castle, cards are dealt and played as in Streets and Alleys, but the player has the freedom to choose the starting card for each foundation.
  • Siegecraft allows an extra cell for any card to be placed on it to help in uncovering key cards, making it easier. The cell can only accommodate one card.
  • Stronghold, invented by Thomas Warfield, is Streets and Alleys with the game play of Siegecraft, allowing an extra cell to accommodate a card.

Pop culture[edit]

In the 2011 film Source Code, "Beleaguered Castle" is the call sign for the Source Code program.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Solitaire Games Archived December 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine