Canfield (solitaire)

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A Patience game
Alternative namesDemon
Named variantsChameleon, Rainbow, Selective Canfield, Storehouse, Superior Canfield
DeckSingle 52-card
See also Glossary of solitaire

Canfield is a patience or solitaire card game with a very low probability of winning. It is originally a casino game, and in the United States is named after casino owner Richard A. Canfield, who popularised it in the 1890s.[1][2] While commonly called Canfield in the United States, it is usually called Demon in the United Kingdom.[3] It is closely related to Klondike, and is one of the most popular Solitaire games.[4]


Noted gambler Richard A. Canfield owned the Canfield Casino in Saratoga Springs, New York during the 1890s.[5][6] Gamblers at his casino would play the game by "buying" a deck of cards. Some sources say the cost was $50,[7] others say it was $52.[8][9] The gambler would then play the game and earn $5 for every card they managed to place into the foundations; if a player was fortunate enough to place all 52 cards into the foundations, the player would win $500. Although players made a loss on average (of about five to six cards), the game proved to be popular, and Canfield became rich. The disadvantage of this new game was the need to hire a croupier for every gambler playing the game.

Canfield himself called the game Klondike, but the name Canfield stuck in North American circles.[10] Confusingly, Canfield is also the traditional name for a different solitaire game that was later renamed Klondike in North America, and which is the most popular form of solitaire that most people are familiar with. An argument has been made that the game originally played at Canfield's casino was in fact the one now commonly known as Klondike, and not the one popularly known in the US today as Canfield.[11]

Method of play[edit]

The initial layout in the game of Canfield

To play the game, one must first deal thirteen cards faced up and then turned down. These cards would be the reserve, the top card of which is available for play. Then a card is placed on first of the four foundations to the right of the reserve. This card is the first card of its foundation and all other cards of the same rank must also start the other three foundations.

Below the foundations are four piles, each starting with a card each. This will be the tableau and the top cards of each pile are available for play. Cards on the tableau are built down by alternating colors, while the foundations are built up by suit, wrapping from King to Ace if necessary. Any gaps on the tableau are filled from the reserve; in case the reserve is used up, cards from the waste pile are used. Cards on the reserve can also be distributed to the foundations or to the tableau. Cards on the tableau are also moved one unit, provided that the entire column has to be moved.

When no more plays are possible on the tableau and no more cards can be placed to the foundations, especially from the reserve, one can deal cards from the stock (the undealt cards) three at a time into the waste pile and use these cards to build to the foundations or to the tableau. One can make unlimited redeals as long as there are moves, although Richard Canfield himself restricted the number of times that gamblers could redeal the stock.

The game is won when all cards are placed in the foundations. But as Canfield knew very well, winning this game is unlikely, as one can manage to place an average of five to six cards.


Some variations to the game include:

  • Chameleon, where the reserve only has 12 cards, and there are only three tableau columns. Building in the tableau is down, regardless of suit, and the stock is dealt one at a time with no redeals. All or any cards may be moved from the end of one tableau pile to another.
  • Rainbow, in which the tableau builds down regardless of suit. Cards are turned one at a time and no redeals are allowed (in some sources one can deal from the stock one card at a time and two redeals are allowed in this game).
  • Selective Canfield, where one can deal five cards right after the reserve is dealt. One can place any one of these five into the foundations and the remaining four cards become the tableau.
  • Storehouse (or Thirteen Up), in which one should remove the deuces (twos) and place them on the foundations. The reserve and the cards on the tableau are then dealt. The stock is dealt one card at a time, and it can be used only twice. Furthermore, the method of building in this game is by suit.[12] The Storehouse variant makes the game easier than Canfield.[13]
  • Superior Canfield, where the entire reserve is visible, and gaps can be filled by any card, not just those from the reserve.

Other closely related solitaire games include Duchess and the two-deck game American Toad. Somewhat related to Storehouse is Eagle Wing (alternatively called Thirteen Down).

Nerts (known as Pounce or Racing Demon in the UK) is a real-time variant of Canfield that enables the game to be played competitively between multiple players. It was the inspiration for the commercially produced Dutch Blitz and Ligretto.


Under the standard rules using a three card draw, Canfield can't be completed successfully very often.[14]

Running a computer solver on 50,000 random Canfield deals has shown that between 71% and 72% of all games are possible to win. In the average game, 40 cards were moved to the foundation. Because the reserve cards are hidden, and because the three-at-a-time dealing of cards from the stock means that cards played early in the game can impact which stock cards are available much later, it is very difficult by normal playing standards to come anywhere near theoretically possible win rates. The highest potential win rates for strategic expert-level players averages at about 35%.[citation needed]

In the Storehouse variant, a greater potential to win increases rates to about 44% proportional to games played. In practice, however, Storehouse is a much easier game. Most players will easily be able to win close to 44% of games, a much higher win rate than is ever achieved by casual players of Canfield.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Demon" (p.137) in The Playing Card Kit by Richard Craze, Simon & Schuster, 1995. ISBN 0-7318-0526-7
  2. ^ "Canfield" (p.10) in Card & Dice Games by N.A.C. Bathe, Robert Frederick Ltd, 2004.ISBN 1-889752-06-1
  3. ^ "Canfield" (p.32) in Little Giant Encyclopedia of Games for One or Two, The Diagram Group, 1998. ISBN 0-8069-0981-1
  4. ^ "Canfield" (p.307) in Bicycle Official Rules of Card Games by Joli Quentin Kansil (ed.), 1999. ISBN 1-889752-06-1
  5. ^ Tung, Angela (June 5, 2015). "A brief history of Solitaire, Patience, and other card games for one". The Week. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  6. ^ "Canfield" (p.23) in The Little Book of Solitaire, Running Press, 2002. ISBN 0-7624-1381-6
  7. ^ Morehead, Philip D. (ed.) "Canfield" (p.197) in Hoyle's Rules of Games (3rd edition), 2001. ISBN 0-451-20484-0
  8. ^ Curtis, Tony. "Are there any Las Vegas casinos that offer Solitaire?", Las Vegas Advisor, September 25, 2014. Retrieved August 11, 2020.
  9. ^ Arnold, Peter. "Demon" (p.227) in The Complete Book of Card Games , Hamlyn Publishing, 2010. ISBN 978-0-600-62191-1
  10. ^ "Canfield" (p.426) in The Penguin Book of Card Games by David Parlett, Treasure Press, 1987. ISBN 1-85051-221-3
  11. ^ Keller, Michael. "What game was played at Canfield's Casino?", Solitaire Laboratory, 2013. Retrieved August 11, 2020.
  12. ^ "Thirteen-Up (Storehouse)" (p.308) in Bicycle Official Rules of Card Games by Joli Quentin Kansil (ed.), 1999. ISBN 1-889752-06-1
  13. ^ "Canfield" (p.82) in 101 Great Card Games by David Galt, Publications International, 1999. ISBN 0-7853-4044-0
  14. ^ "Demon (Canfield)" (p.428-9) in The Penguin Book of Card Games by David Parlett, Treasure Press, 1987. ISBN 1-85051-221-3

See also[edit]