Napoleon at St Helena

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Napoleon at St Helena
Forty Thieves
Forty Thieves (solitaire) Layout.jpg
Screenshot of a Forty Thieves game
Alternative namesBig Forty, Le Cadran, Napoleon at Saint Helena, Roosevelt at San Juan
Named variantsIndian, Limited, Lucas, Maria, Number Ten, Rank and File, Streets
FamilyForty Thieves
DeckDouble 52-card
See also Glossary of solitaire

Napoleon at St Helena is a patience card game. It is quite difficult to win, and relies mostly on luck. It is also known as Forty Thieves, Roosevelt at San Juan, Big Forty and Le Cadran.



  • Two decks are used (104 cards).
  • Deal ten tableau piles of four cards each, all face up and all visible.
  • Leave space for eight foundation piles above the tableau piles.
  • You may only move the top card from any tableau. You may place any one 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 take one card at a time from the stock and play to the tableau, the foundations, or to the waste.
  • You may use the top card from the waste.
  • You may only go through the stock once.
  • The object of the game is to move all the cards to the foundations.


Napoleon at St Helena 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 three cards each are formed during the deal.
  • In Maria, nine columns of four cards are formed on the deal and during play; 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 except the 5.
  • In Rank and File (also known as Dress Parade[1]), 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.
  • In Josephine, cards of the same suit built down can be moved as a unit.
  • In Sixty Thieves, twelve columns of five cards are dealt using three decks of cards.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Morehead, Albert H.; Mott-Smith, Geoffrey (June 1977) [1st pub. 1949]. The Complete Book of Solitaire and Patience Games. United States and Canada: Bantam Books. p. 118. ISBN 0-553-11186-8.
  2. ^ Crépeau, Pierre (2001) [1st pub. 1999]. The Complete Book Of Solitaire. Translated by My-Trang Nguyen. Firefly Books (U.S.) Inc. pp. 258–260. ISBN 1-55209-597-5.