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First, the cards are shuffled and dealt as two columns of four cards laid out. The player must make sure that these eight cards include either a king, an ace, or both. If neither a king nor an ace is found among these eight cards, all cards are collected and shuffled and two new columns of four cards are dealt. As long there is no king or ace among the eight cards, the shuffling and dealing continues. When at least a king or an ace are present, six columns of four cards are then dealt. At least a king or an ace must be present among the first eight cards for the game to work. The first eight cards compose the reserve (or "the kibitzers") and the six columns of four cards form the tableau (or "the dormitzers").
The object of the game is to free one king and one ace of each suit and built them by suit. The kings should be built down while the aces should be built up.
The top cards of each column on the tableau and all eight cards on the reserve are available.
The cards on the reserve are available to be built on the foundations, and any space it leaves behind are filled from any from the tableau. But filling spaces doesn't have to be done immediately; it is the player's discretion on whether to fill a gap or leave it open.
The cards on the tableau are available only to be built on the foundation or placed on a space in the reserve; they are not built on each other. In case there is a gap resulting on all cards on the column leaving it, it is immediately filled by a new set of four cards.
Furthermore, the top cards of foundations are available to be built on each other, handy when the two foundations of the same suit meet.
When the player has made all the moves one could make, four cards from the stock are deal onto each column. Then game play continues. Dealing of new cards and making of new moves continue until all cards have been played.
After the game play goes on a standstill, the player then collects all the cards on the tableau by first gathering the rightmost column and placing it on the pile to its left, and then placing this new pile to the pile on its left and so on. Then, without shuffling, six new columns of four cards each are dealt. And game play continues as before. This can be done twice in the game.
The game is won when all cards are dealt onto the foundations.
La Nivernaise or just Nivernaise (also known as Napoleon's Flank) is an older version of Tournament. It is played exactly as Tournament except the six columns of four cards each are just piles with only their top cards exposed. Here, the reserve is the "flank" while the piles are the "line."