How to play: Canfield solitaire

Canfield (also known as Demon solitaire) shares some similarities with other solitaire games such as Klondike, but is played with fewer tableau piles. The foundation piles do not necessarily start with aces. Canfield is a relatively difficult game to complete, and in it original version, only a handful of cards can typically be placed on to the foundations. The version of Canfield for iPad and macOS included in the Solitaire Whizz compendium makes a small concession to the way redeals work in order to make the game more interesting.


Canfield is played with a single shuffled deck of cards. The initial cards are laid out as follows:

An example Canfield layout will therefore appear as follows:

Example Canfield layout

Aim of the game

The aim of the game is to build all cards on to the foundations, starting with cards of the same denomination as the randomly chosen card that started the first foundation. In the example above, all foundations will therefore start with a 6.

In reality, it is difficult to complete Canfield and a more realistic goal is to aim to beat your previous progress record!

Game play

Cards are built according to the following rules, which include a few special cases not found in other solitaire games:

Special rule for moving cards to an empty column

Canfield solitaire has a special rule for moving cards to an empty tableau column. Normally, only cards from the reserve may be moved to an empty column. However, if the reserve is empty, then the top cards of the stock or discard piles may also be moved to empty columns.

Because of this rule, the thirteen reserve cards serve to "orchestrate" the game to some extent, and will often determine when a new opening becomes available during play.


In the version of Canfield included with Solitaire Whizz for iPad and macOS, up to 2 redeals are permitted.

In a redeal, the discard pile is shuffled and the cards dealt back on to the stock pile ready for you to go through them again. Note that the reserve pile is not affected by a redeal.

In some alternatives, including what is probably the original gambling game, unlimited redeals are permitted. But cards are dealt in threes from the stock, meaning it is likely that some cards will become unavailable. For the iPad and macOS version of Canfield, it was felt that the game would be more interesting if this restriction was relaxed, and more cards could on average be built on to the foundations.