~ 10 Minutes

A Guide to Russian Solitaire

Solitaire’s engaging nature is something we all acknowledge, particularly when you’re confined indoors with few diversions. Klondike solitaire is a game that resonates with most due to its wide popularity. However, for those who have engaged with it extensively, the thrill may have somewhat diminished. To invigorate your card game experience, consider exploring the multitude of solitaire variants. Each comes with distinct rules, configurations, and varying degrees of challenge. Indeed, these alternatives can offer a refreshing departure from the monotony of prolonged engagement with a singular card game.

Having sampled the entertainment offered by Klondike, or any other mainstream solitaire game, you may be keen to broaden your horizons. Russian solitaire is an option that presents a host of new opportunities. Far from a simple pastime, Russian solitaire ranks among the more challenging solitaire variants, calling for more than mere chance to secure victory. It demands patience, skill, and above all, a well-formulated strategy.

In the following sections of this article, we aim to guide you through the intricacies of Russian solitaire. Starting with the game setup, we will delve into the rules and ultimately equip you with winning strategies for this variant. So, without further ado, let us embark on this enlightening journey into the world of Russian solitaire.

How to Play Russian Solitaire


The layout of Russian solitaire is the same as that of Klondike. The only difference is that in Russian Solitaire, there is no waste or stockpile. This game requires a standard 52 deck of cards and all the cards are dealt straight to the tableau. There being no stock or waste pile is what makes this game hard to win and quite fun. Most people find Russian solitaire addictive because of how you easily run out of moves when you are only left with a few cards in the tableau.

The layout of Russian solitaire is quite simple. You will need room for seven tableau piles and four foundation piles, which should be placed on the right side of the tableau. The foundation piles are where you should send the cards from the tableau to.

In the tableau, as mentioned earlier, there should be 7 piles. In the first pile, you will deal one card face up. In the second pile, deal one card face down, the third pile two cards face down, in the fourth pile three cards face down, and so on till you reach the seventh pile which should have 6 cards face down.

Once you are done with that, you will need to deal 5 cards all face-up on each pile from the second one to the seventh. Only the first tableau pile should have one card face up. The rest on the right beginning with the second pile should have one card face down and 5 cards facing up, adding up to six cards in the second tableau pile and 11 cards on the seventh pile, 6 facing down and 5 facing up.

After dealing the cards in the above order, you will realize that your entire 52 card deck will be used up. You won’t be left with an extra set of cards that you can use as a stockpile.

For those who prefer to play Russian solitaire online, you don’t have to worry about the setup because the game’s software provider will set up the game for you. However, you need to know how to set up Russian solitaire because it’s not always when you may be near a computer or smartphone. Moreover, if you find yourself out of the grid where there is no power or internet and have some cards. You can set up Russian solitaire and have some fun by yourself.

How to Play

The gameplay for Russian solitaire is pretty straightforward, you just have to move cards from the tableau to the foundation piles. Every foundation pile should start with an ace and go all the way to the king. Also, in each foundation pile, the cards used to build it should follow the same suit. So, if you start your foundation with an ace of diamonds, what follows should be the 2 of diamonds, three of diamonds, and follow that order till the top card in the foundation pile is the king of diamonds.

On the tableau, a player can move cards from one tableau pile to another. However, to do so, the card being moved must be of a rank lower than the one it is being moved to and follow the same suit. Let’s say you want to move a 5 of flowers, it can only be moved to another tableau whose bottom card is the 6 of flowers.

Any card within the tableau in Russian solitaire can be moved as long as it is facing up. Also, a card can move with a set of other cards as long as where it’s being moved, it follows the rule described above. Should there be an empty pile on the tableau, only a king can be moved there.

The objective of Russian solitaire is to move all cards to the foundation pile. When you do this successfully, you will have won the game. However, when you run out of moves, then you have to start over.

As mentioned earlier, Russian solitaire is a very difficult card game despite having the easiest gameplay. There is no waste pile and neither is there a stockpile where you can draw cards and open up more moves. Here you solely have to rely on the tableau pile. This is why you have to be very keen when making moves.

Don’t make fast moves as this may potentially block major moves that can open up your game. When playing Russian solitaire, the number one rule of thumbs is to attempt to reveal as many face-down cards as possible. Doing this gives you a mental overview of plays you can make to push the game further. Not unless you are lucky, playing with lots of face-down cards will push you into a corner that will be hard to get out of.

Russian Solitaire Rules

For starters, Russian solitaire requires only one deck of cards and there are no redeals. During setup, there are only two piles, the tableau, and the foundation piles. Unlike other common variations of solitaire, here there is no stock or waste pile. This is very crucial information that players need to know when setting up the layout.

Another important rule that needs to be remembered is the card arrangement on the tableau. The number of cards in every tableau pile increase from left to right. The first tableau always has one card face up. And from the second tableau pile to the seventh, the first cards dealt should face down. In the second tableau pile, one should face down, the third tableau two cards should face down, and so on till you reach the seventh tableau pile.

After dealing cards in that order, what follows is the dealing of 5 cards face up from the second tableau pile all the way to the seventh. Having done that, your Russian solitaire layout will be complete and you can start playing.

Other rules that involve making moves in the tableau include; only face-up cards can be moved, irrespective of where they are in the tableau. For cards not located at the bottom of the tableau pile, when being moved they have to be accompanied by all cards on top of it. In Russian solitaire, the movement of cards within the tableau requires the card to be moved on another tableau be of the same suit and a rank lower. Empty spaces within the tableau can only be occupied by kings or a group of cards that are headed by the king. Whenever a face-down card is exposed in a tableau, it should be turned right away so that the player can use it to make more moves.

Building the foundation piles also has certain rules that need to be followed. There are four foundation piles, each pile should be built by cards following the same suit. Also, each pile should start with an ace and go all the way to the king. Kings should be the last cards to be played from the tableau to the foundation piles.

Because of these rules, winning is rare. At the beginning of the game, you may have a lot of moves but the game gets harder with time. As you build the foundation piles, you slowly realize that there are no more moves that can be made. And as you start to make moves within the tableau, not unless you are very lucky, the odds of running out of moves is very high. For a game that has a high difficulty level such as Russian solitaire, before you start playing, you must equip yourself with tips that can help you win. And that brings us to our next subtopic.

Russian Solitaire Tips

In alignment with other solitaire variants, the paramount objective is to reveal as many concealed cards as possible. The more cards you unveil, the greater your range of potential moves, thereby facilitating the transfer of cards to the foundation pile. According to Russian solitaire rules, once a card is flipped face-up, it becomes eligible for play. Interestingly, in Russian solitaire, it’s permissible to move cards sandwiched between foundation piles, provided the accompanying cards on top are moved along with it.

Before we delve into specific strategies for Russian solitaire, it’s important to emphasize the level of challenge this game presents. Statistically, beginners stand a mere 5% chance of winning, while seasoned players may increase their odds to between 10% and 20%. Thus, if initial attempts don’t result in victory, it’s crucial not to judge oneself too harshly.

Due to the brisk pace at which moves can become exhausted in Russian solitaire, the game generally doesn’t consume substantial time. Within an hour, it’s feasible to complete two to three rounds of Russian solitaire. This brisk pace can render the game particularly captivating, especially when victories are elusive.

The key to winning Russian solitaire lies in restraining oneself from making moves that do not unveil concealed cards. While such moves may temporarily expedite the transfer of cards to the foundation piles, they may impede your progress in the latter, more pivotal stages of the game.

Following the revelation of hidden cards, you can commence moving cards within the tableau and shifting suitable cards to the foundation piles. A strategically sound move is to empty a column, as vacant columns can serve as convenient repositories for kings, which can obstruct your moves as the game progresses. If feasible, aim to place kings atop multiple tableau piles. Ensuring a consistent flow of cards onto the tableau pile is an effective tactic that can yield significant advantages later in the game.

The Bottom Line

A game of Russian solitaire is exciting enough to help you avoid hours of boredom. And at the same time, it offers a player the kind of challenge that will leave you at the edge of your seat as you ponder on your next move. Setting up this variation of solitaire is easy and so is the playing aspect. The rules, however, make this game hard and you will have to employ the above tactics if you want to win.

The more you play Russian solitaire, the more you will understand how the game works. And if you do get bored of Russian solitaire, it does have variations that are a little bit tweaked. A good example is Yukon solitaire. These two variations don’t just share lots of similarities but were created nearly at the same time. It is worth giving a try. If you are up for a more difficult variation of solitaire, we have double Russian, Russian cell, Ukrainian solitaire, and Samara.

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