~ 6 Minutes

Duchess Solitaire

If you love solitaire but haven’t found your favorite variant, you may want to consider Duchess Solitaire. Also known as Duchess or Glenwood, this game has all features of Klondike and Canfield all packed into one game. That includes the foundation piles, stock, waste, and reserve piles. While it’s like a standard solitaire game, it requires more strategic thought. That means that players rely on decision-making rather than basic luck. What sets this game apart is that players can decide on how to start the rank. Find out how to play Duchess Solitaire on this guide.

How to Play Duchess Solitaire

Like most solitaire games, Duchess also uses the standard 52 card deck. When starting the game these cards first get shuffled then on each of the four reserve piles, players deal three cards, which are all face up. Then followed, the other four cards are dealt facing up into the tableau columns. The remaining cards then form a stockpile, and just above is a waste pile that stores discarded cards from the stock.

Players build cards onto the four foundation piles that are right above the tableau columns and are empty at the start. These piles start with a denomination that you’ll choose at the beginning from the reserve cards that are available. Unlike many other solitaire games, Aces can not start the foundations.

When beginning a game you’ll choose a top card from the four reserve piles, which you’ll put into your first foundation pile. The rank of that chosen card determines which sequence you’ll follow to build your other foundation piles. For instance, if you’ve picked a 2 of diamonds, other foundations will be a 2 of hearts, of clubs, and of spades once these cards are open for play. Note that you can’t move other cards into the piles unless you complete this first move. Once you place a card on the first foundation, “normal” gameplay then proceeds. Note that Duchess “relaxed” is the variation of this game that allows moving of partial card piles.

The Rules of Duchess Solitaire

  • Players build foundations using cards arranged in ascending manner, that is, from Ace to King.
  • You build cards into the tableau columns following a downward sequence. Cards are placed in alternating black and red colors.
  • One can move card sequences together. Sequence wraparounds can be played on the tableau column or in the foundation piles. When played in the tableau, you can place Aces on top of Kings. However, when played onto the foundation, you can only build Aces on Kings.
  • Players can move the reserve cards appropriately to a foundation pile or column.
  • Empty columns can be filled with cards from a tableau column or reserve piles as players wish.
  • A stock pile’s top card can be placed on a tableau column or foundation that isn’t empty. However, it must always maintain the correct sequence. Or, you can also move it to the waste pile.
  • You can also play with a waste pile’s top card on a foundation pile or a tableau column that is not empty. But as always maintain the right upward or downward sequence.
  • Players can move partial builds and full builds may be used to build other tableaus.
  • You can’t move cards once you place them on a tableau column.
  • Unplayable cards are discarded into a waste pile facing up.
  • Foundations can be built with top cards from the waste pile, reserve piles, or tableaus.
  • You win Duchess if you get all cards into the foundation piles arranged into ascending order.

Let’s elaborate further about filling empty columns with cards. Like in Canfield Solitaire, this game also has a specific rule that guides players on how to move cards into empty columns of the tableau. Usually, players can only move reserve cards to an empty column. But if you don’t have cards in your reserve piles, you can use stock or waste pile cards to fill an empty column.

Once you click the deck, it’ll deal a card onto the waste piles. If your deck is empty, you can consider re-dealing. This game allows single re-deals. Simply shuffle your discard pile to re-deal cards into the stockpile that you can play with again. Re-dealing doesn’t affect reserve piles. But you can only re-deal one time for two trips through your deck.

Duchess Solitaire Tips

Duchess is described as a lively game that makes players feel that they can win at the start. However, it is not that easy as most games aren’t winnable. But, with some strategy, you can increase your chances of winning.

The most important tip to remember is to choose your initial move carefully. Always go with a choice that will allow you to easily move other cards in the reserve. It’s also essential that you be tactical when using your reserve. Moving cards out will increase your chances to form runs. Ensure that you get as many cards as you can the first time you cycle through the talon.

Additionally, aim for even foundations. If one plays a six red before finding all five blacks, it can be impossible to play one of those blacks later. We also advise players to clear the reserve piles early. Note that clearing a discard pile in this game is quite challenging. But with empty reserve piles, you can move cards from the discard pile to empty tableaus.


Duchess Solitaire is certainly an interesting and tactful solitaire variation. It’s a one-player game, meaning that you can play it all by yourself. While this is a straight forward game by Albert H. & Mott-Smith, it has a moderate chance of winning. Therefore it is essential that you employ some strategy when playing.

Although players are allowed to choose the card that starts their foundation, this makes the game tricky. Remember starting with the wrong card can block all future moves. Thus you’ll not go far in the game. It’s why you need to analyze a card before playing. Ensure that you pick one that can open up more possibilities for you.

So there you have it. Next time you want to play solitaire, try this challenging game. You can also check out Canfield Solitaire as it is closely related to it.

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