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How to Play Churchill Solitaire: A Guide


Often referred to as the most difficult solitaire game, Churchill Solitaire is one of the most addictive variations of solitaire. Featuring a devilish twist, Churchill Solitaire was popularized by Donald Rumsfeld, the two-time US Secretary of Defense. This variation is like no other that you may have seen in the past. You will realize that as soon as you begin setting up the tableau. It is a game of strategy and if you feel like you are brave enough to play it, here is a guide on the gameplay as well as tips that will help you power through.


Let’s Start with Some Background First


Judging from its name, this variation of solitaire was Winston Churchill’s favorite. The British Prime Minister was not an ordinary man. He loved to challenge himself. And because of this reason, during World War 1, he often played this solitaire variation. It gave him company during sleepless nights and it would boost his strategic thinking.


Fast forward to the 21st century, Donald Rumsfeld re-introduced this game back into society. He claimed that he was taught to play Churchill Solitaire from one of Churchill’s protégés. He was so captivated by this game that he worked with app developers to create an actual app for it.


Game Setup


If you intend on playing Churchill solitaire on your phone, skip straight to the gameplay. However, for those of you who would like to learn how to set up the game with actual cards, keep on reading.


As you may already know, this is a single-player card game. It requires two standard decks of cards. Minus the jokers, you should start your game with 104 cards. Before creating piles, you will need to create the ‘devils six’. On the top left of the tableau, deal six faceup cards. This will be your devil’s six.


Beneath the devil’s six, create 10 piles. The unique thing about Churchill Solitaire is that the cards should create a mirror effect at the middle of the tableau. This means that the 5th and 6th pile should look the same and so should the 4th and 7th pile and so on. You will realize this pattern as you finish dealing cards to the tableau.


To create the tableau, deal one face-up card in the 1st pile, from the 2nd to the 9th, deal one face down card. On the 10th pile deal one faceup card. Move over to the second pile, deal one faceup card, and from the 3rd to the 8th, deal one facedown card. On the 9th pile deal one faceup card. Move to the third pile and deal a faceup card, then deal a facedown card from the 4th to the 7th pile. Pile number 8 should get a faceup card.


Go on to the 4th pile and deal a face-down card, pile 5 and 6 should get a facedown card while the 7th pile should have a faceup card. To finish setting up the tableau, place one faceup card on piles 5 and 6. To the left of your devils six, place all the cards you will be left with. This will be your stockpile. Before setup, you should leave behind 8 empty piles which will be your foundation.



How to Play Churchill Solitaire


The objective of playing Churchill Solitaire is similar to all other variations. At the end of the game, you should move all the cards to the foundation pile. Each foundation pile should have cards of the same suit in ascending order. That is start with Aces and go all the way to Kings.


The gameplay at the tableau is also the same as other solitaire games. Cards can be moved but only if they are in descending order and have alternating colors. Immediately a facedown card is revealed, it should be turned up and can be moved anywhere in the tableau provided it meets the above criteria.


Any empty pile in the tableau can be filled only by a king. Regarding Aces, the second they are revealed they should be sent to the foundation piles and then be accompanied by other cards of the same suit.


The only difference with Churchill Solitaire is that the gameplay at the devil’s six and the stockpile is a bit unique. For starters, you can’t go through the stockpile as you do with other variations, and neither can it be recycled. Whenever you run out of moves, you will have to deal a faceup card on all the piles.


Also, cards in the devil six can only be played directly to the foundation piles. You can play them on the tableau. The game is won when all cards can be played successfully to the 8 foundation piles in ascending order and being of the same suit. If you run out of moves you lose.


Rules for Playing Churchill Solitaire



  1. Cards from the devil six must be played only to the foundation piles.

  2. Within the tableau, you can move cards provided they have a lower value and are of alternating color.

  3. Face-down cards should be revealed immediately when they are left at the top.

  4. Aces should be sent immediately to the foundation piles.

  5. In the tableau, only the top card is available to play.

  6. Whenever you run out of moves, you should deal one card on each pile in the tableau. It is required that piles with a King at the top should not be dealt a card.


Tips on How to Win Churchill Solitaire



  • Getting rid of the devil’s six should be your first agenda.

  • Secondly, don’t be in a rush to move cards to the foundation piles. Instead, strategize your game. That card that you are planning to move to the foundation piles, can it be used to open more moves in the tableau? If yes, then use it for this particular purpose.

  • Always counter check your moves before quitting. A lot of first-time players give up easily when playing Churchill solitaire, forgetting that you can move cards from the stockpile or the devil’s six.

  • Be patient with Churchill Solitaire. Even during times when it feels like you are at a gridlock, step back and look at the game from a different point. It will surely open up.


Final Thoughts


Once you get the hang of it, you will be able to win a game or two every once in a while. This high level of difficulty is what makes this game so enjoyable. Whenever you are bored or want to sharpen your strategic thinking abilities, pull out two sets of cards and play Churchill Solitaire.


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