~ 11 Minutes

A Guide to Russian Solitaire

We all know how fun solitaire can be, especially if you are indoors and don’t have anything to do. Most people are familiar with the ordinary Klondike solitaire. And if you have played it for a while, chances are, it doesn’t excite you as much. Because of this particular reason, you should try other variations of solitaire. These versions have their own unique rules, setups, and levels of difficulty. They can significantly break the monotony of playing one card game for too long.

If you have had your fair share of fun with Klondike, or any other common solitaire game and you are looking to switch things up, Russian solitaire can offer you all that and much more. Russian solitaire is not a walk in the park. It is one of the hardest variations of solitaire and it will take more than just luck for you to win this game. It requires patience, skill, and most importantly, a good strategy.

In this article, we are going to teach you how to play Russian solitaire beginning with the setup. We are also going to help you understand the rules and finally give you tips on how you can win a game of Russian solitaire. So, without taking more of your time, let’s dive straight into it.

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

Similar to other variations of solitaire, the number one goal is to always uncover as many face-down cards as possible. The more cards you can see, the more moves you will have and the easier it will be for you to move cards to the foundation pile. According to the rules of Russian solitaire, once a card is turned face up, it is available for play. And in Russian solitaire, cards even those that are between foundation piles can be moved, as long as they move with the rest of the cards above it.

Before we look at more Russian solitaire tips, there are a couple of things worth knowing. This is not an easy game to win. Amateurs have a 5% chance of winning whereas pros have a 10% to 20% chance. So, if you don’t win your first round, don’t be too hard on yourself.

Due to how fast one can run out of moves in Russian solitaire, this game doesn’t really take up a lot of time. So, in an hour you can end up playing at least two or three games of Russian solitaire. It can be quite addictive especially if you aren’t winning.

To win Russian solitaire, you need to resist the urge of making moves that do not expose face-down cards. As tempting as it may be, these moves may help you send a couple of cards to the foundation piles but in the long run, they will hinder you from progressing with the game at the later and more critical stages.

After exposing face-down cards, then start moving cards within the tableau and sending any card that should be at the foundation piles. It is also a good strategy if you can empty a column. Empty columns are a perfect solution for sending kings, blocking your moves later on in the game. If possible, try and have kings at the top of several tableau piles. Ensuring that more cards follow suit on the tableau pile is an excellent strategy that will reward you handsomely later on.

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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