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Ultimate Guide To Canfield

The UK name of the solitaire card game Canfield is “Demon”. This is probably a bit of a better descriptor for this game, or maybe even a warning. This is a warning because Canfield is a notoriously hard game to win. A you-will never-ever-win-no-matter-how-hard-you-try kind of game, or at least that is what it can feel like.

Games that are built to not let you win can be a fun way to while away the hours. It can be frustrating and increasingly annoying as you try to move forward only to see that you are firmly stuck in the mire That’s the kind of feeling Canfield gives you, and many people find that a pleasant way to spend the afternoon.

If you get to win, then there is a rush of euphoria like no other, just like there always is when a game has been won. You’ve beaten the game, crushed the system, and succeeded at life in general. Chances of winning are slim to null.

Canfield is said to have originally been a casino game, invented by Richard A. Canfield and utilized in his very own casinos in the 1890s. He originally tried calling the game Klondike but Canfield stuck around instead. It is also another name for solitaire in general, confusingly enough, and Klondike, which is also known as Patience. This is definitely a head spinner.

For the original came in the casino, players were given the option to buy a deck of cards for $50. Then they could win back $5 for every card they played into the foundations. This could add up to a whopping $500 if they were able to play all 52 cards into the foundation. If they were lucky, they’d win back the original $50 and break even.

Playing card games online has been around since the computer became mainstream. Every kid remembers playing exciting “computer games” fondly. Nowadays, every card game imaginable is available online to play.

How To Play Canfield

For the sake of keeping it as brief as humanly possible, let us assume that you are an expert in the game of classic solitaire itself. That saves us quite a few paragraphs of words; definitely considering you wouldn’t be playing a game also known as Demon unless you were at least a little bit familiar with solitaire.

You start this game with thirteen completely random cards dealt out face up, then turned face down. This will be the reserve. Next, you take one card and place it face up to the immediate right of the reserve. This will be the beginning of your foundation. This randomly chosen card, be it a 6, 2, or Queen, will serve as the card numbers required for your foundation.

There are four cards in your foundation. Beneath the foundation is the tableau, which is also made up of four spots. One card is set face up for each of those four slots.

Canfield is the type of game that can make you tense up, get angry, and quit. That’s why it was so popular for gambling and made its name in a casino. People get angry, and that makes them want to beat the game. That also clouds their mind and their judgement. When you first start playing Canfield, you’ll want to go slow and steady.

Slow and steady is the right way to start because there are so few opportunities to make a move, and plenty of chances to trap yourself. Back in the day, people wanted to win their $500. These days, it’s just the thrill. That’s why the joy of solitaire has persisted through generations of gameplay.

Once you’ve gotten the hang of this game, you can always set a timer for yourself. Setting a timer can raise the suspense of the game and increase the challenge. This is a good, stimulating exercise for your brain. Strategy is the best way to play this game to win. The better you get at it the faster your responses will be and hopefully the higher your chances will be to succeed.

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch though, this game is notorious for a reason. No matter how slow you go, sometimes the game is rigged against you. Not on purpose, but just because that is its nature.

Now you’re all set up; you know what you’re in for. You’re ready to figure out why exactly this game is known to be so difficult to play.

Playing The Game: Canfield

As it usually is with solitaire, the aim of the game is to get all the cards into the foundation. With Canfield, the cards go into the foundation is ascending order. This means that if your foundation cards are 6, then you would need the 7 of that suit, then the 8, the 9, and so on and so forth.

All cards in the foundation have to follow their suit.

For the tableau, the cards must do a bit of the opposite. The cards placed there have to be in descending order. To kick it up a notch, they also must be in alternating colors. This game loves being difficult. If the last card is a 6 of hearts (red), then the next card must be a five and it also must be black. This can get very difficult because there are so few foundation and tableau slots.

Cards that are placed in the reserve to the left of the foundation and tableau can also be used. You can flip them into the waste pile if they don’t fit what you need. The problem is that eventually you will most likely get stuck with the same cards over and over that still won’t fill the spot you need.

As per usual, the game is won when all the cards are placed in the foundation. The problem is, you can easily get stuck less than halfway through the game. That is the horror and the joy that is Canfield.


The best way to win Canfield is to keep your eyes open and match cards up as quickly as you can to open up spots in the tableau for new cards. Instead of matching up the first cards you see, make sure there isn’t a better option that could open the way for new cards to hit the table.

For example, if you have a card you could move into the foundation, but the next number in the sequence for the tableau is sitting in the reserve, hold that card back. Don’t place it in the foundation right away. Instead, move that card from the reserve to the tableau so that you have to opportunity to deal out another card.

Try and keep all the foundations equal if you can, that makes sure that there aren’t unattainable numbers on the tableau. Otherwise you’ll use all four of the next number you need and get trapped.

Be sure to double check that all moves have been made before hitting the stock again.

Playing Canfield involves a lot of determination and strategy. You have to plan a few moves ahead if you can, and remember what cards were in what order after placing them into the waste. This means you can know when to wait and when to move forward.

The technicalities of this game are what make it so fun and so hard to win.

Glossary of Terms for Canfield

Often there are terms which are well known to the average card player. It is important to know the right terminology so that you can play the game properly and be informed enough to know what you’re talking about.

Basic card terms:

Available Cards: Cards that have no restrictions and can be played.

Base Card: The first card that can be placed down to start playing; like the Aces in the foundation.

Marriage: Placing a card in the same suit on the next number, lower or higher.

Released Cards: When you use a topmost card and the one beneath becomes accessible.

Suitable Cards: Cards that fit into the game and can be played from the position that you’re in.

Some basic solitaire terms:

Fanned: The cards are spread out in a fan like shape, overlapping over one another. The card suits and numbers can still be seen.

Foundation: The topmost row in front of you. It’s where you start squaring up your cards from Ace onwards.

Reserve: The cards pulled from the stock available to play.

Squared: The cards are stacked in a way that the edges are aligned with one another.

Stock: The pile of cards from which you draw your next card.

Tableau: The row of cards in front of you from which you start your game. Some are face up, some are face down, and you sort them.

Waste: The pile of cards where the stock goes after you’ve drawn your cards into play.

Instructions for building are pretty straight-forward. Here are a few examples:

By Suit: Cards have to be placed on their same suit.

By Suit Sequence: Cards have to be placed on their same suit in order of numbers.

By Color: Cards have to be placed on like colors.

By Alternating Colors: Cards have to be placed back and forth on alternating colors.

Other Variations of Canfield

Selective Canfield- Five cards can be dealt immediately following the reserve being dealt. One card becomes the foundation. The remaining for cards get turned into the tableau.

Storehouse Canfield- All 2s should be removed from the deck and placed into the foundation. The cards on the tableau and reserve our dealt once that is finished. You only deal stock cards one at a time and you build it by suit, which can complicate matters.

Superior Canfield- For this game all cards placed in the reserve are allowed to be visible. Any space can be filled by any card. This game is a bit more roundabout.

Rainbow Canfield- You build your tableau in this game strictly by suit alone, colors allowed to be free to roam.

Chameleon- The tableau is stuck with only three piles, and the reserve is allowed only twelve cards. You build the tableau down no matter the suit. Stock is dealt one at a time and you cannot skip past. You can move cards around the tableau.

Canfield FAQ

Did Canfield really start out as a casino game?

The origins of Canfield are a much heated debate. It’s easier to say that it was “allegedly” a casino game in its early geneses. It is mostly regarded as such though, and it makes sense. The problem is that Canfield himself wanted to call the game Klondike.

It is speculated that the game actually played in his casinos was the original “Klondike” and that Canfield came later and was only named as such because it was played in casinos. Yes, it is confusing.

Why is Canfield so difficult to play?

Canfield is so difficult a card game to play because you have limited spaces, limited chances, and a very specific set of rules for organization. All of this gives little room for chance to maneuver, and you have to be skilled at planning the next steps.

You have to be able to see two or three moves ahead and two or three moves back. Some people just don’t have the capacity or, ironically enough, the patience for it. Guess there is a reason solitaire is also known as “patience”.

What are your chances exactly of winning Canfield?

Winning at Canfield? Well, that’s a whole other ballgame. Supposedly, there should be a chance to win at Canfield 70% of the time. This statistic was developed by a computer, but in all actuality card players seem to win about 35% of the time.

The assumption behind this is that if a computer plays the game, they just see more than people do. Humans do have the ability to strategize the way the game needs you to, but that doesn’t mean everyone can or will. The more you play and lose, the more frustrated you get. This leads to poor choices and losing.