MAny playing cards arranged in a triangle.

Many people know how to play solitaire or patience, but there are actually lots of different one-player card games. This version of patience has a bit of addition, and also some tricky strategic thinking.

You will need

  • Deck of cards

Setting up

Three cards in a triangle shape.

Put two cards on top of the first card.

  1. Take any jokers out of the deck.
  2. Shuffle the cards so they are all mixed up.
  3. Start by dealing one card face up on a large table
  4. Below that, deal two cards, side by side, so they overlap the first card.

    A big triangle of playing cards.

    When you’ve finished dealing out the seventh row, you’re ready to go!

  5. Below that, deal a line of three cards. The left-most will overlap the leftmost card in the previous line, the middle will overlap both cards in the previous line and the rightmost will overlap the right card in the previous line.
  6. Now deal a line of four, following the same pattern as before.
  7. As before, deal a line of six, and finally deal a line of seven.
  8. Put the remaining cards in a stack, face down.

Playing pyramid solitaire

An ace is 1, a Jack is 11, a Queen is 12 and a King is 13

The face cards have special values.

  1. This is a game about adding. Aces (A) are worth 1, Jacks (J) are worth 11, queens (Q) are 12 and kings (K) are 13.
  2. The aim of the game is to remove all the cards from the big triangle you dealt out. You do this by choosing two cards which add up to 13. There’s one exception to this rule – kings count for 13 on their own, so they can be removed without finding a partner. When you remove cards, put them in a separate pile away from the game – you won’t need them again until the game is finished.

    a nine card and a four card.

    Choose two cards that add up to 13.

  3. You can’t remove just any card – only those that are not covered by another card. At the start of the game, that’s just the cards in the bottom line.
  4. To win the game, remove all the cards from the triangle.
  5. To make the game a bit easier, you also have the deck of cards that are not in the triangle. At any time, you can take the top card off the deck and put it face up. If you want another card, put it face up on the same spot. Remember that you can’t use cards that have another card on top of them!
  6. For the easy version of the game, you can go through the deck as many times as you like. When you get to the end, turn it over and start again. For a harder game, only go through the deck twice. If you’re really good, only go through the deck once.

What’s happening?

This game is a good way to practice adding to 13. Pyramid solitaire also promotes thinking ahead. It’s easy to play just making every match you can find. But what do you do when you have one 4 and two 9s? Maybe you could take a look at the cards underneath each 9 and see if either match uncovers something useful.

No matter how good you are at the game, sometimes it’s impossible to win. For example, if all four 10s are in the first three lines and all four 3s are in the bottom line, there is no way to uncover the 3s to match with the 10s. So be careful when you see matching cards on top of one another. It’s possible to make a game unwinnable by using up all the other cards they could match to!

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