Chinese Patience is a card game for 2 to 4 players which you can play against your friends or against the computer.

The image below shows a typical 2 player game with the various cards piles identified. This will be a useful reference as we go through how to play:

Naming the Piles

Each player takes it in turns to move cards between the piles, that player''s turn continues until he can''t play a card anywhere useful and has to place it on his Discarded pile. When his New pile is empty he can turn over his complete Discarded pile and place it face down as his New pile; however if he has just placed the card on his Discarded pile and ended his turn then he must wait until his next turn before he can turn the Discarded pile over.

The game is won by the first player to have used all their cards (that is, both their New and Discarded piles are empty), so your objective should be to get rid of as many cards as you can; if you can give them to your opponents then so much the better.


There are rules which dictate which cards can be placed in which of the piles, these are:

  • Playing piles: You can only place a card on top of a Playing pile if it is the next number or picture in descending order and it is a different colour to the card that is currently at the top, for example: you may place a red 4 of Hearts on top of a black 5 of Spades. If the Playing pile is empty, you may place any card there.
  • Finished piles: Starting with the Ace, which must be placed in an empty pile, you can only place a card on top of a Finished pile if it is the same suit and the next number or picture in ascending order as the card that is currently at the top. For example, you may place the 2 of Diamonds on top of the Ace of Diamonds. Once you place a card on a Finished pile, it cannot be removed.
  • Other Players'' Discarded Piles: you may place a card on your opponents'' Discarded piles if it has the same number or picture as the current top card (for example: you may place an 8 of Clubs onto an 8 of Hearts); or your card is the same suit and the next number or picture in either ascending or descending order (for example: you may place either a King of Clubs or a Jack of Clubs onto a Queen of Clubs). Once you place a card on an opponent''s Discarded pile, you cannot remove it.
  • Your Own Discarded Pile: after you have turned over a card from your New pile, you may place it on your discarded pile if you cannot play it anywhere else. This signals the end of your turn and play moves to the next player.

At the start of the game, the cards are dealt equally face down to the players'' New piles, and one card is dealt face up to each of the four Playing piles:

Just Dealt

In this case, it is Stuart''s turn (denoted by the outline around his cards).

Ultimately he will turn over the top card from his New pile, but when he does he MUST play that card (and it may mean that he can only place it on his Discarded pile, marking the end of his turn) so first he should check what else he can do. At the moment, all he can do it move the Jack of Clubs onto the Queen of Diamonds, which would free up a Playing pile. We''ll skip to a little further through the game to illustrate what other choices he may have:

  • He should check what cards he can place on his opponents'' Discarded pile (there is only one opponent in this game, but in a four player game there will be three opponents'' Discarded piles to consider). Remember, once he places a card on an opponents'' Discarded pile, he cannot remove it. In this example, he can place either the Ten of Hearts or the Nine of Clubs onto his opponents'' Discarded pile:

Onto Opponents Pile

(Stuart should think carefully whether moving the Ten of Hearts is really a good idea, because it would stop him getting rid of his Nine of Clubs so maybe playing the Nine would be better. However, it''s not as straightforward as this: if his Discarded pile has been turned back as his New pile, Stuart may know what his next New card is and it may be beneficial to retain the Nine for the time being).

  • He should check whether any of the cards can be moved between the Playing piles to his advantage. In this example, he can move the Four of Spade onto the Five of Hearts (taking the Three of Diamonds and the Two of Spades with it), creating an empty space where the Four was into which he can place any card:

Combining Playing Piles

  • He should check whether he can move any cards onto the Finished piles, and whether it is advantageous to him to do so, in this example he can move the Two of Spades onto the Ace of Spades and the Two of Hearts onto the Ace of Hearts:

Move to Finished Piles

  • He should check whether he can move any cards from his own Discarded pile. In this example, he can move the Nine of Clubs from his own Discarded pile and onto either the Ten of Heart on the Playing pile or the Ten of Clubs on his opponent''s Discarded pile.

From Own Discarded Pile

When Stuart is sure he has done all these checks and moved any cards that he feels would be advantageous to him, he can turn over the top card on his New pile and see where he can put it. In this case, the only place he can put it will be his own Discarded pile. That will be the end of this turn, and play moves to Paul.

New Card to Discarded Pile

That just about covers how to play. If you are new to the game, I suggest you start with a three player game at the Normal difficulty level and with the computer as the other two players. You''ll soon pick it up.