Rules for Bisley

Family: Bisley
Categories: Rewarding, Large
Also Known As:  

Bisley is among those interesting games in which the entire deck is laid out, face up, at the start of the game. You can do as much planning as you like, for no information about the game is denied you.

Bisley needs some thought, but is a fairly easy game to beat. Once you’ve mastered its principles, you can expect to win more than half of your games.


Separate out the four Aces, and place them in a vertical row to start the foundations. There are four more foundations to the left of the Aces, which start out empty. Shuffle the remaining cards and lay them out face up in 13 tableau piles, four with three cards each and nine with four cards each.


Top cards of tableaus are available for building on each other, and on the foundations. Tableaus build up or down in suit; empty tableaus are never filled.

The four foundations that started with Aces build up in suit. Kings may be played to the empty foundations, which build down in suit. Each suit therefore has two foundations, one that starts with Ace and one with King.


The goal is to move all cards to the foundations. (It looks odd to win a game with fewer than 13 cards in each of the foundation piles, but this is normal in Bisley: the 13 cards of each suit will be divided between the suit’s two foundations.)


Don’t put (for example) the 9 of Hearts onto a pile that already contains the 8 and 10 of Hearts. You will be stuck, because there will be noplace left for you to move the 9 to, and it will block the 8 and 10 so that you can’t move them onto any foundation.

If you have (for example) the 4, 5, and 6 of Spades in sequence, and the 7 of Spades in another pile, think twice before adding the 7 onto the 6. By keeping the 7 separate, you keep the option of going the other way and rolling the 4, 5, and 6 onto the 7. Obviously there will often be times when you’ll need to move the 7 to unblock an important card underneath it; just don’t give up your options without a good reason.

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