Rules for Calculation

Family: Calculation
Categories: Thinker's, Small
Also Known As: Broken Intervals, Progression

Enthusiasts say you can win two games out of three, if you’re careful and clever. But without a good strategy you will rarely win any games at all. Calculation is certainly a thinker’s game!


Remove an Ace, 2, 3 and 4 from the deck; any suits will do. Place them in a row to form the four foundations. Below them are four wastepiles, initially empty. Shuffle the remaining 48 cards and place them face down to form the stock; turn the topmost card of the stock face-up.


The topmost card of the stock is available for play on the foundations. If it won’t go onto the foundations, it can be placed on any of the four wastepiles, which fan down. The topmost card of each wastepile is also available for play on the foundations, but nowhere else: wastepile cards can’t be moved to other wastepiles.

The unique feature of this game is the way the foundations are built. Each of the four is built up in a different way, like this:

A,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,J,Q,K - Build up by ones
2,4,6,8,10,Q,A,3,5,7,9,J,K - Build up by twos
3,6,9,Q,2,5,8,J,A,4,7,10,K - Build up by threes
4,8,Q,3,7,J,2,6,10,A,5,9,K - Build up by fours

Suit and color are ignored entirely in this game; only rank is considered.


The goal is to move all the cards onto the foundations.


We confess that we are not very good at Calculation ourselves. These tips were sent to us by a player who can win 7 out of 10 games without using Undo, so we are pleased to be able to pass them along to you! The expert says:

It’s crucial to be familiar with the four sequences by which the foundations are built. You might want to keep them handy on a note or in this window until you have them well memorized.

Use the four wastepiles to build sequences backwards. Don’t play onto the foundations until there is reason to do so. Instead concentrate on the wastepiles, and move cards to the foundations only when it improves your wastepile sequences.

Reserve one wastepile for the Kings, and build the sequences backwards from the Kings in this pile. You can have as many sequences interwoven here as you have Kings. For example, suppose you have

   K, 10, 7, K, J, 4, 9, ?

You have two sequences, multiples of 3’s and multiples of 2’s. You can safely play an Ace (K-10-7-4-Ace) or a 7 (K-J-9-7) next. You can also play another King to start another sequence... but no other card. Any other card will mean that you can’t put another King on this wastepile, and unless you have another empty wastepile for the next King, you will likely have lost the game.

Build on your King wastepile whenever you can, with only one exception: don’t duplicate a sequence you have going in one of the other columns.

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