Rules for Chessboard

Family: Fortress
Categories: Thinker's
Variants: Fortress, Beleaguered Castle, Streets and Alleys
Also Known As: Fives

Chessboard is one of a fascinating group of games in which no cards are ever hidden. The entire deck is laid out, face up and visible, at the start of the game. This game is a close variation of Fortress, designed to be a little easier to win.


Shuffle the deck and lay out all the cards in ten tableau piles. Each tableau pile fans sideways, with all cards face up and visible. Arrange the tableaus in two columns or “wings” of five piles each, one wing on the left and one on the right, with a vertical column of four foundations in between them. The top tableau of each wing starts with six cards; the others with five each. The foundations start out empty.


Top cards of tableaus are available for building on each other, either up or down in suit. Building is circular; Aces may be played onto Kings and vice-versa. Empty tableau piles may be filled with any available card.

The empty foundations do not have to be started with Aces: so long as all foundations are still empty, you may play any available card from the tableaus onto an empty foundation. After that first foundation card is placed, the remaining three foundations must be started with cards that match the original card’s rank. The foundations are then built up in suit, with Ace following King.


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


You should create and keep an empty tableau pile as soon as you can. Use it as a “way station” to move a build from its original pile to a third, destination pile. Peel the build off its original pile into the empty pile, then peel it off the empty pile and onto the destination pile.

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