Rules for Tournament

Family: Yukon
Categories: Thinker's, Challenging, Rewarding, Two-Deck
Also Known As: La Nivernaise,Nivernaise,Napoleon's Flank

We call this game Tournament, and list La Nivernaise as an alternate name for it. But authorities disagree on whether La Nivernaise is actually a slight variant of Tournament and, if so, which name applies to which variant. The suggested variant is to square up the tableaus instead of fanning them down, but that makes an already-difficult game even harder, so we leave them fanned for you.

This is a difficult game, and the first time we tried it, we weren’t impressed. There didn’t seem to be any strategy, you just had to hope for a rare good shuffle. But the more we played, the more we began to see Tournament’s depth, and it has become one of our favorites. So don’t get discouraged! Be patient, think about what you’re doing, and in time you may become very good.

In Tournament, the reserve piles are called the howitzers while the tableau piles are called the dormitzer. We’re not sure why, but we have a guess: a howitzer is a type of cannon, while the Dormitzer forest region of Germany once held an ammunition depot. As you’ll see, you will often take cards from the tableaus (the dormitzer or ammunition depot), and load them into the reserves (the howitzers or cannons), where they can later be “fired” into the foundations!


Shuffle the two decks together, and lay out eight cards face up in two vertical columns of four. These eight piles are the reserves (the howitzers). If no Ace or King appears in these eight cards, gather them up, reshuffle, and lay them out again. Keep doing this until you get an Ace or King. (Solitaire Till Dawn will do this for you, silently and automatically, so that you will never see a layout that does not have an Ace or King in the howitzers.)

Then continue by laying out six piles of four cards each, face up and fanned down, between the two columns of the reserves. These are the tableaus (the dormitzer). Keep the rest of the deck in your hand. (Solitaire Till Dawn places these remaining cards in a stock pile at the right of the table, fanned down, so you can see how many there are.) Eight foundations start the game empty.


Top cards of the reserves and tableaus are available for building on the foundations. Four of the foundations start with an Ace and build up in suit to the King, while the other four start with a King and build down in suit to the Ace. Any available tableau card can be moved into an empty reserve. This is not a required move; an empty reserve may be left empty for as long as you like.

Whenever a tableau pile is emptied, play four more cards from the deck into that pile. (Solitaire Till Dawn will do this for you automatically.)


If the deck is not empty, deal four more cards from the deck onto each tableau pile. You may do this any time you please. (In Solitaire Till Dawn click on the deck to deal. You’ll see the dealt cards disappear from the stock on the right, and appear on the tableaus.)

When the deck is empty, you may stack the six tableau piles up, without shuffling them, in order so that the rightmost pile is on the bottom and the leftmost on top, then turn them all face down and place them onto the deck, so that the rightmost tableau pile is now on top. Now deal four cards into each tableau again. (Again, just click the deck when the stock is empty, and Solitaire Till Dawn will manage the gathering and redealing for you.) You may gather and re-deal the tableaus only twice.

(Dealing is another case where the authorities are vague, or differ in their explanation of the rules. We’ve done our best to make Solitaire Till Dawn do what we think they meant, and we hope it isn’t markedly different from what you’re used to if you’ve played some version of this game before.)


Move all cards into the foundations.


If you fill up all the reserve piles with no way to empty at least one of them again you will soon be stuck. So always (always!) leave at least one reserve empty unless you know you can empty it or another reserve right away.

Try to leave several reserves empty, if you can. The more, the better. Use them up when you must, to expose a deeply buried card that you’ve just got to reach.

When you place cards in the reserve, think about how long they’ll have to stay there, and try to place only cards that you can move out soon. You won’t always be able to do this, but keep it in mind.

Sometimes you will place a card in the reserve in order to get at the card that was underneath it. At other times, you’ll move a card to the reserve that you hope to soon move to the foundations, because you don’t want it to get buried in the tableau in the meantime.

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