La Belle Lucie


I believe I have mentioned before that our family is hopelessly addicted to this form of solitaire, so much so that when we go on vacation we now take along FOUR decks of cards, in case we all happen to play simultaneously.

In case you don’t already know the game, this is how it is played:

Shuffle the deck well. Deal out the entire deck in triads of overlapping cards, so that you can read the value and suit of each, until you run out of cards. The last card will stand alone.

The object is to remove all the cards from the tableau one by one into the four suits, beginning with the aces and ending with kings. Only the top card of each set (and any card standing alone) is available for play. Aces are removed as soon as they are available and set aside to form the four foundations. On the top card of any set may be placed the next lower card of the same suit, in order to free up the card trapped beneath it. But only one card may be moved at a time.

When no more moves can be made, the tableau is gathered, reshuffled, and laid out in triads two more times. On the third deal, any one card (called the merci) may be pulled out and played. This is often necessary to win the game, because a king lying above a lower card of the same suit will trap the player.

Although there is obviously chance involved in the way the cards are dealt, there is a great deal of strategy necessary in this game, which is what makes it so much fun. And one can occasionally win—even without the merci. (Not this time, though.)


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