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Russian Bank

Russian Bank is a competitive patience game for two players. It is over 100 years old: for example it is described under the name Zank-Patience in the German Illustrirtes Buch der Patiencen, Breslau 1884/85. It is played in Britain and North America, and is also popular in France, where it is called Crapette. In Germany it is also known as Streitpatience or Schikanös–Patience. In North America it is sometimes known as Stop or Touch, because when a player makes an illegal move, or in some versions even touches a card that cannot legally be moved, the player's opponent can stop the play and take over.

Players and Cards

There are two players and two standard 52-card packs are needed, one for each player. It is convenient to use packs with different backs, because they become mixed during the play and need to be separated when the play ends, ready for the next game.

Initial layout

Each player thoroughly shuffles the other player's pack.

Each player deals from his own pack a pile of 12 cards face down, and a 13th card face up on top of it. This stack is called the player's reserve and is placed to the player's right.

Next, each player deals 4 cards face up in a column above the reserve, with no overlapping, starting with the position furthest away from the player. These four cards are known as houses and the eight houses (four dealt by each player) are collectively known as the tableau. The two columns of four cards should have a space at least two cards wide between them, to leave room for the eight foundation piles which will be built from aces in this space. During the play, all eight houses of the tableau and all eight foundation spaces are common property and can be used by both players.

Each player will have 35 cards left over which are placed in a face-down pile on the left (at the end of the opponent's column of houses). These cards are known as the player's hand. This deal produces a symmetrical layout as shown in the following diagram. The space between the hand and reserve is used to store the player's waste pile, which is formed during the play.


B's waste pile

B's reserve
(13 cards)
top card
B's hand
(35 cards)
face down
by B
by A
A's hand
(35 cards)
face down
A's reserve
(13 cards)
top card
A's waste pile


Note: the literature on this game uses a variety of different terms to describe the various piles of cards.

The ambiguity of the words 'stock' and 'talon', which have different meanings for different authors, is unfortunate, and I have therefore avoided these terms in this description.


The object is to be the first player to get rid of all the cards from one's hand, waste pile and reserve. This is achieved by playing them to the foundations or tableau, and by loading them onto the opponent's reserve and waste pile.


The player with the lower-ranking top reserve card begins play; for this purpose cards rank from King (high) to Ace (low). If the reserve cards are equal then the house cards next to each player's reserve are compared, and if these are also equal then the next house card, and so on; the player with the lower-ranking house card plays first. Players then take alternate turns until a player wins by having no reserve cards, no waste cards and no hand cards left, or until the game reaches a stalemate where both players find that no further plays from their reserve or hand cards are possible.

A player's turn consists of a series of moves of cards around the layout, according to strict rules. Each move consists of taking one available card and playing it by placing it onto a house of the tableau, a foundation pile or your opponent's reserve or waste pile, according to the building rules. Moves are subject to a number of priorities and certain moves are compulsory.

At each turn you may make as many moves as you can and wish to, but must end your turn when you have no legal continuation or when your opponent stops you because you have made an error in play.

Available cards

During your turn, the following cards are initially available:

Further cards become available as follows:

Building Rules

Available cards can be played one at a time to any of the eight foundation piles, any of the eight houses of the tableau, or to the opponent's reserve or waste pile, provided that the following building rules are respected, and subject to the priorities and compulsory moves described later:

Priorities and Compulsory Moves

Certain moves are compulsory, and there are some moves that must be made in preference to others. The priorities and compulsory moves are as follows:

  1. If your reserve card can be played to a foundation pile, you must make this move before any other.
  2. When an available card can be moved to a foundation pile, it is compulsory to make such a move. If there are several available cards (other than your reserve card) that can be played to foundations, you may choose which to play first.
  3. If you have any cards in your reserve, then before you are allowed to turn a card from your hand, you must fill any empty spaces in the tableau from your reserve.

If you violate any of the above priority rules, or if you omit a compulsory move, or if you make any other kind of illegal move (such as a violation of the building rules), your opponent may call "Stop!" and explain what you have done wrong.

In other words, your opponent may call "Stop!" if you do any of the following:

  1. When the top card of your reserve could have been played to a foundation, you attempt to move some other card or turn up your hand card.
  2. When there is any available card that could have been played to a foundation, you attempt to move a card to some other place, or turn up your hand card.
  3. You turn up your hand card when there is a space in the tableau and your reserve is not empty.
  4. You attempt to move a card to the tableau, to a foundation pile, or to your opponent's reserve or waste pile when it does not fit there according to the building rules.
  5. You attempt to move any card that is not available.

Notes on the play

After a few moves, the layout could look like this:


Please note the following points:

End of the Game; Scoring

If you manage to play all your cards, so that you have none left in your hand, reserve, or waste piles, you win and the game is over. You score 30 points for winning the game, plus 1 point for each card left in your opponent's hand and waste piles, plus 2 points for each card left in your opponent's reserve.

If a stalemate is reached in which neither player can play from his reserve or hand, whoever has the lower count of remaining cards (counting as usual 1 point for each card left in the hand or waste pile, plus 2 points for each card left in the reserve) scores the difference between the counts of the two players. There is no 30 point bonus for winning the game in this case.

After each game the packs are separated and shuffled ready for a new game. The first player to reach or exceed an agreed target score - for example 300 points - in as many games as it takes, is the overall winner.


Many play that the top card of your own waste pile is available on the same basis as the outermost cards of the houses. In this version the top card from your waste pile must be move to a foundation pile when possible, and can be moved to a house or loaded onto your opponent's waste or reserve when it fits.

Some play with an initial reserve of 11 or 12 cards rather than 13. the hands are then correspondingly larger.

There are several alternative ways to decide who starts:

Some play with stricter priority rules, in addition to the rules given above.

  1. Not only must available cards be played to the centre, but it is also compulsory to release any card in the tableau that could be moved to a foundation, by moving the cards that are covering it to other locations, whenever this is possible.
  2. If there are no possible plays to foundation piles, it is compulsory to load cards onto one's opponent's discard pile or reserve whenever this can be done.
  3. Before turning up your hand card, it is compulsory to create as many spaces as possible in the tableau and fill them from your reserve.

Variant Tableau: Some lay out the tableaux as follows: first each player places a face down card in each house, beginning with the space nearest to the player's reserve; then a face up card is dealt to each house, overlapping the face down card. When a face down card is exposed by moving away the face up card that was on top of it, the face down card is turned face up. In the play, the three strict rules above are observed, together with a fourth rule:                                  

  1. After all possible cards have been played to the foundation piles, the player must if possible play so as to uncover any remaining face down cards.

On the other hand, some people play with less strict priority rules. For example, some allow you to turn over your hand card at the start of your turn, or even to look at it privately before your turn starts, while the other person is still playing.

Some play that your whole reserve is initially face down. At your first turn, you must make any possible moves from the tableau to the foundation piles before turning up the top card of your reserve. Subsequently, as soon as the top card of your reserve is played, you turn up the next card if it is face down.

On the website Eberhard Wegner describes a simplified two-player variant (perhaps for children or for beginners?) and a variant for three players.

Other Russian Bank web sites

Jean-François Bustarret's Jeux de Cartes web site includes a description of Crapette in French.


With Mari J Michaelis's Spiteful Bank computer program you can play Russian Bank against the computer or against a live opponent over the Internet.

A version of Russian Bank can be played free online under the name Klondike Battle at the Nifty Inspirations site.

A free online Russian Bank game is available at and another at

Games4All has published a free Russian Bank app for the Android platform.