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Shop Solitaire

Contributed by Gabriel Arthur Petrie

Object: Light all the "candles", balance the "scales", and fill out the "ledger", in that order.

There are fourteen stacks in the game, and each card drawn from the deck must be played into one of the available fourteen stacks, described as "candles", "scales", or "ledger". Optionally, there are two additional stacks for the "shelf" and the "purchase".

To begin, all of the cards are shuffled face-down in one full 52-card deck (A-K, all four suits.)


Before the player can work on the scales or the ledger, all seven candles must be "lit".

There are seven candles. Each candle is represented by a stack of face-up cards (which may be spread for easier counting.) Candles are considered lit when the top card on the stack is of a red suit. All seven candles are considered lit when there are seven stacks with each top card of each stack being of a red suit.

If there is a space for a candle (meaning, if there are less than seven candles represented by seven stacks,) then any next card drawn from the deck must start a candle stack.

If less than seven of the candles are lit (meaning, if the top card on any of the candle stacks is of a black suit,) the next available red card (of either red suit) from the deck must go to "light" one of the candles.

In some situations, black cards drawn from the deck that cannot be played onto any other stacks must be played onto one of the candles. The player may choose which candles to play those cards onto. When that card is played onto a candle with a red card on top of its stack, the candle "goes out".

If any candle is going to be lit or is going to go out, it must be the shortest candle. If there are several candles with the same shortest height, it can be any one of them.

The candles can be "trimmed" when they get too tall. A candle must have four or five cards in its stack to be tall enough for trimming. This means removing all of the cards in its stack, leaving it empty, and placing them back into the deck. The player does not have to always shuffle the deck when trimmed candles are placed back into the deck. Optionally the cards from the trimmed candle may be placed on the bottom.

The stack for each candle may only be five cards deep (or "tall".) No more cards may be dealt onto candles that are already five cards tall. If a card must be dealt to light a candle or to put a candle out, and there are no candles less than five cards tall, then one of the candles must be trimmed (see above) first.


Before the scales can be worked on, all seven candles must be "lit". Before the player can work on the ledger, the scales must be balanced.

The scales have six "trays", three on one side "balanced" against three on the other. Each tray is represented by a stack of face-up cards. Only the top cards of each stack are taken into consideration, and the height of the stacks is not taken into account by any rule. The scales are considered balanced when the total value of the trays on one side equals the total value of the trays on the other (meaning, the sum of the values of the top cards on each stack from one side equals the sum of the values of the top cards on each stack from the other side.)

In the balances, aces are counted as ones, twos through tens as face value, jacks as elevens, queens as twelves, and kings as thirteens.

Once all seven candles are lit, and while the balances are empty, any next card drawn from the deck must be placed onto one of the trays.

The first card dealt onto any tray on either side determines what is going to be "weighed" on that side. The first cards dealt to the two sides of the balance must be of opposite colors: if the first card dealt onto the scales is red, the first card dealt onto the other side of the scales must be black, and vice versa. All the cards dealt onto the trays on either side must be the same suit as the first card on that side.

Once the suits to be weighed have been determined, from them on as long as all seven candles are lit, all cards of those suits must be dealt onto one of the three trays on the appropriate side of the balance. The player may choose which trays to play onto. The red suit that is not being balanced can always be played onto one of the candles, but not if the candle is already five cards tall (then it would have to be trimmed, first.)

The scales may be re-calibrated if they get too heavy. This means removing all the cards from the stacks of all the trays and shuffling them back into the deck. All seven candles still have to be lit before the scales can be re-calibrated. And any time the scales are re-calibrated, the ledger must be scrapped (it may be inaccurate!) as described below.


Before the ledger can be worked on, the scales have to be balanced. When the ledger is filled, the player has completed the shop solitaire.

The ledger has twelve entries. To complete the shop solitaire, the player must fill each entry. The ledger is represented by one stack of cards (which may be spread out so the player can see them), and the ledger is considered filled when that stack contains every card of a single black suit except for the ace.

With all seven candles lit, and the scales balanced, the cards from the black suit that is not being balanced on the scales are placed into the ledger.

If the ace of the ledger suit shows up, the only place it can go is to put out one of the candles.

And if the scales become unbalanced, the player will have to rebalance them before they can return to working on the ledger. Meanwhile, cards of the ledger suit will have to be played onto candles, causing them to go out (and while candles are out, even the red cards of the balance suits are susceptible to the rule that the next available red card must be used to light unlit candles.)

The ledger can be scrapped by the player, but only while all seven candles are burning. The scales do not have to be balanced to scrap the ledger, only to work on it. This means taking all the ledger cards and shuffling them back into the deck. Again, any time the balances are re-calibrated (see above), the ledger has to be scrapped at the same time.

Shelving (optional to play):

The commerce space of the shop, termed in the shop solitaire as the "shelf", may be represented by one shelved card with an accompanying purchase stack.

The player may shelve a drawn card at any time while all seven candles are lit. Afterward, the player may reserve a drawn card into the purchase at any time while all seven candles are lit. The shelved and purchase cards may be of any suit or value.

The total value of the cards in the purchase (counted exactly as in the balance and added together) may not equal or exceed the value of the shelved card.

A player may choose to play either the shelved card or the all of the purchase cards at any time while all seven candles are lit. If the player chooses to play the shelf card, it is played immediately into any position normally available for that card, and all of the reserved purchase is shuffled back into the deck. If the player chooses to play the purchase cards, the shelf card is placed on the bottom of the deck and the purchase cards are played into any normally available position in any order determined by the player (obeying rules as if the cards were drawn from the deck.)

The shelf and purchase give the player the ability to more easily determine the fate of the game by placing one or more cards into a growing reserve. Obviously the player should seek to place the highest valued card onto the shelf which allows for more cards to be reserved in the purchase.

Close Shop:

The player may close shop at any time during play, whether the candles are lit or not. To close shop, the ledger must be scrapped, the scales re-calibrated, all the candles trimmed, and any shelf or purchase space cleared, shuffling every card back into the deck. Optionally, if shop is closed then the player cannot play the shop solitaire again until after Sabbath.


There is one short-cut available, and there is no penalty for using it. At the beginning of the shop solitaire, all seven candles may be lit using any seven red cards the player chooses from the deck. After that, the deck must return to normal face-down and shuffled play and the rules must be followed for all the stacks.

Alternates (not normal rules:)

The player could choose to allow for more shelf space, therefore more control over the direction of the game. Each shelved card would have its own reserved purchase stack. To make it slightly more challenging, additionally each shelved card could have to be of a different suit. Four shelf cards maximum is a suggestion.

The player could choose to "work in the dark", meaning that cards may be played to or from the fourteen positions, the shelf and the purchase, as normal but while a certain number less than seven of the candles are lit. Or, the player could choose to work with fewer candles altogether. Five candles minimum is a suggestion.

The player could use one or two jokers in the game and make up any rule about how they play or what they signify. Winning the shop solitaire if you get the joker is not suggested by the author.

(Example win:)

  • Ledger: club2, club3, club4, club5, clubC, club7, club8, club9, club10, clubJ, clubQ, clubK
  • Balances (showing): heart10, heart7, heart4, spadeK, spade3, spade5
  • Candles (showing): heart2, diamondJ, diamond5, diamondA, heart9, heartQ, diamond8

"The Shop Solitaire" by Gabriel Arthur Petrie copyright © 2005, a.r.r. (with permission to John McLeod to reproduce electronically on the website "Invented Card Games page maintained by John McLeod")

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Last updated: 27th May 2005