Original Patience Games by David Parlett
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Cards 104   Type Open packer   Success Middling

I first described this game,derived from an old one called Vacuum, in "Teach Yourself Card Games for One" (1994), and credited it to "Capt. Geoffrey T. Spaulding, the noted African explorer".

Captain Spaulding impresses Mrs Rittenhouse

It has subsequently appeared on several solitaire websites with the same accreditation, though I doubt many of their authors have actually seen or even heard of Animal Crackers (1930). To put you straight, here's a still from it, showing Captain Spaulding seeking to impress millionairess Mrs Rittenhouse. The game itself requires a good deal of patience and looks as if it ought to come out more often than it does. But it doesn't.

In this deal 11 cards were successfully built on the sequences before play began.
The space above the centre column was known as "the vacuum" in the ancestral game.
(Image courtesy of Goodsol)

Layout and object

Shuffle both packs together and deal a top row consisting of four Aces, a space, and four Kings. Your aim is to build the Aces up to Kings and the Kings down to Aces, regardless of suit.


Deal cards in rows of nine under this top line, the first four of each going under the Aces and the last four under the Kings. During the deal, if a card can be built on a sequence in the same vertical line as the position it is going to, build it and deal the next card in its place. A card falling to the centre column may be built wherever it fits.


You can take the exposed card at the bottom of a column and build it on a sequence if it fits, but only on the sequence with which it is vertically in line - except for the centre column, whose exposed card can be added to any of the eight sequences.

Alternatively, you can take such a card and place it on the exposed card of another column, regardless of suit, but only if it is one rank higher or lower. These inter-columnal sequences may go up or down and change direction as often as you like in the same column. Only one card may be moved at a time, and a space made by emptying a column may be filled with any exposed card.

The catch is that the same positional restriction on building applies throughout the game. That is, an exposed card may only be built on the sequence with which it is vertically in line (i.e. the one over the head of its column). As before, however, the end card of the centre column may be built wherever it fits.