Put the Phone Down


Number 6 of my Personal Twelve Commandments is :

Put the phone down.

There are many instances in which I can learn to put the phone down. The one I will talk about today is when I am bored. My automatic response is to reach for my phone and mindlessly surf social media.

In my 54 years of life, smart phones are a recent invention. What did I used to do when I was out of sorts and looking for something to do? As a child, I played Solitaire. With real cards! Some of my fondest memories are sitting in front of the fire at The Farm (our weekend sanctuary) playing game after game of Solitaire.

Sunday, I was feeling out of sort-ish, so I dug up my grandmother’s Complete Patience Book by Basil Dalton. First published in 1948 and again in 1964, this book has enough versions of Solitaire (aka Patience) to keep me going for quite some time.


The book is actually quite hilarious. This is a passage in the Foreword:

The great majority of us do not want to think hard, especially in our relaxations — which is why more people enjoy Nap than Chess! — but many of us like to think we are thinking, and so find a mental titillation in bringing a Patience to a successful conclusion.

Works for me!

For those of you who wish to Play Cards as opposed to Nap, I will be posting the rules to games as I play them. My noble goal is to play every game in the book. I found the trickiest part not playing the actual game, but understanding the description of how to play the game. Either Mr. Basil Dalton liked to explain things in a round about way, or obfuscation was a writing style in the 1940s. Therefore, my interpretation may not be accurate, but we’ll have fun anyway.


Deal out 28 cards from the pack in the following manner:

  • deal out 7 cards in a row with the 1st card right side up and the rest facing down
  • starting on the 2nd card, deal a face up card and the remaining 5 face down
  • starting on the 3rd card, deal a face up card and the remaining 4 face down
  • continue until you simply need to place a face up card on the 7th card


  • Exposed cards (cards at the bottom of a column) can be placed on other exposed cards of the same colour in descending order. For example, the 5 of Hearts can be placed on the 6 of Diamonds; the 10 of Spades can be placed on the 12 of Clubs.
  • If a card is in the middle of a column, it can be shifted an exposed card in descending order, but it must be the same suit. For example, the 5 of Hearts in the middle of a column can only be moved to an exposed 6 of Hearts. You take all the cards under the 5 of Hearts with it. So if you have 5 of Hearts, 3 Clubs, 2 of Diamonds, shift them all over to the 6 of Hearts.
  • Once a face down card is exposed, flip it over.
  • If a column becomes blank, you can fill it by shifting cards over or wait until you deal from the deck.
  • Once you have run out of moves, deal across the 7 columns with the cards in the deck.

The goal is to have a complete sequence of a suit from King down to Ace. You can then remove that sequence from the spread as long as the Ace is at the bottom of the column. In other words, there are no cards on top of the Ace.

According to our dear Mr. Dalton “the odds against success are estimated at 6 or 7 to 1”. Seems not only is he ambiguous in his writing, he is also a pessimist.

~ Eliza


Leave a Reply