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P is for Patience, a virtue of which I have very little. The Patience to which I refer is the game of that name. I believe it is usually known as Solitaire in the States. It is said, probably quite correctly, that people either play cards or they play Patience.
I am not keen on card games. I can never remember the rules, apart from ‘Cheat’ which has none. My mother used to play card games with me when I was little – Gin rummy and Beat Jack Out of Doors – and though I enjoyed playing them then I cannot remember the rules now. The thought of playing Bridge or Canasta fills me with horror – far too serious! My father played many card games in his years at sea and had a sharp brain and an excellent memory. He was an exception to the rule that one either plays cards or Patience and taught me to play Double Patience. That was always fun, if rather a long game. Most of the time I play solitary Patience.
I ran a Patience club when I was teaching, which was well attended and enjoyable. We learnt many different forms of the game, including Baker’s Dozen, Rosamund’s Bower, Labryinth and Puss in the Corner. The sessions were too short to embark on learning any of the Double Patiences. I also taught my children and grandchildren to play Patience.
There are only two Patience games that I can always remember – Clock Patience and Klondike. The latter is one that is often found on computers – sometimes it comes out, more often it doesn’t. If I want to play another version I have to refer to one of my books.
The King of Hearts on the cover of this well-used book is playing Clock Patience
Another of my well-thumbed paperbacks
I prefer to play with real cards, in any case, and am fascinated by Patience cards. They are smaller than a standard pack, so take up less room when playing – this is something to consider when the tableau (initial lay-out) may take up considerable space.
The deck on the right came from a Christmas cracker - cheap quality but with colourful illustrations. The deck on the left is larger, better quality, but still smaller than a standard Patience deck
I like Piatnik cards – they are very good quality and feel smooth and easy to handle. Piatnik is based in Vienna, Austria, and has a long history of manufacturing high-quality Playing cards.
One of my favourite sets is a double deck in a zipped leather case.
It has two small booklets with the rules for 15 games of Patience.
The cards have Monet illustrations on them.
Many and varied are the historical figures who have enjoyed playing Patience. Napoleon, exiled on St Helena, is believed to have passed many evenings playing it. There is a game named after him called, unsurprisingly, Napoleon at St Helena. Tolstoy could be said to be obsessed by Patience, sometimes using it to decide on a course of action. If the result was not pleasing, he would replay the game. He even included it in a scene from ‘War and Peace’. A fellow Russian, Dostoyevsky, had the character Grushenka play it in ‘The Brothers Karamazov’. Magda Goebbels played Patience in the Führerbunker after she killed her six children.
Playing Patience will not increase your measure of this virtue. In fact, it can lead to great frustration! Beware, though, if you feel inspired to play any version of this game – it can become addictive.