‘Three By Three’ – a patience card game


The game is played with 54 cards, comprising a standard deck of 4 suits of 13 cards each, plus 2 Joker cards. A game is played in six Rounds. The objective of the game is to finish the final round with all the cards face-up on the table.


Shuffle the deck, and deal 9 cards to the table in a 3 by 3 square pattern.

The corner cards are dealt face-up. The other cards are dealt face-down. (Fig. 1)

First Round:

fig03fig02EDGE PLAY:

If any two corner cards along one edge of the square are showing the same suit (see the Hearts in Fig.1 above), then the card that lies between them may be turned face-up. (Fig. 2)

The card turned up must then be replaced (face-up), on top of either of the two matching corner cards. (Fig. 3)

fig05fig04CENTRE PLAY:

If any two corner cards along a diagonal are showing the same suit (see the Spades in Fig. 3 above), then the centre card may be turned face-up. (Fig. 4)

The turned up card must then be replaced on top of any of the four corner cards. (Fig. 5)

If more than one play is possible, they may be made in any order. However, each time a play is made, one of the four corner positions may change suit, thereby changing the possibilities for further plays.


If a Joker is turned up as a result of an EDGE or CENTRE play, then it must be replaced onto another card as usual for EDGE or CENTRE plays. (Figs. 6 & 7)

If a Joker is dealt to the table, then it does not match with any suit for the purposes of EDGE or CENTRE plays. However, Jokers always provide a bonus (see below).

fig09fig08JOKER PLAY:

A face-up Joker card affords an additional “free” play.

In JOKER play, ANY face-down card may be turned up, which must then be immediately placed over the Joker card . (Figs. 8 & 9)

The free play does not need to be taken immediately – if required, it can be held “in reserve” until all other possible plays are exhausted.

In the event of two Jokers being exposed at the same time, this affords two free plays.

Subsequent Rounds:

fig10When either all possible plays have been taken, or all the face-down cards have been turned, then the Round is over.

The next round begins by dealing a further 9 cards on top of the cards on the table, in the same 3 by 3 pattern as before – corners face-up, others face-down. (Fig. 10)

In each Round, plays are made as before, continuing to turn cards by EDGE play, CENTRE play or JOKER play – including any face-down cards remaining from the previous round – until no further plays are possible.

Final Round (Scoring):

When no further plays are possible in the sixth Round, the game is over. The score is the number of cards remaining face-down. The target for a solo game is zero, but multiple players may wish to compete to see who can gain the lowest score.

Hints on Strategy:

The game is a combination of luck and simple strategic decisions made when choices present themselves.

Try not to accidentally destroy a possible future play by replacing a turned-up card on top of a card that already matches with something else.

CENTRE plays may occasionally turn up a card of the same suit whose matching “triggered” the play. This can be very useful. By replacing the turned up card on the other diagonal, you now have three cards of the same suit showing, and hence up to three plays available, and probably more.

Long sequences of plays are rare, so consider the number of cards remaining in each face-down pile. If choices arise, you may wish to reduce the larger piles first, as these may cause a problem towards the end of the game.

'Three-By-Three' © Copyright Creative Commons 3.0 Unported Peter Vodden 2011.


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