Russian Bank, sometimes known in France, Brazil, and Portugal as Crapette, is a card game for two players. In Russian Bank, players take turns moving cards around a shared layout between the two players. Their hope is to eventually move all of the cards from their deck out onto the layout, and be left with nothing. Because the rules of where cards can and can’t be played are so similar to those found in solitaire games, it’s entirely accurate to say Russian Bank is really a form of competitive solitaire!
Object of Russian Bank
The object of Russian Bank is to be the first player to get rid of all of their cards. This is done by playing cards to the foundations, the tableau, and their opponent’s stock and reserve piles.
To play Russian Bank, you’ll need two standard 52-card decks of playing cards. Although it’s not strictly required, it’s quite helpful for the two decks to have different back designs, to allow them to be easily separated after each hand. (The back designs have no effect on game play.) Fortunately, any two-deck set of Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards will meet these criteria. You’ll also need something to keep score with, like pencil and paper.
Each player takes one of the decks and shuffles it. Deal twelve cards into a face-down pile to your right, then deal a thirteen card to it, face up. This pile constitutes the reserve, also known as the talon. Then, deal a column of four cards, face up, starting just above the reserve and extending toward your opponent. This line, and the line being dealt by your opponent, make up the tableau. The players should space their tableau lines at least two card-widths apart. The space between the tableau columns will be used for the eight foundation piles.
The remainder of each deck becomes the stock, and is placed to your left. The space between the stock and the reserve will be used for the discard pile. (See the image at the top-right for an illustration of the full layout.)
Whichever player has the lower card on top of their reserve goes first. Cards rank in their usual order, with aces low.
As in most solitaire games, not every card that belongs to a player is available for play. At first, only the top card of your own reserve pile and the top card of each of the tableau piles are considered available. When the top card of the reserve is played elsewhere, turn over the next card; this newly-exposed card also becomes available. Additional cards become available later in the turn, once any priority moves are completed.
Cards in the foundation piles are never available for play; once a card is moved to a foundation it will remain there for the rest of the hand. Cards in the discard pile are also unavailable, though these may become available again when the stock is exhausted.
At the start of a player’s turn, they are required to perform a number of priority moves, if possible. If, later on in the turn, a priority move becomes possible through the movement of cards, the player must complete the priority move before doing anything else.
First, a player must move any available cards to the foundations that they can, starting with the top card of the reserve, followed by any cards from the tableau. Aces must be moved to an empty foundation space when they become available. Foundation piles are then built up by suit, in ascending order. When a foundation pile reaches the king, no more cards may be added to it; further cards of that suit must be played to the other foundation of that suit.
After a player has moved any cards to the foundations that they can, they must then fill any empty spaces in the tableau with cards from their reserve, if it has not been depleted. During the process, if they reveal any cards that can be moved to the foundations, they must do that first before filling any more tableau spaces.
After a player has resolved all possible priority moves, they are then free to make any moves they wish. A player may build upon any of the tableau piles, in descending rank order and alternating colors, as in Klondike. Cards can also be moved between tableau piles, if desired; however, only the top card of each pile may be moved. Batches of properly-sequenced cards may not be moved as a unit, as is allowed in most other solitaire games.
A player is also allowed to play any available card to their opponent’s stock and reserve, which is called loading it. To do this, the being loaded must be of the same suit and either one rank above or one rank below that of the card it is being played atop.
So long as there are no priority moves that must be made, a player may turn up the top card of their stock. This card becomes an available card, which is subject to the usual priority move rules. It may otherwise be played to the tableau or the opponent’s stock or reserve, if possible. Any stock card so played is then replaced with another card from the stock. This continues until a player is unable or unwilling to play a card from their stock. They then discard it to their discard pile, ending their turn.
If a player depletes their stock, but still has cards in the discard pile, when they need to draw a card from the stock, they turn the entire discard pile face down. This forms a new stock they can draw from, as usual.
Players should watch their opponent carefully during their turn. If a player notices their opponent break any of the rules of play, they may call out “Stop!” A player can call “Stop!” if their opponent fails to complete any priority rules, or if they perform the priority moves in the wrong order (first reserve cards to the foundations, then tableau cards to the foundations, and filling empty tableau spaces from the reserve last). A player can also call “Stop!” should the opponent attempt to build incorrectly on the tableau, or otherwise play a card somewhere it doesn’t belong.
If a player was caught trying to place a card in a location it’s not allowed to be played (such as illegal play on the tableau), that move is reversed. When a player is called out for failure to properly perform priority moves, the priority moves must be carried out as required. In both cases, the player’s turn immediately ends, and it becomes their opponent’s turn.
End of the hand
The hand ends when either a player successfully depletes their stock, discard pile, and reserve, leaving them with no cards on their side of the table, or when a stalemate is reached where nobody has any legally-playable cards in their stock, discard pile, or reserve. Each player counts up the number of cards in their stock and discard, which are worth one point a piece, and the number of cards in their reserve, valued at two points each. Whichever player has the lower score wins the hand and scores the difference between the two players’ counts. A player ending the hand with no cards at all also scores a 30-point bonus.
The cards are then turned face-down and separated back into 52-card decks, which are shuffled for the next hand. Game play continues until one player reaches a predetermined score, such as 300 points. That player is the winner.