To play the game, one must first deal thirteen cards faced down and then turned up. These cards would be the reserve, the top cards of which is available for play. Then a card is placed on first of the four foundations to the left of the reserve. This card is the first card of its foundation and all other cards of the same rank must also start the other three foundations.
Below the foundations are four piles, each starting with a card each. This will be the tableau and the top cards of each pile are available for play. Cards on the tableau are built down by alternating colors, while the foundations are built up by suit, wrapping from King to Ace if necessary. Any gaps on the tableau are filled from the reserve; in case the reserve is used up, cards from the waste pile are used. Cards on the reserve can also be distributed to the foundations or to the tableau. Cards on the tableau are also moved one unit, provided that that the entire column has to be moved.
When no more plays are possible on the tableau and no more cards can be placed to the foundations, especially from the reserve, one can deal cards from the stock (the undealt cards) three at a time into the waste pile and use these cards to build to the foundations or to the tableau. One can use the stock as long as there are moves.
The game is won when all cards are placed in the foundations. But as Canfield knew very well, winning this game is unlikely, as one can manage to place an average of five to six cards.