Castle Rock Solitaire

Rules rendition by Joe Celko (71062.1056@CompuServe.COM).

This is one of several solitaire domino games invented by Fredrick Berndt (THE DOMINO BOOK; Bantam Books; ISBN 0-84-07601-4; 1975). I suppose you would classify the game as a member of the Bergen family because it uses rules that involve the ends of two tiles that are not immediately touching to score point. However, its layout and rules about triplets of tiles are unique.


The games uses a double six domino set or larger.

The Deal

Shuffle the tiles face down, make a tableau of one line of three tiles, laid side by side, and turn them face up. The rest of the tiles stay face down in the boneyard. The player starts a third area on the board for his captures.

The Play

The player removes any tile that is between two tiles that have a match on its upper or lower half with the upper or lower half of the second tile. For example, [3-3][1-1][3-5] would qualify based on the 3's matching. The player would capture the [1-1] and reduce the tableau to [3-3][3-5].

If the middle tile also contains the matching number, then all three tiles can optionally be removed, too. For example, [3-3][1-3][3-5] would qualify based on the 3's matching on all tiles, and the player could capture all three tiles or reduce the row to [3-3][3-5] by removing only the middle tile.

When tiles are removed, the rest of the tiles are pushed together tothe left to fill in the gap. If more matches are created, their tiles can then be removed.

If there is no play on the tableau, the player draws a tile from the boneyard and adds it to the right hand end of the row. The row does not grow from both ends.


The game is won when the player has captured all the tiles and the tableau is empty.

The game is lost when all the tiles are out of the boneyard but not all of them are captured. To put it another way, the tableau has no triplets or pairs that can be captured and the boneyard is empty.

Comments & Strategy

The nice part of this solitaire is that it scales up to the double nine and double twelve domino sets without any change in the rules. It is a good game for physically larger dominoes, such as the tournament or club sets.

I prefer to play the game with the modification that you win when you empty the tableau, regardless of the number of tiles in the boneyard. You will still lose more than half the time, but you will win more often than the original rules.

A lot of the strategy is in knowing when to apply the "three in a row" rule and when to just take the middle tile, etc. For example given this layout:


and a draw of [1-4], the immediate thought is to collect the final three tiles ([1-1], [1-5], [1-4]). A much better play is to remove the middle [1-5] tile, then the middle [1-1] tile, then the middle [0-4] tile, then take the triplets, [2-4], [4-4] and [0-4].

Sometimes you will want to add tiles to the tableau to try and get chains of combination plays as shown above, even tho there were captures available to you. I have no idea if this improves your chances of winning or not, but I assume that it could. At the extreme end, you would lay all the tiles side by side and search for a series of captures that would give you a coverage of the entire set. This sounds like a good computer programming project for a student.

The Game Cabinet - - Ken Tidwell