Cooncan, by Robert Frederick Foster


For Four or Five Players

Two packs of fifty-two cards and two jokers are shuffled together and used as one. The suits have no rank with regard to one another. In cutting, the cards rank in sequence from the king down to the joker, the ace being next lowest to the joker. In play, the ace may be used as the bottom of a sequence, below the deuce, or as the head of a sequence, above the king; but it cannot be used to form a round-the-corner straight, king-ace-deuce.

The joker is anything the holder chooses to call it, whether be has the corresponding card in his hand or not. Even if a player holds both kings of spades, he can call the joker the king of spades. The denomination of the joker may be changed once only in each deal under certain conditions, which will be explained in due course.

The cards have a counting value, which is used in the settlement of the scores at the end of the game. The jokers are worth 15 each; aces 11; kings, queens, and jacks, 10, and all other cards at their pip value. Players who have un- played cards left on their hands at the finish have to pay for them according to this schedule.

Although the laws say that two to five persons can play, this game with the double pack is not suitable to more than five or less than four, there being special games for two and for three persons. If more than five candidates offer for play, the table should be selected by cutting. In some circles six or seven are allowed to take part, but such a large number spoils the game as an intellectual amusement and makes it too much of a scramble. No one can watch and remember the cards accepted or passed by six persons besides himself. It is difficult enough to remember three or four.

The first deal and choice of seats is determined by spreading the cards face downward on the table and drawing cards. The highest has the choice of seats and deals the first hand. In some circles the next highest cut takes his seat next the first dealer, and so on round the table. Ties cut again, but the second cut decides nothing but the tie.

At the end of every hour any player may demand that the cards be thrown round or drawn for positions at the table. This is to allow those who are dissatisfied with their luck or their neighbors to make a change.

Any player may shuffle the cards, the dealer last, and the pack is then presented to the player on the dealer’s right to be cut, at least four cards being left in each packet.

The cards are dealt one at a time, beginning on the dealer’s left, until each player has ten. Cards exposed in dealing or found faced in the pack do not make it a misdeal, as exposed cards are of no consequence, but if any player has a wrong number of cards and announces it before he makes his first play, there must be a new deal. Any person playing with a wrong number of cards will have to keep them without playing and pay for them at the end, so it is very important that each player should count his cards carefully at the start.

Having dealt ten cards to each player, including himself, the dealer turns the next card face up and lays it on the table. This is called the stock. Beside it he places the remainder of the pack, face down, and slightly spread, to facilitate drawing from it.

The player to the left of the dealer begins by examining the ten cards dealt to him, in order to decide whether he will take the stock card or draw from the pack. If the card faced on the stock suits him, he will naturally take it; but if it does not and is of a large denomination he may prefer to draw from the pack, so as to have a chance of getting something that will fit his hand, and also to avoid carrying too many points that he might have to pay for. If he draws from the pack be must take the top card. Cards drawn from the pack are not shown to the other players.

Having drawn, he has the privilege of laying out upon the table in front of him and face up, any combinations of cards be may hold, the playable combinations being of two kinds: Three or more in sequence and suit, or three or more cards of the same denomination of any suits. Having laid out he must discard one card from his hand to take the place of the card drawn, and this discard must always be placed face upward on the stock, whether the player drew from the stock or from the pack.

The player must in every case make up his mind whether or not he will lay out any combinations before he discards, because after he has discarded he is not allowed to lay out any card or cards until it comes round to his turn again. No player is obliged to lay out cards unless be sees fit to do so.

The object of the game is to get rid of all the cards, dealt to him or drawn, as quickly as possible, by laying them out as parts of combinations, because the first player to get rid of his cards in this manner must he paid by each of the others for the pip value of the cards remaining in their hands which have not been laid out in combinations. The last card held by any player may be got rid of by discarding it, if all the other cards have been laid out in combinations; or it may be laid down as part of a combination.

A combination once laid down may be added to indefinitely, either by the player who started it or by any other person at the table, but it cannot be changed, and any card once placed in a certain position in a combination, except the joker, must so remain.

A very short experience with the game will show that it requires the exercise of some judgment to know whether to lay out combinations at once or to hold them until one is ready to lay down the whole hand at one time, because as soon as a combination is laid down by one player it is open to any other player to add one or more cards to it, if he has those that will fit, thus giving these other players an opportunity to get rid of their odd cards.

Suppose a player lays down three fours and a sequence of 6 7 8 in hearts. Any following player who has the 5 or 9 of hearts, or both 9 and 10, or a 4 of any suit, can get rid of such cards by adding them to the combinations shown on the table. This makes nine cards in the pack that might be got rid of on the first player’s layout.

On the other hand, if the first player holds up his sequence of hearts and his three of a kind, he may be left to pay for them, through some other player laying down everything before it comes round again, in which case there will be 33 points to pay for that might have been got rid of. The best players, however, do not expect any one to lay down everything on the first round unless there are a number of combinations shown too early.

The first player having made up his mind whether or not to lay down any combinations, and having discarded, the player to his left has the privilege of taking the card faced on the stock or drawing the top card from the pack. After he has drawn and before he discards, he may lay out any combinations he pleases, or may add to the combinations laid out by any other players, if there be any such on the table.

The game continues in this manner, each player in turn to the left drawing, laying out and discarding to the stock, a watchful eye being kept on opportunities to get rid of odd cards; that is, cards which do not fit any sequence or triplet in the players own hand. As no combination of less than three can be laid down by itself, the only chance to get rid of these odd cards is to add them to the combinations laid out by others, or to discard them. Unless these odd cards can be got rid of, it is impossible to win the game.

The player should be careful in his selection of the position for the joker if be lays it out, because this is the only card that may be moved from its original position to another, although it must always remain in the same combination. As only one change in the position of the joker is allowed, the card must be laid crossways so as to show that it has been moved once and cannot be moved again. Any player at the table may make this change, whether it was his joker or not.

If the joker is played as the interior of a sequence, it cannot ho moved, and in this situation it is often a most useful card. The 4 and 5, with the 7 and 8 of hearts, for instance, represents four dead cards, but with the joker between them they can be laid down at once, the joker being named as the 6 of hearts.

Many players consider it bad policy to lay the joker at the open end of a sequence, because any player has the right to move it to the other end if he has the card that will fit either the place where the joker was or the place next to that to which the joker goes. If a player lays down the 7 and 8 of hearts with the joker as the 9, and another player wishes to get rid of a 9 of hearts, he may shift the joker to the position of the 6, and place his 9 where the joker was. Or if a player held the 5 of hearts, ho could shift the joker in the same way and add the 5 to the sequence.

When the joker is laid down as one of a triplet it gives no advantage to any other player, as he could add to the triplet whether one card of it was the joker or not.

The moment any player gets rid of his last card all the combinations shown on the table5 together with the pack and stock, are pushed aside. Bach player in turn to the left of the winner then shows what cards he has left in his hand and pays for them acqording to their pip value, the points all going to the credit of the winner. The entire pack is then gathered, shuffled, cut and dealt by the player to the left of the last dealer.

It is occasionally agreed to play “splashes”. A player who could lay down seven or eight of his cards will refuse to do so, holding them on the chance of being able to lay down everything at once, This is a splash, and not only wins the game but entitles him to a bonus from each of the other players, usually 25 or 50 points, in addition to the pips they have to pay for on their cards.

It is sometimes agreed to play a certain number of rounds, each player having the deal an equal number of times, but if necessary the game can be stopped at any time.

As long as no player has succeeded in getting rid of all his cards, each player in turn continues to draw and discard, until the pack runs out. Although the pack is exhausted, there are always a number of cards in the stock and this stock is simply turned face down and used as a pack, the first discard forming a new stock. This may be repeated until some one wins the game.

This is a portion of a full-text reproduction of Robert Frederick Foster's book "Cooncan (Conquián): A Game of Cards Also Called Rum", which was published in 1913, by Frederick A. Stokes Company, and is now in the public domain. The text of the book was OCR'd from a vintage copy of the book, and is provided as an educational resource for Rummy players, researchers, and students of the game. Any grammatical or typographical errors are an artifact of this process, and should not be attributed to the author.

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