Cooncan, by Robert Frederick Foster


Cooncan is simply a mispronunciation of the Mexican name for a game of cards which has been a favorite in the Southwestern States of America for the past fifty years or more. The correct spelling of the word is "conquián," with the accent on the third or last syllable; con, kee, án. It is very probably a corruption of the two Mexican words, con quien, meaning “with whom?” a question that would naturally be suggested by the principal feature of the game, it being always a question with whom each card drawn from the pack would remain.

Like poker, cooncan took a long time to get into print, there being no published rules for the game until 1897, when it was explained at some length in “Foster’s Hoyle,” published by F. A. Stokes Co. Since then a number of newspaper articles have described it and it is, now to be found in all the standard books on card games as one of the best for two players.

Coonean was played with the Spanish pack of forty cards, from which the eights, nines, and tens are missing. These cards were in common use throughout the southwest for a banking game called Monte, but in other parts of the country the regular pack had to be used and I believe I was the first to suggest that the kings, queens, and jacks were the proper cards to throw out, so as to leave a sequence of ten cards in each of the four suits. This was in 1873.

On December 23, 1900, the game was briefly described in an article in the N. Y. Sun, and for some time after that questions were asked about it and answered through the “School for Card Players” in that paper, showing that it was gradually getting known among the card players in the Eastern States.

Some eight or nine years later, the idea seems to have occurred to some one to use the full pack and to adapt the game for three players, or even four, This form originated somewhere in the west, and was gradually getting known under the name of rum, or rummy, with such variations as rumtum, by which it is still known in Cincinnati and a few other western cities. A description of this variation of the original cooncan appeared in the N. Y. Sun on the 10th of September, 1911, and shortly afterward the U. S. Playing Card Co. of Cincinnati issued a brief set of rules for the game, still calling it rum.

The article in The Sun was widely copied, several English papers giving it in full, and the game seems to have been taken up by the English card players even more generally than the American, so that in 1912 we find them playing it with two packs and two jokers, the Bath Club, in London, having printed a set of rules governing the game in that form.

This is the game, with the douhic pack, that is the most popular today, but in the following pages every variety of cooncan is described, with suggestions for good play, so that those who prefer the original, with forty cards, or the intermediate stage, with one pack, may have their choice.

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.

Cooncan, by Robert Frederick Foster - Table of Contents