How to Play Conquian (Coon Can)

How to Play Coon Can Conquian is the oldest known game of the Rummy family which is still commonly played. While many card experts disagree on the specific nomenclature of the game and the way it has changed over time, most agree that it (at least the currently played version) hails from Mexico and is still very popular there. Many also believe that another common name for this game, Coon Can, is derived from a mispronunciation by non-Spanish speakers of the games original name Conquian. The game is also known by several other names including Con Quien and CoonCan. This game is also thought to be related to Panguingue.

Conquian is intended to be played by two players using a 40 card Spanish deck. This deck consists of one card of each suit in the following denominations; Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Jack, Queen, King. This deck can easily be formed by removing the eights, nines and tens from a standard 52 card deck. The ranking of the cards in this deck is as follows (from high to low); King, Queen, Jack, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace. Note that the Jack and Ace are in direct sequence.

Determination of seating positions and first dealer can be done in a variety of ways. The most common method is with the drawing of cards, in which the player drawing the lowest card selects his seat first and becomes the first dealer.

After the players are seated the dealer shuffles the cards and deals the hand. He deals out hands consisting of 10 cards, one by one and face down, starting with his opponent. The remainder of the deck is then placed face down in the center of the table. Dissimilar to many other Rummy games, when starting this game, no upcard is initially turned from the stock.

The dealer's opponent (called the pone) then takes the first turn of the hand. He starts his turn by turning up the top card of the stock such that both he and his opponent can see it's face. The player may only take this card if he can use it immediately to make a meld to the table along with other cards from his hand. If unable to do so or electing not to use the card, he then places the card face up next to the stock pile to start the discard pile which ends his turn. If the player melds the card, he must play the meld to the table and then discard a replacement card from his hand. Before discarding on his turn a player may place any legal melds from his hand onto the table in front of himself.

Meld Types in Conquian The allowable melds (called spreads) in Conquian are as follows: Each subsequent turn after the first consists of a player either taking the top upcard or the top card of the stock. If he takes the upcard he must use it in a meld on the table. He may also take it to add it to a meld he already has on the table (called hitting). If he takes the top card of the stock, he must, similarly to the first turn, display it so both players can see the card and either meld it immediately or discard it. If the player uses either the upcard or the top card of the stock in a meld he must discard a card from his hand at the end of the turn. During his turn a player may make any melds (either completely new melds or additions to his own previous melds) to the table he may currently have in his hand but he must do this before discarding, which ends his turn. One important thing to note in this game is that a player never adds cards from the discard pile or the stock into his actual hand. These cards are either used immediately in a valid meld to the table or discarded.

On his turn a player may also re-arrange his own melds to create different melds in order to allow him to play additional cards from his hand. The only stipulation on doing this is that no cards may be taken back into the hand from the table and all melds remaining after the rearrangement must make legal melds.

Forcing: A player may also, on his turn, play a legal card to one of his opponents melds (called a hit). If he does this, the hit counts as his discard for the turn and he does not discard and the hit ends his turn. The opponent, meanwhile, must simply discard one card from his hand to the discard pile, which comprises his turn. This hit card is then considered to be a member of his opponents total melded cards.

Alternatively, if the top card of the discard pile can legally played to a players meld but he declines to take it on his turn, his opponent can call attention to it and demand he do so. In this case, the player must use his turn to take this discard, meld it as appropriate and discard, ending his own turn.

Winning the Game: The game continues in this way alternating turns until one player has 11 total cards melded to his own melds on the table (called going Conquian or Coon Can). The player who does so is then immediately declared the winner of the game. If a player has melded all 10 of his hand cards, he must still draw a card from the stock each turn and either meld it (in which case he wins the hand) or discard it immediately. He may also take an available card from the discard pile and add it to his own melds, winning the game. In Conquian, each deal is considered a complete game. If the stock runs out with neither player having gone Conquian, the hand ends in a draw, the cards are gathered, shuffled and a new game is dealt. The deal alternates between the two players. If game points are being kept, each game won is considered one game point. Winning the next game after a draw game, counts as two game points (or even more if there were multiple sequential draw games prior to the game won).


Variations and Optional Rules

Deck Changes: Some players prefer to remove the Kings, Queens and Jacks from the games vice the 8's, 9's and tens. This is often done by players new to the game or unfamiliar with the somewhat unusual ranking in the Spanish deck. When this modification is done, the ranking of the cards in the deck used for the game is as follows (high to low); 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace. Other than the changes in the cards used in the deck, all other aspects are played identically to the standard version of Conquian as described above.

Playing with the Full Deck: Some players prefer to play the game without removing any cards. The rank of the cards in this larger deck is as follows (from high to low); King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace. Other than the larger number of cards in the deck and the ranking used to accommodate the extra cards, the game itself is played the same as the traditional version.

Card Trade Conquian: In this variant rule, players have an opportunity to trade cards before the first turn. After looking at their cards, a player may pass one card of his choice, face down, to his opponent. After both players have passed such a card, they then pick them up and add the card to their hand. In all other aspects, this variant is played identically to the standard game.

Three Player Conquian: Over time Conquian has been adapted to allow play by differing numbers of players. In three player Conquian, the same rules as in the standard two player game are used with the following exceptions: Conquian for Four Players: A version of this game has also been developed for play by four participants. The game is played identically to the standard game except for the following differences:
Trivia: Tonk was such a popular game amongst Jazz great Duke Ellington and his sidemen, it inspired him and fellow songwriter Billy Strayhorn to create a song with the same name, Tonk.
Tonk: Tonk is a fun Rummy game that is played somewhat like Conquian. The game also features several elements of Knock Rummy in it's gameplay. Tonk is also commonly played under the name Tunk. This game is known to have been a favorite of many of the musicians in Jazz great Duke Ellington's band.

Tonk is usually played by two to four players all playing independently and using one standard 52 card deck. The ranking of the cards in this deck used for playing Tonk is as follows (from high to low); King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace.

Determination of seating positions and first dealer is usually done by drawing from the shuffled, face down deck. The player drawing the highest card takes the first choice of seats, the next highest the next seat and so on. The player who drew the highest card of all becomes the first dealer, and thereafter the deal rotates in a clockwise rotation after each game.

The goal in this game, as in most games of the Rummy family is to deplete your hand by melding cards from your hand. There are two legal meld types (also called spreads) in Tonk, as follows: To begin the dealer deals out seven face down cards to each player starting with the player to his immediate left. The cards are dealt one at a time in a clockwise rotation. The deck is then placed face down in the center of the table as a draw pile and the top card of the draw pile is turned up beside the draw pile to start the discard pile.

A Tonk hand After looking at the cards and before the first player has his first turn, any player may declare a "Tonk". A player may do this if he has, in his initially dealt hand, no card lower than a Jack. However a player must make the call of "Tonk" before any player has had his first turn. Any player that, in this situation, legally calls Tonk is instantly declared the winner of the game (the hand is not played out). If game points are being recorded, a player who wins in this way is said to win two game points for each other participant in the game. If multiple players call Tonk, the game is considered a draw and no player wins the hand, with the cards thrown in and the next dealer in turn shuffling and dealing the next game.

The player to the immediate left of the dealer has the first turn, and the turns rotate in a clockwise direction. Each turn consists of several actions taken by a player. He begins by first drawing a card. He may draw either the top card of the discard pile (called plucking the card) or the top card of the draw pile. Either card drawn need not be immediately played to a meld as the player can take the card into his hand. If the player has a valid meld and wants to play it, he can make one or more valid melds to the table. If there are already melds on the table from prior turns (either his own or from other players) he may also add legal cards to those melds. To complete his turn a player discards one card to the top of the discard pile. If a player is able to meld the last of his cards from his hand to the table (called Tonking Out) or discard his last card at the end of his turn, that player is declared the winner of the game. If game points are being record, that player wins two game points for melding every card or one game point for discarding his last card. The next dealer in turn then shuffles and deals the next hand.

On a player's turn, he may, before drawing, Drop. This immediately ends the current hand and the player indicates he is doing this by placing the remaining contents of his hand face up on the table. This is sometimes also called knocking and may also be indicated by the player knocking audibly on the table before laying his hand down. A player would normally do this if they believed the current card point count of unmelded cards in their hand was lower than that of any other players. As such, each card in the deck has a specific point count total, as shown in the following chart:
CardPoint Value
2 - 10Value marked on face of card
King, Queen, Jack10
If a player does Drop all the players then total the remaining card point values left in their hand. If the player who Dropped did indeed have the lowest count in leftover cards in their hand, he wins the hand. When game points are being recorded, that player wins one game point from each other player in the game. However, if another player has an equal or lower count than the player who Dropped, all players other than the Dropping player earn two game points. In this case, additionally, if one of the other players has a lower count, the opponent with the lowest count earns one game point per other participant in the game. If two other players tie with a lower count, each of those players earns one additional game point per opponent in the game.

If the draw pile becomes exhausted and a player, on his turn, does not want to take the top of the discard pile, the game also ends. All players then display their hands and the player with the lowest total count earns one game point per opponent in the game. If two or more players tie for the lowest point count total, the game ends in a draw with no game points awarded.

Five Card Tonk: A commonly seen variation of Tonk is one in which each player receives five cards instead of 7. Also, in this variant, a player may initially call Tonk if the total number of point scoring cards in his hand equals 50 (this allows the inclusion of 10's in that calculation). In all other respects this game is played identically to standard Tonk. This game is often played by up to five participants.

Wait Rule: As there is often a significant advantage to the first player to be able to play any meld to then Drop, many players use an optional Wait rule. When this rule is enforced in a game, the following additional stipulations are added to the game: Note that this limitation does not apply to that player being able to Tonk Our or otherwise meld all of his cards, as any player may do that on his turn as able. Also, all the wait times are cumulative, such that a player may have to wait many turns before being able to Drop.

Deuces Wild: In this version of Tonk, all Deuces in the deck are considered wild and can thus be substituted for any other card when making a meld. Any meld must contain at least two natural cards to be considered a legal meld. When counting card points, a deuce is considered to still count only two points. Other than the twos being counted as wild cards, all other rules are the same as in standard Tonk.

Tunk: Closely related in name and play to Tonk is the Rummy game Tunk. The name Tonk is often used to describe both the game with that name and this game, Tunk, as well. As such, the set of rules usually seen for Tonk is described above and the rules often seen for the similar game Tunk is described here.

Tunk uses the standard 52 card deck with the following ranking of cards in the deck (from high to low); King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, Ace. All Deuces are considered wild cards and can be used to represent any card in the deck. The game is usually played by 2 to 5 players.

Selection of seating positions and first dealer can be done in a number of methods, with drawing for high cards (using the normal ranking of cards in the game) commonly used.

After everyone is seated and the first dealer is selected, he begins by dealing the cards one by one in a clockwise rotation, starting with the player to his left. He continues dealing until each player has a seven card hand. The dealer then places the remainder of the deck and places it face down in the center of the table as the stock. He turns over the top card of the stock pile and places it beside the stock pile to start the discard pile. The player to the dealer's left has the first turn.

As in most Rummy games, the object of the game is for a player to arrange his hand into legal melds. The legal melds in Tunk are as follows:
A group meld in Tunk As a player creates melds he retains them in his hand not playing them to the center of the table.

To start each turn, a player first draws one card. He may either draw the top card of the stock pile or the top, exposed card from the discard pile. After drawing the card, he then discards any card of his choice from his hand to the top of the discard pile ending his turn. A player may never draw the top card of the discard pile and discard that same card on the same turn, however.

On a player's turn, after drawing, and before discarding that player may opt to "Tunk". This is equivalent to knocking in most other games of the Rummy family. A player may Tunk if the total value of unmatched cards in his hand is five or less. The value of cards for determining this is shown on the following chart:
Card DenominationScoring Value
King, Queen, Jack10
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10Value marked on card
Although the twos are wild cards in this game, they only score two points for purposes of scoring unmatched cards in a player's hand.

Once a player calls "Tunk", he must then spread his hand on the table, with the melds arranged together separated from his unmelded cards. The other players then, in proper turn, have one last turn. During this last turn a player lays down his own melds. The player may also lay off on the Tunker's melds unless the Tunker's entire hand was melded (no unmelded cards) in which case he may not lay off any cards to the Tunker's melds. A player may never lay off cards on the melds of players other than the Tunker.

After the remaining players have had one last turn the total sum of unmatched cards are added. This total sum of each players' unmelded cards remaining in the hand is added to his score. If any other player has a lower total in unmatched cards then the Tunker, the Tunker doubles the number of points he scored during he hand. When a player's score, at the end of a hand, reaches or exceeds 100 points he must drop from the game. The game continues from hand to hand until there is only one player remaining, who is declared the winner. If the stock reaches the break, in which there are fewer cards remaining in the stock than players in the game, the game ends in a draw with no score occurring for the hand.

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