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Also called Coon Can, Conquian is a rummy-style card game. Popular games scholar and historian David Parlett calls it as an ancestor to all rummy games played in modern times and a sort of proto-gin rummy.

Furthermore, it has a two-handed variant — Colonel.

Coon Can is a fascinating game for 2 or more players, which has Mexican heritage. To play Conquian well, you need to pay rapt attention and have a good memory.

Apart from that, the game requires a standard pack of 52 cards with all the 10s, 9s, and eights removed, and 40 cards left in total in the deck. In this guide, we’ll discuss Coon can card game rules and how to play.

Conquian Rules and Gameplay Instructions

In Conquian, the objective is to meld nine cards into sequences or sets. A set contains 3–4 cards that have the same rank, while a sequence consists of 3 or more cards in order belonging to the same suit.

Bear in mind that the seven and jack are in sequence, whereas the ace is always low.

How to Deal

2 or more people can play a game of Conquian using a 40-card pack containing cards, which are ranked A 2 3 4 5 6 7 J Q K.

Stacked face-down on the table, these cards are the ones left after all the 10s, 9s, and eights have been removed.

In Coon Can, you aim to be the first player to eliminate the cards, in addition to the last one drawn. The number of cards shown in total has to add up to 9.

Each player receives 9 cards from the dealer. Then he/she strives to win the game by melding 10 cards in total. You could be melded by pairing (a minimum of 3 or 4 of a kind) or using a straight flush sequence.

Bear in mind that 3–10 cards form the sequence A 2 3 4 5 6 7 J Q K A. So, 6 7 J and A 2 3 are valid sequences.

How to Play

In the next step after the deal, the dealer will turn up the top card from the remaining ones in the deck to start the discard pile. Then, the non-dealer can take the first card.

However, he has to make use of it immediately (with a minimum of 2 hand-cards) to create a meld.

If the non-dealer rejects the card, the dealer can pick it up and make use of it for his meld. s

If none of 2 player wants the first card, the non-dealer will take the first card from the draw pile and have the option to make use of it immediately for melding or discarding it.

He may not put this card in his hand. If one of the 2 players uses it to make a valid meld, he has to get rid of one card from his hand.

Then, the other player could pick this card or take another from the pile.

Thus, whichever of them turns from the pile has the first choice of this card turned and has to either meld it, use to extend one of his other melds, or pass.

If the 2 players pass, the second person will turn it down and make the next draw. Other card games to check out;

Melding and Refusal

A player has the option to “borrow” cards from their existing melds for creating new ones, once he ensures those consequently depleted aren’t reduced to less than valid 3-card melds.

After melding, the player’s discard is given to his opponent, who then has the option to meld or decline it and draw next.

Let’s now look at refusal. If a player rejects a faced card that can legally be included in one of his/her existing melds, he/she must meld it if the opposing player wishes.

This way, it’s possible at times to force a player into a situation that they can’t escape from, thereby drawing attention to the Conquian strategy of the play.

If neither has come out when the last available card has been rejected, the game ends in a draw with the stake carried forward.

How to Win

In this game, winning a hand implies melding 10 cards. Thus, on the last play, the winner has to make use of the drawn card in his meld.

Play could be extended over many hands by aiming to reach a specified total number of points. Points that are still in the losing player’s hand are given to the winner.

Additionally, cards 2–7 carry their face value; Jacks, Queens, or Kings 10 points, and Aces 15.

Variations of Conquian

Here are different versions of the rules of this game to note as you learn how to play Conquian:

  • Card removal isn’t allowed
  • The dealer may distribute 9 cards to each player, and the participants will attempt to meld 10
  • The Jacks, Queens, and Kings could be eliminated in place of eights, nines, and tens
  • Three players can partake in this game, with 8 cards dealt, and they’ll attempt to meld 9
  • 4 players can play with 7 cards being dealt and try to meld 8
  • Trading can take place before the first draw after the players have checked their initial hand. Each player will pick a card from their hand and passes it to the next person at the table in a clockwise manner. Players reach an agreement among themselves as regards the number of trades allowed in the game.

How to Play Coo-Can

This is a variation of the game that’s popularly played in Carrigtwohill, Cork, Ireland.

In this version of Conquian, 2 full decks consisting of 104 cards are used to play. 2–6 players can participate in the game.

At the beginning of this game, the dealer gives ten cards each to players, except he deals to himself first. In that case, he’ll receive eleven cards, passing one card at a time to all players in a clockwise manner.

The game starts when the dealer gets rid of a card face-up, and then, the next player has 2 options: picking either the top card of the deck or taking the top card of the discard pile.

The game goes on in clockwise order, and if, during play, all deck cards have been picked, the discard pile will be mixed and positioned as the deck.

The objective of Coo-Can is to be the player that melds all cards first.

Melding of cards can occur in a set of 4. Also, you can create a single card meld.

The 4-card set can be created using 4 cards of the same value, such as 4 Kings, or 4 cards in a straight flush, such as six, seven, eight, nine of Diamonds. Aces are always low.

You can also use single card melds by adding to a previous meld. For instance, you can place another King on an existing meld of Kings, or continue a straight flush by a single card.

The rules also allow melding a set of 4 cards onto an existing meld. You have to meld your set of 4 cards during the game before you are allowed to meld a single card.

A player can only make a meld in his turn, and he has to discard a card to the discard pile if he melds.

Since melds can be created as a set of 4, or as a single card, a player has to declare when he has 4, or 1, cards left.

If a player is holding one remaining card in his hand, they can’t draw from the discard pile, only from the deck. This variation is typically played for low stakes.


A Brief History of Conquian

Gin Rummy has been well-cited as Conquian’s forerunner. According to game historian R. F. Foster, Conquian seems to have started near the Rio Grande Valley, on the Texas-Mexico border around the 1860s.

The historian believes that the name had its roots in the Spanish “con quién” or “with whom”.

But David Parlett argues that several Rummy-type games have Chinese origins, and he also believes that Conquian is an Americanized variant of Kon Khin, a Chinese game.

Parlett also added that Chinese immigrants in the Mexican-Texan territory probably blended their Kon Khin with the Hispanic game Chinchón to bring about Conquian.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I play Conquian online?

Yes. There Conquian apps you can download online to your smartphone and play with friends. Conquian-Classic is a good example for Android users. There are also free online simulators to play.

What’s Colonel?

It’s a Coon-Can variation for 2 players. People traditionally used a single, 40-card, and Spanish-suited pack to play it. However, you can also use a French pack either without the eight, nine, and ten or without the courts.

To master how to play Conquian, you need to practice consistently with friends, who are better than you. You can enjoy this game offline or online with family and friends.

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