Conquian (also known as Cooncan or Coon Can) is a Rummy game played with two people. It is the earliest known Rummy game in the western world, and the oldest that is still played regularly today. It originated in Latin America (likely Mexico or Central America) goes back to at least the 19th century, and is also popular in the Southwestern United States. The game can be played with more than two, but typically there are not enough cards to make it a long enough game if using a Spanish style deck.
Also note that if you enjoy Conquian, you will also enjoy the game of straight "Rummy" which is a similar but more contemporary version of Conquian, contains a lot of the same elements, and can be played with up to six players.
The Conquian game has some extra terms and phrases associated with it. You can see the definitions in the Conquian Glossary.
Cards: The deck consists of the cards A-2-3-4-5-6-7-J-Q-K in the usual suits hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades. It can be made by throwing the 8s, 9s, and 10s out of a standard 52 card pack. Note that this means that 7 and J are adjacent to each other, and will make runs like 6-7-J a legitimate meld. Ace is always low and so Q-K-A is not a valid meld.
The Deal: The deck is shuffled and cut, and the first dealer is chosen at random. The dealer deals ten cards to each player and places the remaining cards face down on the table to form the stock pile. At this point a wager can be made on the outcome of the game if playing for money.
Objective: The objective of Conquian is to be the first player with no cards left in their hand. To do this you must “meld” your cards by arranging them in Runs or Sets of three to eight cards, and placing them face upwards on the table. Cards can be added to existing melds and taken away, provided a complete set or group is left in place. Cards taken from existing melds must remain on the table, they can not be moved back into the hand. No meld can contain more than eight cards because the minimum meld is three and you have to meld exactly eleven cards to win.
The non-dealer (called the "pone") begins by turning over the top card of the stock. He may either meld it immediately with additional cards in his hand, or discard it. If he melds it, he must discard a different card from this hand. A distinctive feature of Conquian-style games is that drawn cards cannot be placed in a player's hand, they must be either melded immediately or discarded. They cannot be taken into the hand and saved for future use.
Thereafter, each player in turn must either take the card on the top of the discard pile (and meld it immediately, and discard another), or turn over the top of the stock and either meld it or discard it.
A player may extended their existing melds or create new ones. A player may also "borrow" a card from one of his existing melds, as long as the remaining cards form a valid meld. Borrowed cards must remain on the table, they can not be taken back into the players hand for future use.
Forcing is a key strategic move in Conquian. If you decline a face up card on the discard pile that could be added to one of your existing melds, your opponent may insist that you use the card. In so doing, he can force you to discard a card from your hand, probably one you were holding in reserve, in hope of building a new meld.
If the stock is exhausted with neither player having gone out, the game ends in a draw, and any stakes or wager made on the game are carried forward, to be claimed by whoever wins next. If playing for points then some play that the next game after a draw is played for double points.
End of Hand
The game ends when one player melds his eleventh card. Note that it is possible for a player to have 10 cards on the table in melds, no cards in their hand, and continue taking turns drawing and discarding cards until they find the 11th card to add to one of their existing melds.
Defensive Play: If you are dealt a hand with more than 5 or 6 cards which cannot be included in any series or grouping, it is possible to simply fold your hand and let the opponent attempt to play alone by continuing to draw and discard. The effect is equivalent to always rejecting the face-up card that is passed to you. The likelihood is that you possess the cards your opponent would need to win, in which case the hand will be tied. In such a case, you can only lose by playing and indeed, may win the next hand. There are times when five or six hands in a row may be tied in such a manner.
Offensive Play: Players with an excellent memory often count cards - they keep track of all cards played by both players and predict those needed to complete the opponent's hand, deliberately playing a grouping which reduces the opponent's chances of winning. In any case, it is vital to keep track of the cards played, to some extent. The better this is done, the higher the probability of winning. Usually, winning or losing eventually depends on the fall of one or two cards, in the end.
Avoid the Pit: In play, you must be careful to avoid the dreaded Ten Card Hole. In the highly improbable event that you may be able to collect all the Clubs, for instance, it would be impossible to win, because there are only ten cards in any suit.
"Keep your hands where I can see them!" All cards must be played on the table. This is often a very intense money game and strict attention to prevent the appearance of cheating is very important.