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Cinch -- the game no one ever heard of...
Unless you live in Western Pennsylvania, that is. It seems to be the only place this game is played. I've gone looking for it one the Net, and all the descriptions are not like the game I know. So, here goes...


This game is played with 4 or 6 players, on two teams. Let me explain for 6 players, and then for four.

A full deck of cards is used, plus two jokers. One is considered the joker, the other is called the ginny. Normally, the joker with more writing or the joker in black-and-white is considered the ginny. Nine cards are dealt to each player, by threes. The person to the left of the dealer bids on their hand, and so on around the table. Typically, bids of less than three are not permitted, and no higher than six. There are six points in the game: high, low, jack, joker, ginny, and game. In a six player game, high is always the Ace, and low is always the two in trump suit. Trump is determined by who places the highest bid and the first suit of card they play. The object of the game is to collect as many tricks as possible, containing as many points as possible. Teammates, should of course, help their partners, by giving them any points in their hands which their partners will win, or using those points to take the hand for themselves. There are five points in the deck. The game point is determined by the cards in the tricks taken from all suits where Ace = 4 points, King = 3 points, Queen = 2 points, Jack = 1 point, and 10 = 10 points. There are 80 possible game points. If there is a tie, whoever has the joker gets the tie-break.

Scoring: both teams can get points in each round, but the team that bid highest must equal their bid. If the bidding team does not equal their bid, then they receive minus points in the value of the bid. The game is played until one team reaches 21 points.
It is possible in some circumstances to bid seven points. If a player ahead of you bids six, and you believe that you alone, and not your teammates, can take every trick in the game, then you may bid seven. Of course, read the Scoring section above for the consequences of failure.

Bidding: In a six player game, it is generally safe to assume, by most players' standards that an Ace is good for a three-point bid, especially if supported by a few lower trump cards. Obviously, the more high cards, the better your chances of collecting points. Also, the more points you hold in your hand, the better your chances of holding on to them.

As each trick is played, subsequent cards must follow suit, except that trump cards may be played at any time, regardless of the lead suit. However, whenever trump is played, if a player has cards in trump, including the joker and ginny, they MUST be played.

For a four player game, all the rules stated above apply: each player is dealt nine cards; points are high, low, jack, joker, ginny and game, etc. However, high is whatever card is highest in trump suit, so it may be king or queen instead of ace; and low is whatever card in trump is lowest, so it might be two, or seven, or whatever is available. Also note that not all possible points may be dealt in a game: there may be no joker for instance. Consider for a moment how this changes the nature of bidding, when there may be no joker. Four player games sometimes allow bids of less than 3, but this is up to the players involved. Also, a kitty of three cards is dealt, and is awarded to the highest bidder before the start of play.

I have seen this game played with 5 players, every man for himself, but this tends to go on forever.

If you have heard of this game, or have any other information about it, please contact me at the address below. Thanks.







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Last updated 2009 December 5