Cinch

Cinch, also known as High Five and Double Pedro, is a game in the All Fours family. It was once one of the most popular card games in play, but sunk in popularity as most serious players turned their attention to the forerunners of Contract Bridge. Cinch is almost always played with four players, in partnerships.

Object of Cinch

The object of Cinch is to be the first partnership to score 51 points by winning tricks that contain certain scoring cards.

Setup

Cinch is played with the standard 52-card deck. If you’re looking for some high-quality, durable plastic cards to play with, choosing Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards should be a cinch. You will also need something to keep score with, either pencil and paper or something more exotic.

Shuffle and deal nine cards to each player. It is customary to deal three cards to each player at a time. Set the deck stub aside; it will be used later.

Card ranking

The cards rank somewhat unusually in Cinch, because, as in Euchre, some cards from outside the trump suit are considered to be trumps as well. While in Euchre, it is the jacks that switch suits and are called bowers, in Cinch, it is the 5s that move between suits and are called pedros. The 5 of the trump suit is considered the right pedro, and the 5 of the same color of the trump suit is called the left pedro and is ranked just below the right pedro.

Therefore, in the trump suit, the cards rank as follows: (high) A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, right pedro, left pedro, 4, 3, 2 (low). Cards rank in the usual order, with ace high, in the other suits (other than the suit of the same color as trumps, which is of course missing its 5).

Game play

The bid and the draw

The hand begins with the bidding. The players, beginning with the person to the dealer’s left, either bid on the number of points they expect to collect or may pass. Possible bids are from one to fourteen. Each bid must be higher than those preceding it. The bidding only goes for one turn; after the dealer has bid, the bidding ends, and the highest bidder names the suit they wish to be trump. The high bid becomes the contract for that partnership, who become the declarers; their opponents become the defenders.

Each player now discards all the cards that are not trumps from their hand. (In the event that a player has seven or more trumps in their hand, they must discard down to six, exposing the discarded trumps, which become dead cards.) The dealer then deals enough cards to each other player to bring their hand to six cards. They then form a hand of six cards themselves by looking through the remainder of the deck stub and drawing whichever cards they desire (known as robbing the pack).

The scoring cards that do not change should never be discarded (namely, the jack and 10 of trump and the two pedros). In the event that they’re discarded by the declarers, nothing happens, but if the defenders discard them, they are scored as if the declarers had won them in a trick.

Play of the hand

The high bidder leads to the first trick, leading any card. If a trump is led, players must follow suit if able. If any other suit is led, they either follow suit or play a trump. Only if the player has neither the suit led nor trumps may they play any other card. Tricks are won by the highest trump played, or if no trumps were played, the highest card of the suit led. Won tricks are not added to the hand; instead, they’re placed in a communal won-trick pile for each partnership.

When all six tricks have been played, the winners of the fourteen points available are determined:

  1. High—playing the highest trump in play during the hand,
  2. Low—capturing the lowest trump in play during the hand,
  3. Jack—capturing the jack of trumps,
  4. Ten—capturing the 10 of trumps,
  5. Right pedro—capturing the right pedro (five points),
  6. Left pedro—capturing the left pedro (five points).

Due to the fact that not all cards are dealt during the hand, the trump counting for High is not necessarily the ace, and the trump counting for Low is not necessarily the two. Likewise, the point for Jack is not always counted, since the jack of trumps is not always in play.

If the declarers made their contract, whichever partnership collected more points scores the difference between the two teams’ point totals (e.g. if one partnership won nine points and the other won five, the partnership that won nine points would score four points to the game score). Note that it is possible fore the declares to make contract and the defenders to score if they won more points. If the declarers broke contract, the defenders score fourteen plus the number of points the declarers were under contract (e.g. if the bid was nine and the declarers scored seven, the defenders would score 14 + 2 = 16 points to the game score).

Game play continues until one partnership scores 51 points. Whichever team has the higher score at that point is the winner.

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