(A card game for five players)

CHINKWAY is a normal trick taking game but with changing partners. The objective is to take tricks that include elements of a 'Quest' that changes for each deal.

Two packs of 52 cards are required. One is known as the Play Pack and the other the Quest Pack. Two pictures (any two) are removed from the Quest Pack, thereby reducing it to 50 cards.
Before play commences players should agree upon whether or not the variant (extending the game to 11 deals) will be played.

A dealer is chosen for the first hand, who shuffles the Play Pack and deals 10 cards to each player and 12 to himself/herself. The dealer discards any two cards and then announces the suit that will be Trumps or that the hand will be played at 'No Trump'.

After the dealer has declared Trump Suit (or No Trumps) five cards are turned from the top of the Quest Pack. The cards in this pack are regarded as being in five (as opposed to four) categories. These are:

Spades (1-10) / Hearts (1-10) / Diamonds (1-10) / Clubs (1-10) / All the Pictures

Thus, if the turn up was:

7spade / 9heart / 3heart / Jclub / Kheart

the Quest for that deal would be:
One non-picture Spade, Two non-picture Hearts, and Two pictures of any suit.
(Note that for the purpose of fulfilling the Quest the rank of the Quest Card is of no importance. Only its category is important.)

The game is played for 10 Deals. In each deal the Dealer always plays on his/her own whilst the other four players play as two sets of partners. During the first five deals the two players to the dealer's left partner each other as do the two players to the dealer's right. (If one regards the Dealer as Player #1 this means that Players #2 and #3 partner each other, as do Players #4 and #5). Dealer moves one place to the left for each new Deal. Starting with the sixth deal (with once again the Dealer being regarded as Player #1) players #2 and #4 partner each other, as do players #3 and #5. The result is that each player will partner all of the others. This continues until the Final Deal for which see the special rule below.


The player to the left of the Dealer leads to the first trick. Normal trick taking rules apply (i.e. players must follow suit but if they cannot they may trump or discard). The winner of a trick leads to the next. The Ace is always regarded as being the top card of a suit.

When a player has taken a trick he/she is permitted to remove one card only in order to meet the demands of the Quest. This card is placed face up in front of the player or the partnership. (Very frequently the trick will contain more than one card that features in the Quest demands but only one card may be taken from each trick.) The rest of the cards in the trick are set aside. No help is permitted from Partner when deciding which card to extract from a trick. The aim is to capture enough tricks that enable the Partnership (or the Dealer) to extract five (or as many as possible) cards that correspond to the demands of the Quest.


When all cards have been played the hand is scored according to how well the players have met the demands of the Quest.

  • 1 correct = 1 point
  • 2 correct = 3 points
  • 3 correct = 6 points
  • 4 correct = 10 points
  • 5 correct = 15 points.

Points scored by a partnership are credited to both players (i.e. they are not split).

New deal

The five Quest cards are set aside. The Dealer moves one player to the left and Partnerships are changed as stated above. As before, after the Dealer has declared the Trump Suit or No Trumps five new cards are turned from the top of the Quest Pack.

The Final Deal (Deal 10 or Deal 11 if the Variant is played, which is recommended)

For the final deal the normal partnership arrangement is changed:

  • The player currently in third place on the Score Sheet is the Dealer (Position #1).
  • The player currently in 1st place partners the player currently in 4th place and they sit in Positions #2 and #4 respectively.
  • Players currently second and fifth partner each other, sitting in positions #3 and #5

Players will probably have to change seats for this final deal. Ties (it only matters if the players are currently in 3rd and 4th positions) are broken in favour of the player who had the highest score in the most recent deal.

(All of this is necessary to give players currently lying in 1st, 2nd and 3rd place a chance of winning, which they would not have if partnered in the final deal with a player currently in a higher position. Unfortunately players lying in 4th and 5th place just before the final deal have no chance of winning - tough luck; it's the price they pay for playing badly up until then!)

The Winner

The Winner is the player with the highest score at the end of 10 (or 11 with the variant) deals.

© Derek Carver 2003

MINOR VARIANT In order to preserve the neatness of each player playing with all others as partners, the game should definitely comprise 11 deals instead of 10. Ten deals are played as normal - with the partners changing to the established pattern. Deal 11 then becomes "The Final Deal" for which players might have to change seats. NOTE There is no need to play the 11th deal if players happen to find themselves sitting in the correct 'Final Deal' positions for deal #10.

The Origin of CHINKWAY

Having invented a number of games, some of which have been published, I considered that the ultimate challenge for any self-styled 'games inventor' was to invent a good game that could be played with normal playing cards (as opposed to special cards). Because our group has favourite cardgames for 3, 4 and 6 players I decided that my aim should be a game specifically for 5 players.

I also liked the idea of a game with changing partners so that should there be a weak or a very strong player round the table, those players would partner all of the rest.

In testing a problem arose because it was found that in the final deal the player currently in second or third position could never win the game if for that last hand in the game he or she was partnering the player currently in first position. So it was necessary to introduce the rule of changing seats for this final deal.

But the American gamer, Larry Levy, felt that this change of seating disrupted the very clean mechanism of partner changes. He considered that if under my rules it would be necessasry for players to change seats for the 10th deal, they should stay where they were and, instead, play an 11th deal, which would then become the "Final Deal". I feel that he is correct, but have to admit that we seldom play this variant, solely because we mostly play the game with evenly matched players.

The game normally lasts just under one and a half hours. If players wish to play for a shorter time - just to see if they like the game, for example - they can player for five deals only. In this case it is best to start from what would normally be the sixth deal, i.e. when partners sit opposite as opposed to next to each other. Of course, by playing only half of the game not all players will partner each other.

Because the whole concept was based on 'fives' I originally called the game FÜNF as a tribute to the very many German games inventors who title their games in English. But when the rules were published in Italy I changed the name to CHINKWAY, and this I feel, if only to avoid confusion, is the name we should always use in future.

Contributed by DEREK CARVER