Tinkle

This variation of Contract Rummy, contributed by Luke Baars , is named after the sound the penny (token) makes as it is thrown in a metal jar when a person wants to take the discard card instead of the top card in the stockpile. It differs from normal Contract Rummy in several ways.

  • Only sets of equal cards can be melded, not runs.
  • Discards can only be bought when it is your turn.
  • Players get a positive score for melded or laid off cards, from which points are subtracted for cards remaining in their hands.

Players and Cards

The game can be played with three or more players.

Tinkle is played with two standard decks of 52 cards, plus jokers. 5 or more players usually need 3 decks plus jokers. Each player also receives 10 tokens they can use to buy the discard card plus three from the stockpile.   It is very difficult to make two sets of 6 from only 13 cards so it is to each players advantage to have some tokens left over in the later rounds. Sometimes it is advantageous to take a loss of 65 points and not meld at all rather than spend too many tokens too early.

The Deal

There are eight rounds altogether. The first dealer is chosen randomly, and thereafter the turn to deal rotates clockwise. The deal itself is clockwise, one card at a time. In each round the players receive 13 cards each. If the dealer cuts exactly the number of cards he needs to deal 13 cards to each player plus 1 for the discard pile he/she gets 100 bonus points. The dealer gets 50 points if he deals out the 13 minus the discard card.

The remaining cards make up the stockpile, one card is turned up for the discard pile.

Object of the Game

The object of the game is to get the highest score by trying to get as many points on the table and by disposing of all one's cards by a combination of melding, laying off, and discarding. In order to do any melding or laying off, you must begin by fulfilling your contract for the round currently being played.

You are not allowed a final discard when going out. All cards must be melded or laid off. If you still have a discard card that you cannot lay off, you have to stay in for another turn. The scores are added up with the points in each player's hand counting against what the player has melded on the table.  The highest score wins.

The Contracts

 The contracts in each successive round are as the following.

  1.  One group of 3
  2.  Two Groups of 3
  3.  One Group of 4
  4.  Two Groups of 4
  5.  One Group of 5
  6.  Two Groups of 5
  7.  One Group of 6
  8.  Two Groups of 6

Jokers and two's are wild. You must always have more natural (or pure) cards than wild cards in a meld. The same applies to cards laid off on a meld by anothe player. For example when you lay off two Kings on another player's group you can only add one wild card to your own layoff.

The Play

The player to dealer's left takes the first turn. A turn consists of:

1. The Draw
The player must either draw the top card of the stock pile or take the top card of the discard pile. A player who chooses to draw a card from the discard pile must "tinkle", use up one of their tokens.  The player who tinkles also gets three cards from the stockpile. You are allowed to use up more than 1 token when you tinkle, for example buy 2 cards from the discard pile and get 6 cards from the stockpile, or buy 3 and get 9, etc.
2. Melding
To meld you have to fulfill the contract first. After you have melded, you can meld other groups of three or more and lay off to other players' groups in the same turn.   It is also allowed to pick up any of the cards that were layed down in the same turn, or use a wild in another group if that wild was put down on that turn. You are not allowed to redistribute any cards that were layed down in previous turns.
3. Laying off.
Laying off is adding cards to groups which have already been melded - both your own and those melded by your opponents. You may lay off only if you have already melded. You may lay off on the same turn in which you meld. There is no limit as to how many cards you may lay off in one turn. Laying off is optional - you are never obliged to lay off cards if you do not wish to.
4. The Discard.
At the end of your turn, unless you end the play by going out you must discard one card from your hand and place it face up on top of the discard pile. 

Play continues with players taking turns clockwise around the table until one person has got rid of all the cards from their hand or "goes out".   You may not discard to go out. 

It can occasionally happen that the stock pile runs out of cards. If a player wishes to draw a card when there are no cards left in the stock pile, then you take all the cards of the discard pile except the top one, shuffle them together, and place them face down to make a new stock. The top card of the old discard pile remains face up to start the new discard pile. Play then continues as before. It can also occasionally happen especially if most of the players saved their tokens for last that you may run out of cards altogether, you then need to introduce a new deck for the stockpile so the play can continue.

Scoring

When someone goes out by getting rid of all their cards, the play ends.   Cards on the table count against the cards remaining in their hands.

3 - 9 5 Points
10 and Face cards 10 Points
Ace 20 Points
Joker or 2 50 Points

At the end of the eighth and last round, the player with the highest total score wins.