(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)

A problem can exist in the partnership changing arrangement if the player currently in 2nd place finds himself/herself partnered for this final deal with the player currently in first place.  It means that this player can never win, which is a bit dispiriting.   To overcome this the player currently in second place at the end of deal 9 can prior to the start of deal 10 ask for the normal partnership arrangement to be changed to:

  • The player currently in third place on the Score Sheet becomes 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, therefore, probably have to change seats for this final deal. 

(Ties are broken in favour of the player who had the higher score in the most recent deal.)

The Winner

The winner is the player with the highest score after 10 deals (or 11 deals if the variant is played).

© Derek Carver 2003, 2016

VARIANT:  Whilst one of the aims of the game was for each player to partner every other player it can be dispiriting if the second placed player at the end of deal 9 is partnered with the current leader, meaning he/she cannot possibly win.  So if players agree beforehand a second placed player at the end of deal 9 can request a special 11th deal.  For this deal players  sit round the table in the order of their scoring position at the end of deal 10 (ties being broken by going back up the scoring record until one was ahead) with the player in third position becoming the dealer whilst players 1 and 4 partner and 2 and 5 do the same.

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 card games 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 necessary 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 play 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

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Last updated: 14th October 2016