Khanhoo

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Khanhoo
The Chinese Game of Khanhoo
Joker Khanhoo.JPG
The Joker
Origin China
Type Matching
Family Rummy
Players 2-8
Skill(s) required Tactics and strategy
Cards 61, 91, 121 up to 125
Play Clockwise
Playing time 20 min.
Random chance Medium
Related games
Canasta

Khanhoo is a non-partnership Chinese card game of draw-and-discard structure which may be as old as T'ienkeu ("Heaven and Nines"), revised in its rules and published in an authorized edition by Emperor Kao Tsung in 1130 AD for the information of his subjects. Meaning "watch the pot", it is very possibly the ancestor of all rummy games.[1]

Adapted to the western taste by Sir William Henry Wilkinson, British sinologist and Consul-General in China and Korea in the mid-1890s, it belongs to the same family as Mahjong and the mid-nineteenth century Mexican card game Conquian, whose name probably derives from the Chinese card game Kon Khin.

History[edit]

Terminology[edit]

Khanhoo, "Kanhǔ" (Pinyin: 看虎) or "Kanhú" (Pinyin: 看湖), seems to have its roots derived from a term in Mahjong, being Hu (和) a state where a player has a certain combined set of Mahjong tiles that turns out to be victorious. Winning is called hú (胡) in Chinese. Kanhu, which is phonetically related to Khanhoo, is one of the games with the terminological component Hu, there being many other games with the name Hu. The card games Mohu poker (默和牌) and Penghu poker (碰和牌) also bear the same terminology.

Evolution[edit]

Although Kanhu may be a simplified derivative form of Mǎ diào (马吊牌), Dohu, also known as Kanhu, was one of the gambling games during the Ming Dynasty. The game of Mǎ diào, also known as the Paper tiger, played with a 40-card deck and four flowers called Shiwanguan, Wanguan, Suozi, and Wenqian, not only emerged and prevailed during the Ming Dynasty, but also waned in the early Qing Dynasty. Despite the fact that there were over 30 revisions on the Great Qing Legal Code, which banned the game of Mǎ diào in 1740, the card players ignored the officials and the law code, and like this the game was slightly modified into another called Peng He Pai (碰和牌), as the number of cards doubled to 120 so that the set could then be played in the form of Kan (3 consecutive numbers), Peng (3 identical pieces) and Gand (4 identical pieces).[2]

Although the game of Mǎ diào is widely considered to be the first card game in Chinese history, researchers in the subject contradict this theory by saying that Yezixi (叶子戏), of the Tang Dynasty, is the first one. But this is again denied by other researchers seen that the game of Yezixi is asserted not to be based on paper cards, but instead on some other materials like bamboo. It has four derivatives: Dohu (斗虎) (Kanhu) (看虎), Che Zhang (扯张), Mo He Pai (默和牌) (Mohu) and Peng He Pai (碰和牌) (Penghu). Both games, Penghu and Mohu, flourished during the Qing Dynasty,[3] so that the game of Kanhu may probably have emerged after the beginning of Qing Dynasty and later evolved into the game of Mahjong, although this cannot be substantiated.

Chinese version[edit]

Suits[edit]

The King holding the 9

Known to the Chinese laborers as Káan ú, the game is played by two or more persons with one complete pack of one hundred and twenty cards. The three suits in the deck are:

  • Tsín - Chinese coins, of the lower denomination, called by the slang name of "ping" or "cakes", from one to nine.[4]
  • Sok - strings of one hundred of each of these same Chinese coins, called "strings", from one to nine.
  • Mán or "ten thousands of strings" of one thousand coins or kún, from one to nine, called mán, or ten thousands.

The three extra cards, which correspond more or less closely with the joker of our Euchre pack, are called:

  • Hung fá - "red flower".
  • Pák fá - "white flower".
  • Ló tsín - popularly described as "old thousand".[4]

Meldings[edit]

In the Chinese version of the game the following triplets are called ngán (eyes):

  • 1, 2 and 3 of cakes.
  • Red flower, old thousand and 9 of strings.
  • White flower, 9 of ten thousands and 8 of strings.
  • 1 of ten thousands, 1 of strings and 9 of cakes.
  • 2 of ten thousands, 2 of strings and 8 of cakes.
  • 3 of strings, 2 of ten thousands and 8 of cakes.
  • 3 of strings, 3 of ten thousands and 7 of cakes.

A winning hand must contain at least one of the above combinations called "eyes" and the remaining cards must be arranged in one or more combinations called pát tsz (boys), a sequence of three or more cards of the same suit, or three cards of the same rank. All aces, the red flower, white flower, and old thousand, may be added to these "eyes", to the sequences or triplets to form a winning hand.[4] The dealer is chosen by drawing a card from the pack and counting the players up to the number of the card drawn. The dealer deals the first card to himself and fourteen others to each of the players, so that in the end he has fifteen. As this is the number needed for a winning hand, and the dealer alone has this number, he is the only player with the chance to win on the cards dealt to him. Either he wins or discards one card to the player on his left who now has gythe chance to take that card or buy one from the stock to see if he wins or discards. The third player then has his turn of play and so on. The first to show a winning hand composed of "eyes", sequences and combinations, wins the game, usually played for money bet in a pot.[4]

English version[edit]

In 1891 Sir William induced the card maker Charles Goodall to issue a special pack of cards with accompanying booklet of rules to play Khanhoo. The deck contained two sets each of Ace through Nine of Hearts, Clubs and Diamonds, with two specially-designed Jacks, Queens and Kings standing in for the "extra cards" and two Jokers. As the years passed, his passion for the game became so great that in his last books he was designated as William "Khanhoo" Wilkinson,[5] as published in a collection of fascicles issued in Portugal and Brazil in 1997.

The Chinese game from which Sir William got his inspiration is called Káan ú and seems to have been widespread in China in the second half of the nineteenth century. In China it is played with four 30-card decks of "money cards," also called kun p'ai, or "stick cards."

Deck of cards[edit]

The kun p'ai pack can be adapted from two English 52-card decks, removing all cards ♠, except for the J's ♠, Q's ♠ and K's ♠, and the 10's, J's, Q's, K's , ♣, . Add one Joker and a Khanhoo 61-card deck will have been formed.

Game play[edit]

Distribute fifteen cards one by one or in batches of two or three to each player and stock the remaining cards face down to the table to form a stock pile. In turn, the first player draws, melds if possible and discards one face up to the table to form a waste pile. Then the next player draws, melds if possible and discards one to the table.[6]

If a thrown card suits any of the players, it must be melded immediately so that all the other players can see why that player needed that card.[6] But if a player draws a card from the stock pile, it needs not to be shown until he is able to lay all his cards at once.[6]

The aim of the game is to get rid of all cards by melding them. The first player to do so is granted 5 points and the first to reach a pre-agreed number of points, such as 50 or 100 points, wins the match,[7] which can be achieved in two, three or more rounds of games.[6]

Meldings[edit]

The Queen holding the 8 ♣
SCORES
Three A's, being two of the same suit Aces 1 point
Three cards or more of the same suit melded in sequence Sequence 1 point
Three cards of the same rank, each one from a different suit Triplet 2 points
Six cards of the same rank Double Triplet 10 points
J ♠, Q ♠, K ♠ Courts 3 points
J’s ♠, Q’s ♠, K’s ♠ Double Courts 10 points
J ♠ + 7's J's Royal Group 4 points
Q ♠ + 8's ♣ Q's Royal Group 4 points
K ♠ + 9's K’s Royal Group 4 points
A + 2 ♣ + 3 Khanhoo 5 points
A's + 2's ♣ + 3's Double Khanhoo 15 points

Scores[edit]

In a game of less than 5 players, the best possible hand would score 29 points (besides 5 for full hand): Double Khanhoo (15 points), any Double Triplet (10 points) and any one of the Royal Groups (4 points) equals 29 points.

The smallest possible score would be 2: Two sequences of 9 and 6 cards or two of 8 and 7 cards respectively. Though sequences score so little they are of great use in filling a hand. Not only does a long sequence take up a large proportion of the 15 cards, but a sequence of more than 3 cards is exceedingly useful, as either a card can be thrown away in order to declare full hand, or used in a triplet, without spoiling the sequence.

Settling[edit]

At the close of a game players may pay or receive the difference between their scores, as at Skat. Thus if A wins with 52 when B stands at 49, and C and D at 47 each, A receives 3 from B and 5 each from C and D, or 13 in all - B 2 each from C and D, 4 in all, less his 3 paid to A, or a net sum of 1. C and D pay in all 7 each, 5 to A and 2 to B, receiving nothing, as they tie for last place. Points may be anything, from counters to bank notes.

Penalties[edit]

The penalty for a misdeal is to be deducted from the dealer's score or added to that of each of his opponents, at the option of the latter. Dealing out of turn is not considered a misdeal, nor is the exposure of a card while dealing. In the former case the rightful dealer may claim the deal at any time before the first card is dealt; in the latter, the player whose card is exposed may call for a new deal.

In a three-to-four-hand game, a player calling "bump" may be challenged by any of his opponents to show his cards, and if the cards shown would not make a trick with the card thrown, 5 points are taken from his score or added to the score of each of his opponents, and the elder hand which effected the bump may take the trick into his hand as though he had not gained it by bumping. The cards shown by the offender are not, however, considered exposed and may be used to form tricks.

Strategy[edit]

Khanhoo is not only a game of chance, depending on the distribution of the cards or the sequence in which the cards are being drawn. It is also a game of skill and expertise, specially in a two-handed game.

Evaluation[edit]

  • Consider if you have too many pip cards to go for a quick knock or if you have top ones like the 7 , 8 ♣, 9 , A , 2 ♣, 3 , enough Courts or even a Joker to take the game further.

Memorization[edit]

  • Remember the cards that have already been played, so that you know which combinations can not be formed anymore.

Analysis[edit]

  • Take into account that during the play many top cards may be drawn from the stock pile or thrown by the other players, changing the course of your strategy. This will force you to decide which cards should be thrown and the implication of your decision.
  • Note that whomever knocks is granted 5 points and that may be crucial for the advantage in the game.
  • With three, four or more players, cards that might safely be thrown in the two-hand game are often dangerous because an opponent can now bump. In such games it is most advisable to hold the two 7's , the two 8's ♣ or the two 9's , since the chances are that someone will throw the J, Q or K (as the case may be), enabling you to bump.
  • The Joker is the most valuable card in the pack, since it may take the place of any card required, even of one all specimens of which have been played.
  • The deal is not necessarily an advantage to the dealer; hence the penalty for a misdeal is a fine and not the passing of the deal.

Variation[edit]

A variation of the game can be played by using three decks comprising 90 cards, plus two Jokers to form a new sequence of meldings.

The Jack holding the 7
SCORES
Nine A's, three of each suit Triple Aces 6 points
Nine cards of the same suit Triple Sequence 3 points
Nine cards of the same rank, three from each suit Triple Triplet 9 points
Three J’s ♠, Q’s ♠, K’s ♠ Triple Courts 12 points
Two J’s ♠ + 7 J's Reverse Group 4 points
Two Q's ♠ + 8 ♣ Q's Reverse Group 4 points
Two K's ♠ + 9 K's Reverse Group 4 points
Three J’s ♠ + three 7's J’s Triple Sequence 8 points
Three Q’s ♠ + three 8’s ♣ Q’s Triple Sequence 8 points
Three K’s ♠ + three 9’s K’s Triple Sequence 8 points
Three A's + three 2’s ♣ + three 3's Triple Khanhoo 25 points

Features[edit]

Deck

There are only three suits in the deck: Nine cards from Ace through Nine, six Courts and one Joker (One Joker in a 2-hand game or two in a 3-hand game), which can replace any card.

Special cards

Only the A , 2 ♣ and the 3 may be used to form a Khanhoo, and only the 7 , 8 ♣ and the 9 , with their respective Courts, may be used to form a Royal Group.

Deal

Players cut for the deal, the lowest card winning. Each player receives fifteen cards dealt one at a time or in batches of two or three. The player sitting left of the dealer receives one extra card and has the privilege of leading first. Where the number of players is 4 or 8, the player who cuts the highest card may, before the cards are dealt, elect to go "orphan". In this case he receives six cards dealt one at a time. Should he happen to be the original leader, he will receive an extra card making seven in all.[6]

Direction of play

The game of Khanhoo moves clockwise.[6]

Stock

All discarded cards are placed face upwards on the table in order of rejection, so that the previous-last card is covered by the last one played. When the stock is exhausted before a full hand is declared, the heap of rejected cards is turned over, so as to face downwards on the table, forming a new stock then.[6]

Bump

In a game for three players the possession of a thrown-out card may be claimed by the third player seated to the right of the player who discarded that card, once he can meld it immediately, after which the game proceeds in the order of play.[6] If four or more players take part in the game, two or more players may request the throw-out card once their meld, except for a "sequence", scores higher than any other, having preference to the card the player in the order of play sitting left to the player who discarded that card.[6] This action is called "bump" because one of the players is bumped by another.

Four-to-five-hand game

The four-hand game can also be played with one complete pack of 120 cards, plus one Joker.[6] If five or more play, up to five Jokers may be added,[6] each additional one increasing the element of chance in the game. The game proceeds exactly as in the case of three players.

Orphan Khanhoo

When four or more players take part in the game, the highest card may elect to go "orphan".[6] There will be then a stock of nine cards left. The game proceeds exactly as with three players, except that there are now two or more players who can bump, instead of one. But for the first and second players, either the third, fourth or the other players in the order of play may claim this privilege, the fourth player being subjected to the third and the third to the challenge of the second.[6] The superior trick, declared in number of points, gets the bump in whomsoever hand it may be, although with equal combinations the elder hand has the first right to bump in the order of play.[6]

Trio, Quartette and Cache

The following additions to the number of possible tricks may add an interesting feature to the game:

  • Trio: Three cards of the same suit and rank equals 6 points.[6]
  • Quartette: Four cards of the same suit and rank equals 12 points.[6]
  • Cache: When any of the players has a natural "trio" obtained without bumping, that player may place them face downwards on the table and declare them to be a "cache". Upon the fourth card being thrown by any of the other three players, he is then entitled to bump it and claim "Quartette by Cache", scoring in addition to the 12 points for quartette, 5 more for full hand.[6] The play ceases, counting begins and a new deal takes places, just as though he had knocked. A natural "quartette" also has this privilege, without the need for Cache.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sid Sackson, Card Games Around the World, pg. 7, Dover publications (1994), ISBN 0-486-28100-0
  2. ^ Sloperama. "History of Mah-Jongg". Sloperama.com. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  3. ^ CEFC. "La culture insolente du mah-jong. Le miroir d’une autre société chinoise". CEFC. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d Stuart Culin, The Game of Ma-Jong, vol. XI, pgs. 153-168, Brooklyn Museum Quarterly (1924).
  5. ^ (Portuguese) Colección por fascículos - Juegos de Cartas, Ediciones Altaya, Barcelona (1997), in cooperation with Naipes Heraclio Fournier, Vitoria, Spain.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Wilkinson, William Henry (1891). The Game of Khanhoo. London: Charles Goodall & Son. pp. 9–25.  OCLC 81622398
  7. ^ (German) Voigt, Claus (2006). Asiatische Spiele. Schlütersche. p. 92. ISBN 3899940431. 

External links[edit]