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CINCH

CINCH is a game from the All fours family which was very fashionable in America before Bridge began to outs most other card games of the type. 

It has some of the attractions of Bridge, like the bidding, without all the conventions, and is a game of skill well worth playing.  It is also called Double Pedro and High Five.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS

Cinch is best as a game for four players, as described first, playing in two partnerships, with the partners sitting opposite each other.  It can be played by two to six players, and there are variants such as Auction Cinch, described later.

CARDS

The full pack of 52 cars is used.  Cards rank from Ace (high) to 2 (low), with the exception of the 5 of the same colour as the trump suit, which is also regarded as a trump and ranks between the 5 and 4.  For example, if clubs are trumps, the trump suit ranks as follows:
♣ A, K, Q, J , 10,  9 , 8, 7, 6, 5;  ♠ 5; ♣ 4, 3, 2

The 5 of the trump suit is called Right Pedro and the 5 of the same colour is called left Pedro.  Cards in the trump suit have  values to players winning them in tricks as follows: Right Pedro five points, Left Pedro five points, Ace (known as ‘high’) one point, 2 (known as ‘Low’) one point, Jack one point and 10 (known as ‘game’) one point.  on each deal there are thus 14 points at stake.

Players poker draw cards to determine partners, the two highest playing against the two lowest, the highest being dealer.  The dealer shuffles, and the player to his right cuts.The dealer deals nine cards to each player in threes, clockwise from his left.  The remaining cards are set aside face down for the moment they will be used later.

THE PLAY

The object is to take tricks containing the scoring cards, and the trump suit is decided by the side which undertakes to make the most tricks, so the next stage is a round of bidding.

Beginning with eldest hand (to dealer’s left), each player in turn makes a bid, or passes.  Each player is allowed only one bid.  A bid consists of the number of points that the player proposes to make in play, with his partner’s help.  He can decide which suit is to be trumps, but at the bidding stage he does No-Trumps announce the suit. 

The minimum bid is one, and the maximum is 14 (the total points available).  Once a player has bid, any subsequent bid must be for a higher number of points.

When the round of bidding has finished, the player who bid the highest names the trump suit (he is not allowed to consult with his partner, and no signals must pass between them). The side bidding highest has now contracted to make the stated number of points with the trump suit as specified.

As with Bridge, expert poker players have certain systems of bidding, of which the following is an example:
With a Pedro, bid five to show it.

With a, x,x, or A, x,x,x, bid six.
With A,K,J, x,x bid II.
With A,K,Q,x or better, bid 12

Should the first three players all pass, the dealer names the trump suit, but he is No-Trumps obliged to contract to make a certain number of points.

The trick-taking part of the game commences with each player holding six cards, so the next stage is one of discarding, but each player is given the opportunity to improve his hand by drawing new cards from the remaining pack.

Beginning with eldest hand, each player discards as many cards as he wishes, face up, and is given by dealer, face down, enough cards from the top of the pack to bring his hand up to six card. 

A player must make at least three discards (if he discards only three, he draws no new cards).  No player may discard a trump, unless he is dealt with seven or more, in which case he must discard at least one to bring his hand to six cards.

When it is dealer’s turn to discard, he simply ‘robs the pack’.  He is entitled to look at all the remaining poker cards and decide which he wishes to take into his hand and to discard accordingly. 

He announces how many cards he is taking but need not show his discards except that, should there be  more than six trumps in his hand and the pack, he must show the other players the trumps that he is forced to discard or not to take into his hand.

In practice, each player will keep all his trumps and usually discard all his non-trumps, because as all the point-scoring cards are trumps, it is impossible to win any points with a plain card.

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