Learn how to play Chinchon (the Spanish card game)

Some barajas cards from the Spanish card game Chinchon
Chinchon is a popular Spanish card game.

It's played with with Barajas Españolas (Spanish playing cards) and is great fun for young and old.

It's easy to learn and great for a 'Spanish' evening (don't forget the tortilla, paella and sangria).

example cards from the Spanish pack Barajas used for Chinchon
Some example cards form the Spanish playing card deck "Barajas", used for Chinchon.

Rules for Chinchon:

  • Chinchon is a game for 3+ players, use 1 pack per 4 players.
  • The object of Chinchon is to get the lowest score possible.
  • Each card has a point value equal to the number on the card:
    • eg- 1=1 point, 2= 2 points etc, except the 10,11,12 and Joker, all equal 10 points.
  • The joker is a wild card and can be played as if it were any other card.

Chinchon, Play:

  • The dealer shuffles the cards and offers the pack to the player on his/her left to ‘cut the pack’ (split the pack in two and put it back together with the top half now on the bottom
  • The dealer deals seven cards to each player. In Chinchon dealing is done anticlockwise (this is the way Spanish people play cards)
  • After dealing, the dealer puts the pack in the center of the table and turns the top card face up next to the pack.
  • Play starts with the player to the right of the dealer and proceeds anticlockwise.
  • The aim of Chinchon is to make sets of cards. When 3 or 4 cards match, they are a set and are then considered ‘safe’ (that means they don't score any points - this is good). A ‘set’ can be made of cards that have the same number regardless of the suits (i.e. 4 cards with the number 7), or cards in a straight (in a sequence) of the same suit (for example 1,2,3 of coins, or 8,9,10,11 or cups)
Examples of possible safe sets 'of a kind'
Examples of possible safe sets - All numbers the same regardless of suit.
Example of possible safe set in Chinchon - a straight
Example of possible safe set in Chinchon - A straight.
  • The player whose turn it is can choose to pick up either the face up card off the table or the top (face down) card off the pack.
  • After a player has picked up a card, she/he must throw out one card face up on the
  • face up pile.
  • When a player has two “safe” sets, and his/her last card is 3 or lower, she/he may ‘go out’. For example: If you have two safe sets, one is 3,4,5 of swords, the other is three 8’s, but the seventh card is a five, you may not ‘go out’ until you pick up a three or less or another card which matches either set.
  • When you have two safe sets, one with three cards, the other with four, this is called a “minus ten” and scores -10 points. Eg. a hand with four 5’s and three 12’s.
  • To “go out” throw you last card face down on the face up pile. The round is then over.
  • ‘Going out’ is not allowed on the first round.

Chinchon, Scoring:

  • In Chinchon, when a player has gone out the round ends and all players count their scores.
  • Points are given for each card that is not safe.
  • Safe cards score zero points.
  • In the case that someone goes out with a “minus ten”, they score -10 points and all other players count the points for their cards which aren’t safe.
  • If the player who goes out does not have a “minus ten”, then players may throw out any cards which match the other players safe sets. This must be done in turn. You may only add to other peoples safe sets, players may not combine single cards and pairs to make new safe sets.
  • In Chinchon you cannot have more than 100 points. When the first player gets 101 points or more, the game is finished and the player with the lowest score wins.

NOTE: If a player has a seven card straight without the joker (eg: 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 of swords)
she/he has “CHINCHON” and automatically wins the entire game (regardless of points)

UPDATE: Additional information about safe sets. You keep the safe sets in your hand while you play. You only show your cards at the end of the round when someone "goes out" with either a minus ten or if they have two safe sets and one card with of value three or lower. Of course as soon as you have a safe set in your hand (when you get the third matching card) you can continue playing to try and get one safe set with four cards in order to get a minus ten. You alone choose if you want to "go out" with two safe sets of three cards or try and keep playing to get a minus ten.

Posted in Spain