History of Rummy
Are you a rummy fan? Did you know that the card game you love has a long and illustrious history? We should
all know about how rummy originated. So, the next time you catch up with your friends for a set of rummy games,
you can impress them with your extensive knowledge about rummy history.
Searching for the Origins of Rummy
Just like most other games, much research has been done into the origins of rummy by games historians. Researching
the history of a sport reveals a lot about the people and social customs of the era. And, since rummy has always been
extremely popular among the masses, the history of rummy is of particular interest to historians.
One such scholar who has done extensive research into the history of rummy is David Parlett. He is undoubtedly one of
the foremost game history scholars in the world specializing in the background of the board and card games. He has
penned a number of books on the history of games. In his “A Dictionary of Card Games” and “The Penguin Book of Card
Games”, he has delved into the history of rummy.
He is the first scholar who found a link between rummy and the Spanish card game, Conquian. In fact, Conquian might
be rummy's most direct ancestor. Even though it originated in Spain, it took form and evolved to the early versions
of rummy in Mexico when the Spanish immigrants arrived in the Americas in the 19th century. When the immigrants
began moving north, Conquian reached the United States and Canada.
Conquian and Rummy
Conquian may have arrived in Mexico in the 19th century, but it originated earlier. Most probably, it originated 400 years
ago. The reason Conquian is believed to be the direct ancestor of rummy is that the basic rules of both games are the
same. There are two stacks - the stockpile from which cards are drawn and a waste pile into which cards that are not
needed are discarded.
As Conquian traveled the length and breadth of the Americas, people began to put their own spin on the card game and
Rummy's Asian link
Even though rummy shares the most likeness with Conquian, we can trace the history of rummy further back in time and
to a different continent. David Parlett believes that Conquian and hence, rummy developed from Chinese card games -
Kon Khin and Khanhoo. Another ancient Chinese game with which rummy shares a striking similarity is Mahjong. In both
games, cards or tiles have to be arranged in a particular order. There is another game called Hanafuda that
originated in Japan may also have influenced the development of rummy. It is believed that rummy developed when
European countries began to trade with Asian countries and there was an extensive cultural interchange between the
How did rummy acquire its name?
Have you wondered how rummy came to be called rummy? One theory that explains its name is that when rummy arrived in
Britain, people found the game very odd. ’Rhum‚ is a colloquial word that means strange. Another theory
rummy descended from whiskey poker or rum poker and hence, the name rummy.
Yet another theory believes the name originated in the Netherlands. ’Roemer‚ in Dutch means glass drinking vessel. It
was customary for the person who lost the game of cards to purchase drinks for everyone else.
Rummy in India gained popularity since the mid-20th century. Indian rummy is a hybrid of gin rummy and rummy 500,
both of which took shape in the United States.
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