Tianjiu is a Chinese trick-taking gambling
Gambling is the wagering of money or something of material value on an event with an uncertain outcome with the primary intent of winning additional money and/or material goods...
A game is structured playing, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes used as an educational tool. Games are distinct from work, which is usually carried out for remuneration, and from art, which is more often an expression of aesthetic or ideological elements...
for 4 players.
The game is played with a set of Chinese dominoes
Chinese dominoes are used in several tile-based games, namely, Tien Gow, Pai Gow, Che Deng, Tiu U and Kap Tai Shap. In Cantonese they are called 骨牌 "Gwat Pai", which literally means "bone tiles", it is also the name of a northern Chinese game, where the rules are quite different from the southern...
"Tianjiu" means literally heaven and nine. It is sometimes spelt t'ien-kiu, tien gow or tin kau.
Heaven is the top rank tile of the civilian suit;
Nine is the top rank tile of the military suit of the domino set.
The game of tianjiu is quite different from pai gow
Pai gow is a Chinese gambling game, played with a set of Chinese dominoes. Pai gow is played in unsanctioned casinos in most Chinese communities...
. The only similarities are the tiles set and the names of the tiles. It is analogous to comparing the games of poker
Poker is a family of card games that share betting rules and usually hand rankings. Poker games differ in how the cards are dealt, how hands may be formed, whether the high or low hand wins the pot in a showdown , limits on bet sizes, and how many rounds of betting are allowed.In most modern poker...
Contract bridge, usually known simply as bridge, is a trick-taking card game using a standard deck of 52 playing cards played by four players in two competing partnerships with partners sitting opposite each other around a small table...
. Pai gow is more like poker where the players compare which hand has a higher rank. Tianjiu is more like playing bridge with no trump suit and no partner, except that the number of tricks taken does not determine the winner. The player who takes the last trick is the winner of tianjiu.
There are complex rules to the game play and scoring. There is an accumulating multiplier to the winning and loss as the game proceeds. Since the last trick determines who collects the winning, the players need to rely on luck and strategies to save the strong hand to the last trick. It is a very challenging game to learn and master. Only a small number of Chinese people still know how to play this game.
- Pai GowPai GowPai gow is a Chinese gambling game, played with a set of Chinese dominoes. Pai gow is played in unsanctioned casinos in most Chinese communities...
- Che DengChe DengChe Deng literally means diagonal nails in Cantonese. It is the name of a Chinese game that plays with the Chinese dominoes set.Che refers to the diagonal pattern of the "three" pip on the tile....
- Excerpt from Wilkinson's book Chinese Origin of Playing Cards
- A contemporary description
- Tien Gow rules