Sasquatch Cribbage Board Game!

Today was the inaugural game on our new Sasquatch cribbage board. It’s a very handsome item, made of walnut by the maker, David Sprouse, in Ferndale, Washington. His website is 3MoonsMakerSpace and he markets the boards on Etsy. It was delivered only a couple of weeks ago. It came with pegs and deck of cards. It has a hole in the back for hanging on a wall, if you want.

We played the game to 61 just for the sake of brevity since the point was to show off the board itself.

I don’t know really what to make of Bigfoot stories. Many claim to have spotted the creature way out in places like Washington state and elsewhere. There are reports of a few sightings even in Iowa.

I wonder why you never find corpses or even fossils of Sasquatch? Probably because extraterrestrials beam them up too quickly in order to harvest the fur for throw rugs for their space ships. The usual problem, of course, is getting the smell of beef jerky out of them.

I Got Skunked in Cribbage!

It’s not common to get skunked in cribbage—but it happened to me yesterday. Sena has a way of getting very high scoring hands and this led to her winning the first of three games in a big way.

I was stuck well behind the skunk line. This led to some questions by both of us as to what exactly happens in a tournament when a player gets stuck behind the 91-hole on the peg board after the opponent reaches the winning 121 hole.

The American Cribbage Congress (ACC) website says the winner gets 2 points. I think that’s because the scoring in tournaments is done by points.

Other references say that the winner gets 2 games. That means something if you’re playing the best out of, say, 3 games and the like.

There is such a thing as a double skunk, which is getting stuck behind the 61-hole after the opponent reaches 121. Then the winning opponent wins 3 games.

Many cribbage boards will not mark where the skunk and double skunk holes are. Tournament board makers often don’t mark them—but will if you ask them to do so.

We have a so-called tournament V-tournament board which marks both skunk and double skunk lines. You can see the V-shaped track on it, which is supposed to help players avoid pegging errors.

This reminds me to mention the brand-new Sasquatch cribbage board we just ordered. It’ll be a hand-carved walnut board in a circular shape. Sasquatch will be carved in a deep 3-D relief. We are very excited about it. We hope it arrives around Christmas time. There will be no skunk lines.

By the way, I ended up winning two of three games because we typically ignore the skunk rule.

Cribbage Revival!

I ran across this article in the Portland Press Herald the other day about the renaissance of cribbage since the pandemic began a couple of years ago. It was about that time that Sena and I began again to play cribbage (in November of 2019 to be exact) after about 20 years hiatus.

We picked up the basic rules fairly quickly. It takes a while to master the game though. We are by no means masters.

In the story there is speculation that they can tell that there has been about a 20% increase in interest in cribbage because that’s about the rate at which new cribbage boards are being purchased. It’s assumed that once you have a cribbage board you don’t really want or need another one.

That’s not the case with me and Sena. We’ve purchased about a half a dozen over the last two years. To be sure, they’re not all boards. The Chicago Cribbage game variant doesn’t have a board with it but has several modifications of the rules as well as handsome cards. And we’re going to get a couple of cribbage board games, Kings Cribbage and CrossCribb.

The comments are very interesting below the story. One person claimed that his grandfather abruptly stopped teaching him cribbage when he got 29 scores in both the hand and the crib. Another commenter pointed out that this was mathematically impossible since you’d have to have more than 7 fives in the deck. Another commenter indicated that it was possible. I’m not sure what to say about the knowledge base of some cribbage players.

The story quotes David Aiken, a board member of the American Cribbage Congress (ACC) and editor of Cribbage World. He said that cribbage has been an older person’s game, for the most part. A lot of the cribbage clubs that had sponsored tournaments stopped hosting them. But that’s starting to turn around.

The story also says that cribbage takes a long time to learn and that it’s about equal parts luck and skill.

That got me to searching around on the web for other stories about cribbage and it finally led me to a story about a guy named Rollie Heath.

Rollie says the game is about 90% luck and about 15 percent skill. That’s pretty darn close to what another cribbage master said about the breakdown of luck and skill, Frank Lake. Rally mentioned the Theory of 26. This was invented by another cribbage master named DeLynn Colvert. I have Colvert’s book but have not read the chapter on the Theory of 26. Nor do I plan to, anytime soon. The gist of it is that luck controls most of the game and skill revolves around each player fighting over the 10 or so points that can actually be controlled by how you play the cards you’re dealt—I think.

Okay, okay, so I’ll read a little bit about Colvert’s 26 Theory to you. Colvert says, per hand that the non-dealer will peg on average 10.2 points. The dealer will peg 16.2 points per hand on average. Every two deals the average points add up to 26.4. Colvert goes on to say:

“The cribbage law of averages dictates that the dealer will win the game by scoring his crib hand on the 9th deal. The non-dealer will be about five (5.2) points short after counting first on the ninth hand. And this crucial five points will, on the average, caused the non-dealer to lose 56 games of 100 (skill levels being equal, of course). These averages are the foundation of the “Twenty Six Theory.”

I could probably sound real smart here by saying that nobody plays a purely statistical average game. But I’m not going to cop out. I’m just not smart enough to use the 26 Theory. More than anything, Sena and I play cribbage just for fun. I think that’s what most of us do.

On the other hand, Rollie Heath has been inducted into the ACC Hall of Fame. Maybe we should ask Rollie whether you can have 29 scores in both your hand and your crib.

Iowa State Map Cribbage Board Size Matters?

I wrote most of this post while waiting for our internet service to reconnect, which it finally did.  I’m pretty sure the wintry mix ice caused the outage night before last.

Despite the icy conditions yesterday, our Iowa State map cribbage board was delivered. One of the first things Sena said about it was, “I thought it would be bigger.”

This triggered a couple of memories. When we were on one of the tours around New York City in 2017, someone remarked on the size of the Ball in Times Square that drops on New Year’s Eve, saying it was smaller than she thought it would be. Apparently, this was the tour guide’s cue to deliver a few well-rehearsed jokes about size that all related to a man’s penis size—which I am not in the least sensitive about at all in any way, shape, form or size. Can we talk about the weather, please?

The other memory is the Men in Black II scene in which Agents K and J are grilling Frank the talking alien Pug about the whereabouts of The Galaxy (which is the best source of subatomic energy in the universe), which was small enough to fit inside a thumbnail-size jewel attached to the collar of a cat. While shaking Frank vigorously, Agent K demands that Frank tell him where The Galaxy is.

Anyway, the Iowa map cribbage board is smaller than our Jumbo board, but it’s a little bigger than the 29 board.

It’s made by D&D Custom Laser Designs. The name is lasered on a little cover which fits over the storage hole for the 4 wooden cribbage pegs. Below the name is “Custom Made & Designed in Randall MN, USA; In Loving Memory of Kevin Deick, Creator and Co-founder.”

I saw one review of the board on the web in which the reviewer expressed doubt that the maker knew anything about cribbage because the description indicates that it includes a pre-installed hanger so it can be used as a wall hanging. The hanger doesn’t interfere with it being used to play cribbage and the board even has small rounded feet in all four corners so you can set it on a table. And it does include pegs.

You can see the names of major and even small cities, the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, and major highways. It reminds me of places we’ve been and what we did in those places. We haven’t played a game on it yet, but we plan to make a video of that in the near future and post it on YouTube.

The Iowa cribbage board came wrapped in something we usually don’t see. It was a crumpled-up issue of a local newspaper in Minnesota. The board itself is made in Randall, Minnesota. The newspaper is the January 30, 2022 issue of the Morrison County Record.

I haven’t read a regular newspaper in a long time. The Morrison County Record has a lot of the features I remember from several newspapers like the Des Moines Register and the Globe Gazette (Mason City). I noticed a large column in a section titled “Religion.” I can’t remember the last time I saw a newspaper column like that. The title of the column was “In times like these we turn with trust to God,” with the caption Inspirational Message with a small drawing of a church and the byline was Tim Sumner, evidently the pastor of River of Hope Ministries, Little Falls. So, this newspaper was published in a place called Little Falls in Minnesota.

Little Falls is about 10 miles southeast of Randall.

Anyway, Pastor Sumner (I don’t know if that’s his title, but I’m hoping it’s safe to assume that) wrote what could be given as a Sunday sermon. Because this issue of the Morrison County Record was used as wrapping paper, I had to hold the ripped pieces of it together to read it. The link to the whole sermon on the web is here.

One quote from Sumner:

Today, we regularly face situations that bring us to a place of not knowing how we will get through, how we can survive. The future can look very bleak when we try to predict what will happen and we try to manipulate people and things to do what we think is best. And without trusting in the faithfulness of God to bring us through these situations, the future is bleak.

I have not thought about God in a very long time, but when I was a child, I read the Bible a lot. And I remember the pastor of our church, Reverend Glen Bandel, who was my family’s hero when he took care of mother when she was very sick, and welcomed us in their home when times were bad. Mason City’s local newspaper, the Globe Gazette ran a brief story about his life and ministry when he turned 90 years old a few years ago. You can read it once before the web site requires you to subscribe. It won’t tell you even a tenth of what I and most people feel about his kindness, courage, and wisdom. He has a heart the size of a galaxy.

The population of Randall, Minnesota is 625, and the population of Little Falls is 8,664 (as of 2019). Just because they’re small doesn’t mean they’re not important.

Can Cribbage Cultivate Congeniality?

Sena and I have been playing cribbage since late 2019. It’s a two-hander card game played on a board with pegs for keeping score. It’s been around for about 400 years and some have asked whether it’s a dying game, played mainly by codgers in retirement homes. The question is whether it can promote positive attributes like congeniality.

Actually, it’s a pretty popular game, especially for, some reason, in California where there are over 40 local cribbage clubs according to the American Cribbage Congress (ACC), the big boss organization in North America, established in 1980. Most states in the U.S. have only a few. Iowa has one in Ankeny.

If you look at the ACC website, you’ll find a section called the ACC Cribbage Club Code of Congeniality. It’s under the Clubs section. The wording is in some ways a bit ambiguous, probably because many of the members are very competitive. There are a lot of tournaments, including an annual Grand National. The most recent one was held in Sacramento in late September, just last month. Even though it’s a pretty big deal, attracting players from just about everywhere on the planet and possibly beyond, I can’t find out who the winner was from the website. Maybe that person is too congenial to brag.

Anyway, the ACC Code of Congeniality has a tone, for lack of a better word. For example, take this item:

“We pledge to not force new players to play a game in fifteen minutes. (We will, instead, be tolerant and not complain, remembering that we too, started slow.”)

Sena and I never can finish a game in 15 minutes, and we’ve been playing for going on a couple of years. That pledge as well as the others have an almost Mark Twain-like ring to them. It’s as though whoever wrote it was snickering behind her hand. Or maybe the ACC leadership got wind of a few complaints from new members who got horsewhipped for dragging the games out to 17 minutes or even longer. Actually, it’s the subtle sense of humor expressed in the Code of Congeniality that I appreciate.

The ACC also has a Code of Ethics which extols “true sportsmanship and respect for others, without rancor, animosity, or overwhelming self-interest during competition.”

The ACC publishes its tournament rules and it is to be contrasted with something called kitchen table cribbage. Except on my blog and YouTube video, you’re unlikely to find the term Kitchen Table Cribbage anywhere on the web.

There was a man named Peter Worden who traveled around the world, teaching people how to play cribbage, love it, and make new friends. His short documentary about his travels and adventures is called the Cribsionary. A photograph shows him hiding his face with his cards—I don’t know why. He says cribbage is 50% luck and 50% skill. There are those who have different opinions about that. He also says he likes the quotation:

It’s easy to agonize over such situations but quite profitless; sometimes one is faced with a scattered collection, at other times there’s an embarrassment of riches.

Peter Worden?

I could not find this quotation in its entirety anywhere on the web. Well, I found the “embarrassment of riches” part, the authorship of which seems to be in some doubt. This seems to capture how one feels about the hand one is dealt in a cribbage game—and perhaps in life. He doesn’t take credit for the quote, but I’m going to take a chance and give it to him.

Cribbage is a lot of fun and there are variety of handsome and even whimsical boards on which to score your points. The ACC prefers a special board for tournaments which makes it easier to avoid pegging mistakes.

We prefer a jumbo board (bigger numbers and pegs), but have played on one shaped like the number 29, the highest score you can make. The odds of getting that hand score are 1 in 216,580. You want to keep playing just to see if you ever get it. You’ll have a lot of fun on the quest.

It might also be a way to foster congeniality in society. We sure need it.

Cribbage Book Arrives

I finally got DeLynn Colvert’s book Play Winning Cribbage yesterday after it traveled a circuitous delivery route starting in Missoula, Montana, and seemingly stopping at several U.S. Postal Service carrier facilities along the way—some of them in the reverse direction from the destination.

The book is the 5th edition, updated as of 2015 (not 2018 as Amazon advertises). On the cover is, presumably, an illustration of Sir John Suckling, (who invented cribbage almost 400 years ago) holding a tournament cribbage board which was designed by Colvert himself. We have one in our small collection. He not only wrote the book but did all the illustrations as well. It was originally published in 1980. In a sense, it’s sort of a vintage item (like the old calculator next to it in the picture).

Tournament cribbage board

As the cover indicates, he was the No. 1 Ranked Player for 26 years, a 4-time National Champion, and was inducted into the Cribbage Hall of Fame in 1989.

I’ve just started reading it. It’s pretty entertaining. A cribbage master named Frank Lake once said cribbage is 85% luck. That’s from an Oregon news item published on line in 2005 in The Bulletin. Frank was 83 years old at the time and the story mentions Delynn Colvert who played cribbage with Frank for 20 years. Colvert said Frank was a good player although age was starting to take a toll on his game.

I’m not sure whether Colvert would have agreed with Lake’s opinion about how big a role luck plays in cribbage. He has many tips for improving skillful play and even came up with a special “Twenty-Six Theory” about the game. If applied consistently, the theory is said to improve a player’s winning average by 6%. It doesn’t sound like much, but if you’re into tournament play, it is the winning edge. I haven’t read that chapter yet and I don’t have aspirations to be a tournament player.

But perhaps you do?

Jumbo Cribbage Board Antics

Well, Sena and I played the official inaugural cribbage game on our new Jumbo Crib board from Ontario. That was a belated Valentine Day’s gift for us which Sena is only too happy to remind me about; but that’s OK, I deserve a little ribbing. You can get a sample of that from watching the video.

We have to stretch a bit more to reach across the table and the 8-inch-wide board. That’s good exercise. The 2-inch-tall pegs have a pleasing heft to them.

Making the video for our cribbage games is a big challenge. I think one of the best reasons for doing it is that we learn from our mistakes by watching them. We’re still rookies. It took us all day just to shoot a decent video—although it was fun to play. I’m pretty sure players out there will spot errors. Let us know what they are!

I just happened to come across an old newspaper article about a guy named Frank Lake who was a Grand Champion level player years ago. When the journalist interviewed him, he was around 83 years old—that was in 2005. Frank said that cribbage is “85% luck and 15% smarts.”

We think there has got to be more skill involved than that. Somebody once said that cribbage is a game which takes a few minutes to learn but a lifetime to master. At my rate, it’ll take more years than I have left in my lifetime just to learn.

Each game is different. In a two-hander, each player gets only 6 cards. The non-dealer ends up with only 4 after dropping two into the dealer’s crib. We take about 30 minutes to play a game, which is about half the time we took when we first started playing. I’ve read that you really can’t expect to play at the tournament level unless you can finish a game in 15 minutes. I doubt we’ll ever get there.

The Jumbo is the fourth cribbage board in our small collection. Frank Lake accumulated quite a few cribbage boards in his career, some of them trophies. I think he owned a collection of around twenty of them. One of them was in the shape of the state of Oregon. Hmmm…

The Geezer is Redeemed

Well, as far as this tardy Valentine’s Day gift is concerned, the Geezer is redeemed. The answer to the riddle in the 2/18/2020 post “I’m Late for Valentine’s Day” is a new Jumbo cribbage board (the Jumbo Crib).

This is the gift I forgot to order for our Valentine’s Day, which was a Canadian Hard Maple cribbage board. It arrived today from Ontario. It was shipped only this past Tuesday, so we were pleasantly surprised (almost shocked) that it arrived so quickly. It’s really big compared to our other cribbage boards.

The clues in the post a couple of days included a picture of us in rain gear at Niagara Falls, taken about 5 years ago. The picture of a bed of flowers in the shape of a Maple leaf with a bunch of falling Maple leaves was taken in Canada, just across the border.

Sena keeps telling me that she told me to order the board, but I honestly don’t remember her telling me that.

The board is made by Michaud Toys, a small, family-owned craft shop in Ontario not that far from the Niagara area. They are well-known for making excellent wooden toys, games, and puzzle boxes. They believe in family game night, which for me and Sena is almost every night.

I ordered it on Valentine’s Day, which was just last Friday. It shipped the very next Tuesday and we got it this morning.

It came with a nice storage bag, some metal pegs (2 inches long), a deck of cards, and a set of very accurate rules. It’s 27 ½” long and 8” wide. It’s great fun to play on.


It has a handy little cubby on the board which can hold the card deck, pegs, and rule booklet. This is covered by a cap which fits snugly over the hole and is secured by “powerful rare earth magnets.” They work. I can turn the board upside down and shake it—nothing pops out.

Jumbo Crib stuff

The rare earth magnets remind me of the 1970s soul music band, Rare Earth. I went to one of their concerts when I was a teenager and it was so loud that I think I suffered some mild but permanent hearing loss.

Maybe that’s why I didn’t hear Sena when she told me to order the cribbage board. Anyway, we’re celebrating!

29 Cribbage Board Antics

After a lot of encouragement from Sena, we got the 29-cribbage board. It’s a novelty board shaped like the very rare perfect 29 cribbage hand. You’re more likely to spot aliens in your back yard than to get a 29 hand—the odds are 1 in 216,580. See our 29 cribbage board antics in our YouTube video.

This is a follow up cribbage post, the most recent one being “Kitchen Table Cribbage” featuring our other new board, which was a v-tournament model.

We have a lot of fun playing cribbage and making the videos are a challenge, given that we’re still learning how to play. If we wait for the perfect video (meaning one without mistakes), it would be similar to waiting for the perfect 29 hand to show up.

On the cribbagecorner web site, there are interesting facts about the 29 hand probabilities. According to them, given the assumption that there’s a cribbage tournament somewhere in the United States almost daily, you should expect to see one 29 hand a year during tournament play.

One the other hand, there are many cribbage games, including kitchen table versions, occurring daily between commoners like us. Who knows how many 29 hands show up in all those unofficial competitions?

We’re not shy about comments from cribbage players helping us develop our skills. I suppose another way to do that would be to join a cribbage club. The American Cribbage Congress (ACC) sponsors the ACC Grass Roots organizations which has about 200 such clubs across North America.

Players in the ACC Grass Roots clubs compete to earn points for awards including being crowned champion and for getting 29 hand. There is one ACC Grass Roots club in Iowa and it’s in Ankeny. It’s called the Capital City 9-game club (given that most club members get together to play 9 games about once a week or so).

Just for the record, the capital city of Iowa is Des Moines. Ankeny is about 13 miles north of there. If we were to join the Capital City club, that would mean about a 2-hour drive from Iowa City. Since the season runs from September to May, we’d be driving in winter weather conditions sometimes.

If you earn enough lifetime milestone points in the ACC Grass Roots club, you can earn a trip to big tournaments such as the annual ACC Tournament of Champions, usually held in Reno, Nevada. However, the ACC announcement says the 2020 Grand National tournament XXXIX will be in Sacramento from September 22-27, 2020. The first-place trophy is a gold pan. The last time anybody from Iowa won it was in 1990. He was from Des Moines.

The obvious question is why isn’t there an ACC Grass Roots club in Iowa City? I don’t know if there is enough interest, frankly. I did see a small 29 cribbage board at a local hobby shop here. It fit in the palm of my hand. The one we just got works out better for us.

I just found out that National Cribbage Day is celebrated annually on February 10, which is just around the corner! February 10 happens to be the birthday of Sir John Suckling, the creator of cribbage in the early 17th century. He was also a poet. According to the Poetry Foundation web page for him, his poetry showed him to be a cynical party animal, womanizer, and gambler. He invented cribbage from an earlier game called Noddy and it was gambling game. I gather it’s still the only game that can be play in an English pub for money. Cribbage came to American with the first English settlers.

Can you tell we really like playing cribbage? Please, no wagering.

New Cribbage Board Delivered Before Christmas–Barely

We got our new cribbage board today—after ordering it on December 15, 2019 by Priority Mail through the United States Postal Service (USPS). It’s a handsome Cherry on Hickory base V Tournament board, although we were puzzled by the label on the box which indicates that it was a Priority Mail 3-Day delivery when it was anything but.

In fact, my wife, Sena, took it down to the post office to ask a few questions about the meaning of Priority Mail. Our expected date of delivery was changed several times. Initially, it was December 18th or 19th. That morphed into December 21st, 22nd, and finally the 23rd. We got a couple of email notices saying it was to be delivered by 8:00 PM, even on a Saturday when we knew the Post Office was closed. A 3-day delivery turned into a week, which the USPS charges us a little over $13 and then says there’s no guarantee.

Sena found out that even if you order it delivered by First Class, depending on the weight, it gets bumped to Priority Mail. I’m guessing you pay more for First Class, but it sounds like you might not necessarily be any better off. Moreover, the multiple changes in expected delivery dates were called “unusual.” The worker was sympathetic, but sympathy was all Sena got. Sena was lucky she didn’t get the postal service worker working with another customer in the line next to her. All that worker said was, “There are no guarantees!”

In fact, we interrupted a cribbage game today when we discovered the new board was delivered on our porch. I set up both boards to reflect the scores.

Cribbage game in progress…

I can see that it’s easier to play a two-handed game with fewer chances for mistakes in pegging on the new board. The tracks are further apart. Knocking over pegs was not uncommon on the old board—unintentional of course.

The metal pegs that came with the new board fit the holes perfectly and the stowaway hatch on the back for them were safe because of the snug fitting wooden cover.

As I’m finishing this post, our cribbage game which started this morning around 10:30 AM, sits on the dining room table unfinished on both boards. That’s because it’s close to 50 degrees outside and Sena is watering the lawn and the trees.

We might finish the game—but there are no guarantees. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year–that’s a priority!

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