We have always been a family of card players. From the earliest days of my life, I was taught to play all manner of card games, and our evenings were often full of laughter and tantrums depending on the outcome for the particular player. Being the youngest, I never learned to play 500, unlike my elder siblings as it is a game for four people. This still burns to this day. “Suffering Tomcats” when the hand was not good or “it’s not a concert” if we started to sing, and “a fast game is a good game” when someone deliberated too long over which card to discard.
Some might say we are a competitive lot – it’s genetic, as we get it from Dear Old Dad. A running joke in the family is that when playing a particular card game, Dad would always read the scores out when he was winning; silent when not. So many happy memories of card games litter our conversations about the ‘good old days’. Victories and losses, points scored are remembered.
One of the games we played was, and is, cribbage – either two, three or four players. It is a fast paced game, combining skill and luck. It requires a pack of cards, a cribbage board, pegs to score, a good sense of humour , an ability to add up to 15 and 31, and a competitive spirit.
After Mum died and I started spending a lot of time with dad, we somehow started playing cribbage every day – it has become our ‘thing’ and we both look forward to our games. Dad more than me usually as he wins more games than me, the crafty old fox. In April 2011, I started keeping score – of who won, and the winning margin. I am now on to my second book.
We have had some hilarious times – a game consists of 121 points and the biggest winning margin belongs to me at 65 (two streets for those familiar with the game). Man, that was sweet! There have been games which have been so close the lead kept changing and the final score was one or two; games where one of us just didn’t get the ‘turn up’ to enhance our hands and games where we had hands with no points at all.
As of today, we have played a total of 1773 games of two-handed cribbage. There have been many three-handed and four handed games when other members of the family have been with us, but I have only kept the scores for our games. Of those 1773 games, Dad has won 919 to my 854, winning 65 games more than me. Which technically is not a lot over more than seven years. His total point score is 14993 to my 14510, giving a winning margin of 483, an average of only 7.4 per game. Just 12 months ago, the average was 9.5 so he is either losing his touch or I am getting better at it. It is definitely not the former.
We have played cribbage at his house, usually with Oscar, Prince of Cats for company, and using his father’s triangular cribbage board, until a lovely wooden board from his brother in Wales arrived.
We have played at my house with a second-rate board, but pegs from a velvet pouch. We have played in Townsville, Roma, Springsure, Woodgate on the deck at the beach house, and Sydney. We have played in restaurants, cafes and in hospitals.
Neither of us has scored the perfect score of 29, but have each, once in that 7.5 years, scored the next best thing of 28 – great excitement.
Dad once asked me if I thought we would ever stop playing and I said “only when one of us dies’, which sometimes I think may well be me, at the rate he is going.
Here’s to the next 1000 games. May I win most of them. And get ‘one for his hat’ more often than not.