1902 Encyclopedia > Cribbage


CRIBBAGE, a game at cards, of uncertain etymology. A very similar game called noddy was formerly played : the game was fifteen or twenty-one up, marked with counters, occasionally by means of a noddy board. Cribbage seems to be an improved form of noddy.
A complete pack of fifty-two cards is required, and a cribbage board and four pegs. The board is drilled with sixty holes for each player (see diagram), and one hole

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Cribbage Board.
(called the game hole), common to both. The divisions into spaces of ten holes each are to facilitate counting. The game is marked by inserting the pegs in the holes, commencing with the outer row at the game-hole end, and going up the board. When the thirtieth hole is reached the player comes down the board, using the inner row of holes. The pegs belonging to one player should differ in colour from those belonging to the other. When one peg has been used, and another score is made by the same player, the second peg of the same colour is asserted ahead of the first, according to the number of holes to be scored. This peg is called the foremost peg, the other the hindmost peg. When a fresh score accrues the hindmost peg is taken out and placed in front of the foremost (which now becomes the hindmost), and so on until one player scores sixty-one holes or more, when he wins, and places his foremost peg in the game hole. If the losing player fails to obtain thirty holes his adversary wins a double when so agreed.
The game may be played by two players, five or six cards being dealt to each, and each putting out two for crib; or by three players (with an extra board), five cards being dealt to each, each putting out one for crib, and a card from the top of the pack being dealt to complete the crib ; or by four players (two being partners against the other two, sitting and playing as at whist, and one partner scoring for both), five cards being dealt to each, and each putting out one card for crib. Two-handed five-card cribbage is the most scientific game. It is played in the following manner.
The players cut for deal. In cutting, whether for deal, to the dealer, or for start, at least four cards must be cut, and at least four left in the bottom packet. The player who cuts the lower card deals. The cards rank king (highest), queen, knave, ten, down to the ace (lowest). At the two-handed five-card game only, the non-dealer is entitled to score three holes (called three for last) at any time during the game. Three for last is usually scored while the dealer is dealing the first hand.
The non-dealer cuts the pack ; the dealer re-unites the packets, and gives one card to his adversary, and then one to himself, and so on alternately until each has five cards. The undealt portion of the pack is placed face downwards on the table.
The players then look at their hands and lay out, each putting two cards face downwards on the table, on the side of the board nearest to the dealer. The four cards so laid out are called the crib. A player must not take back into his hand a card he has laid out, nor must the crib be touched during the play of the hand.
After laying out, the non-dealer cuts the pack (when more than two play, the player to the dealer's left) and the dealer turns up the top card of the lower packet, called the start. If the start is a knave the dealer marks two (called two for his heels). The score is forfeited if not marked before the dealer plays a card.
The hands are then played. The non-dealer lays face upwards on the table on his side of the board any care1

from his hand he pleases ; the dealer then does the same on his side of the board, and so on alternately. When more than two play, the player to the leader's left plays the second card, and so on round to the dealer. As soon as the first card is laid down the player calls out the number of pips on it ; if a picture card, ten. When the second card is laid down, the player calls out the sum of the pips on the two cards played, and so on until all the cards are played, or until neither player has a card which will come in, i.e., which can be played without passing the number thirty-one. If one player has a card or cards that will come in and the other has not, he is at liberty to play them; at the six-card game he is bound to play as long as they can come in. When more than two play, the player next in rotation is bound to play, and so on until no one can come in. At the two-handed five-card game, when neither can come in the play is at an end; but at the other games the cards already played are turned face down, and the remainder of the hands are played in rotation, and so on until all the cards are played out.
The object of the play is to make pairs, fifteens, sequences, or the go, or to prevent the adversary from scoring. Flushes formerly counted in play; but now they do not.
Pairs.—If a card is put down of the same denomination as the one last played, the player pairing is entitled to score two holes. If a third card of the same denomination is next played a pair royal is made, and the maker of the pair royal is entitled to score six holes. If a fourth card of the same denomination is next played, twelve holes are similarly scored for the double pair royal. Kings pair only with kings, queens with queens, and so on with knaves and tens, notwithstanding that they are all tenth cards in play, i.e., that the number called when playing any of them is ten.
Fifteens. —If either player during the play reaches fifteen exactly, by reckoning the pips and tens of all the played cards, he is entitled to mark two.
Sequences. — If during the play of the hand three or more cards are consecutively played which make an ascending or descending sequence, the maker of the sequence marks one hole for each card forming the sequence or run. King, queen, knave, and ten reckon in sequence in this order, notwithstanding that they are all tenth cards in play. The other cards reckon in sequence according to the number of their pips. The ace is not in sequence with king, queen. If one player obtains a run of three, and his adversary puts down a card that is in sequence, he marks four, and so on. And, be it observed, if there is a break in the sequence, and the break is filled up during the play, without the intervention of a card not in sequence, the player of the card that fills the break scores a run. An example will render this clear. The cards are played in this order (A playing the first card, B the second, and so on alternately),
^ ? ^ ^ A gets a run of three, B a run of four. Had B's last
4, 3, 2, ace. ° '
card been a five he would similarly have scored a run of four, as there is no break. Had B's last card been a four, he would have scored a run of three. The cards need not be played in order; it is sufficient that the card last played completes a sequence, although it may be an intermediate card. Thus the cards being played in this ABABA
order, 4 _? 5 3 Q B marks a run of four for his last card played,
A a run of five. But suppose the cards played thus, 4 2 5 3 5 6
B takes a run of four for the fourth card played, but there is no run for any one else, as the second five (which forms no part of the sequence) intervenes. Again, if the cards at six-card eribbage are
thus played, ^Too'^^o^"^' A takes a run-of three, B
1 J ' 4, 2, 3, ace 5, 2, 4, ace, '
a run of four, A a run of five. B then playing the deuce has no
run, as the deuce he previously played intervenes. A then makes
a run of five, and lastly B has no run, the ace previously played
blocking the three.
The go, end hole, or last card is scored by the player who
approaches most nearly to thirty-one during the play, and entitles
to a score of one. If thirty-one is reached exactly, it is a go of two
instead of one.
Compound Scores.—If often happens that more than one of the above scores are made at the same time, when the player reckons both. Thus a player pairing with the last card that will come in scores both pair and go. Similarly a pair and a fifteen, or a sequence and a fifteen, can be reckoned together.
When the play is over, the hands are shown and counted aloud. The non-dealer has first show, and scores first ; the dealer afterwards counts and scores what he has in hand and then what he has in crib. In counting the hands and crib, the start is made use of by both players to assist in forming combinations.
The combinations in hand or crib which entitle to a score are fifteens, pairs or pairs royal, sequences, flushes, and his nob.
Fifteens.—All the different cards that, taken together, make fifteen exactly, without counting all the same cards twice over in one fif-teen, entitle the holder to a score of two. Tenth cards count ten towards a fifteen. For example a tenth card and a five reckon two, or fifteen-two as it is often called. Another five in the hand or turned up, would again combine with the tenth card, and entitle to another fifteen, or fifteen -four, if the other cards were a two and a three, two other fifteens would be counted,—one for the combina-tion of the three and two with the tenth card, and one for the combination of the two fives with the three and two. Similarly, two tenth cards and two fives reckon fifteen-eight ; a nine and three threes give three different combinations, and reckon fifteen-six ; and so on for other cards.
Pairs.—Pairs are reckoned as in ploy.
Sequences.—Three or more cards in sequence count, as in play one for each card. If one sequence card can be substituted for an-other of the same denomination, the sequence reckons again. For example 3, 4, 5, and a 3 turned up, reckon two sequences of three. At the six-card game or in crib, with another 3 there would be three sequences of three, and so on for all cards that can make a fresh combination.
Flushes. — If all the cards in hand are of the same suit, one is reckoned for each card. If the start is also of the same suit, one is reckoned for that also. In crib, no flush is reckoned, unless the start is of the same suit as the cards in crib.
Sis nob.—If a player holds the knave of the suit turned up he counts one for his nob.
A couple of examples will render the counting clear. Say the crib consists of 6, 7, 7, 8, 8. The score would be four fif-teens (eight), two pairs (four), four sequences of three (twelve) ; total twenty-four. Again, a hand of 4, 5, 6 (same suit) and a 5 turned up counts two fifteens (four), a pair (two), two sequences of three (six), and a flush (three) ; total fifteen.
The points accrue in the following order:—two for his heels; points made in play as soon as declared; non-dealer's show ; dealer's show (hand and crib).
After the points in hand and crib are reckoned, the cards are put together and shufiled, and the opponent of the last dealer deals, and so on alternately until the game is won.
HINTS TO PLAYERS.—In laying out, the non-dealer should discard such cards as are not likely to score in crib ; the dealer should put out good cards for his own crib. It is so important to baulk the crib that the non-dealer should often sacrifice scores in his own hand. Thus with queen, knave, ten, four, ace, the dealer should put out the four and the ace; the non-dealer the queen and ten. But towards the end of the game, if the non-dealer has cards that will probably take him out, the consideration of baulking the crib need not influence him. The best baulks are a king or an ace, as those cards only reckon one way ii. sequences. King with ten, nine (best baulk), eight, seven, six, or ace, are good baulks ; so is queen, with any of these cards except the ten. Next to these wide even cards are good baulks (even cards being less likely to score in fifteens than odd ones); and lastly cards that are not in sequence. Two cards of the same suit should not be put out by the non-dealer if there is as good a discard of cards of different suits. The best cards for the dealer to put out (and therefore those to be avoided by the non-dealer), are fives, five and six, five and a tenth card, three and two, seven and eight, four and one, nine and six, pairs (especially low pairs), and close cards. It is generally right to keep a sequence in hand, as if the start is of the same denomina-tion as one of those kept, the dealer reckons eight at least. A pair royal is a good hand to keep.
In playing, the best card to begin with is ace, two, three, or four, as the only chance of an adverse score is by pairing,

and pairing is always dangerous on account of the possibility of its being capped by a pair royal. Pairing is often declined, as it is common to open the play with a card of which a duplicate is held (except with two fives). When leading from a sequence, the middle card should not be led. If a close card is played to the one led it often happens that the adversary wishes a run of three to be made against him, he holding a card that will complete a run of four. Having the choice of pairing or of making fifteen, prefer the latter; but if a seven or eight is led, and a fifteen is made, the adversary has the chance of a run of three. During the play, a four should not be added to a call of seven (making eleven), as if paired the opponent scores four. All similar combinations should be avoided, as twelve made with a three, twenty-seven with a four, twenty-eight with a three, and twenty-one with any card, as then a tenth card (of which there are sixteen) conies in for two. It is very desirable to win the go, as this makes a difference of at least two to the score in each deal. The best chance of winning the go with two low cards and a high one is to begin with a low card, with two high cards and a low one to begin with a high one. The dealer has the best chance of making the go.
The most important guide to the play is the score. The player who is ahead in the game should endeavour to keep so by playing wide cards, declining pairs, and declining to make fifteen with close cards. This is called playing off. The one who is behind in the game should play on, i.e., score whenever he can, running the risk of a larger score being made against him. To calculate whether to play on or play off, the average points scored should be kept in mind. Each player ought to reckon slightly over six in hand and play and five in crib, or seventeen and a half in two deals to be at home. A player who scores more than the average and leaves his adversary six or seven points in arrear is safe at home. When at home it is best to play off; when the adversary is safe at home it is best to play on.
Near the end of the game and wanting points in play to play out, it is advisable to keep two low cards and one high one.
At six-card cribbage it is not so important to baulk the crib as at five-card. The average scores are twelve for the non-dealer, seventeen for the dealer. At the end of the second deal a player is at home at twenty-nine holes. In the first deal it is an advantage to exceed the average, consequently both players with fair hands should play on ; but with poor hands they should play off.
LAWS.—Cutting.—1. There must he a fresh cut for deal after every game, unless rubbers are played. 2. If in cutting for deal or start more than one card is exposed, adversary may choose which card he pleases. 3. Errors in cutting to the dealer neces-sitate afresh cut. Dealing.—4. Cards must be dealt by one at a time. If two are dealt together, error may be rectified, if it can be done by moving one card only ; otherwise non-dealer marks two holes, and there must be a fresh deal. 5. If dealer exposes his own cards, no penalty. 6. Faced card in pack necessitates a fresh deal. 7. Player dealing out of turn, error can be recti-fied prior to start being turned up ; otherwise not. 8. Non-dealer marks two holes, and has the option of a fresh deal—(a) if dealer exposes any of non-dealer's cards, and (b) if dealer gives too many or too few cards to either player. In b eases non-dealer may look at his hand before electing; if he elects to stand the deal when he has a surplus card he returns a card unshown to the pack ; if, when the dealer has a surplus card, he draws one and looks at it; if when either has too few cards, imperfect hand is com-pleted from pack. Laying out.—9. If either player lays out when he holds too many cards, adversary marks two holes, and has option of afresh deal. If ho stands the deal he draws surplus card from offender's hand and looks at it. 10. If either player lays out with too few cards he must play with his hand short. 11. If a player takes back a card laid out, adversary marks two holes, and has option of fresh deal. 12. Crib must not be touched before hand is played. Playing.—13. Player playing with too many cards, same penalty as in law 9. Playing with too few cards, no penalty. 14. Card once played that will come in cannot be taken up again. Card that will not come in shown in play, no penalty.
15. If two cards are played together the one counted is deemed to
be played. 16. If a player at six-card cribbage or at three or four
handed cribbage neglects to play a card that will come in, adver-
sary may require it to be played, or may mark two holes. 17.
Miscounting during play no penalty. Showing and scoring.—
18. When reckoning, cards must remain exposed until adversary
is satisfied. If a player mixes his cards with the pack, or hand and
crib together, before adversary is satisfied, he forfeits score. 19. If
a player scores more than he is entitled to, adversary may correct
his score, and add points overscored to his own. This law applies
also to placing peg in game hole in error. Scoring two few,
no penalty. Player is not entitled to any assistance in reckoning.
20. If a player touches his opponent's pegs except to correct an
overscore, or touches his own pegs when he has no score to make,
his adversary marks two holes. 21. If a player displaces his fore-
most peg he must put it behind the other. If he displaces both,
adversary may place hindmost peg where he believes it to have
been, and the other peg behind it. (H. J.)

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