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Dan Barlow - Tip #19

Always play it out

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Unlike our past articles, this one involves no discussion of strategy, but you may find it entertaining. As for how much of it is true, your guess is as good as mine.

Twenty years ago, a few months after my grandfather taught me to play cribbage, I attempted to concede a game to him. He had two holes to go, I had twenty-eight, and it was his first count.

"Before you concede," he said, "let me tell you a little story. Back during World War One, my company held a cribbage tournament, and I made it to the finals. It was best of five, and with the score tied at two, I was twenty-six holes from winning, while my opponent was in the dead hole with first count. I dealt myself 3-4-4-4-7-Q, and kept the 4-4-4-7, my only hope for a 24 hand. Before the cut, my opponent said, I've got a pair, in case you want to concede.

Let's play it out, I told him. He shrugged, and cut the cards -- a J instead of the 4 I needed. I took my two holes, and he led an 8. I played my 7 for 15, and he played a 4! No wonder it hadn't been cut! I paired him to make the count 23, and he said Go! He had a pair of 10s left! Of course I played 27 for six, and 31 for fourteen, winning the game! Now, you can still concede this game if you want, but..."

"I don't believe a word of that," I told my grandfather, "but I get the point. Let's play it out." We did, and I actually kept him from pegging a single hole, before he laid down a 24 hand.

- Text copyright © 2002 by Dan Barlow. All rights reserved.

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