Dan Barlow - Tip #2
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The number of possible cribbage hands is far from infinite: in
fact, you probably hold onto the same four cards, or very similar
cards, several times per evening, and sometimes two or even three
times in the same game. If you always play the same cards the same
way and your opponent is alert enough to notice this, he or she can
take advantage of your predictability. In a tournament, where you
play one game against each of several opponents, you donít have time
to notice anyoneís habits, but at home most of us have a few
opponents we play regularly. As time passes, you should grow more
familiar with your frequent opponentís habits.
If you always lead from your pair, your opponent will become more
and more reluctant to pair your opening lead. Save the pair
occasionally, hoping he or she will become less cautious later in
the play. If you always lead the 3 from the
3-2, hoping your opponent will play a face card, he or she
will feel perfectly safe playing a face card if you ever lead a
deuce. If you always lead the 6 from 6-9
and you suddenly lead a 9, your opponent will deduce
that you have no 6.
Insofar as the 6 is the better lead from 6-9
and the 3 is the better lead from the 3-2,
you wonít want to deviate especially often, but an occasional change
of strategy, perhaps when the game isnít very close, will keep your
opponent guessing. And this works both ways. If you observe that
your frequent opponent always plays the same cards the same way, you
may be able to use this information to steal a few holes now and
Thereís another aspect of pegging Iíd like to bring up, if only to
clear up a matter which may or may not be covered by ACC rules. In
bridge, there is a very strict code of ethics. Players are expected
to play each of their cards in the same tempo. True, players
sometimes have problems which force them to pause and think for a
few moments, but it would be highly unethical if, say, spades
had been led, to pause as if you had something to think about, if in
fact you held only one spade. This would be a blatant attempt to
trick your opponent into believing you had more than one spade and
were trying to decide which one to play.
Similar situations arise during the play of a cribbage hand. Suppose
you and your opponent have each played two cards, the count has
reached 31, and you must now lead from a pair of deuces. Your
opponent, holding a 2-7, will have to decide whether
or not to pair your deuce, a decision which should be based on what
he or she has seen of your hand so far, the position of the game,
and whether he or she feels the gain is worth the risk.
Is it ethical to try to convince your opponent you donít have a pair
by pausing, pretending you are thinking about which card to lead,
when in fact you have no choice? Or, holding 4-10,
with the count at 25, is it ethical to pause to think about your
play, in an effort to convince your opponent that you hold two cards
lower than a 7?
In bridge, such pauses might bring a call to the tournament director
from your opponents but, of course, cribbage is not bridge. If
trickery is not unethical or ungentlemanly in cribbage, it becomes
good strategy to do and even say anything to convince your opponent
that you have something you actually don't have.
- Text copyright © 2002 by Dan Barlow. All rights reserved.
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