Things usually start getting busy at the cribbage tables inside the Hobby Hall at the Washington State Fair about 2 p.m.
“People are tired of walking around, and they’ll come here,” said Harley Miedema, a member of the Vashon Island 29 Club and veteran of the fair’s cribbage challenge.
For nonplayers, 29 is the highest score a cribbage hand can attain, and the cribbage challenge, under the umbrella of the American Cribbage Congress, has been a regular feature at the fair.
At the challenge, up to six cribbage experts sit on one side of a table. Passers-by with an itch to play sit opposite.
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Some of these opposing players are regulars.
“They’re police officers on break and vendors,” Miedema said.
Or they’re players who think they can beat the experts, or they’re novices, or perhaps they remember playing long ago.
Such is the case with Miedema.
“For me, it’s nostalgia,” he said. “I played my grandfather when I was in high school. It’s a family tradition. I grew up in South Dakota. We always played cribbage.”
Other members of the club continue.
“Most people learned from grandpa, nine times out of 10,” said Mike Sudduth, director of the Vashon club (vashoncribbage.com).
“It’s an easy game,” Cindy Grenville said. “You only have to count.”
“It can be as simple or complex as you want to make it,” Sudduth said.
“It can be very competitive,” Grenville said.
Games tend to last maybe 15 minutes, Grenville said, depending on the expertise of the challenging player. New players take longer to arrange their hands, whereas veteran players can breeze through a count as if they were chewing a warm scone.
Challengers who win receive a certificate proclaiming their victory. Other prizes include cribbage boards and decks of cards.
It’s all free.
“It’s a good way to waste time,” Miedema said.
What is cribbage?
Cribbage is a card game traditionally for two players, but commonly played with three, four or more, that involves playing and grouping cards in combinations which gain points.
Cribbage has several distinctive features: The cribbage board used for score-keeping, the eponymous crib or box (a separate hand counting for the dealer), two distinct scoring stages (the play and the show), and a unique scoring system, including points for groups of cards that total 15.