Manor Moments

Cribbage Makes It’s Way to Cornwall Manor

August 2017

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 board
A board used in Cribbage to keep track of scores.

Cribbage was invented in the early 1600s by Sir John Suckling, an English courtier, poet, gamester and gambler, as a derivation of the game noddy. While noddy has disappeared, cribbage has survived, virtually unchanged, as one of the most popular games in the English-speaking world. The rules of the game are the same anywhere Cribbage is played.

The objective of the game is to be the first player to score a target number of points – at Cornwall Manor, it’s 125. Points are scored for card combinations that add up to fifteen, and for pairs, triples, quadruples, runs and flushes.

Cornwall Manor resident Seth Husiman is an avid Cribbage player – he’s been playing for more than 70 years. He learned the game as a teenager and just about everyone in his family knows how to play. Including resident Larry Warner. Seth and Larry introduced Cribbage to Cornwall Manor eight years ago and taught several other residents how to play. And yes, Seth and Larry are family. Seth’s daughter, Marci, is married to Larry’s son, John and they live in Germany.

Today, Cribbage is a standing weekly activity on the calendar of events and anywhere from six to ten residents will come to play. It’s an excellent game for strategy, tactics, counting and of course fellowship.

The game grew popular enough to be added to Cornwall Manor’s Senior Games lineup about three years ago. There are eight players signed up to participate in the 2017 Cribbage games. Michael Deveney, Cornwall Manor’s Wellness Coordinator states, “Cornwall Manor’s Senior Games offer a variety of games for residents that challenge both the mind and the body which allows anyone to compete. Anytime we can add new opportunities to the Games gives our residents more choices.”


To play Cribbage (information courtesy of Wikipedia) – the players cut the deck for first deal, and the person who cuts the lowest card deals. The dealer shuffles and deals five or six cards to each player, depending on the number of players. For two players, each is dealt six cards; for three or four players, each is dealt five cards.

Starting with the player on the dealer’s left, each player in turn lays one card face up on the table in front of him or her, stating the count—that is, the cumulative value of the cards that have been laid (for example, the first player lays a five and says “five”, the next lays a six and says “eleven”, and so on)—without the count going above 31. The cards are not laid in the center of the table as, at the end of the “play,” each player needs to pick up the cards they have laid.

Players score points during the play. For causing the count to reach exactly fifteen a player scores two points and play continues. Completing a pair (two of a kind) scores two points; three or four of a kind are counted as multiple pairs: completing three of a kind is the same as three different pairs, or 6 points, and four of a kind is 6 different kinds of pairs, or 12 points. A run of three or more cards (consecutively played, but not necessarily in order) scores the number of cards in the run.

If a player cannot play without causing the count to exceed 31, he calls “Go.” Continuing with the player on his left, the other player(s) continue(s) the play until no one can play without the count exceeding 31. A player is obligated to play a card unless there is no card in their hand that can be played without the count exceeding 31 (one cannot voluntarily pass). Once 31 is reached or no one is able to play, the player who played the last card scores one point if the count is still under 31 and two if it is exactly 31. The count is then reset to zero and those players with cards remaining repeat the process starting with the player to the left of the player who played the last card. When no player has any cards the game proceeds to the “show.”

Once the play is complete, each player in turn, starting with the player on the left of the dealer, displays his hand on the table and scores points based on its content in conjunction with the starter card. Points are scored for combinations of cards totaling fifteen, runs, pairs (multiple pairs are scored pair by pair, but may be referred to as three or four of a kind), a flush and having a Jack of the same suit as the starter card (“one for his nob [or nobs or nibs]”, sometimes called the “right” Jack). A four-card flush scores four and cannot include the cut or starter; a five-card flush scores five.

The dealer scores his hand last and then turns the cards in the crib face up. These cards are then scored by the dealer as an additional hand, also in conjunction with the starter card. Unlike the dealer’s own hand, the crib cannot score a four-card flush, but it can score a five-card flush with the starter.

All scores from 0 to 29 are possible, with the exception of 19, 25, 26 and 27. Players may refer colloquially to a hand scoring zero points as having a score of nineteen.