Thursday, March 12, 2009



In the past this column covered the classic card game of cribbage, will still remains one of the best time-passing games for two, three, or four players.However, even classic games can sometimes get to the point you want a little change of pace, especially considering you can pass away an afternoon playing dozens of hands of cribbage.In the case of cribbage there are a few ways to spice up the game just a bit if you are looking for something just a bit different.One of the options is Chicago Cribbage. Released in 2007 by Outset Media, Chicago Cribbage is really two decks of cards used together to create the game. One deck is the regular 52-cards we are all familiar with. Those cards are used to play cribbage just the way you would normally.Where Chicago Cribbage offers up the twist is with the second deck. Each player is dealt seven cards, and can play one on a hand to affect how that hand plays out. For example, if your hand is really bad, play a card that calls for a 'deal again', or you might chance passing off your poor hand by playing the 'trade hands' card. In most cases only one player can play a particular card on a turn, so you don't end up re-dealing a hand three times, or simply passing a hand back-and-forth.The exception to the general rule of only one player playing a particular card is the 'cut again' card.How many times have you played a game of cribbage and lamented the card that is cut? Well with Chicago Cribbage twice per game you can change that luck.The card choices also include 'no fifteens' where no points are scored on a 15 for the round, and 'reverse counting' which forces your opponents to peg backwards, which depending on the hand can really change momentum.While card games in general are rather random, there are strategic choices to cribbage. Generally, Chicago Cribbage adds to the randomness, while at the same time, adds a few more major decisions, as to when you pull out a certain specialty card to affect the game. Another choice for cribbage fans is to pull out Crib Wars, copyrighted back in 1997 by Robert Prettie and Norman Auckland. The game is actually just a revised board for cribbage play, albeit one which is patented in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.The board has a number of specially marketed pegging holes. For example, if you end pegging particular points on a red hole, you are fast-tracked 20 spaces along the board. Land in a green zone you get to take a short-cut path where you need to peg only 20-points, instead of the regular path which require 40.Blue 'time trap' areas force a player down a longer alternate route area.The penalty box, once landed upon, forces a player, or team to fold their hand, which has different results depending on how many players are involved. If it's three-handed, the player who hit the penalty box sits out three hands.The lay out of the board is far longer than the usual 121 pegged in normal cribbage, so this game takes some additional time to play.To the credit of the company, the first 121 points along the board are free of the quirky new rules, so you can use the board for regular cribbage too.Neither of these games will ever replace cribbage which is beautifully ideal as it is, but they do provide a chance to occasionally throw a few more twists of fate, and a few more laughs into the game.For something totally off-the-wall, combine the two games. Then if you figure your hand might land you in the penalty box you could force a re-deal and see if that saves you. It would extend the game to an afternoon of wackiness, but you'd still be essentially playing cribbage, so it would still be a great time.

Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper March 4, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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