Williamsburg cribbage tournament tests luck and skill

In a cribbage game it’s nice to be good and it’s good to be lucky, said Henry Douglass, a 38-year player from Reidsville, Nc.

“It’s best to be good and lucky,” Douglass added.

The American Cribbage Congress hosted the Virginia Cribbage Championships Consolation

Tournament at the Wyndham Garden Hotel near Busch Gardens on Jan. 9.

Sixty-eight players competed in 22 rounds of cribbage for a spot in the playoffs. The top 17 players competed in the playoffs for cash, with a grand prize of $600, said tournament director Rick Allen.

These types of tournaments showcase “full-contact cribbage,” with players that are quick on the draw and even quicker at counting cards, said Mike Villaggio, of Williamsburg.

Cribbage is a card game that involves grouping cards and counting the combinations they make to gain points.

During each round, players get six cards, two of which are discarded into the “crib.” Each person takes turns playing their remaining cards, counting them out loud and gaining points when they reach certain numbers.

At the end of a round the players count the combinations their cards can make, including cards that add up to 15, doubles and flushes. Each combination is worth a certain number of points.

The dealer also counts the cards in the “crib” and gains points for combinations.

A game is finished when a player reaches 121 points.

“I love the game itself. There's so much to it,” said Phyllis Schmidt, who traveled from North Adams, Mass. to play in the tournament.

Schmidt, who began playing in 1979, is the highest ranking female cribbage player in the country with 148 points, according to cribbage.org.

Success in the game is part luck, part skill, Schmidt said.

“Some of it has got to be already in you,” she said.

All cribbage players must also be excellent trash talkers, Douglass said.

“There's a lot of mouth in this game,” he added.

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