Here in North Carolina, the initials ACC automatically translate as Atlantic Coast Conference and conjure up images of basketball tournaments: Michael Jordan, Dean Smith, Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski.
Every year around the end of July, however, a different ACC banner appears in a North Raleigh hotel with the opening rounds of a tournament sanctioned by the American Cribbage Congress.
This two-handed card game features a pegged board for keeping score. Although supposedly invented (or more liked codified) in the 17th century, it has a long association with seafarers and every player I know either learned the game directly from a sailor or from someone taught by a seaman. My husband, a naval officer at the time, taught it to me on our honeymoon (no comments, please!) and it’s still our favorite two-handed card game.
In the game, if you have a jack in your hand and it matches the suit of the turn card, it’s the “right jack” and lets you peg an extra point. Twenty years ago, I decided to set one of my Sigrid Harald mysteries in a Manhattan cribbage tournament. Two players are killed when the cribbage board explodes and two others are seriously injured. Part of the puzzle was discovering which of the four was the intended victim—who was the “right jack”?
The Right Jack, 4th in the Sigrid Harald series has been out of print for several years now, but last year a copy found its way into the hands of David Aiken, editor of a magazine called Cribbage World. (Who knew?) He contacted me through this web site and we’ve been in communication ever since. Yesterday, he invited me to come see my first real cribbage tournament and I was delighted to discover that I got most of the details correct in the book. Here we are as he begins another round.
My granddaughter, who began playing when she was eight and just learning to factor 15’s (THE key element in the game), is a whiz at it. The two of us may enter next year’s tournament.