Tale of Two Tournaments, Part II

The clamoring cribbage hoards of St. Paul.

After the relative success of the previous night, I wake up hopeful. It’s St. Patrick’s day, March 17, and the luck of the non-Irish (Swede and Italian) is with me. Nonetheless, I don a cheap green t-shirt I’ve had since college that reads “Shamrock Campground – Miles and Miles of Irish Smiles,” and hit the road.

I arrive in Woodbury just a few minutes before the tournament starts. I grab my scorecard from Todd and Ginger, and Todd stands up and takes out an envelope. “I owe you money, sir,” he says, and lays $100 on me. I see Jerry, and he hands me another $80. Friday night, my 13 points and +94 spread was good enough for 6th, and I scored both in the general pool and Jerry’s side-pool of $10. If I had beat Ed–if I hadn’t lost in the stinkhole–it would have been worth at least $30 more. Continue reading


Tale of Two Tournaments, Part 1

It’s Friday,  March 16, one day before St. Patrick’s Day, and the Twin Cities are absolutely gorgeous tonight. It’s 80 degrees outside, the birds are chirping, and there’s not a drop of snow to be found. I’m on my way to the Woodbury Country Inn & Suites for the Capital City Classic cribbage tournament. Driving east on I-94 into a beautiful waning sunset, I’ve got the windows down, music loud, an arm danging out the window, and I remind myself once again what I’m losing this beautiful night to. A game. Cards. Part of me just wants to keep driving into the dusk.  Continue reading

Back in the Ring


This weekend marks my return to the competitive cribbage circus circuit.

Work and school have kept me away for quite some time. About 6 weeks ago I emailed Dan Taylor, the ACC rep for my club (the Twin City Peggers), and told him “say hey to everyone, I’ll see you when I see you,” as my Wednesday nights are booked solid with grad school this semester, and I’ve been unable to join the club I’ve come to know over the past year. I couldn’t make it to Reno; I couldn’t even make it to the January St. Paul snowball.

This weekend, though, the Capital City tournament is just a few miles down the highway, and I’m all-in. Friday night tournament: 9 games. Main Saturday event: 22 games. Saturday night tournament: 9 games. Sunday: unknown. 40 games minimum–that’s a lot of time hunched over a board in another no-trump hotel conference room, a weekend lost counting to 15, to 31, lost to moving pegs, lost to small-talk, no-talk, trash-talk, bravado and humility in equal measure. That’s a lot of time lost to playing a game. 

But I’m not the only one, thankfully. Though I qualified for the bracket rounds (top 25%) in my first tournament ever, I’ve been unable to re-create that success everywhere else, and I go to Woodbury with a deplorable tournament record. To win, or at least do well, would be great. To come one step closer to figuring out why we do it would be even better. Stay tuned.