Cribbage is a card game that’s been around for hundreds of years.
Also known as crib, the card-playing pastime was reportedly created by English poet Sir John Suckling in the early 17th century and remains, virtually unchanged, one of the most popular games in the English-speaking world.
Crib is a staple at the lakeside cottage or on any family trip. Players can be any age, as long as they are old enough to understand the rules, and it’s a fun and safe way to pass the time while travelling or waiting and always, a great rainy-day game.
That popularity and love of the game holds true for the Langley Crib League, which has been operating for nearly 90 years since its establishment in 1922.
The men’s league is comprised of six 12-man teams (six pairs in each team) from throughout the area: Murrayville, Fort Langley, Willoughby, Langley, Milner and Harmsworth. Players range in age from 30 to 90-plus.
At the Langley Legion on a Thursday night, it’s Langley’s turn to host the crib play and Murrayville is in first place in the league standings.
“We’re going to lock ’em down tonight,” says Langley captain Robert Corrins, earning a rumbling response from the other crib players in the Legion’s upstairs playing room, where tables are being set up with cards and crib boards for tonight’s games.
“It’s very competitive but fun, too. You get to socialize and talk to the people you know, and meet new people, too,” he says.
Players meet once a week at different locations throughout Langley and are a mix of new and old, from newcomer Todd Paquette (who points out that women have ladies’ nights out, so he enjoys a guys’ night out with the crib league without guilt) to Bob Millar, who has played with Murrayville for 26 years.
“I really enjoy it,” Millar says, under the glow of neon logo lights reflected in the room’s mirrors.
He is surrounded by players who occasionally say their scores in low voices as they peg their way around the wooden cribbage boards. There is also a good deal of chatting, joking and even good-natured trash talk between teams.
“There’s the camaraderie and the competition … and it sure keeps your math active.”
After one team of two is finished playing their counterparts, the players easily switch to their new opponents at the next table, ready for more.
Crib involves playing and grouping cards in combinations that will gain points. There is a crib — a separate hand counting for the dealer — as well as a cribbage board used for scorekeeping. Points are scored for card combinations that add up to 15, for pairs, triples, quadruples, runs and flushes.
Crib player James Goddard, who is a proud 94 (and a half) years old, has been playing in the league for three years and hopes to continue as long as he can.
“We won four last week,” he says of himself and his teammate. “It’s a guys’ night out. We all enjoy it.”
But, Goddard notes, the league is always looking for fresh blood — for younger members to play with and eventually, replace “old-timers like me.”
The league was started in 1922 with two teams, Langley and Milner. Quick expansion included teams from Aldergrove, Murrayville and Sperling but when the Second World War interfered, crib league play was suspended in the spring of 1940. It resumed in 1946, with two new teams from the Langley Legion and Brown-Otter.
The teams from Aldergrove, Sperling and Brown-Otter folded, but new teams from Fort Langley, Harmsworth and Willoughby replaced those to create the current six teams.
Crib league player Roger Eberle says he likes the fact that each game is different.
“You never know what cards you’ll be dealt. I enjoy the challenge . . . getting different hands, deciding the best hand to keep and the best to throw away and all the endless permutations,” he said.
Tim Land, who has been good friends with Corrins for years, agrees. Corrins first introduced him to the crib league a few years ago, and he’s enjoyed playing ever since.
He notes that new cribbage players are always welcome and says they can be “as old or as young as they want to be.”
“It’s a social event . . . just a nice way to gather and make new friends and enjoy the competition.”
To find out more about the Langley Crib League, or to join in the fun, call Corrins at 604-533-9363.
Tricia Leslie, Times Contributor