Daily entries from the 17th century London diary
Ah, Cribbage, the prince of card-games!Like many deceptively simple games, it takes 20 minutes to learn, and a life-time to perfect!That "15-two, 15-four" game, originating in the UK, it has travelled well to all corners of the world and is particularly popular here on the West Coast of Canada among loggers and lawyers alike. Played by two, three or four people (the latter as two partners) it utilizes the distinctive pegboard of 121 holes which records the scores of the contestants as they pair or "run" the cards, or arrange them into combinations totalling 15.The game lends itself ideally to wagering, either as a set amount per game, or by a small amount per peg-hole, which can often add up to a lot more!It has always amused me over the years to meet hard-boiled gamblers who make their living at poker or blackjack, privately confessing that "Crib" is really their favourite game.My fellow crib-cronies are going to be tickled pink that our beloved game has been given such an impressive pedigree by this mention in the Diary!
Anybody unfamiliar with the game can get a pretty good idea of it from this website: http://www.pagat.com/adders/crib6.html
Repost of information about cribbage posted to the entry of 15th May 1660
Re cribbage L&M has Re cribbage L&M has "As of Jan 1660 Pepys records having been taught the game by Jemima,my Lords daughter"
My goodness I didn't realise that the cribbage game was that ancient. Is it the same game as we play it now on the west coast of Canada ? In my travels in Europe I never found anybody who even heard of the game !
Cribbage was widely played in Pubs and Clubs in England up to at least 10 years ago,and still may be. Teams used to travel to each other's clubs and play this along with darts, snooker, billiards and dominoes.Cribbage is still alive and well in the South of England, played in my local pub along with bezique.
Cribbage is very popular in New England, especially rural areas, and cribbage boards are often carved in stylish or serpentine tracks. Nice to be playing a game 350 years old!
Cribbage is still a very popular game in the upper midwest of the u.s. in minneapolis two evenings ago I saw a couple playing it on the stoop (nice dutch word there) of their apartment building.
I've learned the game at least three times in my life and simply cannot remember the various ways to score the cards; a problem that Sam, apparently taught the game but four months past, seems to've had as well.According to John Aubrey (a comtemporary of Pepys), cribbage was invented by the poet Sir John Suckling. If this is true, he would have invented it around the 1630s.
Sir John Sucklinghttp://www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/suckling/sjs...
Sir John Suckling..rules of the game etc..http://www.cribbage.org/hof/member.asp?hof_id=1
Some history on the playing cards.http://www.wopc.co.uk/uk/index2.html
additional pointers : more: interesting history of card designs http://i-p-c-s.org/history.htmlhttp://thehouseofcards.com/card_history.html
Game of gleek
gives brief information on the game which Sam is playing with his wife and Aunt Wright on Monday 13 January 1661/62.
gives more information and some charming names for the cards:
"If the turn-up is a Four (Tiddy), the dealer receives 4p from each opponent - or, similarly, 5 for the Five (Towser) or 6 for the Six (Tumbler), but only by prior agreement."
Trumps are mentioned, but a good deal of the game and the betting and bluffing involved sounds like poker. A page of a near-contemporary manual (The Compleat Gamester, 1674) is shown, where it declares that the game must only have three players, as we see happening here in the Pepys family.
More about Gleek
A charming description in psuedo Elizabethan-style English...
"On the Englyshe Game of Gleeke"http://jducoeur.org/game-hist/ace_gleek.txt
What is the official U K definition of a sequence? Here in Canada I'm running into the following J,9,10 or 4,6,5 being considered sequences.Thanx
Ombre, of course, is the card game featured in Pope's Rape of the Lock, and is one of the forerunners of bridge.
More info on Gleek, in a definition of "mournival" from Michael Quinion's excellent World Wide Words website ( http://www.worldwidewords.org ) and newsletter. Sam even gets a mention:
Weird Words: Mournival /'mO:nIvl/
A mournival beats a gleek. If we were playing poker, you might well comment equivalently that four of a kind beats three.
We are, indeed, in the realm of card games, though gleek, which takes its name from the threesome group in it, is one you have probably never heard of. People are first recorded playing it in England under that name early in the 1530s, though Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon, was reportedly fond of it in her youth, which would take it back to the beginning of the century or perhaps a little earlier. In fact, it's almost certainly the same game as the earlier French glic.
It was a gambling game for three players, often called halfpenny gleek, penny gleek or twopenny gleek, whose names refer to the monetary value of each point scored, not the total bet. An English penny was worth a lot at the time, so losing could be expensive - in 1646, the poet and writer John Hall warned that "gleeke requires a vigilant memory and a long purse". Samuel Pepys recorded in his Diary in February 1662, "We played at gleeke, and I won 9s. 6d. clear, the most that ever I won in my life. I pray God it may nottempt me to play again."
One phase of the game involved declaring any gleeks or mournivals of aces or court cards that you had in your hand, which gained money from each opponent. In penny gleek, for example, a mournival of aces got you eight pence from each of the other two players.
"Mournival" comes most probably from old French "mornifle" for a group of four cards, which may be the same word as that for a slap in the face (which might be the figurative effect of finding an opponent has one). Gleek is also French, perhaps from an older Dutch word that means "like". It's unconnected with the obsolete English word of the same spelling, contemporary with the card game sense, that refers to a joke or playing a trick on somebody."
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