“Tables” probably refers to Backgammon, but on another occasion Wheatley also decides it is Cribbage. Latham & Matthews say “backgammon and other similar games”.

At Wikipedia:

1893 text

[Tables is] The old name for backgammon, used by Shakespeare and others. The following lines are from an epitaph entirely made up of puns on backgammon

Man’s life’s a game at tables, and he may Mend his bad fortune by his wiser play.

Wit’s Recre., i. 250, reprint, 1817.

This text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

5 Annotations

First Reading

Bullus Hutton  •  Link

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!

fimm  •  Link

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.

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Charles II played cribbage:

On his first arrival at Vilvord his name and business had been inquired by the Colonel in Charge, but a hint from Brussels had quieted the official curiosity, and Charles II was left unmolested to pass his time in reading Spanish, corresponding with Hyde and Talbot, and playing at cribbage with Rochester and Bennett, who had joined him since his departure from Brussels.

On March 19, 1656 Charles begged Ormonde to send him a Spanish New Testament, since he hoped to have 'much need of that language,' adding:

'Pray send us as good news tomorrow as the wine and mutton was today. God sende you better lucke at pickett than I have with Harry Bennett at cribbadge."

for more of Charles' adventures abroad, see…

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.