Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chicago Cribbage - a new appreciation

Kathy and I had an occasion that required a portable game yesterday, so she brought several options, and I settled on Chicago Cribbage, which I reviewed here once before.  In our previous games, we'd explored each of the Chicago cards in isolation as to optimum opportunities for play and the poker aspect of reading one's opponent's face to consider whether it's time to play a "gotcha" card like "Reverse Counting" or "Trade Hands."

In yesterday's session, another tactical consideration emerged - the use of Chicago cards as response actions.  Two combinations came up in yesterday's game.  First, we realized that the negative effects of a "Reverse Counting" card can be mitigated by playing "No Fifteens" when one's own hand would otherwise score heavily in fifteen-point combinations.  Now the order of play is important.  We'd already realized that a "Reverse Counting" is most effective when played on the dealer, who will count negative for both his hand and the crib.  But since the dealer's opportunity to play a Chicago card comes after his opponent's, he has the opportunity to respond with a "No Fifteens."  

Second, we'd already recognized that an advantageous situation in which to play "No Fifteens" is when one holds a hand that scores well but has no fifteens.  So a logical response by the dealer to "No Fifteens" is to play "Trade Hands," so as to take advantage of the opponent's well-prepared hand and otherwise-well-played "No Fifteens."  

Now that these counter-moves are evident, they become considerations for the non-dealer as to whether to play a Chicago card for which the dealer still holds the counter-card.  Similarly, that means that the counter-cards might be held in reserve rather than played aggressively.  

I'm finding that this conceptually simple variant on classic cribbage has layers of depth that I hadn't originally appreciated.

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