Having recovered from my amazement that the noble game of cribbage is known
and played beyond my ancestral shores, I now learn, courtesy of a reader,
that the game actually shows up at least once in American literature.
Two of the US Forest Service workers in Norman Maclean’s short story “USFS
1919: The Ranger, the Cook, and a Hole in the Sky“
play cribbage, though
one of them very incompetently. (That must surely, by the way, be one of
the klunkiest titles ever given to a short story in any language, with Bruce
Jay Friedman’s “An Ironic Yetta Montana” a close runner-up.) The ranger,
tired of his partner’s cribbage incompetence, tries without success to get
other colleagues to play cards with them, so they could get away from
cribbage and play some three-handed game.
Fair enough: but cribbage can actually be played three-handed, too. I used
to play this way with two friends in England. One of them — a great
collector of curiosities and minor antiques — had a lovely old cribbage
board with, of course, the usual two tracks, but with a third track on an
arm that folded out from the side. Dealer deals five cards to everyone and
one to the box. Then all three playes discard, to give a full box. Play
then proceeds as usual. We never played for money, though, so I don’t know
how you’d handle payouts in a three-handed game.