Backing cribbage in a high tech world

It's the age of Play Station, computer games, Blue-Ray DVD, iPods, Face Book and the Internet. And, while younger Minnesotans ride fun and games off into a high tech future, essayist Peter Smith hopes they'll take one endangered, decidedly low tech Minnesota card game along with them.

Smith: I tried to teach the junior high kid how to play cribbage a while back. It's a simple game involving runs and combinations of cards that add up to fifteen or thirty-one. You keep score with pegs on a cribbage board as you play.

He lost interest half way through the first hand. We played a tedious second hand, then tossed in the cards altogether. No use. Boring. He wandered off to play video games. I picked up the deck and began to play solitaire.

Cribbage seems to have fallen out of Minnesota vogue lately. Adults don't play it as much as they used to, and obviously young people aren't flocking to it.

A quintessentially Minnesota card game seems to be going the way of housekeeping cabin resorts-replaced by something bigger and flashier, but not necessarily better.

There was a time when you could find a cribbage board within arm's reach of most kitchen tables in the state. It was the after supper card game of choice for a lot of families, and a cabin wasn't a cabin without an old, well worn cribbage board.

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Back then, you could walk into any small town bar in the state, pull up a stool, and challenge the bartender to a game of cribbage. If you won, you got a free glass of beer-a twenty-five cent triumph. If you lost, you paid for your beer-and challenged the bartender to a rematch. Cribbage was as essential to a small town Minnesota bar as Patsy Cline on the jukebox.

Now you see cribbage boards in antique stores and at rummage sales all the time-right there next to the busted salad shooters and the dribbly "moo cow" creamers and the chipped salt and pepper shakers and the souvenir plates from the Corn Palace.

If cribbage goes, we lose another little piece of our Minnesota soul. We take another step into that homogenized, globalized, cable-TV-and-Internet future where regional culture and a sense of place don't matter.

So after supper tonight, before the junior high kid can slip off to log onto Facebook, I'm going to reach over, grab the board, and start shuffling the cards.

"What do you say, Junior," I'll ask. "Want to give cribbage another try?"