I have become an old man.

Let me explain.

Near the beginning of quarantine time, many App Store apps were going on sale to help people get through being bored at home. “It’ll just be a couple weeks,” I said, not grasping the full reality of the situation. Almost two months later, we are still (understandably) still sheltering in place. But it’s okay, because due to those App Store sales, I’ve found a new way to obsessively occupy my time: cribbage, the game for old people.

It started when the game Cribbage With Grandpas went free on the App Store. I figured it would be neat to play because I remember my grandpa had a cribbage board, and I never understood how to play it. All I remember is that there was a thing that was basically a box with holes in it, and there were pegs that went into the holes? And also you would do something with cards.

We didn’t play it, ever.

So I figured to honor my grandfather I would add him into the game and I would learn the ropes with him. I created the character, played through the mini tutorial, and got destroyed.

My virtual grandpa, minutes before annihilating me.

I couldn’t believe it. And yet in a way I could believe it, because I didn’t really understand what the heck was happening.

Cribbage is a race to 121 points. You have two different scoring phases per hand, where you make certain combinations of cards to gain points (many of which are just ways to add numbers up to 15). The first phase has you and your opponent play cards against each other, and the second phase has you score your own hand along with the top card from the deck. Every hand, the dealer gets a second hand (the ‘crib’) to score, which is made from two cards from each player. (These rules only apply to 2-player cribbage because ONLY ONE GRANDPA ALLOWED AT THE TABLE AT A TIME). But the dealer scores their cards last.

Complicated? Yep! And I didn’t even really go into all of the different ways to get points. Go learn against your own grandpa in a virtual space!

As you can see I have a firm grasp of the rules. (Stop laughing at me!) And after the first game I started winning more and more. Part of this was due to the fact that I had my grandpa set to the easiest difficulty level.

“My grandfather loves cribbage,” my wife told me. So I did what anyone else would do, and digitized her grandfather into a phone game.

Honestly? Very intimidating.

I bumped his difficulty up and started losing again. Not just once, but most of the time.

A worthy opponent.

I started googling cribbage strategies. I had to defeat this man, no matter how virtual he may have been.

And I learned a lot about how I was discarding incorrectly and playing the wrong cards. I learned about the maximum score you can get with one hand (29) and what skunking means. I downloaded a different cribbage app for my iPad that let you play a game and then told you what you did wrong and how many points it cost you. I see 15s in my sleep.

And now out of 165 games in Cribbage with Grandpas against my grandpa-in-law, I have a record of 71 wins to 85 losses. And also apparently it has become the game I play the most.

Someday after quarantine ends, I will sit across from my grandpa-in-law and he will place a pegboard and a deck of cards down on the table between us. He will think that we are going to be spending a fun time chatting with each other and playing a friendly game of cards.

But he will be unprepared for what will happen.

Because I’ve joined his ranks. I’m an old man now with a thirst for pegs. And I’m ready and raring to go.

Your turn to deal.


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