Cribbage - A Great Game for Two!

Cribbage - A Great Game for Two!

Cribbage is traditionally played with two people; however, three or four (two on two) can play. Like poker the game provides players with the anticipation of the luck of the deal all the while allowing them to use their skill with regards to discarding and play. Although the game can be played with only a deck of cards and pen/paper it is most often played using a cribbage board. The board allows one to easily track their points. We at The Riverside Woodshop make custom boards to reflect your personality.  Here are a few examples of previous boards we have designed:  



The game of cribbage has been around for centuries. It is believed to have been invented by British soldier and poet, Sir John Suckling, in the 17thcentury.  It was brought to America by English settlers where it became quite popular in the colonies, especially in New England. Sailors and fishermen loved the game since it only required 2 players and it was a way to pass the time. Eskimos would make cribbage boards out of walrus tusks to trade with the sailors and fishermen who made port near their villages.

For hundreds of years the game remained popular with mariners. It fact, during World War II it was thought of as the unofficial game of submariners who played round the clock as they patrolled for Japanese ships. Some say the most famous incident related to cribbage in the Navy occurred in 1943 aboard one of the war’s most celebrated submarines, the USS Wahoo. For the Wahoo’s fourth war patrol, it was ordered to head to the extreme northern reaches of the Yellow Sea, an area where no sub had gone before. The waters near the Dairen Peninsula were shallow, and crewmembers grew nervous as they glided into dangerous territory. To take their minds off the tension, the sub’s commander, Dudley “Mush” Morton and his executive officer, Richard “Dick” O’Kane, began a game of cribbage. Morton dealt O’Kane a “Perfect 29” hand — four fives and a jack — the highest possible score for combinations in a single cribbage deal. The crew’s spirits were bolstered by what they felt was a very lucky omen. O’Kane had his fellow officers sign the five cards and he framed them. The patrol was successful.  Unfortunately, it sank later that year but not before setting the record for the number of enemy ships sunk. 

Prior to the USS Wahoo’s demise O’Kane was transferred and given command of the USS Tang. Under his command the Tang broke Wahoo’s record for most ships sunk in a single patrol. Although O’Kane was captured by the Japanese when the Tang was sunk by an errant torpedo that circled back and hit it, he survived the war, and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity” during his submarine’s final operations. O’Kane’s lucky cribbage board has become an important submariner tradition. Since WWII it has been passed along to the oldest active submarine in the United States Pacific Fleet. Once the sub is decommissioned, it is given to the next oldest submarine, where it is placed in the wardroom. The famous crib board currently resides aboard the USS Bremerton, which launched in 1978. As a FYI: in keeping with Navy tradition, once the Bremerton is decommissioned, the submarine will pass on late Rear Adm. Richard O'Kane's legendary personal cribbage board to the 33-year-old USS Olympia, the longest-serving submarine based in Pearl Harbor. The Bremerton has had O'Kane's cribbage board for almost eight years, after receiving it from the Los Angeles after it was decommissioned in 2010. 

            Cribbage is still played today and in some areas of the country has had a comeback.  In 2016, Red Sox spokesman Kevin Gregg said “A good number of players play on a daily basis, among other card games. Most play early before games when they have down time in the clubhouse.”  Regardless of whether you are familiar with the game or want a new game to play Cribbage is a great game to play with your friends or family.  Furthermore, be the envy of everyone with your own custom designed board from THE RIVERSIDE WOODSHOP. We will even include a printout of the rules as published by Bicycle.

*** UPDATE ***

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) — Sailors assigned to the Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarines USS Olympia (SSN 717) and USS Chicago (SSN 721) gathered on the historic submarine piers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a barbecue, camaraderie, and to carry on the tradition of passing on the O’Kane cribbage board, Oct 22, 2019.

The O’Kane cribbage board is handed down to each oldest fast-attack submarine in the Pacific Fleet. Olympia is preparing for inactivation and will no longer be the oldest fast-attack submarine in the Pacific Theater — that title now belongs to Chicago.

“Having O’Kane’s personal cribbage board onboard USS Olympia, especially with what its history means to the submarine force, truly was an honor,” said Cmdr. Benjamin J. Selph, commanding officer, USS Olympia.

Before the board was passed from Olympia to Chicago, the commanding and executive officers of the boats played a friendly game against each another.

“I know my crew is really looking forward to playing me and the chief of the boat,” said Cmdr. Chance Litton, commanding officer, USS Chicago. “Playing on this board is to participate in the history of the submarine fleet here in Hawaii. It really is a great honor.”

Each submarine crew that has been in possession of the O’Kane cribbage board has had the opportunity to play games on the cribbage board while underway.

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