World’s Ugliest Cribbage Board

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There is no denying that these cribbage boards are ugly, but don’t dismiss them out of hand. Boards like these can be made with whatever material is available. They can be built in a few minutes by someone with minimal tools. In fact even if you can’t draw a straight line you can make a functional cribbage board. So while they may not look like much, in a pinch they do the job.

The cribbage board at the top is made from a piece of cardboard. To make it poke four rows of thirty holes. No need for heavy machinery to make the holes, a ball point pen or large sewing needle will do the trick. The pegs are made from wooden matchs cut in half. Tapering the bottom half of the pegs help them slide in and out of the holes. So if you have a cardboard box, you have a cribbage board.

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The blue cribbage board above is made from a piece of a foam camp mattress. The holes are made just like with the cardboard version. The pegs are pop rivets that have been marked with a magic marker. To make it easier to count the holes a line was scratched in the foam after every fifth hole. You can make this cribbage board in no time on your next hiking trip.

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This last board is not a tradtional design. Instead of holes, dots have been drawn on the paper. Then slices of cork with half a toothpick stuck in them are used for pegs. To use, simply point the tip of the toothpick at the dot needed. This is an easy board to make when materials are limited.

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Use these examples as inspiration for making your own cribbage boards. Explore different materials, or methods of building. Then when you come up with something you are proud of, be sure to share it with us in the comments .

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Briscola

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If you want to get a game while visiting Italy, learn Briscola. Briscola is trick taking card game played with a reduced deck. You can use a regular deck with the eights, nines and tens removed. If you want to add some class use an Italian deck with cups, swords, clubs, and coins for suits.

When playing teams there is an interesting house rule that is sometimes used; after the first hand it is ok to send signals to your partner about what you are holding. Signals are usually gestures like raising an eyebrow or sticking the tip of your tongue out. Each signal means a card you are holding. I have not yet had a chance to try this, but would like to hear from anyone who has experience playing this way.

Players 2 or 4 playing on teams.

Equipment

A deck of cards with the 8,9, and 10 cards removed.

How to play

The ranking of the cards are as follows

Ace, three, King, Horseman/Queen, Fante/Jack, 7-2

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All cards have there own point value

Aces are worth 11 points

Threes are worth 10 points

King is worth 4 points

Horseman/ Queen is worth 3 points

Fante/jack is worth 2 points

The remaining cards are worth nothing

The dealer shuffles the deck and deals three cards to each player. The dealer then takes a card from the top the deck and puts it face up near the pile of remaining cards which are face down to form the stock. The suit of this card is the trump suit or Briscola

Players in turn put one their cards face up on the table starting with non dealer. The player who played the highest card of the same suit as the first card of the trick or the highest card of a trump suit wins the cards played. The winner of the trick collects the cards and puts them face down in a pile in front of them. When playing team one player often gathers the tricks for the team.

The players do not have to follow suit if they don’t want to. They also do not have to Trump if they don’t want.

After each trick each player draws a card from the stock pile and the game continues. The player who won the trick draws first and leads the next trick This continues until all the cards are drawn and played including the face up Briscola card.

After all the cards have been played each player takes the pile of cards won in tricks and counts the points . The player or team with 61 or more points wins the hand. If each player has 60 points the hand is a draw.

The match can be three hands or five. The player who wins the most hands wins the match.

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In the photo above the player would have 11 points for the ace, 10 points for the three, 4 points for each king, and two points for the jack. Giving a total 31 points.

Boss Dice

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I have heard that playing Boss Dice was a traditional way to decide who paid for the bar tab in San Francisco. Taverns would even keep dice cups and dice behind the bar for patrons. I am not certain if it is as popular there as it once was, but I would like to hear from any readers who have seen it or play it themselves. I decided to include it because it is a fun game that needs minimal equipment, is easy to learn, and requires a little more decision making then many dice games. Who knows, after trying it maybe you can help start the Boss Dice revival.

Players 2
Equipment
2 dice cups
10 dice
How to play

Both players roll five dice from their dice cup on to the table at the same time.

The player with the highest poker hand showing is called the boss. If neither player rolls at least a pair, both players roll again. On the roll to determine who is boss, two pair only counts as the higher pair.

The boss puts to one side the dice that gave him the higher ranking hand. The boss then rolls any remaining dice keeping them concealed from the other player. For example if the boss rolled 3 sixes 1 four and 1 five, the the sixes would be kept and the five and four rolled again.

After the boss looks at his concealed dice he may call “Pick them up” or “Come up”.

If the boss calls “pick them up” both players pick up their dice and start again and the round has no winner.

If the boss calls “come up”, the other player can roll some or all of his dice. Player who rolled the highest hand wins the round. Two pairs now counts as a hand.

First to win two out of three rounds wins the game.

Rank of hands
Five of kind,
Four of kind
Full house ( three of a kind and a pair)
Three of a kind
Two pair
A pair with 6 being highest 1 being low

Xiangqi

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Xiangqi was the game that convinced me that people could connect across cultures with traditional games. I discovered the game while on a trip to New York City. I was in Columbus Park watching as crowds of Chinese men played Xiangqi on cement tables built for the purpose. Around every game were folks giving a running commentary on the game in Chinese. I decided then that I would learn how to play.

About a year later I returned with my own set and a good grasp of the rules to Columbus Park. I spent the whole day watching and playing Xiangqi in the park. Since I look like a scruffy hippy wannabe many of the players probably saw me as a novelty, or an opportunity to show a novice how to play better.

The fact that none of the players were speaking a language I understood did not interfere with the enjoyment of the day . Xiangqi had become a bridge between people of different cultures and generations. All that mattered is that I wanted to play the game that they enjoyed.

Xiangqi
Players 2

Equipment
Xiangqi board and men

How to play
The players take turns (starting with red) moving their pieces until one player checkmates the other general. Check is when the General can be captured on the openent’s next move. Checkmate is if the General can not escape being captured on the next move. If a player’s only possible move puts their General in check they lose.

A player can not check the opponent’s General more than three times in a row with the same piece in the same board position. If this happens the player who attacked must make a different move.

A player can not make an enemy piece move to avoid capture between the same two points indefinitely. If this happens the player who threatened the piece must make a different move.

The board is a 9X10 grid, and the pieces sit on the intersections called points. There is blank row in the middle called the river. The boxes with an X in it at both ends of board are called the fortresses The pieces are set up as shown in the photo bellow.

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The pieces are from top to bottom General, Guard, Elephant/Minister, Chariot, Horse, Solider, and Cannon.

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The pieces can not move through another piece during it’s move. If a piece ends it’s move on a point occupied by an opponent’s piece the opponent’s piece is captured and take off the board. The photos below have highlighted in red the moves that the pieces can make.

The General always stays in the fortress. He moves forward,backwards,left,or right one point. The General also can not be on the same empty file as the other General. They must be on different files or have a piece between them blocking their view of each other.

The Guards are also always in the fortress. They can move diagonally forward or back one point.

The Elephant or Minister moves diagonally forward or backwards two intersections. They can never cross the river in the middle of the board. They can also not hop over another piece. For example in the photo below the Elephant on the left is blocked from going backwards by a Soldier in the way. The path he can not take is highlighted in blue.

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Chariots move like a rook in chess. They can move forward,backward,left,or right any distance.

The Horse moves forwards,backwards, left or right one point, and then diagonally one point. Horses can not hop over pieces. In the photo below the Horse is blocked from moving backwards by a soldier in his way. The move he can not make is highlighted in blue.

The Soldier moves one point forward. If a soldier crosses the river he can move one point forward, left, or right.

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The Canon moves like a chariot. However, it captures like no other piece in the game. To capture the Cannon must hop over another piece and then capture the piece behind it. In the photo the Canon on the left can hop over the Soldiers to capture the red Soldier or the red Horse. It can not capture the chariot because the horse is in the way. If the horse was not there it would be able to capture it.

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