Calling all cribbage players |

Calling all cribbage players

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

What: 20th annual Sierra Youth Cribbage Tournament

When: 8:30 a.m. Saturday Feb. 23

Where: Chicago Park School gymnasium at 15725 Mt. Olive Road, Grass Valley

How: $5 registration fee to be sent to Chicago Park School

For more information: Call Dan Zeisler at 530-346-2153 or email

For students and teachers interested in the fast-paced game of cribbage, Chicago Park School seeks more players for their 20th annual Sierra Youth Cribbage Tournament.

“It’s a two-person card game that has a lot of strategy involved,” said Dan Zeisler, superintendent of Chicago Park School and national youth director for cribbage, who teaches cribbage as a class and leads the competition each year. “You have to be a quick thinker, see combinations of cards, add cards and get a point total. It’s a very cool game.”

The game involves a cribbage board with 212 holes and four pegs that move along the board and a deck of cards.

“You have a number of patterns and try to figure out the cards your opponent has in their hand before you play them,” Zeisler said. “You get points by adding up combinations of cards in your hand and get a sequence of runs like three of a kind, four of a kind, a flush like in poker and try to figure out the hand.”

The board has a series of small holes that the two pegs each player has moves along.

“There are 60 up and 60 down and two pegs,” Zeisler said. “Always pick up the back peg to keep the place of how many moves forward you moved the front peg so there isn’t a mixup on whose turn it is or the number of spaces moved forward.”

The game encourages students to utilize critical thinking and math skills, which makes cribbage such a beneficial game to teach to students, Zeisler said.

“I started teaching cribbage to my seventh-graders and started seeing some great value in the game,” said Zeisler. “It uses math skills, critical thinking skills, so I thought this was a really good tool and should be done by other teachers.”

Zeisler taught the game and facilitated the tournament for many years when he taught in Sonora, and even developed a manual on how to teach cribbage, which was published by the American Cribbage Congress.

“My biggest one was 93 kids the last year I did it in the Sonora area,” Zeisler said. “Then I got a job in Grass Valley and started the entire thing from scratch and have had it in Nevada County for about 14 years.”

The tournament has garnered interest from cribbage lovers around the country, Zeisler said.

“I’m hoping this tournament will have at least 80 kids,” Zeisler said. “I think last year we had 48 and we had a 9-year-old from Maryland, we’ve also had kids in previous tournaments come from the Portland area, Reno, a few from Southern California and many from the Bay Area.”

The strategy and variety of ways the game can be played also add interest, Zeisler said.

“Even though all card games have an element of luck, there’s also a lot of strategy used in this game,” Zeisler said. “And there are so many different approaches to how you can play the game and cards.”

Students enjoy the unique way to build their math skills.

“I like how you get to learn more about math and it’s fun to be playing against each other,” said Sherry Guzman, 7th grade. “It’s interesting to see how you get points and the different types of rules.”

Another student said the preparation for the tournament adds to the excitement of the game.

“I just like playing because it’s fun and helps me get ready for the tournament,” said seventh-grader Micheal Schreiber, who participated in the tournament last year. “It was awesome. We got fifth place.”

Another benefit is the camaraderie the students experience through participation, regardless of whether or not they win.

“I got to see a lot of people from different schools that I haven’t seen in a while,” Schreiber said. “And even if you lose, it’s okay. It’s about enjoying the game.”

The tournament is open to all cribbage players 18 and under and will take place 8:30 a.m. Feb. 23 at the Chicago Park School gymnasium at 15725 Mt. Olive Road, Grass Valley.

Registration is $5 and should be sent to Chicago Park School.

The cost includes a custom cribbage T-shirt, raffle, a catered luncheon and snacks.

Zeisler encourages teachers interested in involving their students in the tournament to call him at Chicago Park School at 530-346-2153 ext. 202 or

“If other people are interested, that would be great,” Zeisler said.

“We’d really like to see other schools in the area participate in this tournament.”

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email or call 530-477-4230.

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