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[[Image:CribbageSmr04.jpg|left|Jonathan (left) and Zach (right) face off in Morgan E, Summer 2004.] The most games of cribbage on the Williams campus in a four-year period were probably played between the Fall of 2001 and the Spring of 2005, during which ran a continuous tournament between two students. A concise history of this semi-epic battle, complete with win-loss statistics, is collected in this article.

The 2001 - 2002 Season

In the Fall of 2001, Jonathan Landsman '05 and Zachary McArthur '05 were freshmen living together in East 3. In the first week of school, Jonathan noticed a cribbage board laying on the top shelf of Zach's bookshelf. "You play?" he asked. "Yes," replied Zach. "I'm looking for an opponent." So it began.

Though the spectator base was still fairly small, and confined mostly to the current residents of East 3, the first year of cribbage was considered by some to be most exciting. Of all four years, the 2001-2 season featured the greatest number of changes to the frontrunner. Analysts have since speculated that this was due to the players’ slow acclamation to each others’ style of play, and some house rules. For example, Zach taught Jonathan the rule that five flushes are the only kind that score in the crib. He also engaged in some head games, claiming that King-7 was the most dangerous throw to your opponent’s crib. Jonathan believed this garbage, until Zach’s father visited and accidentally disillusioned his son’s opponent.

The two players also decided not to play with the optional “Muggins” rule, which penalizes players for miscounted hands. This latter decision was key in ensuring the efficiency of games, and a high game volume in future years, as Zach and Jonathan were able to play games in ten minutes before a shift, a class, a final exam, and other less important engagements. Senior year, they had reached such fluidity as to be able to watch ‘’Boiling Point’’ and still hold down a decent game.

The 100th Game of 2001 - 2002

The hundredth game of the first year was played in the East 3 common room, and received moderate publicity via an email sent 28 April 2002 to the East and Fayerweather dorms:

That's right, today at snacks in the East 3 common room, what has been almost two semesters and one winter study in the making is finally coming to a head, when Zach and Jonathan play their 100th game of cribbage. It promises to be an exciting match, as this year has seen hands as big as 28 points, comebacks from 40-point deficits, and even a near miss at that elusive double skunk. What marvellous spectacles will Sunday's game hold? No one knows, but be sure to come to the East 3 Common Room at 10:30 for what is absolutely sure to be a milestone in cribbage history and a roaring good time. These two players have been neck to neck all year, forsaking social lives and academic standing to perfect their game. Come see the masters in action, as Zach "Z-Money" McArthur tries to keep his since-spring-break streak rolling against Jonathan "J-Dawg" Landsman's best efforts to turn the tides. If you see one game of cribbage in your life, THIS is the game to see.

Highlights of 2001 - 2002

  • ‘’’Exactly 100 games are played.’’’ So began the tradition of making the 100th game in a year a special event.
Zach has occassionally made allegations that Jonathan “refused” to play more games after the 100th, in the final two weeks of school, but this seems unlikely for strategic reasons given that Jonathan was losing at game 100. Jonathan claims he had “finals.”
  • ‘’’Historic 28-point hand.’’’ A 28-point hand is extremely rare, and second in score only to the 29-point hand, which was never attained by Zach or Jonathan.
In one of only two games ever to occur between Jonathan and Zach’s father, Jonathan came back to win from a 25-point deficit in the 3rd stretch when he was dealt all four fives, and a king was cut.

Final Statistics, 2001 - 2002

| Total games: 100 | Total skunks: 12 | | Zach: 57 (6 skunks) | Jonathan: 55 (6 skunks) ‘’’Note:’’’ Tally of games were made on the East 3 quote board, which was a sheet of contact paper stuck to the western wall of the common room and marked with magic markers. No one seems to have recovered the quote board at the end of the year, and the tallies have been long lost, presumed destroyed by a custodian. As a result, the exact sequence of games and skunks are not known.

The 2002 - 2003 Season

A new academic year brought new challenges. The convulsions of an embryonic Anchor Housing movement the prior spring had reduced pick size to 4, thereby scattering the two cribbage titans to opposite sides of campus: Prospect for Zach and Mission for Jonathan. Would the two remain friends? More importantly, would the cribbage series continue?

In fact, the second season of cribbage saw not only a modest increase in the total number of games played, but the longest gaming sessions of any year. Zach’s walkthrough double in Prospect housed no fewer than three cribbage boards, and up to four games in a row were played on said boards on some days -- and not just over Winter Study. Somehow, visits later in the day for a second bout of matches were also fairly common, though nearly unheard of in future years, as the more wizened players seemed to opt for a steadier pace.

Williams Cribbage historians, in conjunction with eminent sociologists, have postulated that the great distance between Prospect and Mission was spanned, in part, by Zach’s Ms. Pacman habit coupled with the existence of the game on Jonathan’s computer. Anecdotes from the time record that Zach could often be found in Jonathan’s Pratt room even when he was not there, playing Ms. Pacman in the endless quest for a high score -- perhaps to alleviate his cribagge woes, for Jonathan did well this year. Playing solo, Zach set some impressive high scores, but the highest score in the books at Williams was set by the simultaneous cooperative play of Zach and Jonathan: well over 200,000.

The 100th Game of 2002 - 2003

Out of deference to tradition and a certain homesickness, the common room of East 3 was again chosen as the site for the century match. Dan Krass ‘05 and Al Grodon ‘04, were hired to commentate for the event. Latecomers trickled in as Dan and Al interviewed the players on their game plans, and on the season so far. A modest crowd of spectators witnessed Zach’s sound defeat.

Occassions of great moment need great events, and so the publicity for the second hundredth game of cribbage (#200) took on a wider scope. Emails were sent to the Bridge and Deviants listservers; the Deviants version, sent 10 April 2003, is reprinted below:

Pop quiz, hotshots:  you're sitting at a table across from the smartest, most attractive specimen of your desired sex you have ever dreamed of.  What do you do?  Normally, an invitation to play bridge would be in order, but there are only two of you.  So what, my friend, DO YOU DO?

Whip out that cribbage board, my friend, the one you carry with you everywhere you go.  That, a deck of cards, and another human with a modicum of intelligence, as Zach and I demonstrate, is all you need to play.

Zach?  Who's that?

Zach McArthur has come to bridge a few times.  He lives in Prospect, and is a lover of Deviance;  some of you may see him around in Driscoll, and certainly never in class.  I know him better as my first real friend freshman year, in my entry of East 3.  We met, actually, when I saw he had a cribbage board.  Last year we played 100 games, and he won in May with a final score of 57 to 55.  This year, we finished our 99th game last Monday.

It is time . . . for ***Zach and Jonathan's Big 100, 2003***

Zach and I will be playing our 100th match in the East 3 common room TONIGHT AT 9:00, for tradition's sake.  The frosh there have no idea.  We hope they won't beat us up.  The score now is Me 58, Zach 55, so Zach can put himself very close with a skunk (win by 31), or take the first 100 with a double skunk (win by 61).  This promises to be an exciting match.  We are looking for a commentator (only someone with a deep knowledge of the game, please, this is world class stuff here.  Yes, I'm kidding) and a pregame and maybe halftime show.  Zach and I are a show in ourselves, though.  It's going to be lots of fun, everything is in jest. . . except the game, which is for all the marbles, the honor, the glory, the affirmation of our manhoods.  If you can't make it at 9, show up as soon as you can.  We'll likely be there until 9:30.

And Bridge night will start this week at 9:30 in the usual place, Currier North 3rd floor common room, unless Cribbage spectators, like hungry children asked to wait for the pie to cool on the windowsill before digging in, just cannot bear any delay and break down to get down and dirty, bridge style, right there in the East 3 common room.

Good wishes to you all, my friends.

Highlights of 2002 - 2003

  • ‘’’A special sequence’’’ of play is recorded: 4-4-4-3-2-A-3-2. This sequence carries the distinction of having every card after the first score at least two points. Player 2 comes out on top, scoring fifteen to 1’s twelve.
  • Cribbage communication logistics are tested by the necessity of maintaining two scoreboards on opposite ends of campus. Syncronization proves less of a problem than vandalism, which claims two boards handmade by Zach and posted in the central Prospect vestibule. Only his “Upstate vs. Downstate” themed scoreboard -- a reference to Zach’s Rochester and Jonathan’s New York City origins -- has survived to date.

Final Statistics, 2002 - 2003

| Total games: 117 | Total skunks: 15 | | Zach: 62 iissi iiiii iiiii iiiis siiis | (8 skunks) sssis siiii iiiii ssssi iissi | iiiii iiiii ii | Jonathan: 70 iiiii ssiii iiiii iiiss iiiii | (7 skunks) iiiii iiiii issis siiii iiiii | ssiii ssiii iiiii iissi

The 2003 - 2004 Season

When Zach drove down to Queens to pick up Jonathan for the ride up to start junior year, the 2003-4 season was kicked off with the first off-campus face-to-face cribbage match. Besides being a landmark game for this reason, the event also led to the ruling that a new season begins after the previous year’s finals, and is ‘’not’’ determined by the first day of classes.

By the third year, Zach and Jonathan were essentially cribbage machines, able to play full games in an average of 15 minutes with ease, or as little as 10 when rushing. Distances were again a test to the rivalry: with Jonathan having returned to the Odd Quad on Currier third floor, and Zach perched high in Gladden 5, altitude became a significant factor in addition to distance. Nevertheless, the competition churned onwards.

This year brought a small decline in total number of games played, after a substantial rise from freshman to sophomore year. Scholars explain this by focusing their study on the Winter Study period of this year, during which Zach and Jonathan attended Lessons In Go. Some scholars of this era have offered their Theory of Divertment Dilution to explain this phenomenon. It holds that, with Zach and Jonathan now faced with a choice of how to spend their time together, between playing Go and Cribbage, the overall probability that cribbage is played diminishes when total free time is held constant. This theory has met with stiff resistance from scholars of the Second Year, who assert that, if the theory held, there ought to have been a reduction of cribbage play in year two in light of increased Ms. Pacman play.

Whatever the governing force behind it, the decrease in total games seems not to have impacted total skunks, which went from 15 to 16 this year. From Jonathan’s claim of 9 of these to Zach’s 7, coupled with similar trends Senior Year and after, analysts mark this year the beginning of a shift in Jonathan’s gameplay to follow a more aggressive strategy. A look at all four years shows that this may have been the key to Jonathan’s downfall: in every year, the leader in skunks was also the loser of the century match, and the year’s series.

The 100th Game of 2003 - 2004

By the third year, the popularity of the Cribbage Series had grown to monumental size, at least in the minds of the two people playing it. Planning for the big 100th game (#317) began in September. The scoreboard this year was finely crafted for display outdoors, and Zach’s mother attended the event: a life sized cribbage game in the Odd Quad.

‘’’Date:’’’ 10 April 2004
‘’’Subject:’’’ The Ulitmate Cribbage Game of the Century

You've followed their amazing story for years . . .

You've seen it advertised in the Daily Messages . . .

But nothing can prepare you for what's gonna hit the Odd Quad, this Saturday (tomorrow) at 1 PM:

THE ULTIMATE CRIBBAGE MATCH OF THE CENTURY Zach McArthur vs. Jonathan Landsman, year three, game 100, for ultimate bragging rights.

Be in the odd quad at 1 pm for an amazing cribbage event to last about 30 minutes – a little light after-lunch fun, nothing that you can't break from work to do.

For the history of this great tradition, born two and a half years ago in the great entry of EAST 3 and enshrined in its continued hallowed place ever since, show up tomorrow and be regaled with the information live from the famed players themselves, and your commentators, well-versed in the cribbage arts, DAN BURNS (and possibly AL GORDON too).

Hope to see you there. It's gonna be a beautiful day for Cribbage.

  • * * CURRENT MEMBERS OF EAST 3 -- come and see what's behind the washable crayon graffiti on your common room wall! The cribbage spirit infusing your entry; it is part of your heritage!

The site was the Odd Quad, a tringle of grass surrounded by conrete sidewalk right in front of Jonathan’s dorm of Currier. Before the event, Jonathan and Zach labeled squares of the cicuit of sidewalk with numbers from 1 to 30, so that human “pegs” could make the rounds four times to reach victory. Live assistants were needed to play the role of peg for each player; for Jonathan, the lovely Margit Sande-Kerback ‘05 stepped forth, and for Zach, the enchanting Julia Brown ‘06 presented herself.

The wood-burned scoreboard was brought from its place in Currier to be displayed on a post, which was actually an ancient sign promoting Amy and Todd, from the CC co-presidential campaign of Spring 2000. The spirit imbuing the wood, the game’s excellent placement, and the growing reknown of cribbage all contributed to draw the biggest and most enthusiastic spectatorship yet, at about 20 people. It was a very windy day, and everyone except the pegs huddled around the two players kneeling in the grass, both to share warmth and to protect the game from blowing away.

The result is less important than the historical record of the event itself, but if you must know, Jonathan was thrashed in front of friends, friend’s family, and girlfriend.

Highlights of 2003 - 2004

  • ‘’’The year’s first on-campus game is played in the East 3 common room.’’’ Zach makes a monument to his victory and his maturity on the common room wall by scrawling a boast in washable crayon.
  • ‘’’The year’s official tally is burned into a plank of wood,’’’ to make the most craftsmanship-intensive cribbage scoreboard of the four years.

Final Statistics, 2003 - 2004

| Total games: 109 | Total skunks: 16 | | Zach: 66 iiiii ssssi iissi ssiis siiii | (7 skunks) iiiii issii iiiii iiiii iiiii | iiiii iiiii iiiss i | Jonathan: 59 iiiii ssiii iiiii iiiis siiss | (9 skunks) iiiss issii ssiss ssiii iiiii | iissi iiii

See also: