In the age of distraction, where computer games and tablets are king, a group of St. Cloud seniors is succeeding in inspiring local youths to keep the game of cribbage alive.
Previously a common sight at kitchen tables across Minnesota, reports have suggested the once-popular game had fallen out of fashion in recent years.
But the efforts of a group of avid players in St. Cloud – most of them retired – are bearing fruit, as over the past four years they have been running six-week cribbage courses that teach the game to local fourth- and fifth-graders.
The St. Cloud Times reports the initiative is "bridging the generation gap" in the city, while doing its best to ensure the game remains alive for decades to come as each student takes home their own board and rulebook as keepsakes.
From the purely educational perspective as well, there is the obvious benefits of improving mental arithmetic as students count up their 15s, runs and pairs, as well as improving their social skills, the newspaper notes.
The seniors are led by American Cribbage Congress member Jerry Jansky, who also runs classes for adults in the city through Community Education.
St. Cloud Area Schools District says Jansky is a cribbage veteran, having taken 32nd place at the Grand National Tournament in Las Vegas, and takes part in the annual Granite City Classic.
A history of cribbage
Cribbage is believed to have been invented in the early 1600s by British soldier and poet Sir John Suckling, and was brought to American shores by English settlers, according to the Art of Manliness.
The game spread worldwide, and was particularly popular among naval soldiers during World War II. Cribbage boards – featuring their distinctive 61 or 121 holes – were made from a variety of materials, with Inuits even carving them out of whale bones.
The United States is where it remains most popular, with more than 10 million people playing in leagues across the country, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Back in its homeland, the UK, it remains one of few games that people are legally allowed to gamble on in pubs, with dominoes being another, the BBC says.