Tim Craig October 2021 Third Prize

That’s All There Is, There Ain’t No More

by Tim Craig

Cribbage is a traditional card game for two players, for example a father and his son who haven’t spoken for six years, in which the object is to score 121 points while avoiding eye contact. Cribbage is a game sometimes played by a father and his adult son, where the wooden scoring board serves as a proxy for difficult conversation. Cribbage was invented by the seventeenth century poet Sir John Suckling, although whether he devised the game to provide a neutral space in which he and his father could co-exist without speaking is not recorded. Cribbage is often played in dark corners of pubs, by a father and son who would rather look at their cards — ‘fifteen-two, fifteen-four, that’s all there is, there ain’t no more’ — than each other’s faces. In Cribbage, a card game often played between a father and his son (now also a father himself) there are exactly 1,009,008 combinations of hands which score no points at all, while the top score possible with a single hand is 29. Although the game is often played in complete silence — by, say, a father and son who have long forgotten how to speak to each other — Cribbage nevertheless boasts its own rich glossary of phrases, like ‘one for his nob’ and ‘two for his heels;’ it has also given the English language such everyday expressions as ‘pegging it’ and ‘streets ahead.’ The card game Cribbage is most commonly played by two players, e.g. a father and the adult son he cannot bring himself to forgive. In this version, the winner is the first person to move his matchstick – or peg – up and down the Crib board twice, drain his pint glass, look at his watch and say, ‘Aye, well…’

About the Author

Originally from Manchester, Tim Craig lives in London. A winner of the Bridport Prize for Flash Fiction, his stories have (now) placed four times in the Bath Flash Fiction Award and have appeared in both the Best Microfiction Anthology and the BIFFY50 list. He is a Submissions Editor for Smokelong Quarterly. (Twitter: @timkcraig)

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