Cribbage a family thing


Ian, left, Marty and Irma Symons show off past cribbage trophies at Friday's match at the Jefferson County Senior Center.Three generations of cribbage players from one local family participated in the Cascade Cribbage Classic last weekend in Madras.

Marty and Irma Symons, their daughter Deena Goss and their grandson Ian Symons all entered the tournament.

Ian, 17, who just graduated from Madras High School, started playing cribbage at age 9.

Raised by his grandparents, he said, “It was a family thing, and once you get into it, it’s fun – addicting.”

Marty Symons began playing in 1970 and Irma Symons in 1985. “She learned from me and I learned from my dad,” he said.

“They are both better players than I’ll ever be,” Irma admitted, noting, with over 4,000 accumulated points, her husband is now a grand master.

The players carry American Association of Cribbage cards, which list their national ranking and “grassroots” or regional ranking, based on their number of points won.

The Symons family travels to lots of tournaments including those in Portland, Prineville, Redmond, Bend, Lincoln City, and Sunnyside, Wash.

“Reno is the big one (national finals). We average going once a month out of town to tournaments,” Marty said. Often, they run into many of the same people and have a lot of cribbage friends.

“The ACC community has like 7,000 members,” Ian said. There is a grassroots club they belong to in Prineville, and they would like to get one started in Madras.

Although he is one of just a handful of young players, Ian has already won two consolation matches, and was named the champion of the main tournament in Sunnyside on May 19.

Cribbage uses elimination rounds to narrow down qualifiers for the final round, and only 25 percent of the competitors in a tournament qualify for the finals.

During a round, players keep track of their points by putting pegs in a board with 120 holes. “The object is to get 120 holes before the other guy does. It’s a card game that’s 5 percent skill and 95 percent luck,” said Marty Symons.

“No, it’s 30 percent skill and 70 percent luck, I guarantee you,” argued his grandson.

“You either like it, or you don’t,” said Irma, mentioning that her daughter and son-in-law, Deena and Mike Goss, and her granddaughter Sierra Studnick were playing in the doubles match Friday night.

Past wins included Irma winning second place at the Cascade Classic in 2002, and Marty winning tournaments in Portland, Prineville and Kah-Nee-Ta. The trophy is always a fancy cribbage board. “We have a closet full of cribbage boards,” Irma laughed.

“Marty is in the top 50 nationwide, and Ian is a card shark and does card tricks at home. He’d like to be a professional card player,” Irma Symons said.

Tourney winners

The Cascade Cribbage Classic drew players from Hawaii, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Nevada, Montana, California, Washington, Oregon and Canada. Debra Lucas and Tammy Gibbons co-directed the event.

Local players included Debra Lucas, Kurt Ocker, Marty, Irma and Ian Symons, Frank Lake, John Hatfield, Mike and Deena Goss, Ray Ranglia, Jeff Studnick and Sierra Studnick, Ben Anderson, Phil Symons, Denny Van Orsow, and Nick Tarvin.

Friday, 34 entered the early bird tournament, and the winner was Audrey Hatto of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Twenty-two teams entered the doubles tournament that evening. The winning team was Paul Gregson of Antioch, Calif., and Jim Langley of Red Bluff, Calif.

In the main tournament on Saturday, there were 80 entrants. The overall winner was Audrey Hatto of Canada, and winning second place was Bruce Goff of Tacoma, Wash.

The Saturday Night Special tourney had 18 entrants, with Tom Landford of McKinleyville, Calif. winning.

Forty-six entered the consolation tournament on Sunday, with Bob Brumley of Sunnyside, Wash., winning.