Loddon man’s 39-date cribbage tour ends in Norwich

Siv Sears of Loddon, who is ready to play cribbage in Norfolk, the last county in his mission to pla

Siv Sears of Loddon, who is ready to play cribbage in Norfolk, the last county in his mission to play in 39 historical counties, at Cinema City, formerly Suckling House. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Dating back to the 1600s, cribbage is a game that has long been played across the country.

But few, surely, can claim to have played all across it.

One who can, though, is Siv Sears, a 39-year-old teacher from Loddon, who has just completed a marathon cribbage tour, with a historical twist befitting the 400-year-old game.

He has played the traditional card game – which combines maths, logic, strategy and skill – in all 39 of the historic counties of England, ending the tour in Norwich this week.

Mr Sears – who started playing at the age of eight – began the challenge after moving back to England from China.

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He devised the tour as a way of showing his Chinese partner, Carrie, the country, while indulging his love of cribbage.

His tour took him across the length and breadth of England and saw him play in a variety of venues, including an Indian restaurant, a prison, and a castle.

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'The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland gave me permission to play in Alnwick Castle – where part of Harry Potter was filmed,' he said. 'A Harry Potter look-a-like showed up to play, but I had to say, 'No, Harry! This is cribbage, not quidditch'.'

His travels also saw him compete against a member of the Suckling family – a descendant of John Suckling, who is credited with inventing the game, and whose own grandfather, Robert Suckling, was Sheriff of Norwich in 1564.

The final county on Mr Sears's list was Norfolk – where he narrowly defeated another Suckling, in a contest held in Suckling House – now Cinema City.

He said: 'It was always my plan to finish the tour in Norfolk – where I live, and where cribbage was invented – and it was perfect to be able to do so against one of John Suckling's descendants.'

He is now hoping his tour will inspire others to take up the game themselves.

Special terms

Like many games, cribbage has its own language only understood by those who play. However, some of the lexicon has found its way into everyday use:

Level pegging: commonly known to mean level on points, this phrase's literal meaning derives from cribbage, as when scores are equal, the pegs are level

Streets ahead: meaning winning comprehensively. The holes in a cribbage board are set out in lines, known as 'streets'. If somebody is winning convincingly, they may be 'streets' ahead.

Other cribbage phrases include 'muggins', 'two for his heels' and 'one for his nob'.

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