Crib and Gil

            I started playing crib when I was six years old, and I’ve always found it by far the best card game for two people. I even enjoy playing it with three or four players, provided they’re all fairly equally skilled in the game.

            In my year-end blog I mentioned that I lost two great friends during 2016, one of them being my long-time cottage neighbour, Gil Collins, who also had a passion for the game. From 1975 until his failing eyesight prevented him from playing a few years ago, Gil and I played well over 6,000 games of crib, of which he won just over 51%. (Yes, we did keep track.) My guess is that there’s not much about crib that Gil and I didn’t experience. For example, every crib player knows there’s no hand that can make up a score of 19. But there is also no hand that can make up scores of 25, 26, or 27.

           And, here are a couple of tips for rookie players. The safest card to lead is a 4 because your opponent can’t make a 15 (worth two points) on the next play; and lower cards are better held to enhance your chances of later making a 15 or 31 (also worth two points). The worst card to lead is a 5 because there are sixteen cards that would let your opponent make 15. Leading one of a pair is always a good lead. The best two cards to throw to an opponent’s crib are a king and 8, a queen and 7, or a nine and 2, because they can’t contribute to a run.

             I could go on, but that’s enough for now. Oh, there is one more thing: Gil and I always agreed that the minimum penalty for touching an opponent’s peg should be a broken arm.

 Compromise and Dave

            The other great friend I lost in 2016 was fellow accountant Dave Bonham.

             Dave and I became immediate fast friends when we first met back in 1966. Over the next twenty years we served together on just about every committee of both the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario and the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, including both of us serving as chairman of both Institutes. (Just to keep the record straight, chartered accountants are now referred to as chartered professional accountants, which is how CAs have become CPAs)

             Dave and I had a lot in common. Although busy professionals, we always put our families first, we were rabid Blue Jays fans, we loved our profession, we were keen political observers, and we loved debating issues. It was in this latter category where we most differed. Dave always had compromise uppermost in his mind; and, although I recognized it had its place, to me compromise was a last resort.

             This difference in styles was clearly manifested in a memorable exchange we had when we were both serving on the executive committee of the Ontario Institute, Dave as chairman and I as vice-chairman. I don’t remember what the particular issue was, but we were going at it hammer and tong when Dave, in an effort to prompt a compromise, said, “Lyman, we’re not that far apart.” I replied, “Dave, we’re diametrically opposed!” Here comes the memorable part. Dave said, “Well, that’s not that far apart.”

             Dave Bonham delivered one of the best lines I’ve ever heard. We were testifying before an Ontario government committee that was considering the merits of an academic study that had recommended a reduction in the qualification requirements for auditors of public companies. Dave opened his comments with this devastating line, “I’ve studied this report carefully and I have to say it is both good and original. Unfortunately, what’s original is not good and what’s good is not original.”

 Another Great Line

            Relating the foregoing incident reminded me of another David and another great line.

            My former partner, David Timbrell, and I were arguing on a client’s behalf with an obstinate income tax assessor who, after hearing our reasoning, summarily said, “Gentlemen, I’ve listened to you for almost half an hour and I’m none the wiser.”

             Realizing we were going to have appeal to a higher level anyway, David retorted, “Perhaps not, but you’re better informed.”