Every morning for the last 30 years, Paul and Vera Holitzki have played a game of cribbage. From their North Shore lakefront home, the couple counts 15s, looks for runs and pegs points.
Next week the Holitzkis will match hands with the best cribbage players around the province in the BC Seniors Games.
“We have a game every morning, shortly after breakfast,” says Paul.
The couple are BC Seniors Games rookies. In fact, they had no idea such an outlet for their card playing passion even existed until a couple of months ago.
“I just happened to see it in the newspaper and because it’s right on our doorstep… I just thought why not?” says Vera. “At first I thought it was kind of unusual to have cribbage and bridge in a Games. I can’t run fast anymore, so I thought why not try cribbage.”
Vera, 75, and Paul, 78, both grew up in Kelowna. They moved to Nelson in 1975 with their four kids when the Ministry of Forests transferred Paul. It was the family’s 12th move as Paul — who was a forest ranger — was in a position that required plenty of new posts. Nelson was the final stop. Two of their four children — and five of their nine grandchildren — still live in Nelson.
The Holitzkis have played competitive sports like baseball, volleyball, hockey, bowling and curling all their lives. With a thirst for competition and enjoyment of cards, they went to the qualifying tournament in Castlegar in the spring.
“My knees were shaking when we went to qualify because I wasn’t sure what they expected or what we needed to do,” says Vera. “But it was very casual and very fun to meet different people.”
Cribbage has been around since the 17th century where the early version was played in England. It involves playing and grouping cards to gain points. The points are marked on the cribbage board which races to 120 points.
The Holitzkis will be playing as a team in a four-person version of the game. Like most games, cribbage requires a solid understanding of the strategy to do well. But Vera, who plays bridge with a group of ladies twice a month, says there is plenty of luck involved.
“It’s not a game like bridge where there is a lot of skill,” she says. “If you don’t get the cards, then there is not much you can do.”
The cribbage venue will be set up at Nelson’s Central School next week where the couple will see if their top finish in the qualifying tournament carries over to provincial test.
Though they wouldn’t divulge any of their strategy, the couple — who have been married for 54 years — did impart a nugget of wisdom on how to stay happy after all these years.
“It’s a real combination and whole array of different things, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t had our differences,” says Paul. “We love each other and always have… that’s the most important part.”