Now I know what you’re thinking. “Since juvat retired from the AF, he’s been working in information technology and he’s trying to turn Sarge’s blog into ArsTechnica light. This posting is about Create, Read, Update and Delete (CRUD). I’m outta here!”
Not so fast! We’re going to be talking about a genteel game played on a snooker table where gentlemen and ladies discuss the day’s events while sipping adult recreational beverages in a quiet relaxing atmosphere.
Ok, the only things true in the above paragraph were Snooker Table and Adult Recreational Beverages.
I’m not exactly sure how the game was introduced to the USAF, it wasn’t present in any of the O Club’s I visited (which was a fair sample size) while in UPT, LIFT or F-4 RTU, nor was it played at the Kun while I was there. But by the time I got back to the states, it was in full swing at Moody. More on this later.
According to Sarge’s authoritative source and verified by me, Crud is
“… played on a pool or snooker table (usually the latter, when available) using the cue ball (the shooter ball), and one object ball (most commonly a striped ball since it is easiest to determine if it is in motion). Only the corner pockets are used on non-snooker or smaller tables. On these, the side pockets (if there are any) are blocked off, traditionally by rolls of toilet paper.
“Pool cues are not used; the shooter ball is launched across the table surface with the hand. A game of crud involves moving around the table and other players, trying to grab the shooter ball and either strike the object ball before it stops moving or sink it.”
There are multiple styles of play.
Here’s the way General’s play. Forgive the cheesy smarm of the typical military broadcast journalist, please. I knew quite a few of the people on camera and given that this was filmed at a multi-service, multi country conference in Korea, diplomacy was in full swing. These folks were good for that sort of thing, and some of them for not much else. Of note, watch the delicate ballet of movement around the table as well as the two poor Lts in Mess Dress acting as Refs. Good Lord! If that had happened in a Fighter Club, the players would have been laughed out of town and the LTs would have been buying new uniforms the next day. Watch the video, it’ll give you a chuckle.
Welcome back. Now we’ll get on with how the game is played for real. The following is a masterpiece of understatement.
“ This boisterous game is usually only played in a military mess as the management of most public establishments would not normally condone contact sports and the apparent abuse of their equipment.”
This video shows a mild form of “Combat Rules” Crud.
in Combat Rules, Body Contact is authorized and encouraged. The only person who is not supposed to be contacted is the ref and even that is a judgement call. He is supposed to have an adult recreational beverage in his hand at all times. He is encouraged to drink it. If incidental contact is made with the Ref and his drink is spilled, the offender loses a life and, of course, must replace the drink.
Did I mention this game is typically played in the bar at the O-Club?
Oh, and if combat rules are called, no one is immune! Wing Commander’s, GO’s, no one. I’ve seen 1LT’s level their Squadron Commander. We had a former Linebacker for the USAFA football team in our squadron at Kadena. Took our Commander to the floor. Both got back up and went back to play. The Commander got him back in a spectacular running slide across the table, hitting him just prior to ball release resulting in a missed shot and dead ball life.
It’s a fun game, although it wouldn’t surprise me in this day and age to find it banned. So, juvat, what’s this got to do with you?
Well, So, There I was…..*
I’ve completed my first operational assignment and left the ROK a week or so before Christmas. Spent Christmas Leave with my folks, bought a new car to replace the one I’d had in college all the way through F-4 RTU (A ’76 Chevy Vega, but that’s another story). Drove to Moody AFB, in lovely Valdosta by the
Sea Swamp, GA. I arrive on a Friday and in process with the
squadron. It’s now Friday evening and I,
along with my new squadron and the other two squadrons are in informal bar at the O’Club. I guess there must have been a Formal bar, I
don’t know, nobody I knew ever went in there.
Given there were three squadrons of 2 seater F-4Es and about 30 crews in each squadron, plus wives, girlfriends, ladies who’d like to be wives/girlfriends and assorted non-rated folks who didn’t know what they were getting into (some of them did and the phrase “Fighter Pilot is an attitude, not an AFSC” applied to them). The bar was crowded.
And the focus of the bar was on the pool table. There was lots of motion, jostling, yells, groans going on. In short, it was obvious people were having fun. Not having a clue what was going on, I ordered a icy cold Adult Recreational Beverage and went over to see what the hubbub was about. Two squadrons were going at it on the Crud table, neither of them mine. But my squadron is forming up to take on the winners. One of my guys sees me and asks if I played Crud. From the blank stare, he gathered I hadn’t. He then proceeds to talk me through the game.
Not playing was not an option. I had reported in, I was a member of the squadron, I would play crud. No pressure. Not having a blog post to explain the game and YouTube videos to pick up techniques, I moved over to the score board where the rules were posted. As I began to read, a deathly silence came upon the crowd. The ref marched over and placed his elbow on the last rule (pointing with anything other than an elbow is verboten), which read, “Whosoever shall read the rules shall buy the Ref a beverage of his choice.” The Lt Col had a taste for Single Malt Scotch.
Great start Juvat!
Our game commences and I lose my 3 lives quickly and am relegated to the peanut gallery for the remainder of the contest. I buy my opponent a round and sit down and watch subsequent games. Later in the evening, the crowd has thinned a bit, but the squadron representation is still strong. I’m staying in the BOQ until I can find a place to rent, so I got no place better to be.
The games are still going strong although the team size is reduced. It is our squadron’s turn again, and in spite of my Stellar performance in my debut start, they still want me to play. It seems we’re playing against an All-Female team. Ahh, that’s why they want me. Get me some seasoning against the JV team.
It’s my turn and I’m receiving. My opponent at this point is a very cute 2LT standing all of 5’ 2” or so. I think this is going to be easy. She serves the cue ball and misses the object ball. She gets three tries. Serves it again and misses. I relax, she’s going to lose a life and I didn’t have to do anything. She serves it again, much harder and smacks the object ball into the pocket before I even know what happened.
Since she is directly across from me on the lineup board, I’ve got to play against her. My game style at this point is much like my flying style. All velocity, no vector. Smack the ball hard and hope it goes in. Hers on the other hand is much more along the lines of something from Sun Tzu. “(S)he who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious.”
She had mastered the double tap, whereby she would trap the ball against a rail by hitting it softly and having it bounce back hit the cue ball again and come to a halt. She is also, as already demonstrated, deadly on the serve. In short, she was excellent at the game.
The game is finally over, the 2LT being the sole survivor from her team against 4 or 5 members from mine (not including myself of course, ignominious defeat came early). She has managed to prevail and win for her side. I approach, introduce myself and ask her what she’d like for her victory libation. Purchase it and return.
I sit down at the table with her and guys from my squadron and the other members of her team.
Well, turns out, that Crud was a Canadian Air Force invention, and a while back, a detachment from the wing had travelled to Moose Jaw for a Maple Flag. They brought the game back with them. Fighter Pilots being Fighter Pilots, the ladies were not invited to participate in the Friday night games. So the 2LT had gotten together with her friends and practiced on nights when the Club wasn’t populated with guys in bags.
Finally, one Friday Night after many weeks of practice and later in the evening after most of the hubbub had lessened, the 2LT and her team had challenged one of the squadrons, and soundly thrashed them. Much quibbling about the reason for defeat were postulated, but none held much water. They had been beaten by GIRLS! A rematch was scheduled for the following Friday. The results were the same.
The 2LT and her team became regulars on the schedule and were not to be trifled with. There came a time when the Canadians deployed down to Moody for an exercise, and of course that involved the Club on Friday and Crud. The Wing King had challenged his counterpart to a game.
The Canadian Colonel had his finest players at the table, when the Wing King walked in with his team. The 2LT and her friends. There was much hooting and hollering from the Canucks, and some solemn nodding of heads from the Americans seeing lambs being lead to the slaughter. It wasn’t even close. The Wing’s honor upheld.
I’m sitting there listening to all this, when the 2LT asks me if I’d like a little help with my Crud skills.
And that’s how I met my wife!