Windsor

Not just for the cottage: World crokinole championships attracts players young and old

The youngest player is just eight years old — and the oldest is 92. They're just a few of the almost 400 players have come from all over the world, including seven states, the island of Guernsey and Holland, to take part in a tournament of Ontario's cottage game.

'It's amazing seeing that many crokinole boards on an arena floor playing at the same time'

It's the 21st year of the World Crokinole Championship in Tavistock, Ontario. (Pat Martel/CBC)

The youngest player is just eight years old — and the oldest is 92. 

They're just a few of the almost 400 players have come from all over the world, including seven states, the island of Guernsey and Holland, to take part in a tournament of Ontario's cottage game.

It's the 21st year of the World Crokinole Championship in Tavistock, Ontario.

The first crokinole board recorded was made in 1876 by Eckhardt Wettlaufer for his son. The game takes elements of shuffleboard, curling and marbles and is played by using checker-sized pieces, shooting onto a round playing surface. 

The singles prize for first place is $1,000 — and Nathan Walsh is hoping to take home the title. 

26-year-old Nathan Walsh of Kitchener is a world-ranked crokinole player. He will be competing this weekend at the World Crokinole Championship in Tavistock, Ontario. (Carmen Ponciano/CBC)

Walsh is world-ranked crokinole player — seventh in the world — and an actuary by day. He was a member of the organizing committee for the one-day championship Saturday. 

"It's probably more appropriate to say the game of crokinole evolved, rather than was invented," said Walsh, acknowledging that the oldest known board is often used as the beginnings of the game. 

Watch a promo Nathan Walsh created for the 2019 World Crokinole Championships:

Walsh heard about the world championships when he was just 12. 

"It just so happened at the time that the world champion taught at the same high school that my father did," said Walsh — and was then lucky enough to be shown the "tricks of the trade."

According to Walsh, it's not like training for a marathon. Once you've acquired the skills needed to play, it's just about fine-tuning those skills.

"It gets pretty competitive," said Walsh about the world championships. "But you can still keep it light and social."

Walsh said the game takes a lot of focus and the ability to stay calm. 

Nathan Walsh chats with Windsor Morning host Tony Doucette about the upcoming tournament and the history of the game:

The Raptors may have grabbed the sports headlines, but there's another competition this weekend in Ontario. It's the World Crokinole Championship. 26-year-old Nathan Walshone of the players. He tells Tony about what this game is all about and why he loves it. 9:19

Nancy Bender is the registration chair for the one day event she calls "crazy."

Her dad always loved the game — "the best" board was actually one of her wedding presents when she got married. 

Bender competed in three of the world championships but now that she's retired, handling registration for the tournament is her new job.

A glossary of crokinole terms

20: a crokinole disc counting for 20 points after landing in the recessed centre hole

Conrad: essentially a block shot so the other player cannot shoot a 20

Damage: when a disc knocked out of bounds re-enters the playing surface

Ditch: the outer recessed ring of a crokinole board, where removed discs remain each round

Hammer: like in curling, the last shot

Hide: intentionally leaving a disc behind a peg to avoid it being collected by the other player

"I mail out 400 registration packages with all the schedules, the rules and the prizes," said Bender. As long as you don't mind the noise, Bender said it's something amazing to see.

"It's amazing seeing that many crokinole boards on an arena floor playing at the same time."

Bender said what makes it fun for her is watching other people have fun.

"It's for all ages," said Bender. "It excites me!"

Walsh agreed — it's a game for everyone. 

"The appeal for a lot of people, the great part of the game is its accessibility," said Walsh. "Grandparents can play with grandchildren ... it doesn't matter your physical capabilities."

With files from Windsor Morning and Angelica Haggert

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.