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Crokinole You Say? An Overview of this Classic Canadian Tabletop Game

If you don’t already own a Crokinole board, you may want to after learning how fun this game is.

Combining elements of shuffleboard, shove’ha penny and curling, it’s been played in Canada since the late 19th century.

Read on to learn more.

Crokinole is one of the most popular games in Canada. However, elsewhere in the world, it’s not as well-known.

Aside from having a name that’s quite tough to spell and pronounce, Crokinole also has somewhat mysterious origins.

However, once you learn how to play Crokinole, you’ll discover that it’s not nearly as complicated as it seems.

As you’ll discover in this beginner’s guide to Crokinole, this distinctly Canadian game is very similar in style to curling.

However, it’s far more stationary. Just like with curling, you take turns sliding discs over a surface, trying to get the highest possible score.

On the other hand, in Crokinole, it’s against the rules to stand up, move your chair, or try to adjust your position to improve your results.

So, where exactly does Crokinole come from, and what are the rules to playing this unique game?

Let’s find out together.

A Brief History of Crokinole

The Crokinole King - Traditional Size Crokinole Board Game Set
The Crokinole King – Traditional Size Crokinole Board Game Set, available at Amazon (affiliate link)

Crokinole is quite a traditional game with a long-standing heritage. Most people trace the pastime back to the late nineteenth century, often around 1876.

Unlike curling, bowls and other similar games, Crokinole is a board game that’s played sitting down.

Though the rules to this pastime are relatively simple, Crokinole has remained very popular over the years.

Part of the reason for this game’s popularity is its entertainment value, and part of its appeal has to do with the fact that anyone can play it.

Experts believe that Crokinole started life in Southern Ontario, which is where you can find many games being played today.

The World Crokinole Championship takes place in Tavistock Ontario each year.

If the game wasn’t Canadian enough to begin with, a new version of it recently emerged in 2017, which combines curling and Crokinole into the same event. This new game is called “Crokicurl” and was invented by the Manitobans.

The world’s first Crokinole board came from Eckhardt Wettlaufer in 1876, in Ontario. A passionate woodworker, Wettlaufer made the board as a gift for his son.

Although there isn’t a lot of information into where Wettlaufer got the idea for the new game, most people assume that it was derived from the Asian game Carroms.

Carroms is also the ancestor of many other games, such as pocket pool, pichenotte, and knips-brat.

It didn’t take long for Crokinole to become one of the most popular games in Canada.

Sears-Roebuck and Montgomery Ward started to sell the game to children and their parents, and Crokinole became one of the most popular titles in Northern America.

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The Crokinole Board

Real Hardwood Tournament Size Crokinole Board by Cape Fear Board Co.
Real Hardwood Tournament Size Crokinole Board by Cape Fear Board Co., available at Amazon (affiliate link)

One of the things that people love best about Crokinole is the fact that it’s a very easy game to learn and play.

In a two-player game, each player gets twelve biscuits or discs, which can be one of two colors. Once you have your discs, you’ll need to learn how to use the Crokinole board.

Perhaps the most distinctive component of the Crokinole board is the hole in the centre of the wood, called the “20 hole”. Players earn up to 20 points whenever they get a disc into this hole.

There are also several inches around the hole that offer points too. Additionally, there are bumpers around the hole itself that make it more difficult to get the top score.

There are 3 scoring zones in total. The area just outside of the hole, but within the posts surrounding the hole is worth 15 points. The next circle outwards will earn you 10 points, and the area just within the starting line is worth 5 points.

You won’t get to calculate your points until your full round ends.

Importantly, there’s also an area around the Crokinole board too, which is usually slightly lower than the board itself. This area is called the “ditch.” The discs removed from play are placed into this space.

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Crokinole Rules: Setting Up A Game

To start a game of Crokinole, set the board out on a table where all players will have equal access to it. If anyone is struggling to reach the board, they won’t have a fair chance of winning.

If you’re playing with 2 players, then they’ll each receive 12 wooden discs in their chosen color. However, if you play with four players, you’ll need to separate them into groups of two.

Here, each group gets its own set of 12 discs. Usually, players flip a coin to decide who’s going to go first, and then play continues in a clockwise fashion.

Once the game begins, you aren’t allowed to move the board or your seats. You’ll also not be able to lift yourself out of the chair to get into a better position with your disc or “biscuit.” Often, players refer to this rule as the “one cheek rule.” In other words, you need to keep at least one cheek of your bum on the chair at all times.

Unless it’s your turn to shoot, you can’t touch the board, so there’s no way for anyone to harm anyone else’s shot.

When you are ready to play, you’ll need to place one of your disk on the starting line, keeping about half of the disc within your quadrant.

Take aim and flick the disc as close to the center of the board as you can.

How to Play Crokinole: Shooting Discs

Tournament Crokinole & Checkers - 30-Inch Official Size - Classic Dexterity Board Game for Two Players - Canadian Heritage Family Tabletop Game - Includes 24 Black & White Discs, Rules & Game Board
30 Inch Crokinole Set, available at Amazon (affiliate link)

The first shooter in a game of Crokinole, as well as any player who takes a turn with no additional discs on the board,  will be able to try and shoot directly into the 20 point hole.

 If their disc lands in the hole, then it can be set aside and counted at the end of the round. If your disc doesn’t fall into the 20 hole, but it stays on the board within the 15 zone, it will stay on the board.

One interesting point to remember with Crokinole rules is that if the disc lands in the 10 zone or the 5 point zone, it’s removed from the board. You can keep a note to remember your score. The rule of removing discs is to prevent players from “hiding” discs behind pegs.

If you’re shooting and one or more of your opponents already has discs on the board – the shooter will need to try and hit one of them.

You might decide to ricochet your disc off another opponent’s disc for instance.

If you fail to hit an opponent’s disc, you’ll have to place your disc on the “ditch” section of the board.

If you fail to hit an opponent’s biscuit, but you hit one of your own, or your partner’s discs instead, then you’ll also have to place your disc in the ditch.

After a shot is taken, all of the discs that are touching the starting lines will be placed into the disc.

Additionally, if a disc is just tipping into the 20 hole, it needs to stay where it is. You don’t remove this disc from the board unless someone knocks it into the hole.

Crokinole Rules: Scoring

Like with most games, the aim of Crokinole (not to be confused with Cornhole) is relatively simple – you need to try and score more points than your opponent.

In this game, the scoring process only takes place at the end of each round.

Each player or group counts the discs that they have placed into each scoring zone.

If one of your discs is touching or halfway over a scoring line, you’ll count eh lowest value.

Each player or group also adds another 20 points to their score for every biscuit they get into the hole at the center of the board.

If you’re playing a game with multiple rounds, then you subtract the lower score from the higher score.

The group or individual with the highest score will receive the difference between the points too.

For instance, if player A has 20 points and player B has 35 points, player B will get another 15 points added to their score.

With rounds, if neither player nor group has achieved a total of 100 points, you move onto another round.

The new round starts with the person to the left of the person with the most points currently.

There you have it! Everything you need to know about playing Crokinole, now go and have some fun!

Top image credit: Waferboard via Flickr

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