Enthusiasts from across the globe made the trek to Tavistock last weekend for the 21st World Crokinole Championships.
In that endeavour, they were joined by fans from these parts, among them Elmira’s Jeremy Tracey of Tracey Boards, who created dozens of crokinole boards for the tournament, which uses 124 boards to accommodate some 400 players.
“I’m honoured to be the official board builder,” said Tracey. “The gentleman who trained me used to be the official board builder, so I sort of inherited that task.”
Crokinole is a dexterity board game that involves fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. In teams of two (singles) or four (doubles), players take turns shooting discs across the board surface, aiming for the highest scoring sections and knocking away their opponent’s discs in the process. As such, it’s a similar concept to the game marbles.
Tracey said crokinole is popular with people in all different environments, and that it has introduced him to plenty of new friends.
“In April, four of us travelled to a small town in New York state and played in a crokinole tournament. It took place in the basement of a Legion building … so there were all these people down there drinking beer and playing crokinole, enjoying that type of atmosphere,” said Tracey.
“Less than a week later, I was in the Woodside Church in Elmira where they had the youth group and the seniors come together and play crokinole. So it bridges across so many different walks of life. But I like it because of the connection, and it’s a hands-on sport.”
The weekend’s championships really did connect crokinole players from across the world, including Germany, Scotland, Chile, Guernsey and France.
The promotions coordinator for the tournament, Nathan Walsh, noted that interest in the sport has grown recently.
“In the past few years, I think we used to have one-offs where people would travel from a far distance, and it would be kind of surprising,” said Walsh. “But lately, the past few years, there’s been a lot of interest. There are people in Europe who are absolute fanatics who would certainly come every year if it was financially possible to do so.”
Both Walsh and Tracey described the atmosphere as friendly, but generally more competitive in certain divisions, especially as the day goes on. Players are competing for some serious cash prizes, after all, handing out a total of some $6,500. The atmosphere was tense in the singles division, for example, where $1,000 was handed out to the first-place winner, Justin Slater of Toronto.
There were also several awards handed out to draw-winners and other miscellaneous categories such as the youngest entrant (age 5) and oldest (92). Walsh noted that anyone of any age can enjoy – and excel at – a game of crokinole.
“Last year’s world champion was in his 20s, and then the world champion the year before that was in his 80s,” said Walsh. “Literally anybody of any age can be top players in the game. It’s very accessible in that fashion.”
There were a number of local winners in both divisions that walked away from the tournament with some success. In addition to building the boards, Tracey participated, coming in first in the consolations doubles division along with Elmira’s Roy Campbell. Among other local winners in the doubles division were Reid and Nolan Tracey of Elmira, who ranked second in competitive doubles, Dennis Brubacher of Elmira along with Listowel’s Dave Brubacher in cue doubles, and Karl Steckley from Wellesley with Milverton’s Lorne Steckley, who ranked fourth in cue doubles.
Local winners in the singles division include Roy Campbell, who placed third in competitive singles, Wellesley’s Wesley Graham landing in fourth place in intermediate singles, and Jeff Steckley of Wellesley scoring third place in cue singles. A local award-winner was Aden Brubacher of Elmira as the oldest entrant.
The World Crokinole Championships are scheduled annually for the first Saturday in June.