Learn All About the Game of Crokinole

If you enjoy games like Carrom, hot wheels, or finger-flicking games, you’ll definitely want to give crokinole a try. It’s a fast, enjoyable, and highly addictive dexterity game that the whole family can enjoy. Plus, it’s a game of strategy that won’t cease to capture your focus and interest until the end.

┬áLet’s dive in and discover more about crokinole and why it’s worth playing!

What is Crokinole?

a-round-crokinole-board-with-red-and-blue-chips

Crokinole is a dexterity board game that originated in Canada. It is typically played by two players or two teams and is played on a round wooden board with a series of concentric circles. The players flick wooden discs with their fingers to aim at the hole in the middle of the circular or octagonal crokinole board while also trying to knock the opposing players’ discs off the board.

In crokinole, the shooting is towards the center of the board, unlike caroms and pitch nuts, where the shooting is targeted at the four outer corner pockets.

The Objective of the Game

The objective of the game of crokinole is to score the highest number of points by strategically flicking discs onto the playing surface. Players aim to land their discs in the scoring areas while attempting to knock opponents’ discs off the board.

History of Crokinole

Crokinole has a rich history that dates back to the mid-19th century. The exact origins of the game are somewhat debated, but it is widely believed to have originated in Canada, particularly in the rural areas of Ontario. The game likely emerged as a form of entertainment during long winter evenings.

The name “Crokinole” itself is thought to have derived from the French word “crokinole,” which means “hook-shaped.” This refers to the distinctive shape of the playing surface, with its circular board and concave rings.

Crokinole gained popularity in Canada during the 1860s and 1870s, spreading primarily through rural communities. The game was initially played on homemade boards crafted by local woodworkers. However, as its popularity grew, commercial production of crokinole boards began.

In 1876, Eckhardt Wettlaufer, a craftsman from Perth County, Ontario, patented a version of the crokinole board design. His patented design featured concentric rings, a central hole, and defined scoring areas. Wettlaufer’s patent helped establish a standardized design for crokinole boards and contributed to the game’s increasing popularity.

Crokinole became a favorite pastime in Canada and enjoyed periods of widespread popularity throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was commonly played in homes, schools, and social gatherings. The game’s appeal extended beyond Canada, as crokinole boards were exported to other countries, including the United States and Europe.

During the 20th century, crokinole faced periods of decline and resurgence in popularity. It experienced a significant decline during the World Wars, when resources were scarce, and attention shifted to other forms of entertainment. However, interest in the game persisted among enthusiasts, and it continued to be played in pockets of dedicated communities.

In recent years, crokinole has experienced a resurgence in popularity worldwide. It has gained recognition as a unique and engaging tabletop game enjoyed by players of all ages. Today, crokinole is played in homes and organized tournaments, with dedicated players competing at regional and international levels.

The game’s rich history, a combination of skill and strategy, and its distinct wooden boards have contributed to its enduring appeal. Crokinole has become a cherished tradition and a beloved part of Canadian cultural heritage, with enthusiasts worldwide embracing its engaging gameplay and sense of nostalgia.

Equipment for the Game of Crokinole

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To play crokinole, you’ll need the following equipment:

1. Crokinole Board

A round (sometimes octagonal) wooden board is the central component of the game. These are the features of a crokinole board:

  • The board typically measures about 70-80 centimeters (28-32 inches) in diameter.
  • It has a central hole called the “20 holes,” surrounded by pegs or poles that serve as bumpers to make it harder to access.
  • The board is divided into three concentric regions. From the center hole to the outermost one, the specific scoring values are 20, 15, 10, and 5, respectively.
  • The outermost line is the “starting line” (also called the “scoring line” or “shooting line”).
  • About an inch from the starting line is the “ditch,” which is the recessed outer edge of the board. Discs removed from the play are placed in the ditch.
  • The board is also divided into quadrants, and when a player takes a shot, his disc must be 50 percent or more within his quadrant.

2. Crokinole Discs

The game is played using small wooden discs, also known as checkers or crokinole discs. Each player or team has a set of discs of a specific color. The standard set includes 12 discs, although the number can vary depending on the rules or variations played.

3. Scoreboard

While not essential, a scoreboard can be used to keep track of the scores throughout the game. It helps players and spectators easily monitor the progress and determine the winner. The scoreboard can be as simple as a piece of paper or a whiteboard, or a specialized crokinole scoreboard.

4. Optional Accessories

Some players may choose to use optional accessories to enhance their Crokinole experience. These can include powder or wax, such as beeswax or silicone spray, which can be applied to the playing surface to reduce friction and improve the glide of the discs. Additionally, cloth or brush can be used to clean and maintain the playing surface.

Basic Crokinole Rules: Starting the Game

To get started with crokinole, follow these simple and straightforward rules that can be learned in minutes:

Determine who goes first by flipping a coin or letting the youngest or oldest player have the first turn.

The scoring ring is divided into four quadrants. Each player or team chooses a quadrant and stays in that spot for the entire game. In a two-player game, sit opposite your opponent, and in a four-player game, sit opposite your teammate.

Once the game starts, the board should not be moved. Players must remain seated in their chairs and are not allowed to lift themselves out of their seats to improve their shots. This is often called the “one-cheek rule,” meaning that at least one butt cheek must always touch the chair. Players should only touch the board when it’s their turn to shoot.

To start the game, the shooter places one of their discs on the starting line, ensuring that at least 50 percent of the disc is within their quadrant. Then, they flick the disc to make their shot. Pushing the disc is not allowed; only flicking is considered a proper move.

If it goes in the hole, remove the disc from play for the rest of the round. If it doesn’t go in, your opponent will try to knock it off the board with their shot.

The next player’s disc must touch another disc on the board. If it doesn’t, their disc is removed from play for the rest of the round.

During the game, each disc needs to be flicked once and only once by a player directly. However, the disc can be indirectly moved by the player’s own or the opponent’s discs as the game progresses.

Players take turns shooting their discs until all the discs have been used. The player to the left of the previous round’s starter begins the next round.

Valid Disc Shots

In crokinole, a valid disc shot follows the official rules. It must be taken from the shooting line, which marks the boundary of the playing area. Placing a disc in the 5-point scoring zone without touching the shooting line is considered a foul, and the disc goes to the ditch.

When a player makes a legal shot, two conditions determine if they score points and how many.

Shooting with no opponent’s discs on the board

When there are no opponent’s discs on the board, the first shooter and subsequent shooters aim to shoot into the 20-hole. If a disc lands completely within the hole, it’s taken off the board and kept aside for scoring later.

If the disc doesn’t go into the 20 hole but remains on the board and is either in the 15 zone or touching the 15 zone line, it stays on the board.

However, if there are no opponent’s discs on the board and a shooter’s disc ends up in the 10 zone or the 5 zone, it is removed from the board. This rule prevents players from being overly defensive by hiding their discs behind pegs. While some players may not use this rule, it is applied in the World Crokinole Championship.

Shooting with opponent’s discs on the board

When one or more opponents’ discs are on the board, the shooter must try to hit one of them. This can be done directly by ricocheting off a post or another disc or even by knocking another of the shooter’s discs into an opponent’s disc.

If the shooter fails to hit an opponent’s disc, the disc they shot is placed in the ditch. Additionally, if the shooter fails to hit an opponent’s disc but hits any of their own discs or their partner’s discs, those are also placed in the ditch.

Crokinole carom shots

During a game of crokinole, carom shots can happen when a player bounces their disc off other discs or bumper pegs. Here are the rules for carom shots, also known as combination shots:

The player’s disc must touch an opponent’s disc, but it doesn’t matter if it first hits the opponent’s disc, the player’s own disc, or a bumper peg.

If the shot disc doesn’t touch an opponent’s disc, the played disc is removed for the rest of the round, along with any of the player’s discs that were affected during the shot.

In a four-player game, the same rule applies to both the player and their teammate.

Disc balance and the ditch

After taking a shot, any discs that are touching the starting line are placed in the ditch.

If a disc is leaning towards the 20 hole or balanced with part of it above the 20 hole, it stays where it is on the board. It’s only removed if it gets knocked into the 20-hole.

If a disc goes off the board, hits something off the main board, and bounces back on, it’s placed in the ditch. Any discs it touched during its journey remain wherever they ended up.

Disc in the ditch

Now, what happens when a disc ends up in the ditch? Well, the player can no longer use that disc to add to their final score, even if it would have only contributed a small amount. The disc is effectively out of the round.

This also means there is clearer space for the opponent to make a good score and strategically manipulate the remaining discs of the player in the ditch.

If the player fails to hit or move an opponent’s disc, that disc, along with any other move in turn, goes to the ditch. This includes any disc that goes straight into the 20-point center hole. Yes, unfortunately, all that effort ends up in the ditch.

Knocking the opponent’s disc into the 20 hole

What happens if you accidentally knock your opponent’s disc into the center hole? Well, according to the standard rule, regardless of who pushed it, any disc that lands in the center hole earns the player 20 points. So, if you inadvertently send your opponent’s disc into the hole, you just scored them 20 points.

 Scoring

After each round, it’s time to tally up the scores. Each player or team counts the number of their discs in each scoring zone. If a disc is touching a scoring line, it’s counted as the lower value.

Discs in the 15 zone are worth 15 points each, in the 10 zone, they’re worth 10 points each, and in the 5 zone, they’re worth 5 points each.

Players or teams also add any 20 points for each 20-hole shot they set aside.

Next, subtract the lower score from the higher score. The player or team with the higher score wins the difference in points. For example, if the tan player has 60 points and the red player has 35 points, the tan player is awarded the difference of 25 points.

If neither player nor team has reached a total of 100 points, the next round begins with the person sitting to the left of the lead shooter.