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The Meeple Guild: Why we love crokinole

Practice can make you a better player
a crokinole
Canadian culture encompasses many facets, included crokinole.
YORKTON - So this week we should have been writing about a fun day of crokinole as part of Culture Days in Yorkton. 

The day was all planned, the wax ready to apply to boards, new pieces acquired so we could play on multiple boards – but then our ‘guilders’ looked at the COVID-19 numbers – 10 deaths last Tuesday just days ahead of the scheduled event – and we pulled the plug. 

Board games are supposed to be about fun, and forgetting the other issues we face in life, and sanitizing game pieces after each game, and recording phone numbers for contact tracing and checking for vaccination verification isn’t exactly forgetting we remain in a pandemic where hospital ICUs are under constant pressure and people are dying. 

So, one day we’ll host a learn to play, shoot some disks and have fun day, just not until this COVID thing really gets squashed down more. 

But, it still allows an opportunity to discuss crokinole a little more, starting with why an event was planned for Culture Days. 

Culture is a rather varied thing, covering language and art and dance. 

In Canada, sport is certainly part of our culture with hockey, lacrosse and curling all woven into the country’s fabric.  

And, there are games that are rather distinctly Canadian too, with Trivial Pursuit, Canadian Checkers, rod hockey and crokinole coming to mind as games of note with roots in this country. 

Crokinole is an old game, estimated to date back to around 1875, and while there might be some northeastern United States claims, it is likely the earliest boards were made north of the 49th parallel. 

A question that might be asked is why the game has endured through the decades? 

The answer is likely a multi-faceted one. 

To start, even an average wooden board, if cared for moderately can itself last decades and become something passed down one generation to the next. 

There is something special about learning a game from a parent on a board owned by a grandparent that at some point is given to you and you begin teaching your kids on the board too. 

The fanciest boards are now airbrushed with stunning art that further enhances their appeal. (Do a quick google search and you will be astounded by some of the gorgeous boards). 

Crokinole is also a game with simple rules; flick a disk into the centre hole for 20 points, or if an opponents piece is on the board, try to knock it off the board. The basics can be taught in two-minutes. 

But, to be successful in the game you rely on a skill – eye-hand co-ordination, aim, flicking skill – you can get better with practise. Physical skills can be improved with time and repetition. 

So, when you Dad beats you every game for a month, or your buddy does it to you at a game night, you can sit at your board and shoot a couple hundred disks a day and get better for the re-match. That is a big thing in terms of family, we also want to win a game over our parents so practice, practice, practice. 

The game is also nice that it can be played by just two, or by four, and now that using a cue is become more popular, you can switch play up a bit that way too. 

Just one of the great games out there, 150-years – give-or-take a few years – after it was created.


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