Saturday, 7 April 2018

Jason Beierling Leads Waterloo to Schneider Haus Win


Through the first 25 years of the Waterloo County Crokinole Classic only 3 clubs had laid claim to the team title, and even when the legendary Cameron Heights Teachers Club folded, Varna and St. Jacobs traded victories while denying any new champions. But as the Schneider Haus event turned past its first quarter-century, perhaps a new era began as the Waterloo Crokinole Club claimed the team title led by a first place performance from Jason Beierling.

Master of ceremonies, Fred Johnston, began the day citing some history of the tournament and of game of crokinole. This included noting the efforts of Susan Burke in acquiring the oldest known crokinole board for the Schneider Haus museum, and then establishing an annual tournament in 1993, to provide an opportunity once a year to showcase the most prized board in crokinole history.
Another notable piece was an excerpt from Wayne Kelly’s, The Crokinole Book, that references an early advertisement of the game of crokinole and promotes it as a game with “no objectionable qualities,” meaning no aspect chance, unlike the dreaded and forbidden deck of cards in the late 1800s. Still the reminder of why the game of crokinole had a wholesome appeal to those of the 1800s did not stop players from wishing each other good luck before the start of each game.


7 clubs were in the attendance, these included the the tournament mainstays of Varna, St. Jacobs and Preston who had been in attendance in the very first year of 1993, London and Waterloo who began to attend the event in the late 2000s, Scone who first attended in 2015, and the Golden Horseshoe team forming for their first appearance in the event.







At the halfway mark, following 12 games, the standings for the top half looked as such:

Rank
Name
Club
Points
1
Jason Beierling
Waterloo
75
2
Jeremy Tracey
St. Jacobs
71
3
Andrew Hutchinson
Waterloo
70
4
Justin Slater
London
69
5
Ray Beierling
London
67
6
Nathan Walsh
Waterloo
65
7
Robert Bonnett
Varna
61
8
Jon Conrad
St. Jacobs
57
8
Nolan Tracey
St. Jacobs
57
10
Roy Campbell
St. Jacobs
55
10
Reuben Jongsma
Golden Horseshoe
55
12
Reid Tracey
Waterloo
53
14
Dwayne Campbell
London
49
14
Robbie Thuot
London
49

Waterloo was off to a good start, leading the way with 263 points, followed by St. Jacobs at 240, London at 234, and Varna at 197. But to come in the afternoon, following the generous lunch and pie of the Schneider Haus staff, were several key head-to-head matches that would determine the winners of the day.

London started the afternoon very strong, and while they may not have known it, quickly surpassed St. Jacobs. Dwayne Campbell was instrumental in that as he was the biggest mover in the afternoon, jumping from 14th at the halfway mark to 8th in the afternoon.

However, Waterloo continued to post strong numbers in the afternoon, which would be enough to hang on the lead they established in the morning, and with four games left the only question left to answer was that the individual title.

At that point, Jason Beierling was in first with 125 points, while Justin Slater was in second with 118 and his final four games left against the Waterloo club. Ray Beierling sat 3rd at 115, Walsh in 4th at 113, and Andrew Hutchinson in 5th what else is new at 112.

It was in Game 21 that Slater erased the 7 point deficit entirely with an 8-0 victory over Jason Beierling, to momentarily have first place. A few places down, Andrew Hutchinson and Ray Beierling finished strong to end dead-locked at 136, while Walsh fell back ending at 126.

Jason Beierling rebounded from the “skunking” earning 17 points in the last 3 games. Justin Slater then finished his set of games against the Waterloo club, winning 6-2 against Reid Tracey, 5-3 over Nathan Walsh and tying 4-4 against Andrew Hutchinson. That left Slater with 141 points, and Jason Beierling with 142.
Rank
Name
Club
Points
1
Jason Beierling
Waterloo
142
2
Justin Slater
London
141
3
Andrew Hutchinson
Waterloo
136
3
Ray Beierling
London
136
5
Nathan Walsh
Waterloo
126
6
Jon Conrad
St. Jacobs
124
7
Roy Campbell
St. Jacobs
121
8
Dwayne Campbell
London
116
9
Robert Bonnett
Varna
115
9
Jeremy Tracey
St. Jacobs
115

And with the scores being so close, each of Tracey, Walsh and Hutchinson were willing to take the credit for "helping" their Waterloo teammate to grab the narrowest of victories as Jason Beierling earned the individual title for the first time.

As it was painfully pointed out to Slater, this marked the second straight year where he earned a 2nd place at this event by only one point to a Beierling. Interestingly, Ray Beierling’s individual victory in 2017 also had Jason Beierling in 3rd. So 2018 saw a reversal of the Beierling sandwich at the top of the standings.



St. Jacobs
Varna
London
Scone
GH
Waterloo
Preston
Total
Rank
St. Jacobs

69
60
99
86
57
99
470
3
Varna
59

55
66
75
47
85
387
4
London
68
73

110
86
63
88
488
2
Scone
29
62
18

58
29
56
252
7
GH
42
53
42
70

42
68
317
5
Waterloo
71
81
65
99
86

107
509
1
Preston
29
43
40
72
62
21

267
6

Head-to-head team scores

To play crokinole well with enthusiasm and sportsmanship
Waterloo Crokinole Club - 2018 Champions

The win for the Waterloo Crokinole Club is the first in its history, after the club first made an appearance at the event in 2010, and surpasses their previous best finish of 2nd in 2016.

And with Winter over and Spring upon us, although it did snow today, some clubs have already ended play for the season while competitive individuals turn to the slightly more selfish pursuit of prestigious singles and doubles play that cap off the crokinole season. But this unique team event is a good reminder of the camaraderie that can be built around the simple game of crokinole. The game of no objectionable qualities.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Justin Slater Wins Second Straight Tournament in London


The 2018 final saw a rematch in the London final with Justin Slater meeting Ray Beierling. While the 2017 edition was a classic featuring some terrific drama, the 2018 version was a little less climatic and saw Slater exacting some revenge with a 10-4 victory over Beierling.

52 players were in attendance for the first Spring Saturday of 2018 with 30 competitive players and another 22 recreational.

The morning play split the competitive field into 3 pools. Ray Beierling and Nathan Walsh led the way in Pool A with 55 and 52 points respectively, and 73 20s each. Tom Johnston topped Pool B with 46 points, with Andrew Hutchinson right behind at 44 points and a tournament-high 98 20s through 9 games. And in Pool C, Nolan Tracey took the top spot with 48 points, ahead of Justin Slater, Jon Conrad and Jason Beierling.

Clare Kuepfer just missed the afternoon A group as his 36 points were only good enough for 5th place in Pool A, trailing Jeremy Tracey in 4th at 38 points, while Kuepfer also just missed out on the two wildcard positions that were earned by Reid Tracey and Derek McKie at 37 points.

In the Recreational division, Rich Van der Hoven scored the high mark in the morning with 50 points, followed by Jo-Ann Carter at 43 points. Moochie Printup finished 5th in the morning and racked up the highest 20 count with 45 20s.

In the afternoon Recreational A group, Moochie once again had one of the highest 20 counts with 50, but such a score did not convert to as many points as he finished 9th. The 3 Carters of Peter, Al and Jo-Ann took the top 3 spots of the Rec A round robin with 51, 58 and 47 points. Bill Harris grabbed the final spot with 42 points as Rich Van der Hoven missed the playoffs in 5th at 38 points. Despite grabbing the final seed in the playoffs, Bill Harris was in top form in the playoffs finishing first in Rec A, while Jo-Ann Carter finished 2nd.

In Rec B, Maxine Whitemore and Janet Diebel finished in the top 2 spots in the round robin with 48 and 47 points. John Wither, who only missed qualifying for the Rec A group by a few points, was 3rd after the round robin, and Fred Smith finished in 4th for the last playoff spot. But just like Randy Harris, Fred Smith rode the 4 seed all the way to the top spot as he won the playoffs, followed by John Wither in 2nd.

The Competitive B pool was led by Rex Johnston in the afternoon with 57 points, followed by Robert Bonnett at 56 points, and the group-high of 70 20s. The Vaillancourts of Roger and Bev earned the other 2 playoff spots, while it was Clare Kuepfer unlucky for the second time in the same day, finishing 5th and one place outside of the playoffs.

There was very little separation in the playoff round robin as Bev Vaillancourt, Rex Johnston and Robert Bonnett finished in the 3-way tie. When the numbers were ultimately crunched, Rex Johnston was determined to have won the tiebreakers and finished in 1st in the Competitive B group.

In the Competitive A group, Justin Slater and Ray Beierling ran away with the round robin at 62 and 61 points through 10 games. Those shockingly high scores left a large gap and squeezed the remaining competition tighter together. While somewhat more normal circumstances would require 50+ points in 10 games to make the top 4 of a 14 player group,  Jeremy Tracey advanced comfortably with 47 points. Nathan Walsh finished in 4th with 44 points and just edged out Jason Beierling at 42 points, thanks to a 4-4 tie between them in the final game of the round robin.

The semifinals were a “first to 9 points” format and set Justin Slater vs Nathan Walsh, and Ray Beierling vs Jeremy Tracey. Both Slater and Beierling needed to win the London title to stop Walsh from clinching the NCA Tour, and keep their hopes alive of winning it for themselves. Justin Slater certainly did his part, dropping Walsh in a 10-0 victory that was so quick they had several minutes to discuss and analyze their match before turning their attention to the final rounds of the other semifinal. 

In that match, Ray Beierling had got out to a 7-1 lead over Tracey, before Tracey won 6 straight points, including 4 against the hammer. Tied at 7-7, a 20 miss from Beierling gave Tracey an edge, but Beierling scored a ricochet 20 to get back out in front, and held onto to that lead to win the match 9-7.

The 3rd-place game saw Tracey go the distance again. After deferring the hammer to his opponent and at-first trailing 2-0, the match was very tight, until after 7 rounds Tracey and Walsh were tied 7-7 with Tracey having the hammer in the final round. This time Tracey converted his hammer into two points and took 3rd place.

In the finals, Ray Beierling scored the first points against hammer and had a lead of 4-2, but Justin Slater scored 7 20s in the 4th round and tied the match at 4-4.

Slater trailed in the 5th round after an early 20 miss, but his long ricochet 20 attempt stopped short in front of a peg. Beierling was unable to get a clean takeout, and Slater converted his two discs on the board into a 20 and won the round for a 6-4 lead. Slater again puts lots for pressure on Beierling, scoring 7 20s in the 6th round for an 8-4 lead.

Beierling’s back was against the wall and he missed his opening 20 of the 7th round. Trying to stay alive he was able to score a couple of 20s in tough spots, but could not remove the Slater discs, and each time Slater had an open board, he converted for 20 and won the match 10-4.

It’s a milestone with for Justin Slater as the London title was his 20th NCA title, breaking what was a 3-way tie at 19 between Brian Cook and Ray Beierling. The next closest individuals are Fred Slater at 10 victories, Jon Conrad at 7 and Nathan Walsh at 6. Justin Slater also ties Ray Beierling in total NCA Singles victories with 16.


NCA Tour - One event to go
Justin Slater remains in the hunt for the 2017-2018 NCA title, and can claim it with a victory in St. Jacobs at the NCA Finale. Any other outcome at the final event would see Nathan Walsh clinch the Tour after having led the points race for the entire season. For Ray Beierling and Jon Conrad, it is no longer possible to win this season’s title, but they will be battling for a spot on the podium, and both can climb as high as 2nd with a St. Jacobs victory.


Events Outside the NCA
April features 2 tournaments that fall outside the NCA umbrella. This first is the Schneider Haus club tournament taking place on April 7th. Team rosters have been finalized and 7 clubs will be in attendance, with 6 of them gunning to replace Varna as the champions.

In the final weekend of April, Budapest will be hosting the first ever European Open Crokinole Championship, and CrokinoleCentre will be there to catch all of the stories!





Sunday, 28 January 2018

Slater sets 20s Record, Wins Hamilton

In a day filled with 20s you’d expect Justin Slater to be at the top of the pile (in both points and 20s), but it was noted defensive expert, Jon Conrad, who would be right there with Slater at the end of the day fighting for the Hamilton title.

Photo Credit: Cathy Kuepfer
45 competitors piled into the sixth stop on the 2017-2018 NCA Tour from St. Jacobs, Waterloo, Grimsby, London, Toronto, New York, Michigan and Penetanguishene.

The field was split into 4 groups for the morning round robin, where high 20 counts were the story, and just a small indication of what was to come later. Justin Slater scored the highest in points with 72 out of a possible 80, while Ray Beierling racked up the highest 20 count at 137 through 11 games (which normalizes to 125 in 10 games). In the morning, a total of 9 players surpassed the 100 20s marker.

Both Slater and Beierling topped their groups and would be joined in the afternoon A pool by the other top 3 finishers of each group: Nathan Walsh, Jason Beierling, Jon Conrad, Andrew Hutchinson, Connor Reinman, Roger Vaillancourt, Eric Miltenburg and Nolan Tracey. Fred Slater earned the final qualification spot from Group B with 57 points to beat out Michael Meleg, who had 53 points, while Peter Carter grabbed the final spot from Group C with 52 points, narrowly finishing ahead of Roy Campbell at 51.

There were even smaller gaps separating the afternoon breakdown into Pool B and C as Andrew Korchok and Andrew Van Andel both scored 42 points to grab the final spots in Pool B, just ahead of Cathy Kuepfer and Howard Martin who both had 41 points and would have to settle for a spot in Pool C.

Brian Henry hit his stride in the afternoon and grabbed the high score in Pool D with 56 points. He was followed by Jacob Westerhof at 51 points and Janet Diebel at 45 points. The very last semifinal spot went to Doreen Sulkye who’s 44 points was just enough to surpass Braden Van Andel and Lorne Argent both at 42 points. In the semifinals, Henry continued his strong form and won the best 2-out-of-3 match 6-0, 6-2 over Sulkye. The Diebel/Westerhof semifinal went the full 3 games with Diebel overcoming a first game loss to win 2-6, 5-1, 6-0. In the Pool D final, Diebel once again started slow, but eventually overcame a 4 point deficit in the first game to defeat Henry 6-4, 6-2 for the title.

Photo Credit: Cathy Kuepfer
In Pool C, Cathy Kuepfer and Al Carter eased into the semifinals with 50 and 52 respectively. Meanwhile Bev Vaillancourt, Howard Martin and Jo-Ann Carter were in a dead heat for the other two playoff spots, but it was Vaillancourt and Martin coming out ahead with 46 points each to 44. In the playoffs, Al Carter defended his number one seed with a 5-1, 6-2 win over Vaillancourt, while Kuepfer rolled a close game one victory to a spot in the finals with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Martin. The finals between Al Carter and Cathy Kuepfer was incredibly close and required the full use of the Wimbledon Rule with Carter taking game one 6-4, Kuepfer taking game two 6-0, and then the third game finishing tied at 4 points each, sending the match to extra rounds. They alternated wins through the first set until Carter earned the decisive tie for a 5-3 victory in extra rounds, and the Pool C title.

Similar to Pool C, the first two playoff spots in Pool B were won with a comfortable margin by Roy Campbell (57 points) and Derek McKie (52 points). Bill Geris finished 3rd with 45 points ahead of a 3-way tie at 44 points between Clare Kuepfer, Reid Tracey and Michael Meleg. Kuepfer had the edge on tiebreakers due to his 6-2 victories over Tracey and Meleg in the round robin. Both semifinals were tense as they went to the 3rd game. McKie won over Geris 5-3, 2-6, 6-2 and Campbell just barely beat out Kuepfer 3-5, 6-4, 8-4, after requiring a couple extra rounds to be played to break the tie. However, the excitement of the semifinals left the finals to be a bit anticlimactic as Roy Campbell overpowered Derek McKie in two straight games for the Pool B title.

Photo Credit: Cathy Kuepfer
In Pool A, the high 20 scores of the morning left a few thinking about record possibilities on the famously 20-friendly boards of the Hamilton tournament. For a long time the 20s record through 10 games of play was held by Jarmo Puiras, with 108 scored at the 2004 World Championships, before Wilfred Smith increased the mark to 109 at the PEI provincials. But when Justin Slater racked up 142 20s at the 2012 World Championship, the flood-gates were open for high 20 scores, but never had the mark been beat. The best attempts came from Nathan Walsh during the 2013 Ontario Singles Championship when 138 20s were scored in 10 games, and Ray Beierling at the 2014 World Championships with 131 20s. But with the perfect mixture of boards and high quality competition, people were right to think some records could be set, and they got just that.

Justin Slater took the top seed with 62 points and 160 20s through 11 games, which averages out to 145 20s in 10 games, and enough to surpass his old record. Ray Beierling finished second with 58 points and 152 20s (averaging to 138 20s in 10 games). 8 of the 12 competitors in Pool A scored 120 or more 20s in 11 games, enough to average more than the 109 20s mark that previously stood as a high several years ago.  Not surprisingly, there was also several perfect rounds of 8 20s scored with Justin Slater scoring two of them, Ray Beierling, Andrew Hutchison, Jason Beierling, Nathan Walsh, Connor Reinman and Fred Slater each earning another.

Amidst the flurry of 20s (some would say too many) Jon Conrad scored 52 points for the 3rd seed, and the Andrew Hutchinson scored 50 for 4th. Jason Beierling was just on the outside with 48 points for 5th.

The Slater/Hutchinson match saw both players gunning for their first win of the NCA Tour, and the first time the two had met in a singles playoff match. Hutchinson earned the early edge with a 5-3 win in game one and had Slater on the ropes with a 3-1 lead in game two. But then Slater caught fire and won 5 straight rounds to win the match 3-5, 5-3, 6-0.

Jon Conrad and Ray Beierling met for a rematch of the Owen Sound final they played two months ago. Ray Beierling won game one 6-4, but just like the other semifinal, Conrad responded well to the early loss and won the next two games 6-2 to make the final.

Photo Credit: Cathy Kuepfer
The finals began with both players looking confident and playing solidly as they traded hammers for a score of 2-2. The advantage swung to Conrad when Slater’s first shot of the third round went threw the house, and Jon Conrad was able to use multiple “Conrads” to maintain the edge. But that turned quickly when a takeout went awry for Conrad, leaving a Slater disc on the board and a Conrad disc sitting for a hangar. Slater took the opportunity to score the 20 and win his hammer round for a 4-2 lead. In the fourth round, Slater had a 20 lead multiple times, and multiple times Conrad was able to score a ricochet 20, but each time Slater made his open 20 shot, and would seal game one 6-2.

Game two saw a few more errors from both sides and slowly the two had drawn to a 4-4 tie and a need to play a 5th round tiebreaker for the second game. Conrad had the hammer and a chance once Slater missed an open 20, but Conrad’s takeout caused him to lose his shooter giving Slater a chance to put the match away, but he subsequently missed another open 20 allowing Conrad some hope. However, Conrad could not make a touch-20 and instead left a hangar for Slater, who made the shot that was the definitive edge, as he won the match and the Hamilton title 6-2, 6-4.

With the win, Justin Slater keeps his hopes of the 2017-2018 NCA Tour title alive. He, along with Jon Conrad, Ray Beierling and Connor Reinman can surpass Nathan Walsh with victories in both the London and St. Jacobs events.


Speaking of which, the next NCA Tour stop will be the 2018 Forest City Flickers Crokinole Tournament in London, on Saturday March 24th.