Friday, 17 May 2013

Slater Plays Spoiler, Jon Conrad Wins 5th NCA Tour


When the field split and the top 11 were established the race was still on, and even heading into the final 4, who would claim the 5th NCA Tour title was still unknown. But after Justin Slater played spoiler and won his 3rd St. Jacob’s title, Jon Conrad would fend off all challengers and become the 2012-2013 NCA Tour Champion.

Justin Slater (right) eyes a takeout in the 2013 St. Jacob's Crokinole Tournament final against Ray Beierling (left) as the rest of the field looks on.


One May 11th, 33 players entered the St. Jacob’s Firehall for the ferocious finish to the 5th NCA Tour. The main attraction for the day was the question of who would win the NCA title; after Jon Conrad had led throughout the entirety of the Tour, he was looking to become only the 4th man to win the NCA Tour, and only the 2nd to win the title outright (Brian Cook won titles in 2009, 2011 and 2012, while Justin Slater and Ray Beierling tied in 2010).

Meanwhile, attention was also drawn towards who would win the Ontario Singles Championship, as the winner in St. Jacob’s. While the history of the Ontario Singles tournament is quite vast, its recent resurgence on the NCA Tour had only seen two previous winners. Brian Cook had won in 2009 over Kent Robinson and in 2011 over Jon Conrad. While Justin Slater won in 2010 by defeating Jason Beierling and 2012 by overcoming Brian Cook.

After the preliminary round, the field was split into 3 groups. Making the top 11 A group was Brian Cook, Ray Beierling, Rob Mader, Justin Slater, Jon Conrad, Ab Leitch, Jason Beierling, Rex Johnston, Roy Campbell, Fred Slater and Bob Mader. Narrowly missing the cut were Louis Gauthier and Greg Matthison, behind only by 2 points each.

Through the preliminary round, a common theme for the day became quite obvious: 20’s. While groups only played 7 or 8 games, a total of 4 players were on pace to score 100 or more 20’s through a full 10 game round. Those players included 20’s leaders like Justin Slater, Brian Cook and Robert Bonnett, but also included the self-proclaimed 20-shooting-cynic Ab Leitch who averaged the highest 20’s count with 89 through 8 games, and on pace to shoot 111.

In the A group the 20’s shooting continued, as the 11 players averaged a 20’s score of 96 each through 10 games. While the high 20’s scores were unfathomable, as Jon Conrad scored 128, Brian Cook scored 123 and Justin Slater had 113, the main goal was to make the top 4. Not surprisingly the aforementioned 3 did make the top 4, along with Ray Beierling. Just on the outside looking in were Jason Beierling and Roy Campbell.

The 20’s scores were also high within the B group, that averaged 94 20’s through 10 games, included a fantastic 20’s score of 138 for Nathan Walsh, 116 for Louis Gauthier and 101 for Eric Miltenburg. Nathan Walsh later admitted that after 4 games his main concern was to try and break the world-record currently held at 142 by Justin Slater.

In the C group, advancing to the playoff portion were Alex Protas, Howard Martin, John Lichty and Bob Jones. While the top seeds of Protas and Martin held their ground through the semifinals, Howard Martin did get the better of Alex Protas in the final to win the C division

The B group playoffs saw Robert Bonnett overcome his 4th seed placement, by beating top qualifier, Nathan Walsh in the semifinals, while John Harvey was able to defeat Barry Kiggins in the 2nd v 3rd seed match. In the final, Robert Bonnett would be victorious after defeating John Harvey in two games.

Focussing our attention back on the A group, the top 4 qualifiers did not include Fred Slater, ruling him out of the NCA title race. So that left Brian Cook and Jon Conrad, with the possibility that a Cook tournament and a Conrad semifinal loss would mean that the two would share the title.

In the 2-3 semifinal, Ray Beierling was the first to play spoiler as he defeated Jon Conrad to advance to the final. It appeared as though it would be a rematch of the 2011 World Championships as Brian Cook held a lead in the 1-4 semifinal. But a comeback from Justin Slater propelled him into the final match and assured that Jon Conrad would be the sole victor of the 2012-2013 NCA Tour. In the Championship match, Justin Slater was extremely successful at grabbing the early lead in almost every round and would eventually win the match to claim his 3rd St. Jacob’s tournament title.

Fred Slater won tournaments at the Ontario Doubles Championship and in London, as well as finished 2nd in doubles in Tavistock, but ended up tied for 3rd as Ray Beierling won the Hamilton tournament, and pulled out enough points to grab a spot on the podium with a runner-up finish in St. Jacob’s.

Ray Beierling (left) shares the 3rd place finish with Fred Slater (right). Interestingly the two were also quite close in 2011-2012 season when Ray Beierling finished 2nd and Fred Slater finished 3rd.


Brian Cook won three tournaments in the middle of the season to quickly earn 200 points, and in the end finished inside the top 3 for the 5th consecutive year.

Brian Cook finished 2nd for the first time on NCA Tour, after victories in 2009, 2011 and 2012, and a third place finish in 2010.


So after an incredible start to the NCA Tour, as Jon Conrad became the first to ever win the doubles and singles categories in Tavistock, Jon Conrad picked up several top 4 finishes and fended off all competitors to win the NCA title.


2012-2013 NCA Tour Champion, Jon Conrad (left) and NCA Chair, Greg Matthison (right)



Here’s the look at the final NCA standings for the 2012-2013 season:


Rank
First Name
Last Name
Points
1
Jon
Conrad
205
2
Brian
Cook
200
3
Ray
Beierling
197
3
Fred 
Slater
197
5
Jason
Beierling
188
6
Louis
Gauthier
174
7
Roy
Campbell
172
8
Rex 
Johnston
167
9
John 
Harvey
164
10
Eric
Miltenburg
163
11
Nathan 
Walsh
162
12
Matt
Brown
160
13
Justin
Slater
159
14
Clare
Kuepfer
158
15
Barry
Kiggins
152
16
Howard
Martin
150
17
David 
Brown
148
18
Joe
Arnup
137
18
Tom
Johnston
137
20
Chris
Gorsline
136
21
Peter
Tarle
132
22
Rob Jr.
Mader
127
23
Dale
Henry
118
24
Robert 
Bonnett
118
25
Albert
Leitch
115
25
Reg
Chisholm
115




And what’s the best part about the end of another NCA season?

It’s that the World Championships is just around the corner!

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll get you ready for the 15th annual World Crokinole Championship. So check back often for more updates, and get your game ready to play your best on June 1 in Tavistock, Ontario.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Conrad, Cook, Slater - Fight to the Finish


First off, that has to be the best crokinole poster I’ve seen yet. It’s almost as if Eric Miltenburg got them to pose for those positions just for the purpose of making the poster. But more importantly, the poster shows what we are all thinking: “This is the finish we want to see.”

On May 11th, the crokinole community will meet in St. Jacob’s for the Ontario SIngles Championship and the finale to the 2012-2013 NCA Tour. And three different men have legitimate chances of claiming the top prize as Jon Conrad sits in first with 204 points, Brian Cook in second with 200 points (with a potential score of 205), and Fred Slater sits in third with 197 points (and a potential high score of 207). Ideally, every NCA Tour would come down to a final tournament showdown where everything is on the line, but this year has probably been closest.

In the 2009 season Brian Cook entered St. Jacob’s with 155 points out of a possible 160. Only Ray Beierling had a chance to catch him, needing a win and Cook not making the final just to tie for the top prize. Cook won the St. Jacob’s tournament and the Tour title.

2009-2010 was a close season, but mostly due to the fact that the St. Jacob’s tournament offered a substantial boost in point totals, giving 65 points to the winner, while the World Champion only received 55 points for his efforts, and any winner of a regular tournament only earned 50 points. So while the Tour came to the exciting conclusion of a tie for the top prize with 209 points for both Ray Beierling and Justin Slater, this was mainly due to the point allocation system in 2010, which was promptly scrapped the following year.

2010-2011 had the potential to come to an exciting finish, with defending World Champion Ray Beierling near the top of the leader board, while Brian Cook “cleaned up” in mid-season. However, with Ray Beierling absent for the final tournament, Brian Cook only had to withstand the challenges from Fred Slater, Jon Conrad and Eric Miltenburg who faced extremely long-odds coming into the final tournament.

And in 2011-2012, the potential for an exciting finish was quickly diminished following the first round of play. As Brian Cook led the Tour, only Ray Beierling and Fred Slater could earn the top title with a victory, and a lower the top 2 finish from Cook. However, only Cook advanced to the top group for the afternoon play, securing the overall title.


So in the 5th season of the NCA, we have our most exciting finish yet. Here’s a portion of the table shown in the last blog.

Rank
First Name
Last Name
Points
Low Score
Max Score
1
Jon
Conrad
204
47
212
2
Brian
Cook
200
50
205
3
Fred 
Slater
197
45
207
4
Ray
Beierling
190
45
200
5
Jason
Beierling
186
45
196
6
Louis
Gauthier
174
39
190


In the race for first, there are a number of scenarios that could occur. Let’s break these out by player to see what must occur for each to earn the 2013 NCA title.

Jon Conrad
Jon Conrad, as the the reporters say, “controls his own fate”. To ensure the Tour title Conrad must:
  • win in St. Jacob’s or finish in 2nd
  • finish 3rd while Fred Slater does not win the title
  • finish 4th while Cook and Slater do not win
  • finish outside the top 4, while Cook does not win and Slater does not make the finals
There are also scenarios where Conrad could share the Tour title:
  • finish 3rd while Fred Slater wins
  • finish 4th while Cook wins
  • finish outside the top 4 while Slater finishes 2nd

Brian Cook
Simply, Cook must win in St. Jacob’s. If Conrad:
  • finishes lower than 4th, Cook takes the title
  • finishes 4th, the two tie for the Tour title
  • finishes in the top 3, Conrad earns the NCA title

Fred Slater
Slater’s scenarios are also simple. To win the title Slater must win the St. Jacob’s tournament while Conrad finishes outside the top 3. Or to tie for the NCA title, must win in St. Jacob’s while Conrad finishes 3rd.

The Top 3
Only 4 players have a chance to finish in the top 3, and they are the aforementioned NCA Tour seekers, plus Ray Beierling. Conrad and Cook are both ensured a place in the top 3, while R. Beierling can grab a spot on the podium with either a win in St. Jacob’s while F. Slater finishes no better than 4th, or Beierling can finish 2nd while Slater finished outside the top 6.

The Top 5
The race for the top 5 is a bit misleading. Louis Gauthier trails Jason Beierling for the 5th spot by a large 12 points, but also has a good deal of room to improve on with a score of 39 that he can remove from his total. Now Gauthier would still likely have to finish in the top 2 to steal a spot in the “Fab 5”, but this is not all to unlikely for someone who finished 3rd in Hamilton after beating the current world champion in the 3rd/4th place game.

The Top 10
Although you probably won’t get any certificates for just a top 10 finish, it’s certainly a nice feeling to end out the NCA season knowing that you are ranked among the top 10. Here’s the remainder of the list, containing all those who can earn a top 10 finish.

Rank
First Name
Last Name
Points
Low Score
Max Score
7
Eric
Miltenburg
163
40
178
8
Matt
Brown
160
38
177
8
Roy
Campbell
160
34
181
10
Clare
Kuepfer
158
38
175
11
Nathan 
Walsh
157
33
179
12
Howard
Martin
150
31
174
13
David 
Brown
148
34
169
14
Joe
Arnup
137
20
172
15
Chris
Gorsline
136
23
168
16
Peter
Tarle
131
29
157
17
Rex 
Johnston
125
0
180
18
John 
Harvey
124
0
179
19
Barry
Kiggins
115
0
170
20
Reg
Chisholm
115
20
150
21
Joe
Richards
106
0
161
22
Justin
Slater
104
0
159
23
Tom
Johnston
104
0
159


It’s amazing to see that Justin Slater could foreseeably earn a top 10 finish even after playing in only 3 events during a year.

While there are possibilities that 6th place Louis Gauthier could fall out of the top 10, we’ll ignore covering the extremely unlikely scenario in which that might happen. I may even suggest that Eric Miltenburg’s 163 points will be enough to make the top 10, but seeing as how 10th place last year had 175 points, I suppose it should not be assumed to occur.

Looking at “the cut-off man” of Clare Kuepfer, sitting in 10th with 158 points and a potential score of 175, let’s assume that Clare finishes in St. Jacob’s exactly what his NCA ranking suggests. That is to say in 10th.

That will give him 42 NCA points, for a total of 162. That means that for most of those currently outside of the top 10, a finish somewhere within the top 7 will be required to make the NCA top 10.



And if you are not looking at this tournament for the NCA Tour race, perhaps look at it as the final tuneup for the 2013 World Crokinole Championships. Rest assured, we will begin building towards that tournament immediately after the conclusion of the 2012-2013 NCA Tour.

Register for the the 2013 World Crokinole Championship: http://www.worldcrokinole.com

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Playoffs are Coming Up


As the NHL regular season comes to an end, and the playoffs in full view, the crokinole season also enters its most crucial and exciting stretch. On May 11th, the focus shifts to St. Jacob’s for the 2013 Ontario Crokinole Championships, and the conclusion to the 5th season of the NCA Tour. And only a few weeks later will be the 15th edition of the World Crokinole Championships.

Last weekend was a busy one, as always, with the Joseph Schneider Haus and PEI Provincial Championships going on. While we’ll wait for full results to come in from the PEI tournament, we can report that the Varna Crokinole Club has won the exclusive team tournament. While the tournament has underwent some changes over the years, its current competition slate has teams from Varna, St. Jacob’s, Preston, London and Waterloo. In the most recent years it has really been pure dominance from Varna and St. Jacob’s, creating quite the rivalry, but now Varna has won the past two JSH tournaments.

With the London and BC full tournament results now available, we can update the rankings.

For the NCA with one tournament left, the standing are tight.
The “Low Score” column shows the lowest score counting in a player’s current point total. A score of 0, means that this player has played less than four tournaments, and does not yet have a complete point total. This column gives an indication to how much a player’s score can change, as a strong St. Jacob’s finish will eliminate their lowest score. Obviously “Max Score” shows the highest possible point total for the player.

Rank
First Name
Last Name
Points
Low Score
Max Score
1
Jon
Conrad
204
47
212
2
Brian
Cook
200
50
205
3
Fred 
Slater
197
45
207
4
Ray
Beierling
190
45
200
5
Jason
Beierling
186
45
196
6
Louis
Gauthier
174
39
190
7
Eric
Miltenburg
163
40
178
8
Matt
Brown
160
38
177
8
Roy
Campbell
160
34
181
10
Clare
Kuepfer
158
38
175
11
Nathan 
Walsh
157
33
179
12
Howard
Martin
150
31
174
13
David 
Brown
148
34
169
14
Joe
Arnup
137
20
172
15
Chris
Gorsline
136
23
168
16
Peter
Tarle
131
29
157
17
Rex 
Johnston
125
0
180
18
John 
Harvey
124
0
179
19
Barry
Kiggins
115
0
170
20
Reg
Chisholm
115
20
150
21
Joe
Richards
106
0
161
22
Justin
Slater
104
0
159
23
Tom
Johnston
104
0
159
24
Lloyd
Wiseman
103
0
158
25
Kent
Robinson
98
0
153
26
Dale
Henry
97
20
132
27
Ron
Haymes
96
0
151
28
Quin
Erzinger
95
0
150
29
Linda 
Irvine
95
0
150
30
Jody
Good
94
0
149
31
Ron
Reesor
88
0
143
32
Reuben
Jong
87
0
142
33
Len
Chard
85
0
140
34
Rob Jr.
Mader
83
0
138
35
Adrian
Conradi
82
0
137
36
Tony
Snyder
82
0
137
37
Jordon
Ripley
81
0
136
38
Nathan 
Jongsma
81
0
136
39
Michael 
Hughes
80
0
135
40
Lawson
Lea
77
0
132

I plan on doing a more in depth analysis of the NCA Tour scenarios soon, but for now we’ll leave you with a bit of a teaser.

  • 3 players can finish 1st
  • 4 players can make the top 3
  • 6 can make the top 5
  • 18 can make the top 7
  • 22 can make the top 10

And let’s not forget about another edition of the CrokinoleCentre rankings, updated as of London 2013 tournament. Here’s the top 40:

Rank
Name
Points
1
Brian Cook
305.5
2
Jon Conrad
298
3
Fred Slater
289.5
4
Ray Beierling
288
5
Jason Beierling
283
6
Eric Miltenburg
259.5
7
Clare Kuepfer
251.5
8
Louis Gauthier
245.5
9
Nathan Walsh
233.5
10
Howard Martin
231
11
Justin Slater
230
12
Joe Arnup
227.5
13
Matt Brown
226.5
14
Paul Brubacher
204.5
15
Chris Gorsline
201
16
Rex Johnston
192.5
17
Tom Johnston
191
18
Lawson Lea
189.5
19
Roy Campbell
178.5
20
Dave Brown
169.5
21
Rob Mader
160.5
22
Nathan Jongsma
155
23
Ron Haymes
152
24
Greg Matthison
150.5
25
Kent Robinson
149.5
26
Quin Erzinger
139
27
Linda Irvine
137
28
Rueben Jongsma
127.5
29
John Harvey
125
30
Adrian Conradi
123.5
31
Michael Hughes
120
32
Ed Ripley
116.5
33
Tom Doucette
115
34
Wilfred Smith
114.5
35
Ed Erzinger
111.5
36
Denis Chartier
110
37
Ron Reesor
106
38
Lloyd Wiseman
104
39
Wayne Gingerich
96
40
Jody Good
94


You’ll notice the top 6 remain unchanged, Louis Gauthier and Clare Kuepfer swap places at 7th and 8th, and Howard Martin reclaims a spot in the top 10 as Paul Brubacher falls from 9th to 14th. By not playing, Justin Slater has reached his highest ranking yet at 11th, and once the PEI results come in, and the points from 2012 get cut in half, he’ll even move up into the top 10, as those ahead of him lose points.
Speaking of PEI, Lawson Lea still holds the highest position of a non-Ontario player, sitting at 18th. And from BC, Quin Erzinger moves up to 26th, with fellow BC contender and highest ranked female, Linda Irvine in 27th.

And in the singles rankings:

Rank
Singles Only
Points
1
Brian Cook
305.5
2
Jon Conrad
290
3
Ray Beierling
286
4
Eric Miltenburg
255
5
Fred Slater
255
6
Clare Kuepfer
235.5
7
Jason Beierling
234
8
Louis Gauthier
215.5
9
Howard Martin
211.5
10
Nathan Walsh
199.5
11
Paul Brubacher
196
12
Matt Brown
171.5
13
Roy Campbell
168.5
14
Justin Slater
154
15
Greg Matthison
150.5
16
Joe Arnup
149.5
17
Rob Mader
126.5
18
Rueben Jongsma
107
19
Kent Robinson
106.5
20
Ron Reesor
106
21
Lawson Lea
103.5
22
Rex Johnston
100.5
23
Dave Brown
99
24
Tom Johnston
99
25
Chris Gorsline
93
26
Nathan Jongsma
92.5
27
John Harvey
82
28
Jason Hogan
75.5
29
Tom Doucette
74
30
Quin Erzinger
71.5
31
Lawrence Wicks
68
32
Wilfred Smith
67.5
33
Alex Protas
67.5
34
Lloyd Wiseman
67
35
Adrian Conradi
65.5
36
Linda Irvine
65.5
37
Jason Carter
65
38
Ron Haymes
59.5
39
Brian Wensley
56.5
40
Ab Leitch
54.5


Brian Cook remains out in with no signs of relinquishing his top ranking, though the two most important tournaments of the year are approaching with lots of ranking points up for grabs. With the London results, Jon Conrad’s second place finish pushes him ahead of Ray Beierling for a second-third place swap. Jason Beierling’s absence, thus not being able to defend his London title has caused him to drop to 7th, allowing Eric Miltenburg to move to 4th, Fred Slater to 5th and Clare Kuepfer up into 6th. The biggest mover was Matt Brown, some nice results moved him up from 18th to now 12th, with the potential to reach the top 10 before the end of the year.