Wednesday, 27 May 2015

2015 World Crokinole Championship Fantasy Pool

With under 2 weeks to go until the World Championships you may only want to focus on preparing your game for the world’s best. But have you taken time to think about how the day will shape up? Who’s going to come out of nowhere? Who’s going to falter? And most importantly, who’s going to win the 17th World Championship?

Do you want to finally prove once and for all your prediction prowess? Are you afraid that your prognostications will go unheard despite being astonishingly accurate?

Well why not take your hand at picking a team for the first ever Crokinole Fantasy Pool?

The rules are simple: 
1. Pick the best 8 player team consisting of 2 players from Group A, 2 players from Group B, 2 from Group C, and 2 from Group D.
2. The higher up your players finish, the more points your team earns.
3. Whoever has the team with the most points will win the coveted title of Crokinole Fantasy Champion, and bragging rights until their title is challenged next year.

The separation into 4 different groups is designed to spread out the talent, so the winning team will require a strong showing from many different players, who outperform their expectations.

I initially thought about drafting the groups subjectively by my own choosing, but then thought it should probably have some objective basis. As such, the groups are determined based on the current CrokinoleCentre Rankings.

Group A
Group B
Group C
Group D
(The top 6 CrokinoleCentre Ranked players.)
(Rankings from 7-20)
(Rankings from 21-40)
You may pick any player not listed in Groups A, B, or C.
Justin Slater
Jason Beierling
Ron Reesor
Brian Henry
Ray Beierling
Matt Brown
Brian Simpson
Kyle Vaillancourt
Nathan Walsh
Roy Campbell
Reuben Jong
Rob Mader
Fred Slater
Tom Johnston
Ab Leitch
Ed Ripley
Brian Cook
Clare Kuepfer
Alex Protas
Barry Kiggins
Jon Conrad
Eric Miltenburg
Chris Gorsline
Ralph Hargrave

John Harvey
Dale Henry
Abijah Jong

Dave Brown
Tony Snyder
Kevin Bechtel

Rex Johnston
Peter Carter
Raymond Kappes

Howard Martin
Cathy Kuepfer
Bob Mader

Robert Bonnett
Paul Brubacher
Jeremy Gunn

Roger Vaillancourt
Gloria Walsh
Beverly Vaillancourt

Peter Tarle
Ray Haymes
John Lichty

Louis Gauthier
Jody Good
Kevin Brooks

Nathan Jongsma
Bob Jones

Linda Irvine
Curt Currie

Quin Erzinger
Ewen MacPhail

Ron Haymes
Richard Guptill

Adrian Conradi
Daryl MacDonald

Michael Hughes
David Younker

Note: For Group D the players listed above are ranked 41 to 60, but you are also permitted to pick any player not included in any of the other groups.

This is where a little inside information can make the difference. If you know of a real ringer coming in, or you want to take a chance, then select that player for your team.

As an example team, for the 2014 World Championships, the ideal team would have included
Group A - Brian Cook (1st) and Justin Slater (2nd)
Group B - Matt Brown (4th) and John Harvey (7th)
Group C - Ray Haymes (13th) and Tony Snyder (15th)
Group D - Ezra Yantzi (10th) and Kevin Bechtel (14th)

This would have met all conditions for player choices (2 from each group) and put all 8 players in the top 15. Notice the choice of Ezra Jantzi would have been an “off the board” pick as he is not listed in Group D.

Points will be awarded to each member of a team as follows:
1st - 100
2nd - 90
3rd - 85
4th - 80
5th-8th - 70
9th-12th - 65
13th-16th - 60
17th-20th - 50
21st-25th - 45
26th-30th - 40
31st-35th - 35
36th-40th - 30
41st-45th - 25
46th-50th - 20
51st-60th - 15
61st-70th - 10
>71st - 5

The ideal 2014 team would have earned:
100 (Cook) + 90 (Slater) + 80 (Brown) + 70 (Harvey) + 65 (Yantzi) + 60 (Haymes) + 60 (Bechtel) + 60 (Snyder) = 585 points

Enter your team roster with a comment below. Entries will be accepted until 1:30pm EST on June 6th, 2015.

Entries can be made in the comments of the NING Website, or on CrokinoleCentre.

Good luck and have fun!

Friday, 22 May 2015

Quin Erzinger Crokinole Classic Quite a Success

Players getting some early practice before the
start of the Quin Erzinger Classic
18 players took a rare opportunity on a holiday Monday in Hamilton to put together one of the most satisfying crokinole events in recent memory.

With a world-class crokinole player from British Columbia in the region, several other crokinole fanatics from Ontario gathered to play the 2015 Quin Erzinger Crokinole Classic.

With everyone wanting to face-off against the young stud from BC, the format was composed of a full round robin of singles action, with the remainder of the afternoon left for social play.

After completing 9 singles games before lunch, some players were eager to jump to a 6-player board, thankfully brought by Eric Miltenburg, to try crokinole from a brand-new point of view.

The remaining 8 games of singles were played after the fantastic lunch was held. As eloquently quipped by Clare Kuepfer the $10 event fee was broken down as “$10 for lunch, crokinole for free”.

After tabulating the scores, the following results were generated (listed below is the top 10).

Nathan Walsh
Jon Conrad
Eric Miltenburg
Roy Campbell
Jake Ruggi
Quin Erzinger
Jason Beierling
Reuben Jongsma
Clare Kuepfer
Howard Martin

True to his lore, Quin Erzinger thumped in a tournament-high 174 20s, which also included a “perfect-round” in the very first game of the tournament against Roy Campbell. Also sharing in some fame was Jason Beierling, who scored a perfect-round in the very last game of the tournament against Nathan Walsh.

With trophies available for the top 3 finishers, the battle for the podium was incredibly tight. Through 17 games (and a maximum of 136 points) 5 players finished within 2 points of each other. Recognition should be given to Jason Beierling, Quin Erzinger, Jake Ruggi and Roy Campbell for an incredibly solid day. Jake Ruggi turned out a great performance, despite coming into the tournament out-of-practice.

Congratulations were given to Eric Miltenburg for squeezing through the heap and earning 90 points along with the well-deserved 3rd place finish.

Jon Conrad accepts the trophy for 2nd Place
The battle for 1st was also quite close as Jon Conrad and Nathan Walsh both earned 104 points. The tiebreaker went the way of Walsh, with Conrad having to settle for 2nd.

After the results had been announced, players took the opportunity to get a few more games of crokinole in before heading home. Some players used the chance to practice doubles before the World Championships, while others used the advantage of numbers to play more games on the 6-player crokinole board.

Nathan Walsh accepts the 1st Place prize from Quin Erzinger

While the 6-player board is large, and thus more difficult to transport, it was no doubt a hit among the attendees. If you are looking for ways to make crokinole tournaments more social and entertaining, a 6-player board can be great for a few laughs in between rounds.

Unfortunately, the day to which there was great anticipation, did come to an end. The tournament’s main guest of honour, Quin Erzinger departed along with others. The memory of a great time had, and the hope for more in the future was all that remained.

On a personal note, thank you to everyone who helped make this event a reality. Special thank you to my parent’s for helping with lunch, organizing and transportation. Thanks to Jake Ruggi and Reuben Jongsma for helping to secure the venue. Thanks also to Roy Campbell for bringing although the game-timer, and to Eric Miltenburg for the extra large crokinole board.

Lastly thanks to everyone who came along to partake in the special occasion. While crokinole tournaments come around every year, the opportunities we get to share the love of the game, with people who otherwise would be complete strangers from distant locations, are few and far between. 

Thank you for taking advantage of the opportunity. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

To the good times we’ve shared with crokinole, and to many more.
Nathan Walsh

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Slater Wins 2015 Ontario, NCA Titles

Justin Slater had a hot start to the 2014-2015 NCA Tour, but it was the finish that was never in doubt as Slater capped his 2nd NCA Tour title, with his 5th Ontario Singles Championship.

A tense moment from the Johnston v Slater semifinal.
29 players gathered at the St. Jacobs Mennonite Church for the final stop of the 7th National Crokinole Association season. The event is often one of the most competitive as many of the best players, nearing peak form, are in attendance. Mix that with the final push for the end of the year rankings and it is a great tournament.

The preliminary round split the field into 3 groups, with advancement to afternoon pools on the line. Clare Kuepfer (40 points) and John Harvey (39) were barely edged out by Rex Johnston (41) for direct entry into Pool A, despite Harvey scoring the group-high 81 20s.

Tom Johnston went sleepless the night before due to work requirements, but managed to join Ab Leitch, Robert Bonnett and Ray Beierling as the Group B contenders qualifying for Pool A. 

While Group C was highlighted by the high score of Justin Slater with 65 of a possible 72 points, there was an incredible 3-way tie between Jon Conrad, Brian Simpson and Eric Miltenburg for the final spot in Pool A. While each player tied each other in their head-to-head games, Conrad would be given the final spot due to 20s.
Pool B winner, Brian Simpson (right) accepting
from St. Jacobs Club organizer, Howard Martin.

After a fantastic lunch, the money was on the line as the afternoon play began.

In Pool C, Barry Kiggins had the high 20 score with 58, but failed to make the final, finishing with 39 points for 3rd place. Howard Martin would take the top seed with 47 points, and Roger Vaillancourt would join him in the final with 44. The final was very tight, with Roger Vaillancourt needing a tiebreaker to win the first game by a score of 6-4. Vaillancourt would then grab the second game of the best of 3 to take the C final.

The battle to reach the Pool B final was also very tight. Clare Kuepfer would be the unfortunate 3rd place finisher (40 points), falling behind Reuben Jongsma (42) and Brian Simpson (47). Jongsma had won their round robin meeting 6-2, but Brian Simpson would get the better of a very competitive final, winning 6-4, 5-3.
2014-2015 NCA Tour 3rd Place - Nathan Walsh

In Pool A action, Ray Beierling had an extremely solid round robin and finished atop the standings with 46 points. Justin Slater sealed the NCA Tour title when he earned the 2nd seed with 42 points, just ahead of Tom Johnston who continued to have a great day of competition. London tournament champion, Ab Leitch, took the final playoff spot with 37 points. It was that which showed how tight the round robin was, as the 4th place score only earned one point over the 50% score of 36.

In the semifinals, Ray Beierling would get the better of his Varna teammate, Ab Leitch, by a score of 5-3, 6-2. The semifinal between
Tom Johnston and Justin Slater was a see-saw affair. Tom Johnston won the first game in a tiebreaker, 6-4. The second game would also go to a tiebreaker, but Slater would fight off elimination to tie the match. In the third game, Slater took over, winning 6-0 to advance to the final.
2014-2015 NCA Tour 2nd Place - Ray Beierling

So with the NCA standings solidified with Justin Slater 1st and Ray Beierling 2nd, the two squared off in the final. Justin Slater dominated the first game, but Ray Beierling flipped the script in the second and the Ontario Singles final headed to a decisive third game.
The first round was played to a tense tie, but Slater would remain focussed and win the game 5-1, to claim his NCA record-setting 4th straight Ontario Singles Championship.

So the 2014-2015 NCA Tour standings were finalized. Nathan Walsh finished a career-high 3rd place, after a year in which he accumulated 4 different 2nd place finishes. Ray Beierling finished 2nd on the Tour, in what was one of his best Tour’s, that included a winning streak of three consecutive tournaments.

2014-2015 NCA Tour Champion - Justin Slater
And Justin Slater won the Tour for his second time (after sharing the title with Ray Beierling in 2010), highlighted by winning the World Championship Doubles event, the Brucefield tournament and the Ontario Singles Championship, as well as a runner-up finish in the WCC Singles event.

So 7 seasons for the NCA Tour are now a part of history. The focus now clearly shifts to the 2015 World Crokinole Championships, and the start of a new NCA Tour.