Editor's Note: This article was updated following initial publication to correct and update facts regarding the Ontario Singles Championship and Schneider Haus events.
In a couple of weeks the longest running crokinole tournament will have its 2012 edition, on April 21. And seeing as it will take place on the same day as the PEI Crokinole Championships, I think it's fittings to preview the Joseph Schneider Haus tournament now.
To my knowledge, the Joseph Schneider Haus Crokinole Tournament sits only second in length to the Ontario Crokinole Championships. That tournament is no longer running, but had been in play for close to 30 years, and used to take place in St. Jacobs. Perhaps more than any other, Joe Fulop owned this tournament, winning several titles. Unfortunately, the tournament fell apart, leaving the Joseph Schneider Haus as the longest running tournament in the crokinole world. (Editor's note: the NCA later renamed their St. Jacobs event as the Ontario Singles Championship, but the Schneider Haus event remained the longest consecutively running event in the world.)
The tournament takes place in the Joseph Schneider Haus Museum in Waterloo, Ontario, which is the resting place of the oldest known crokinole board. The tournament is also unique in its format. Players compete in teams of four, all representing their respective clubs, and play a full round robin against every opponent not on their team. The winning club is awarded the official replica of the oldest board, to keep for a year, along with getting their club's name engraved on the championship plaque.
The tournament's team component is really the only one of its kind, with the exception of the Ottawa/Belleville/Quinte Crokinole Challenge. The tournament was crucial in bringing together some of the strongest clubs of the area. In its early years the tournament was dominated by the St. Jacobs and Cameron Heights Clubs. Preston, also present in those early years, is perhaps the oldest existing club, and has been around for over 60 years. The Cameron Heights club was a collection of teachers from Cameron Heights high school in Waterloo, who were often known for inventing and incorporating new defensive crokinole strategies. Beginning in the late 90's, the Varna club began to dominate the tournament with players like Joe Fulop, Ab Leitch, and the Beierling brothers. Only about 5 years ago, Varna's grip on the Joseph Schneider Haus tournament has been challenged by the St. Jacobs club. Another historic and long existing club, who won titles in various years of the tournament's existence, but when Brian Cook became a prominent member, along with Jon Conrad, and Dan Shantz, they began to dominate.
Last year's competition saw Brian Cook dominate the competition, leading the team of Conrad, Shantz, and Fred Slater to victory.
In recent years the tournament has hosted a few different clubs. In addition to the usual clubs of St. Jacobs, Preston, and Varna, the London and Waterloo clubs have joined the competition. The Toronto and Stratford clubs have also participated recently, but the tournament has since been dropped to 5 clubs.
The tournament also used to be counted towards NCA rankings, but was dropped as the tournament could not expand to add more teams and give everyone an opportunity to compete. The NCA has since discussed the idea of creating a team tournament to hold in its season, but nothing has materialized.
Heading into this year, St. Jacobs will be the favorites with relatively the same team. Varna will likely be their closest competition, led by the Beierlings, with the Preston club posing the next biggest threat. Both London and Waterloo clubs hold strong players, but it is sometimes questionable if they will make themselves available for the tournament.
In any case, the longest running crokinole tournament in the world is poised to have another successful competition at the Joseph Schneider Haus Museum in Waterloo, Ontario.
Coming Up - As mentioned the PEI crokinole championships are coming up on April 21. Expect to see lots of news, photos and videos from that tournament once I return from it.