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St. Jacobs, Walsh repeat at Joseph Schneider Haus

Nathan Walsh April 11, 2015

The oldest active crokinole tournament in the world rolled over to year 23 on Saturday as the 2015 Waterloo County Classic Invitational Team Crokinole Tournament. This April Saturday had elements of deja vu, especially with respect to the final results, but the way the story was told was all too different this time around.

Competitors chat and practice in the lower hall of the Joseph Schneider Haus Museum.
Competitors chat and practice in the lower hall of the Joseph Schneider Haus Museum.

The always well-run tournament, hosted by the Joseph Schneider Haus museum, has set the stage every April since 1993 for clubs from near and far to partake in a rare team crokinole event. This years event hosted 6 teams, though there are hopes to increase that number in the near future.

As always the tournament welcomed the clubs of St. Jacobs, Varna and Preston, each with a storied history and long list of successful crokinole players. The local Waterloo club was in attendance, as they always have since being formed in 2010, while London returned to the event after a one-year absence. The field was rounded out by a brand-new team, as the Scone Crokinole Club made their very first appearance at the Joseph Schneider Haus tournament.

The tournament format is incredibly simple: 4 players per team, all singles, one-game against every player from an opposing club. A simple format allowed the action to go incredibly fast, with the only stop being lunch. Prepared by the Joseph Schneider Haus, the lunch and other freshly-baked treats may be the most popular part of the crokinole event (even rivalling that of the presence of the world's oldest crokinole board).

Made in 1875 in Sebastopol, the Joseph Schneider Haus museum houses the world's oldest known crokinole board.
Made in 1875 in Sebastopol, the Joseph Schneider Haus museum houses the world's oldest known crokinole board.

While every board has a story worth telling, it is part of the short description accompanying the board that is a joy to read.

"Its pristine condition indicates that it was seldom played upon..."

How ironic that a board that was rarely used decades ago (and of course is never used now), is largely responsible for the World Crokinole Championships and Joseph Schneider Haus tournament.

The St. Jacobs Crokinole Club returned to the tournament with the same quartet that allowed them to claim victory the year before. Meanwhile the Varna Crokinole Club enlisted the top 4 finishers at the most recent London Crokinole tournament to make their best run at the title. The tournament has been dominated by those two clubs, with one of them winning every year since 2006 (a 5-4 edge for St. Jacobs). The action on Saturday was as close as it possibly could be.

2015 Joseph Schneider Haus Team vs Team Comparison

St. Jacobs Varna London Preston Waterloo Scone Total Rank
St. Jacobs 0 56 87 80 81 99 403 1
Varna 72 0 82 85 65 97 401 2
London 41 46 0 62 63 69 281 4
Preston 48 43 68 0 51 62 272 5
Waterloo 47 63 65 77 0 92 344 3
Scone 29 31 59 66 36 0 221 6

In what was the closest finish in tournament history, the St. Jacobs Crokinole Club retained the team title with 403 points, barely edging Varna with 401. Meanwhile Waterloo claimed their highest finish in club history with a 3rd place finish.

The Team vs Team scores reveal that the Varna club actually edged out every team it played in head-to-head competition (including a 72-56 victory over St. Jacobs). But St. Jacobs was able to score extremely well against all of the other teams to make up the difference.

A fine bottle of syrup was the 2015 prize for top scorer.
A fine bottle of syrup was the 2015 prize for top scorer.

The competition was also very tight for the individual honours. 6 players of the 24 were able to reach triple-digits (out of a possible 160 points).

Rank Name Club Points
1 Nathan Walsh Waterloo 117
2 Jon Conrad St. Jacobs 112
3 Ray Beierling Varna 108
4 Paul Brubacher St. Jacobs 103
5 Rex Johnston Varna 102
6 Ab Leitch Varna 100

Nathan Walsh repeated as the individual champion, while Jon Conrad and Ray Beierling rounded out the top 3. Incredibly, the 8 members from Varna and St. Jacobs all ended up finishing in the top 9. St. Jacobs grabbed 2nd, 4th, 7th and 8th(tied), while Varna finished in 3rd, 5th, 6th and 8th(tied).

2015 Joseph Schneider Haus Team Champions: St. Jacobs. Paul Brubacher, Roy Campbell, Jon Conrad, Fred Slater.
2015 Joseph Schneider Haus Team Champions: St. Jacobs. Paul Brubacher, Roy Campbell, Jon Conrad, Fred Slater.

With the extremely close finish, the St. Jacobs Crokinole Club successfully defended their title, pushing the club further up historical standings with 10 titles. While it still seems so strange that a tournament with such a long history has only been won by 3 teams, you get the feeling that with new teams being added to the mix every year, that may not be true for long.

So while the end results may be a repeat of a prior year, the story of it all and the crokinole action continue to entice. Thanks to Joseph Schneider Haus for their tremendous hospitality again this year, we hope to see everyone again in 2016 for the 24th edition of the Waterloo County Classic Invitational Team Crokinole Tournament.