The scariest thing about Andrew Hutchinson's game is that even with expectations (and hence pressure) rising, the man is continuing to perform. The Waterloo County Classic Crokinole tournament can be a grind that really tests one's ability to maintain a high level of play, but for Hutchinson the task seemed to be all too reasonable, as he put forth a solid dominating performance that spearheaded the Waterloo Crokinole Club's second straight team victory.
7 teams piled into the cozy atmosphere of the Schneider Haus National Historic site in Kitchener for the 27th edition of the greatest team tournament in world. (Yes it's the only one, so there's not really a bar to get over. But if there was a bar . . . it would surely be lower than the heights the Schneider Haus event is achieving.)
The 2019 event saw 3 new teams: Teeswater, Niagara, and the scintillatingly-named "King Street Quartet" that was the moniker for the 4 individuals who are active participants in two different crokinole clubs located on King Street in the Waterloo region.
Also in action was team Golden Horseshoe, making their second appearance at the event, team Waterloo making their 10th appearance, and the combined team of London/Scone (London made their debut in 2008, and Scone followed in 2015).
Lastly, the St. Jacobs crokinole club rounded out the field, appearing for the 27th straight year, and now becoming the only club to have perfect attendance at the event. That honour used to be shared with the Preston and Varna clubs, whose inaction this year has broken that streak. However, the Preston Club continues to the honoured in the annals of crokinole history, most likely thanks to Wayne Kelly's best selling crokinole book that, among other things, detailed the club's long history. The Preston club's rule set from 1942, as well as a picture of the club from 1953, is displayed prominently at the Schneider Haus museum next to the world's oldest crokinole board.
Getting down to the crokinole action, the expected battle for team supremacy was between Waterloo, attempting to defend their title first earned last year, and St. Jacobs, looking to get back on top for the first time since 2015.
At the halfway point (12 games) the Waterloo-St. Jacobs battle was clearly coming to fruition. Andrew Hutchinson and Roy Campbell led their respective teams with identical scores of 70 points, with Reid and Jeremy Tracey also trading off identical scores sitting tied for 3rd. Waterloo carried a slim 7 point margin into the lunch break, most of which was spent enjoying the kind offerings of the Schneider Haus staff. But the lunch break also featured some serious discussions among teammates about their afternoon matchups, and some semi-serious trash-talk to their various opponents (of course it was all in good fun).
|T1||Roy Campbell||St. Jacobs||70|
|T3||Jeremy Tracey||St. Jacobs||68|
|T6||Jon Conrad||St. Jacobs||63|
|9||Fred Slater||St. Jacobs||57|
|T11||Janet Waite||King Street Quartet||53|
The battle for the individual title began to tilt towards Hutchinson in afternoon, especially after Dwayne Campbell scored an 8-0 drubbing over Roy Campbell (namesakes, but no relation) in game 14 of 24. That was until the 16th game that saw Hutchinson and Roy Campbell finally meet, where Campbell closed the gap almost entirely with a 7-1 victory. Following the game, Hutchinson still led with 91 points, but Campbell was right behind at 90, with 8 games to play.
Dramatically and spectacularly, Hutchinson was unperturbed by the loss, and rattled off the next 18 rounds in a row without dropping a point. He ended the day with 57 out of a possible 64 points in his final 8 games, reclaiming an adequate advantage over Campbell for the individual title.
Shifting slightly lower down the rankings table, for the purposes of excitement, it would be fun to say that the afternoon saw some players falter, and others charge to the finish. However, that was not the case, and in an impressive show of consistency, the rankings from the halfway point remained the exact same at the end of the day.
|2||Roy Campbell||St. Jacobs||139|
|3||Jeremy Tracey||St. Jacobs||136|
|6||Jon Conrad||St. Jacobs||125|
|9||Fred Slater||St. Jacobs||111|
Status quo was exactly what the Waterloo team was hoping for, and the final results show that they were able to ultimately extend their advantage over St. Jacobs to 20 points, and successfully defend their Schneider Haus title. Interestingly the St. Jacobs club did triumph over Waterloo in their head-to-head matches, taking a 67-61 point edge.
|King Street Quartet||25||65||68||69||29||52||308||6|
It was a fine showing from the Niagara club, who debuted at the event and took the 4th place spot. The 3rd place finish was the highest ever for team Scone, and also a pretty respectable finish for London, considering London's 2nd place finish last year featured a team of Justin Slater and Ray Beierling.
The individual victory gives Hutchinson his 3rd straight crokinole title in what has been a break-through season for the converted cues player. This string of events from Hutchinson does draw some similarities to that of Nathan Walsh, who scored a break-through season in 2013-2014 in a similar fashion (first NCA singles title in the Fall, a 2nd NCA victory in London, followed by a maiden Schneider Haus victory in April).
Coming up next for most players around these parts is the Ontario Singles Championship in St. Jacobs. However for Hutchinson, he'll squeeze in a showing at the US Open Doubles event in Voorheesville, NY, partnering with Jeremy Tracey, where they will also be competing against the current Ontario and World Champion Beierling brothers, along with local American contingent.
Crokinole Video Highlights
One of the best feelings in competitive crokinole is having Jon Conrad exclaim "nice shot" after you've just drilled an unexpected 20. Dwayne Campbell knows that feeling well.
Dale Henry said he had lacrosse on his mind throughout the day, but clearly all he's thinking about here is the 56.7 degree angle at which he needs to strike the near-most left peg to have the maximum possible percentage chance of generating a 20.
Bob Jones doesn't want Andrew Hutchinson to get a ricochet 20. Andrew Hutchinson does not abide.
Hutchinson makes a ricochet 20 on purpose, then claims this ricochet-peg 20 wasn't intentional.
Final shots of the round, tied in 20s, future doubles partners show each other how good they are.
Howard Martin: "I see your 10 million, and I raise you 20 million of my own."
Double with a follow-through 20. That was smooth.
Roy Campbell out here willing takeout 20s into existence in a way that science can't explain.
The only problem with this highlight is that a shot of this quality really deserves a fist pump.
The only problem with this highlight is that a shot of this quality really deserves a MUCH LARGER fist pump.
Walsh sneaks out a tie round against his doubles partner with a 2-peg rebound on the final shot.
Kuepfer: "Hey your shot was good and all, but here's what a nice shot looks like without holding onto a treasure trove of lucky horseshoes."
Walsh: "You call that luck? Wait until you see this!"
When you are really curious about how the scores are going to end up.