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A Non-Definitive Review of Crokinole in 2023

Nathan Walsh December 19, 2023

2023 was crokinole’s first full year back from the covid-pause. I was thinking back on the year and being impressed by the breadth of it all. If you make a small-time hobby out of relaying crokinole stories, there was too much in the last 12 months to stay on top of it all. So in lieu of a professional job, here’s a non-definitive, non-comprehensive, (possibly non-good grammatical) recap of 2023.

There was lots of news regarding the National Crokinole Association early in the year. New tournaments started up in Elmira and Chatham, and the NCA went through a formalization process to enact a set of by-laws and elect an inaugural board of directors.

Elmira saw Ron Langill record his best-ever finish in a singles event, placing 2nd, but his break-through performance was overshadowed with a titanic clash in the other semifinal. Connor Reinman and Justin Slater squared off on the board, but also in the minds of all competitive crokinole players who were wondering which of the two was currently the best player in the game. Reinman won the semifinal match and the tournament, pushing such perceptions in his favour.

Ray Beierling re-emerged at the top of the crokinole game in Chatham, defeating Reinman in the final, and winning his first singles tournament since 2017. That championship match was out-done by the Match of the Year, a stupendous 3rd-place-match between Justin Slater and Jeremy Tracey. Even if you’ve already seen it, that match is well worth a rewatch. I’d recommend sliding it in between your family’s viewing of Charlie Brown’s Christmas Special and the 6-hour re-broadcast of the yule log fireplace.

Champions returned in the Spring-time with Justin Slater winning the NCA event in London. The win was his first singles victory, after 4 non-victorious finishes in prior tournaments, snapping his longest victory drought in over 10 years. A month later the Beierlings won the US Open in Voorheesville, defeating Jeremy and Reid Tracey in the championship match.

The Breakthrough Player of the Year honours is bestowed to Josh Carrafiello. One of the top players in the cues game, he started playing on the fingers side in 2020. Coming into 2023 his best ever finger-singles finish was a 15th, but he had an impressive showing in May, winning the prestigious Ontario Singles Championship after wins against Reinman in the semifinals, and Andrew Hutchinson in the finals. Carrafiello would not play on the fingers side at the World Championships, determined instead to win the cues division once before converting to fingers-play permanently. That goal was achieved in spades, as Carrafiello claimed the triple crown at the Worlds, winning the doubles, singles and 20s categories, including setting a cues 20s world record along the way.

While Connor Reinman was defeated in the Ontario semifinals, the performance was enough to cap off his marvellous 2022-2023 NCA season, culminating in his first ever NCA Tour Championship. He was joined on the NCA podium by Ray Beierling in 2nd, and Andrew Hutchinson in 3rd.

Leading into the World Crokinole Championships there was much excitement about the crokinole action happening around the world.

United Kingdom

A number of well-attended crokinole tournaments took place in the UK. A pretty exciting match took place between Tom Curry and Mike Ray early in the year at AireCon. Happening on the same day as the World Championships was the 2nd edition of the UK Crokinole Championship. The legendary Brian Cook won the first edition in 2022, and returned to retain the title in 2023; his stiffest competition on the day coming from Tom Curry in a slim 10-8 semifinal victory.

The playing hall at the 2023 UK Crokinole Championship
The playing hall at the 2023 UK Crokinole Championship. Photo credit: Daniel Sockett

Following these events was the establishment of the Crokinole UK Tour, which operates in similar fashion to the NCA Tour. The inaugural season is scheduled to have 6 events, concluding on June 1st, 2024 for the UK Crokinole Championship. Winners on the season so far include Árpád Lonsták (more on him in a bit), Tom Curry, Brian Cook and Mark Thurling. The battle for the Tour championship should be fun to watch.

You can follow the UK action via their news page, on their facebook page, or the hopefully to be burgeoning youtube channel.


A new face has entered into the Hungarian crokinole circuit, named Árpád Lonsták. He’s had a very successful 2023, winning in Scotland in the first ever UK Tour event, and then winning on home soil in the last 3 events, which include the 28th and 29th editions of the MOM Kupa, and the 2023 Hungarian Crokinole Championships a couple weeks ago. Krisztián Berzlánovich still remains a top name in Hungary, having finished 2nd twice and 4th in those three tournaments.

The Hungarian Crokinole results can be best followed on the Europe Facebook group, and through the youtube channels run by Berzlánovich, and the new channel recently launched by Lonsták.

Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden

In Spain, crokinole has been getting a lot of attention with TV appearances in 2023. The first featuring Antonio Cuaresma, and the second on the subject of the 2023 Open de Catalunya. The marque events of the year seem to be the Spanish Open, the doubles and singles championship matches are available for viewing in their respective links.

The pair of Stef Schenkelaars and Sjoerd Diemel continued their crokinole promotion efforts with another edition of the Dutch Doubles Crokinole Championship in 2023 in Utrecht. Their annual crokinole tournament is one-of-a-kind and has the atmosphere of an English or Dutch darts tournament (with the crowd of spectators using the same types of chants). The 2023 national championship was won again by Sander Brugman and Joert Edink, and the final match can be viewed here.

3-time Dutch Champions - The Roaring Twenties. Photo credit: Joert Edink
3-time Dutch Champions - The Roaring Twenties. Photo credit: Joert Edink

The team of Brugman/Edink also compete at the Belgian national championships. For the third year in a row Brugman/Edink lost to the powerhouse Belgian pair of Bert Costermans and Dennis Vrints. Crokinole NL provided a short recap of the event. The 2022 championship match can be viewed here, and tournament information for 2024 can be found here. The full 2023 championship match can be viewed here, which features the round of the year in the 6th round when the players scored 19 consecutive open-20s.

And in Engholms, Sweden, Magnus Rundström has started up a club featuring crokinole action.


Some clubs have popped up in Australia in the last few years, and in 2023 was the 3rd edition of the Bottom Half of the World Cup.

Crokinole Bottom Half of the World Cup playing hall
Crokinole Bottom Half of the World Cup - Photo Credit: Gift Zeplin

The Footscray Flickers facebook is good to follow to get a flavour of what Australian crokinole is like. That club was responsible for presenting the game at the 2023 version of PAX Australia.


There was lots of events of note in the USA. In Ohio Grant Flick and Travis Keener battled in the tournament final, with Flick coming away victorious. The Extra Pink Texas youtube channel has lots of videos one can watch of the action. That group is based in Houston, but there’s also a club in Dallas gaining momentum. A club in Toledo was also launched in the year and is producing enthusiasts and competitive players-alike. There’s also action in Alaska, where the Dry Bay club held the Alaska State Doubles Championship.


I can’t say that I know what the crokinole scene is like in Japan, but I can say this youtube channel posts crokinole videos from time-to-time, and they are always really pleasant and relaxing to watch.


Most of the Canadian news is covered in the rest of the report, but I’ll take this time to point out a couple other items. The first is a new club in Windsor. The second is that the current volunteers of the BC Provincial Championships are looking to hand-off the responsibility and accrued assets to an interested party. Running a tournament is a difficult task, but it is made much easier when there’s boards and a set of procedures readily available.

And lastly, in April of this year Joe Fulop passed away. I had the honour of writing the summary that appeared on the World Championship website regarding Fulop’s influence on crokinole. Crokinole has a long history, but much of it was never written down. When a few people started the effort of chronicling the game, Joe Fulop was the first star of crokinole, and will now always be regarded as one of the greats of the game.

The Tracey Road Trip

I’ll leave this section with just a couple sentences, because the Tracey Boards social media feeds do a better job of recapping this they I can. Tracey Boards went on an extensive tour of the USA in 2023, hitting up numerous gaming conventions and connecting with several newly formed clubs along the way. If you can’t find the social media feeds, here’s a few links to get you started.

Jeremy Tracey poses with crokinole board before Kansas sign on highway
Photo Credit: Tracey Boards

2023-2024 NCA Tour so far

In June Justin and Fred backed-up their 2022 NCA Players Championship with a doubles title as the World Crokinole Championships returned after a 3-year hiatus in 2023. Their title coming by a margin of two points ahead of Connor Reinman and Jeremy Tracey. In the mix as well in the doubles playoffs was the Hartung duo, including Bruce Hartung, the 2005 World Champ making a return to competitive crokinole after a decade absence. He would also be in the mix in the singles, making the top 16. But the headlines in singles are usually reserved for those making the top 4. Matt Brown had the surprise performance of the day, finishing first in his round of 16 group, and becoming the 19th player to make the WCC top 4 more than once. Justin Slater finished 3rd on the day, making the top 4 for the 8th time. Meanwhile, Andrew Hutchinson and Connor Reinman both qualified for the championship match for the first time, where Reinman won a tense and entertaining match to win the World title.

The performance of the year has to go to Reinman as well for his play during the Round of 16. He won all 7 games and along the way scored 2 perfect rounds. He scored 104 20s over 7 games (pro-rates to 148 over 10 games), which is the record 20s score at the World Championships, and good enough for 3rd all-time. He also scored 43 points, which is tied for the 3rd-most points scored in the round of 16 phase at the WCC, and he notched the largest ever margin between 1st and 2nd place finishers in round of 16 group, by finishing 11 points ahead 2nd place Hutchinson.

The NCA Tour returned to Tuscarora in August, and was joined by a visiting Brian Cook who placed 4th. Reinman came away with another victory, beating Ray Beierling in the finals, and narrowly defeating Hutchinson in the semis.

In Belleville, Justin Slater was in spectacular form and played flawlessly in the championship match against Hutchinson, after defeating Ron Langill in the semifinal.

The Owen Sound tournament’s competitive division featured team doubles for the first time. We saw rare Beierling/non-Beierling doubles team as Ray Beierling and Connor Reinman teamed up and went into the tournament as favourites along side the team of Jeremy Tracey/Andrew Hutchinson. However, both of those teams would be defeated in the semifinals. The team of Oliver and Philip Ware finished 30th at the World Championships, and put on a dazzling and surprising display to advance to the finals. They were defeated by the new formed team of Josh Carrafiello and Ron Langill, giving Carrafiello his second NCA title, and Langill his first.

That set the stage for the final event of 2023: the Ontario Doubles Championship. The tournament entry list was stacked with perennial contenders in the Beierlings and the Slaters, while Andrew Hutchinson/Jeremy Tracey, Nolan Tracey/Reid Tracey, and Carrafiello/Langill joined in as tournament favourites. Spicing up the field even more was Jon Conrad, playing in his 3rd event in 2023 after sitting out 2022, partnering with Reinman.

The tournament was defined by many close calls. In the morning action Tracey/Tracey advanced by a margin of 3 points ahead of Gloria Walsh/Nathan Walsh, while Conrad/Reinman advanced by virtue of a tiebreak ahead of Darlene Kuepfer/Jo-Ann Carter. Then in the cut-off for the quarterfinals, Conrad/Reinman again advanced through a tiebreak ahead of Peter Carter/Robert Bonnett. The drama continued in the playoffs where 6 of the 8 matches were decided 2 points, and other 2 matches only decided by 4 points. Darren Carr/Gina Schick, Jason Molloy/Seth Frank, Slater/Slater and Hutchinson/Tracey were eliminated in the quarterfinals. Conrad/Reinman made the finals after beating Tracey/Tracey, but lost to the Beierlings who beat Carrafiello/Langill in the other semifinal.

After such close doubles action, there’s a lot of storylines heading into the US Open and World Championship competitions in 2024.

Other stuff

Crokinole is about fun, and in case you forgot somewhere along in 2023, there was enough tomfoolery to remind you.

Regarding that last one, it’s apparently an American crokinole tradition to have a comical consolation prize. Gary Wasielewski found a historical record of Nebraska politicians playing crokinole, where "considerable amusement was created over the efforts of the gentlemen to avoid winning the consolation prize.”

An article about Nebraska politicians playing crokinole

It was a few years ago when Shut Up & Sit Down reviewed the game of crokinole, in a video that now has over a million views. They talked about crokinole again briefly in a recent video around here and it was pretty funny to hear carrom described as “not as round” as crokinole.

"Of the year" Honours

I’ve already given out a few "blank of the year" awards above, and at this point I should remind the reader this is a non-definitive honour bestowed with minimal research effort.

That being said I can confidently award the following:

  • Crokinole Physics Analysis of the year to Jeremy Bagai for being the only person in 150 years of crokinole history for actually studying how follow-through shots work. You might have to be slightly academically inclined to appreciate the work; which is thoroughly impressive.
  • While we are in the academic fields, the Crokinole History Research of the Year goes to Brian Cook for logging numerous instances of newspaper references to crokinole from 1880-1925.
  • Andrew Hutchinson launched the Pink Shirt Podcast in late 2022, and from it I’m selecting the podcast of the year as the episode he had with Connor Reinman reviewing the 2023 World Championships.

The hardest selection was that of shot of the year, but I’ve landed on Lizz Mackie-Donnelly’s shot during the US Open, which resulted in a double-takeout 20.

Lastly there is the honour of video of the year. In 2022 the Netherlands group came out with two videos which were pretty hilarious even if one had to use translated subtitles to figure out what was being said. The first was actually on the local news and discussed a doubles partnership that disbanded after one player’s crucial miss eliminated them the following year. The second video gave a dramatic recap of the 2022 event.

An honourary mention goes to video which wasn’t filmed in 2023, but I can’t believe no one made mention of it before I did. I would be a little surprised if famous TV personality Jon Stewart knows what crokinole is, but one of the guests on his show decided to coin a crokinole-related term in hilarious fashion.

2023 Video of the Year goes to Calvert Hall College, a catholic prep school from Maryland. Watch and enjoy:

While I haven’t seen him take credit, I’m assuming the thanks for creating this club goes to Mr. Ufnar, and doesn’t this look like a good time everyone can get behind!

Some incredible quotes in this video.

"When we tell them 'Hey, it’s a board game.' They’re like 'uh, that’s boring!'" Yep, been there many times in my life.

"I come to crokinole because it’s fun, and I like trash talk." I'm sure this is what Jeremy Tracey was like in highschool.

"You realize it’s not just some stupid game, it’s really competitive." High praise indeed!

"It really does get pretty cut-throat, in this silly board game." And that’s how this game has been for 150 years.

Also seeing students in full suits play crokinole is pushing me even closer to following through on this idea.