Adult Singles - WCC 2013
The World Crokinole Championships are an all day event. Doubles categories starts by 8:30am. Singles categories are held in the afternoon and evening.
As Kieran headed over to compete in the juniors (6-10) category, I got in line to draw my number for the competitive singles category: the main event.
I got one of the toughest (best) draws there could be:
- Fred Slater
- Louis Gauthier
- Jon Conrad
- Daryl MacDonald
- Bren Mallette
- Ray Bierling
- Jason Bierling
- Peter Tarle
- Kirk Cornelius
- Cole Fess
As registered players enter the roped off competition area, they draw a slip of paper from a box. The number on the paper corresponds to a table where you meet your opponent. I walk to my assigned table only to meet Tom Johnston (no relation). We had met only 10 minutes earlier, checking out the score sheets. We chat a bit and begin warming up, gaining a feel for the board. A few no-shows are leaving empty spaces and as a result the "high numbered" tables are split up to fill in the gaps. Tom and I shake hands and head our separate ways. Too bad I think, he's definitely an a-level player.
I head towards where the referee is directing me and find myself sitting opposite Fred Slater, he had just won the doubles competition with his son, Justin, and besides being a competitive player, he is the "keeper of the rules" for the game. I'm pretty excited. He comments during our warm up that he can tell I've been practicing my twenties. We begin our play and I end up winning our game 6-2. I was on top of the world, I'm sure he couldn't have been pleased.
Next up I meet Louis Gauthier. While I didn't know of him heading north, I was quickly educated as he walloped me 8-0. Since then, I've noticed him highly ranked in many tournaments and also #6 in the 2012 NCA tour. At least I scored 4 20's.
Of course, by this point, I have gained an understanding of how we moved between tables and I find myself across from 2012 WCC and NCA Tour Champion, Jon Conrad. I'm totally psyched, this is while I came to Tavistock: to sit across from the best. Honestly, I was quite nervous, and it affected my play. Despite that I was amazed by how good Jon's "leaves" were. I couldn't do much useful with them. Of course, he was a nice guy, but he killed me 8-0. He went on to win the 2013 WCC.
Next up, another strong, but less famous (famish?) player, Daryl MacDonald against whom I lost 7-1, but at leave I was on the board. Then, I tied a man named Bren Mallette, who is a repeat WCC player with a bunch of poker buddies from Toronto. Apparently the worse they are at poker, the better they are at crokinole (where the poker losers go when they are done). Bren and I tied 4-4.
My exccellent draw was again highlighted as I sat across from Ray Bierling, a top notch player with multiple tournament wins and a dominating record with his brother, Jason in doubles competitions. We chit chat about the subtle differences between each of the boards which are visibly different only cosmetically. He did comment that shallower center holes are more likely to generate leaners (a button in the twenty hole, but not laying flat) which only score 15. Play starts and I lead off. I sink a 20 to which he answers with one of his own. Feeling good, I take my turn again with a 2nd twenty, and he does the same. 4 20's in a roll?! Now we're playing Crokinole. 6 more 20s are made. I just went on a 5 each 20 race with Ray Bierling! OMG! Of course, once you start thinking that a perfect game is possible, the inevitable happens. I hit my next shot ridiculously short (I didn't even make it into the 10-point circle). Ray ends up beating me 8-0 with 17 twenties (he went on to win the 20s competition during a shoot-out with Justin Slater), I'm glad to have helped.... I did make 7 of my own during that game.
Next up, Jason Bierling: I'm in heaven, I had hoped to play 1 or 2 top tier players, and here's my 4th guy I know just from studying the game, and really the 6th out of 7 players that are ranked tournament players. A much slower board, but he also beats me 8-0. Jason was the first to comment beyond the occassional "nice shot" when he pointed out I was letting him play outside the center by continuing to leave my own button on the board. When you are out of position, you have no hope of winning a round unless you are playing to the center.
For my 8th game, I was matched up with Peter Tarle, who I had met during the recreational doubles match. He's another of those less well known but solid club and tournament players who beat me 7-1.
For my 9th and 10th games, I met 2 more of Bren's crew: Kirk Cornelius and Cole Fess. After being decimated by 7 a-level players, I finally stepped up won both game 8-0.
By the end of the preliminary round, I didn't have enough points to move on, but I felt I played well enough to have no regrets. I was ranked 69th out of 91 entrants and sat across from the best players in the world. Maybe next year I'll win a few more rounds.