Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history and background of the game of crokinole?
Was crokinole originally a Mennonite or Amish game?
Is there an international standard size for crokinole boards and discs ?
Can I enjoy the game on a crokinole board that has smaller (non-international) dimensions ?
Does it matter if the outer frame of my crokinole board is square, octagonal or round ?
Where can I buy a new crokinole board ?
Where can I get a new set of discs ?
What are the exact rules of crokinole ?
Why does it hurt my finger when I shoot a disc ?
Is it disc or disk ?
How can I tell how old my board is ?
Is there a crokinole club in my area ?
How Did the World Crokinole Championship (WCC)™ get started?
Where are the world crokinole championships held ?
Are special lubricants, waxes, or powder substances that are applied over the surface of a board, necessary in order to achieve the best "speed" in competition crokinole?

What is the history and background of the game of crokinole?

The earliest known crokinole board (with legitimate, dated provenance) was made in 1876 (not 1875 as previously reported) in Perth County, Ontario, Canada. Several other home-made boards of southwestern Ontario origin, and dating from the 1870s, have been discovered within the past 10 years, suggesting confirmation of this locale as the probable 'cradle' of crokinole's birth. Earlier Canadian written sources detail the game from the mid-1860's. Several years after that time, a registered American patent suggests 1880 as the time when commercial fabrication began - first in New York, then Pennsylvania. The games that no doubt contributed to the arrival of crokinole seem to be the 16th century British games of shovelboard-from which modern-day shuffleboard descends, the17th century pub game shove ha'penny, and the Victorian parlour game of squails that appeared in England during the second quarter of the 19th century. In addition, Burmese or East Indian carrom (developed during the 1820s) seems a logical ancestor of crokinole due alone to the very similar shooting or fillip technique involved. And while a German game known as 'knipps-brat' (various spellings in high and low Germanic dialect exist) may have had similar features, game historians agree the aforementioned British and Asian predecessors seem the most likely links to modern-day crokinole. [For more detailed information, please consult Chapter Two "Early Origins" in The Crokinole Book.] Many wonderful works on the history of games have been written in the past two decades. From Egyptian pyramid motifs and archeological digs to mediaeval findings, the pattern of 'put-it-in-the-hole' games has a remarkable social history. Think about golf, ice curling, marble games, darts, carrom, hockey, soccer-so many games that require putting the shooter object in a hole, goal, or target area.

Was crokinole originally a Mennonite or Amish game?

No. While some reference works (including my own 1988 first edition of The Crokinole Book.) may have intimated such, there exist no factual data that would prove such a notion. Yes, crokinole has been very popular among many Mennonite and Amish sects throughout Canada and the United States by reason of the fact that the game was viewed as a rather innocuous pastime-unlike the perception that diversions such as card playing or dancing were 'works of the Devil'as held by many 19th century Protestant groups. But it would not appear that crokinole actually developed within any of the Mennonite or Amish communities. As noted above, the oldest known crokinole board in the world was manufactured in 1876 by Perth County, Ontario, craftsman, Eckhardt Wettlaufer. Eckhardt and his ancestors were Lutherans, not Mennonites. A significant difference. Further, the oldest roots of crokinole from the 1860s suggest the British and South Asian games are the most likely antecedents of what became crokinole. No known Mennonite or Amish connection seems to exist within the crokinole pedigree.

Is there an international standard size for crokinole boards and discs ?

The World Crokinole Championship™ (now moving toward their 7th annual event) recognizes the use of round crokinole boards with approximately the following specifications:

These equidistant factors contribute to the 'science,' design, and original intent of the game.
  • "20" hole diameter is generally 1-3/8" (35mm) with a depth of ¼" (6mm)
  • width of dividing circle lines is recommended as 1/16" (1.5mm) but no more than1/8" (3mm)
  • width of ditch/gutter (from side rail/rim to edge of playing surface) is a minimum 2" (51mm)
This standard is neither new nor something defined solely for the WCC event. Rather, this is the paradigm viewed from dimensions established more than 120 years ago. During the 1880s, most Canadian and the only-known American manufacturers (especially M.B.Ross Company of Pennsylvania) constructed crokinole boards within these standard dimensions. As of mid-2002, this international standard is now being manufactured by crokinole game board makers in Canada, United States, Germany, England and Australia. International standard disc size has been set at 32mm diameter x 10mm thick ± .5 mm

Can I enjoy the game on a crokinole board that has smaller (non-international) dimensions ?

Of course. Since the mid-1890s, crokinole boards have been manufactured in many sizes. Millions of fine game boards with non-international standards are in use around the world. During the 20th century and into the 21st, many companies produce a playing surface that is just slightly smaller than 24" in diameter. Reason: from the standard 4' x 8' (122cm x 244cm) plywood or veneer/particle/MDF core sheet, an easy division of 8 equal playing surface circles may be obtained, leaving very little waste. Manufacturers more concerned about economy than strict adherence to international tournament standards frequently produce such game boards. The game may still be fast, enjoyable and satisfying, but if you some day wish to play in international competition, it would be prudent to determine these facts before obtaining a new crokinole board. (Practicing on a slightly wider, narrower, longer or shorter tennis court would not necessarily be to the advantage of players hoping to compete at Wimbledon!)

Does it matter if the outer frame of my crokinole board is square, octagonal or round ?

Yes and no. The World Crokinole Championship™ recognizes the use of round crokinole boards in their annual tournaments. Similar to the 'science' of the game-as discussed above-a round side rail or rim has a definite advantage. The position of your lower palm or wrist is always the same distance from the start/5 line when you initiate your crokinole shot. With an octagonal or square outer frame or side rail, the rest position of the hand varies from the centre of the quadrant as you move further to the right or to the left. (Would your golf swing be uniformly effective if you had to use a slightly longer or shorter club on every swing?) The consistency of the smaller variable concerning palm or wrist placement when playing on a crokinole board with a round frame has long been noted by the world's most senior and experienced competition players as being to distinct advantage.

Where can I buy a new crokinole board ?

Crokinole boards are manufactured by a wide assortment of companies and individual craftsmen around the world. Most popular in Canada and the United States, there are dozens of manufacturers - from large corporations to cottage industry workshops. Low-end and non-international standard boards are typically sold through department and chain store outlets. If no one in your area carries a board, or if the quality is less than satisfactory, please consult the Mr. Crokinole™ products link for a listing of new crokinole board models available.

Where can I get a new set of discs ?

Crokinole discs are traditionally fabricated from hardwood materials. Several large Canadian and American companies manufacture these items. There are also a number of medium-sized firms and small craftworks that turn out high-quality shooting pieces. Asian and European discs are being manufactured, as well as synthetics, plastics, and interesting composite man-made material discs. Local hobby and game shops may carry some of these. If that does not seem to be the case in your area, please consult the Mr. Crokinole™ products list for a selection of many different disc styles and/or assortments available.

What are the exact rules of crokinole ?

Click here for BASIC CROKINOLE RULES. For additional clarification, and rule variations to play crokinole in dozens of different ways, please see The Crokinole Book.

Why does it hurt my finger when I shoot a disc ?

Good question! The answer is simple. If you live in a society that understands hockey or soccer, picture the slap shot (hockey) as opposed to the wrist shot, or the grand swing kick (soccer) compared to a well-aimed toe kick. The secret of an accurate, pain-free shot is to move your finger up as close to the disc as possible. Don't hit it. Push it!!! Get that finger up really close. Take aim and shoot. Pain will not be a factor, even-as some believe-if you hit the post with your disc. Get your fingernail right on the disc. You will have more accurate shots and no pain.

Is it disc or disk ?

While various spellings and mis-spellings for crokinole playing pieces have appeared, since the 1880's the shooter has generally been known as a 'disc.' Dozens of catalogue ads and commercial rules instructions suggest this spelling. 'Disk' is something you stick in your computer.

How can I tell how old my board is ?

It's really not too difficult in most cases. For commercially-made boards, the process is quite simple. Consult library archive catalogue ads (such as Sears-Roebuck, Eaton's, Montgomery Ward, or other commercial advertisers) or The Crokinole Book. for suggestions on how to date your Grandma's old board game. If that does not provide sufficient answer, e-mail Mr. Crokinole™ with a photo and complete description, including all dimensions, type of wood, stain, post construction, etc. Or mail a hard copy photo with detailed information. How To Contact Us.

Is there a crokinole club in my area ?

If you live in Canada or the northeastern US, chances are there is a crokinole club within reasonable driving distance. It is important to appreciate, however, that many of these clubs remain relatively 'closed' and do not readily open their game events to - with all due respect - the itinerant wanna-be. However, some clubs do have guest events. Others happily extend an open invitation to all comers.

How Did the World Crokinole Championship (WCC)™ get started?

The desire for an annual world crokinole championship is not a new idea. As early as the mid-1890s, crokinole clubs and 'circles' had become popular in many Ontario communities (see The Crokinole Book by Wayne Kelly, pp. 8, 70-1). Numerous attempts to organize leagues and tournaments throughout other parts of Canada, Great Britain, and the United States appear to have been short-lived through the first two decades of the 20th century, but during the 1920s and 30s, as crokinole popularity seemed to experience a revival, more organized efforts began to yield results. One of the world's most long-standing crokinole clubs first saw the light of day in 1927. Ontario's Preston Crokinole Club-organized that year with a charter and detailed rule manifesto-has been operating continuously down to the present. And while not organizing large tournaments with any great frequency, members of this club have most certainly been avid crokinole boosters and have supported countless tournament events over the past eight decades.

Crokinole tournaments and championships have most certainly existed in countless locations throughout North America, as attested by hundreds of first-hand accounts that have been sent to the author (WK). Small, community-oriented crokinole competitions were often viewed as a mainstay of social activity-especially in rural areas, villages, and small towns-all across this continent throughout the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. But during the decade of the 1970s, at least one Canadian town enjoyed the distinction of holding the "World Crokinole Tournament." Steinbach, Manitoba, hosted a crokinole competition for several years during the early 1970s culminating in their final "World" championship in 1974 (see The Crokinole Book, pp.78-87).

With the publication of The Crokinole Book in 1988 and the forthcoming 'frenzy' of electronic and print-media attention that drove the book to be a Canadian, non-fiction, best-seller, a noted resurgence of interest and curiosity about this 'great, old family game' became apparent. In an effort to support and encourage such interest, Wayne Kelly regularly served as a consultant and organizer for crokinole events throughout southern Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta, and several northern US states during the early 1990s. One such event-held in Goderich, Ontario, for a 4-year period commencing in 1990-grew to become an amazing 5-day event held annually during the March school 'break.' Hundreds of players from all over southern Ontario vied for top honours in numerous categories.

During most of the 1990s, Kelly continued to promote crokinole play as 'wholesome family fun' and sought-with little result-a venue and community that would demonstrate an interest in hosting a "World Crokinole Championship" on a permanent, annual basis. It was not until the summer of 1998, however, when Kelly was invited to present a display of historic crokinole boards at the 4-day Tavistock (Ontario) sesquicentennial celebration, that enthusiasm for such a notion gained serious momentum. In protracted conversations with Dr. Bruce Halliday, a retired local physician and former provincial Member of Parliament, it became clear that perhaps Tavistock might indeed prove to be an ideal location to host such an event. In early January, 1999, Kelly accepted an invitation as guest speaker at several Tavistock service clubs in which the idea of a "World Crokinole Championship" was presented. Favourable response was immediate and optimistic. The Township of East Zorra-Tavistock followed by scheduling an open meeting for February 24th, at which many local residents voiced enthusiasm for the notion, succeeded by another address by Kelly to the Chamber of Commerce in early April. As a result of these early meetings, six committees-public relations, rules/procedures, awards/sponsorship, registration, game equipment, and facility management-were formed and the date June 5, 1999 was selected to be the first annual World Crokinole Championship. (see The Tavistock Gazette, April 14, 1999, pg. 1)

Wayne Kelly served in assorted roles on the WCC executive committee and as a consultant for several years. In early 2003, he presented his long-standing ideas for a WCC -sanctioned competition crokinole board to the executive, who adopted his designs and proceeded to commission the manufacture of a sufficient number of tournament boards to accommodate up to 500 players at the yearly event. The annual World Crokinole Championship has at last become a reality and will hopefully continue in Tavistock for many years.

Where are the world crokinole championships held ?

In Tavistock, Ontario, Canada, on the first weekend of June. Go to our home page and click on the link to the World Crokinole Championship™ for further details and photos of the annual event.

Are special lubricants, waxes, or powder substances that are applied over the surface of a board, necessary in order to achieve the best "speed" in competition crokinole?

The debate continues......! Let's look at the history of the game. Crokinole play-be it family, folksy, or seriously tournament-going back to the mid-1860s, generally did not involve the use of applied substances to artificially raise the "speed" of a crokinole playing surface. The sealing of playing surfaces has evolved through a long line of various products-shellacs, varnishes, oils, French-rubbed wax treatments, urethanes, varethanes, lacquers and more. Apart from the regular maintenance of cleaning, dusting, or polishing to maintain the original surface that may have been applied to a quality crokinole board, the application of a "floating" powder or granular substance is a relatively new phenomenon. When the World Crokinole Championships (WCC) began in 1999, it was necessary to borrow a large number of boards to accommodate the 300+ players who had registered for the event. In an effort to create a "level playing field" between the wide variety of crokinole boards, it was determined to use a very fine, granular shuffleboard-type wax. As that event has grown, and a larger number of more uniform playing boards has become available, the use of liberal amounts of such substances has dwindled, but-to the chagrin of many-not entirely disappeared. Throughout the world there are numerous board games that rely upon the regular application of non-adhering waxes or lubricants. Shuffleboard and carrom are among the most common. In the case of authentic (Indian) carrom, assorted boric acid powders, mespi dust, chalk, talcum, and even potato starch has been used to "grease" the field of play so as to provide the opportunity for multiple bouncing from rail to rail-similar to the movement of balls from cushion to cushion on a billiard table. Crokinole does not work that way. The installation of good latex-clad posts and a regularly maintained, smooth playing surface do not require that type of "pucks-on-ice" action. Numerous gaming associations and gatherings of players who may have used "floating" lubricants on non-crokinole gaming surfaces are the individuals chiefly responsible for the introduction of their use in modern crokinole. However, it has been noted that a crokinole surface with such products on it can actually become too fast. If all "drag" coefficient is reduced, the game can become unpredictable. A board that is not entirely level-perhaps even on a tilt of only ½ degree, may allow discs to become so mobile that they will actually "curl" off the playing field. Longtime crokinole players, and some of the world's best competitors revile such products.

Additional concerns include:

    1. the fact that boric acid powders are somewhat toxic. Many manufacturers have been unable or reluctant to fully list the ingredients of their products. Use of them in the presence of children is inadvisable.

    2. The potential for spillage on a smooth floor surface can prove dangerous.

    3. Shuffleboards are generally finished with an exceptionally hard and durable topcoat (usually urethanes) which allow for the constant use of granular lubricants. The best tournament crokinole boards are generally finished with fine-quality lacquers. The regular use of external lubricants is frequently abrasive to a crokinole board surface, thus destroying the original smoothness of a high-quality board. Numerous owners of our best tournament boards have lamented their frequent use of such lubricants as the original finish of their board has been all but destroyed.

    4. Use of such products on a crokinole playing surface that has routered lines (as opposed to painted or silk-screened lines) allows build-up in these channels that offers an unpredictable disc-to-surface response.

    5. And, they are messy!



All content copyright © 1998, 2014 by Wayne Kelly & Mr. Crokinole™
All Rights Reserved
design by c_kelly media