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Flick it, nick it, repeat.
If you ask any Island crokinole player, it’s a game anyone can play.
The table-top game is said to have originated in Tavistock, Ont. Many people may remember growing up with a crokinole board in their home, where the aim is to flick a checker-sized disc as close to the centre as possible, while nicking the opponents’ discs out along the way.
Mr. Crokinole, sometimes known as Roy Younker from Kingston, P.E.I., was instrumental in introducing the game to clubs around the Island sometime around the 1980s. Since then, the crokinole scene has become a lively community.
Some Islanders have even gone on to the worlds.
Lawson Lea of Vernon River has been the provincial champ five times. He and his doubles partner, Wilfred Smith, ranked third at the world championship in 2018.
“We were just one point out of second,” the 77-year-old champion said. “It was pretty exciting, really.”
Over 600 crokinole players competed that year, and some can come from as far away as Europe. When Lea and Smith climbed their way to third, they were surrounded by champions of previous years, Lea said.
“We were in good company.”
This past weekend, Lea and Smith were flicking discs in the Roy Younker Memorial Tournament in St. Peters Bay.
Jan Barnes, volunteer organizer for the tournament, said crokinole is still popular and is being played in many communities across P.E.I.
“About four times a week you can play crokinole somewhere,” she said.
About 50-60 people competed at the weekend tournament.
“[It] tends to be seniors, but it doesn’t have to be,” Barnes said, noting it’s a very accessible game.
She knows one woman with bad arthritis who started using special cue sticks to help flick the discs. She has since doubled her scores, Barnes said.
“Almost anybody can do this. Any age.”
While the crowd Saturday skewed older, all ages of players – male and female — competed in St. Peters Bay.
David Younker, son of Roy (who died in January 2018), says people from off-Island often remark to him that more women play in P.E.I. than in other provinces.
“We have an exceptional group of ladies who can play really well,” he said.
P.E.I. has a provincial crokinole championship every year. This year’s event took place in April in Charlottetown.
Younker says he would love to see more young people start playing so the community can grow.
He says many laughs are shared throughout the day.
“I just love the camaraderie in playing,” he said.
Repeat provincial champion Lea’s advice to anyone looking to get into crokinole is to focus on the ricochet. Knocking an opponent’s disc out is one thing, he says, but knocking it off the opponent’s disc and getting yours closer to the centre is the goal.