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The Press Box For April 22

By Staff | Apr 22, 2020

Got in a little cornhole practice in my garage this past week. I set up the old WVU boards and pitched for about two hours each evening. This was my first time, and I never realized it was as much fun. It takes a good deal of skill to toss those bean bags into the hole. I watched it on TV and decided to give it a try. I would rather be shooting a basketball, but this will have to do.

Those guys on TV were professionals and made it look easy. They had all kind of rules and regulations. Some of them threw spinners and straight shots, they blocked the hole and then knocked others in or skipped over them. You have to be pretty accurate. I mean it’s a pretty neat sport especially for us older guys, who can’t do all the physical stuff any more.

The first time I ever heard of it was back in 2002. I took my wife up in Ohio to look at Longberger baskets, we saw a sign that said cornhole tournament. I immediately turned the car around and left. (The place was packed)

Cornhole matches are played with two sets of bags, two boards and two to eight players.

There are four bags to a set with different color ed bags. Although bags used to be filled with corn kernels (hence the name Cornhole), bags are nowadays usually filled with plastic resin or another material that will maintain a consistent weight and shape. Bags are usually dual sided, with each side of the bag being a different material that reacts faster or slower on the board. Faster bags are preferred in humid conditions where bags will not slide as readily. Additionally, professional players may use different materials depending on their personal throwing styles. Players with a lower, harder, throw may use more rotation and a slower bag material. Players with higher, softer throws may throw with less rotation and prefer a more reactive bag.

Bags are tossed from the pitcher’s box, which is the rectangular area directly to the left or right of a platform. The bottom of the platform forms the foul line.

Cornhole matches are broken down into innings or frames of play.

Each player must deliver the bag within twenty seconds. The time starts when the player steps onto the pitcher’s box with the intention of pitching. The player who scored in the preceding frame pitches first in the next frame. If neither player scores, the player who pitched first in the preceding inning pitches first in the next inning.

Cornhole can be played as singles, doubles, or crew format (4 players to a team). In doubles play, four players split into two teams. One member from each team pitches from one board and the other members pitch from the other. The first side of players alternate pitching bags until both players have thrown all four of their bags, then the players pitching from the opposing cornhole board continue to alternate in the same manner until all four of their bags are delivered and the inning or frame is completed.

In singles play, two players play against each other. Delivery is handled in the same manner as doubles play.

In order to score, the bags must either be tossed into the hole or land on the board.

A bag that falls through the hole is worth three points. The bag can be tossed directly into the hole, slide into the hole, or be knocked into the hole by another bag. A bag that lands on the board and is still on the board at the end of the inning is worth one point. If a bag touches the ground and comes to rest on the board, it is removed from the board prior to continuation of play and not worth any points (commonly referred to as a “dirt bag”). Scoring is done by cancellation. Play continues until a player or team reaches or exceeds 21 points.

In the common version of cancellation scoring, the total score for each team for the inning is totaled each round, and then the difference of the two scores is awarded to the team with the higher score. It is thus only possible for one team to score points each inning. For example, if one team lands two bags in the hole and one on the board for 7 points, and the other team lands one bag in the hole and two on the board for 5 points, 5 points from the round would cancel out, and the first team would thus score 2 points. Because only one team can score points in each frame, it is impossible for both teams to reach or exceed 21 points in the same inning, and therefore ties are impossible.

A cornhole match is played until the first player or team reaches 21 points at the completion of an inning. The winning team does not need to win by two or more points.

Gameplay strategy varies by player and skill level. At the professional level, players can easily slide all 4 bags into the hole if no bag blocks the path.

Defensive strategies are often employed to slow down game play or force opponents to make difficult decisions, such as throwing a blocker bag that rests in front of the hole. This forces an opponent to either slide through the blocker bag to reach the hole, throw another blocker behind the bag, or attempt a riskier airmail shot over the bag (throwing directly into the hole without touching the board).

Other unofficial scoring variations require one team to earn exactly twenty-one points to win. If a team’s score exceeds 21 after any inning, the result differs among various house rules. Options include that the team must return to fifteen points, that the team must return to their prior score, that the team must return to their prior score and deduct one point from that score, and that the team must return to their prior score and deduct from that the number of points they scored in the most recent inning. In some variations, if a team’s score goes over 21 three times before their opponents reach or exceed 21, they win the match.

With not much else left to do, I think I could soon be pretty good at this. The rules also require participants to be over the six foot social distancing rule, so maybe some tournamnets can take place soon.

Anyway I will be practicing in hopes of joining the ranks of the elite.

eparsons@tylerstarnews.com