Games: Cornhole

I’ve played this game a few times before, but until today I never knew what it was called. Actually it has several names, but I’ve no idea which – if any of them – were used by people I played with previously. I don’t remember seeing it until a few years ago, and now it seems to be everywhere (well, at least in eastern Iowa), but I don’t know if that’s because it has suddenly become more popular, or because I moved into corn-growing country.

It’s sometimes called Bean Bag or Bean Toss, but the bags aren’t filled with beans, they’re filled with feed corn. They’re tossed at a wooden platform thirty feet away, with the goal being to get the bag into the hole in the platform. A bag in the hole counts three points, one that just lands on the platform counts one point. Points accumulate slowly, though, between well-matched players, because within each round, each player’s points cancel out an equal number of the opponent’s points. So if I score six and you score seven, you net a total of one point for the round.

I hardly ever score six, though. That would mean either two bags in the hole, or one in the hole and the other three (four bags are thrown by each player/team each round) on the platform. Mostly my bags fall off the back or the side of the platform – if they don’t miss altogether.

But it’s a game I can play, because it doesn’t require much in the way of physical coordination. And watching other people play, I can see that my skill (or lack of it) is pretty typical. I think that’s why the game is so popular, because anyone can play it. As the American Cornhole Association website points out

Horseshoes require a sand pit and are hard for the kids to pitch, lawn darts require a lawn and hasn’t been seen since the 70’s, ring toss was made for children and bean bags are for wimps; Cornhole is the game for everyone!

I just finished playing – and losing – in a tournament here at work. The department Fellowship Committee (of which I am a member) has been scheduling lunchtime tournaments about every other month this year, to help people get to know and enjoy doing things with their co-workers. The first three were Wii tournaments, and I didn’t even try. (I was going to try Mario Kart racing, but I watched someone practicing, and just from watching the screen as the track twisted and turned so quickly, my head and stomach informed me that this would not be a good idea.)

At one meeting I suggested some low tech games, like we used to play on Friday Fun afternoons in Michigan. And so the Baggo tournament came about. I hadn’t heard the name Baggo before either; it turns out it’s one company’s version of cornhole, replacing the wooden platform with a plastic one which causes the bags to slide a lot more (the platform slopes down towards the person tossing the bag). Two of the three sets of platforms being used here are wooden, and the third one sure doen’t look like an official Baggo set, but I guess that’s the name that people know the game by around here.

The teams were definitely not evenly matched. Unlike the Wii tournaments, which had qualifying rounds, this one seems to have set up partners and matched teams arbitrarily. One of our opponents clearly is an excellent player. But I didn’t let him skunk us (11 to 0) on the second game; somehow I managed, for three rounds in a row, to outscore him. In the end he and his partner won, 21 to 8, making them the winner of the match.

But my partner and I have another chance next Wednesday, when we face another team that lost today (though not by as much as we did). And I might have to be on the lookout for an inexpensive cornhole set, so I can practice in my back yard.

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One Response to Games: Cornhole

  1. Margaret Packard says:

    I’ve never heard of the game; must be a corn-growing thing.

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