Monday, July 02, 2012

Cornhole 101

Tis the season for the popular midwest backyard game Cornhole.  Every year, I dust off my boards, drag them out to the yard and pace off the 27 foot distance between each board.  And, every year, as the first bags start to fly, the same conversation begins:  "Do I get 3 points for that going in the hole?" .. "Does that one on the board cancel the one in the hole out?"   "Do we need to get to 21 exactly for the game to end?" ....   every year, we all argue the same thing.

Everyone of course has their own rendition of the scoring rules.  I played by different rules in every back yard I was in when I first started throwing the bags.  I decided there has to be some solid scoring base structure somewhere, so I turned to the internet.

I quickly found the American Cornhole Association website, which seems to be the mecca for all things cornhole.  They have an official rules page.   Like it or not, this is the standards of scoring:

Section C - Value of the corn bag
A corn bag in-the-hole has a value of three points
 A corn bag that is not in-the-hole but lands with any portion of the corn bag resting on the cornhole platform is in-the-count. A corn bag in-the-count has a value of one point. 


Rule 7 - Scoring - Section A.  Cancellation Scoring
In cancellation scoring, corn bags in-the-hole and corn bags in-the-count pitched by opponents during an inning or half of an inning in doubles play cancel each other out. Only non cancelled corn bags are counted in the score for the inning.
- What this doesn't fully explain is, that the ACA counts the in hole points and on board points different. On board points can not take away from in hole points.  
"Lastly, if the first contestant lands one corn bag in-the-hole and none in-the-count and the second contestant lands two corn bag in-the count, the score for the first contestant would be 3 and the score for the second contestant would be 2 as only bags from the first contestant landed in-the-hole and only corn bags from the second contestant landed in-the-count and there is no cancellation."  (virtual cornhole match link - ACA)

After posting, it was pointed out my interpretation of the rules was different, and seems to be one method of scoring widely used and posted on the internet.   The other method is that points from the board, can negate points in the hole.  Examples below:  

Explained similar, on another popular cornhole site Cornhole-game.org
"The only minor wrinkle to this easy scoring system is that scores from any given round “cancel” each other. If the first bag tosser put all four bags “in the count,” and the second player placed one bag in the hole (missing with the other three shots), the first player would be awarded one point. His or her four points would be offset by the opponent’s three."

Wikipedia explains the rules similar - "Usually, cancellation scoring is used. In cancellation scoring, bags that fall in the hole and bags that land on the board that are pitched by opponents during a frame cancel each other out."  wikipedia-cornhole 

Other fun scoring facts to know:

- Ending the game:  Section A. Point Limits - The Cornhole / Corn Toss match shall be played until the first team of contestants reaches (or exceeds) 21 points at the completion of an inning. The winning team does not need to win by two or more points. 

Section D. Skunks - The game shall be played to 21 unless a team scores 7 or more points at the end of an inning before their opponents score any points. It this case the game is a skunk and the team that scores 7 or more points wins the match. 


So what rules should you go by?  It's up to you, but I personally feel the ACA is the king of the rules, and should be the go-to site for the basis on how the game is played.  I site the ACA every year, and frankly, people think I'm crazy.  I suppose taking a fun backyard game, and putting "official" rules to it, cheeses people off, but, there has to be some base standards to games. Regardless, I'll still run into games where people have their own idea of scoring.  I'm ok with that, at least now I have a compiled rules page I can quickly refer to when needed.  I'm sure I'll still get overruled, but it's worth a try!

By the way, for those jealous of my ACA membership card that I pull out quite often - get your own here for free - http://www.playcornhole.org/join.shtml (to be a card carrying member, you must fully understand the rules and live by them - if you can't accept this responsibilities, close the page down right now!).