How to Play Crokinole - Tracey VS Dowrick

Introduction to Critical Analysis Series

Jeremy Tracey here from Tracey Crokinole Boards. We’re launching a new series analyzing matches for strategy and decisions at a competitive level. Focusing on matches I am involved in to avoid criticizing other players. This match involves myself and my friend Simon Dowerick. Let us break down interesting situations for deeper strategic insights.

When I did the commentary, I just did not have time to dig into that, so that is the purpose of this. I am going to be able to break it down and show you what is going on, the thinking behind it, and with the idea that you can learn deeper strategy, different strategy that you can apply to your game and then put a weapon on your buddy in a match sometime soon.

If you find this helpful, please let us know and let us know what questions come up, what did I not cover well enough, etc., etc. But let us dig into it and look and see how this match plays out.

Round One Analysis

So, this first round we are going to look at it in its entirety because it got interesting very early on. The other rounds of this match, we are going to jump a little bit further in because an open 20s race, there is not much to break down from a critical analysis perspective. So, in this first round, Simon has the hammer and I, so I opened with the 20, and that is what you see happening.

Simon has missed, so this is when it starts to get interesting because what I could do is try to power through and get a follow-through 20. Let us see that not to highlight his miss, but yeah, so what some players would do is they would go for a follow-through 20, or they would just do a hit and stick.

The challenge with doing a hit and stick is that my shooter would remain right here, which would open a possibility for Simon to come in and do a pin shot, as he would call it, where he would hit my button, then a pin, and then back.

But what I tried to do instead was to hit and then pull my button back, pull my shooter back on my side of the board, which I was successful in. Now, right here, it may sound simple, but let us look at what happens.

Simon very quickly looked at his options, and it is very easy for me at this point to look at it and do the whole armchair athlete thing, you know, hindsight’s always 20/20, and say, “Well, he should have gone for Hogan’s Alley.”

But the one good thing that Simon did here was I saw him stop and consider both of his options. So often, I will see new players, and they just place and shoot. They do not look at all their options. And we have got a tip about that. It is like, you know, “Hurry up and take your time” is what we called it. But he did.

He did look at his options, and this one does not end well for him because he catches the pin. I was able to take advantage of that. Now I am up 220, so I am in good shape here.

Simon learning from his mistake this time goes for Hogan’s Alley, but he was not able to get his. He was not able to get his button off as well to force play back to the middle. Now, some people would think that he wanted to keep his button on, but yeah, absolutely, he does not.

Because you will see what I did here was rather than knock his off, I left my shooter on here. And the idea is that right now, I am in control. I am up 220.

Simon wants to get play back to the middle; I want to keep it on the outside. So, by not taking his out, I have extended it. Now, he may be out; he could shoot through here and take mine out.

But then I would still have his to work with and continue wasting buttons, extending that play outside. So, what Simon does in this case is he tries. He is trying to catch his button and mine to clear everything off. That is the goal. He was unsuccessful.

Now, here is another strategy that we are going to talk about here briefly. At this point, I have a decision to make because, obviously, I want to move that button away from the middle. I want my shooter to end up not in a good situation for Simon to be able to use that.

So now, because I am obviously going for a bump and run, I could have gone the angle that I did, or I could have come up, I could have come up this. And basically, in this situation, you just want to stop and ask yourself, “What am I going to leave my opponent to work with if I go on this angle versus on that angle?”

And make whichever decision you think is best. The angle that I chose is a little tougher to drop the 20, but I feel it was also perhaps was not as likely to set him up.

Round Two Analysis

At this point, that is pretty much the end. Not much to talk about there. So, round number two, we are going to jump to 2 minutes and 20 seconds. We jump to this point in the round because the 20s races and all that is not all that interesting to break down.

So, at this point in the round, we are tied at 320s each, and Jeremy, myself, I have the hammer. So, what happens, Simon goes long. Now, at this point, I have a decision to make: What do I want to have happen? If I hit and stick again, I am going to be creating an opportunity for him to use a pin to get back in.

But instead, I was able to pull that play back to my side of the board. Yeah, it is just keeping control and making sure I did not create any opportunities for him. I did not want him to have anything to work with. So, now at this point, I am trying to use these buttons to force Simon into a position where he has got to decide. And he does, and this is where the critical analysis comes in.

What could Simon have done differently in this situation? He could have just kept it simple and tried to go straight back. He could have tried to do a pin, where he would hit my button, and then his would end up stopping around here. Or, what he tries to do, and what I have seen a lot of players do, is try to shoot their own off the board and leave mine on.

The challenge with that is if you miss at all, you end up in a tough spot, and Simon does. I was able to capitalize on it and take advantage.

Round Three Analysis

Now, round three. This is when it starts to get a little bit interesting. So, at this point, Simon has the hammer. We are tied at 420 each. So, he opens with the 20. Now, he misses this shot. So, at this point, Simon has opened an opportunity for me, and this is where the decision-making comes in. Do I want to just hit and stick, try to go for a 20, or do I want to try to create an opportunity for a double takeout, which is what I decide to do?

And I think this is where it is an interesting decision point because it is easy to just go for the hit and stick. But by going for the double takeout, I am trying to create an opportunity for myself, and I was able to execute that and take advantage of it. So, at this point, I am up 60. Simon has the hammer. He goes for the follow-through 20, and it is just a little bit off.

Now, this is another interesting decision point because he could go for the double takeout and try to clear everything off, or he could try to hit and stick and create an opportunity for himself. And he goes for the hit and stick. Now, at this point, I have a decision to make. Do I want to try to follow through and go for a 20, or do I want to try to create an opportunity for myself? And I decide to go for the hit and stick, create that opportunity.

Now, at this point, Simon must go for a 20. He needs to score some points. So, he goes for the 20, and he misses, and I can close it out.

Jeremy is providing critical analysis for a game of crokinole.

Round Four Analysis

So, at this point, Simon is up by 20. I have the hammer, and we have got one button of each colour. When I look at this, I have a decision to make. I could either try to hit and stick right here, which would leave me with two of my buttons on. Yes, he is up at 20, but I need to, basically, I am looking forward in time.

I want to win this. I either need to get a 20 to get back into the even in the 20s count, or I need to beat him on the board.

What I chose to do was go for a follow-through 20. This may not have been my best strategy. I could have hit and stuck here to keep two on, but I was worried about setting him up with any kind of possibility to get a ricochet 20.

Now, Simon is in a good opportunity here because, like I say, he is up in that 20 count even though I have the hammer. He is still in pretty good shape. What he tries to do is get over here and hide, and that is a great strategy. If he had been able to get his white button just over here a little bit further, what a miserable shot for me to go, because Hogan’s Alley has been pretty much taken away from me.

He left this here. The nice thing is he left it on the right side of the hole. Simon’s really going to give me a hard time for this because I was able to get the follow-through 20 and tie that round.

It was a tough shot, a low percentage shot to get that kind of a follow-through 20, but the challenge is with his strategy, he left the door open. That is your job as an opponent, not to leave the door open for any possibility for your opponent to come back.


That’s the critical analysis, the breakdown of a few situations that happened in that match between Simon and myself. I’m hoping to do more of these because I enjoy dissecting this, doing the postmortem, breaking it down, looking at what went well, what didn’t go well. Let us know if you enjoy this.

I guess I’m going to critique my critical analysis. Now, there were a couple of parts of this that could have been a little smoother. As I do more of these, they will get better. Let me know if there’s a match you’d like to see broken down.

I’ll talk to Nathan at Crokinole Center, get his blessing to use that footage, or if there’s a situation you’re wondering how it should be handled. If we can look at a real live match and break that down for you, hopefully, it’ll help everyone’s game get stronger.

Until next time, have fun playing the greatest game on earth!

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