Monday, October 20, 2003

By any name, game's appeal spreading quickly

By Shauna Scott Rhone
The Cincinnati Enquirer

It's been called cornhole, corn toss, soft shoes, backyard bag toss, even Baggo.

Ace: A 1-point play, a bag on the board
Cornhole: A 3-point play, a bag in the hole
Blocker: An ace or a bag on the board positioned in front of the hole to prevent sliders
Back door: A cornhole tossed over a blocker bag
Hanger: An ace on the lip of the hole ready to drop
Honors: The team that scored last tosses first or has the "honors" of starting the next round
Foot foul: Stepping past the front edge of the board while tossing
Grounder: A bag on or touching the ground
Mary Ellen: A toss that falls short of the board
No blood: A no-score round
Shooter: The person currently tossing
Slam: Four cornholes made by one player in one round (truly a great player)
Slider: A cornhole that slides into the hole
Swish: A cornhole that goes straight into the hole
Skunk: An 11-0 game
Although Cincinnatians have tried to claim the city as the game's birthplace, stories posted on the Cornhole Game Association Web site ( raise questions about that claim.

One Web writer from Stanton, Ky., says her grandfather taught her the game, throwing corn-filled work gloves instead of bags. He called it Red Eye. Another says it's taking off in Toledo, while a Clevelander proclaims it's been around since the 19th century.

The American Cornhole Association ( held a tournament earlier this month in Mexico, a testament to the game's global appeal.

Whatever the history of the game, it is about as well known as cornhole in Cincinnati as anywhere.

So what is it, anyway?

A square pocket (called a bag) filled with corn kernels is aimed and flung toward a slanted board with a grapefruit-sized hole positioned near the top center of the plank. Points are awarded based on the number of bags resting on the board's surface or successfully tossed through the previously mentioned hole. It's generally played with two teams of two people competing against each other, but can be played one-on-one. A toss through the hole is three points. A toss on the board is one point. But points can cancel each other out, so things get complicated, but once you catch on, it's pretty simple. The side to reach 21 points first wins.

Skilled throws are given praiseworthy names such as the Sacramento Sling, the Paducah Pancake and, a favorite of basketball players, the Omaha Overhead.

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