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Three’s a Crowd or Three’s Company?

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What do you do when there are three people and you want to play the greatest game on earth? Crokinole is traditionally thought of as a 2 or a 4-person game, therefore you have a problem; or do you?

What you learn below could save you from the uncomfortable conversation of asking your friend (co-worker, sister, brother, child, mom or even your grandmother) to leave so you can play crokinole. Here are two options that can have everyone feeling included and above all, can be a ton of fun to add some variety to your crokinole game time.

Two-V-One Crokinole

Firstly, we will cover what is referred to as ‘2 v 1’. Two people play against one person.  The two people who are playing together as a team will sit across from one another and each will have 6 buttons of the same colour just as they would in a regular doubles match.  The person playing on their own will sit directly across from the empty space. This player will have 12 buttons.

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2-V-1 Seating Plan

Who’s on my team?

Player A is on his/her own (Team 1). Players B and C are a team (Team 2).

I highly recommend, although it is not mandatory, that the person playing on their own gives a name to their imaginary partner.  At our crokinole table that missing person is often referred to as ‘Jim-Bob’, but feel free to use any name you like.

Getting Started

Player A will start the play by shooting first. Player B shoots second. Next, player A will shoot on behalf of ‘Jim-Bob’.  Note: Player A does NOT get up and move to the other side of the table, player A stays in their own seat for the entire game. After Player A has shot for Jim-Bob it is Player C’s turn to shoot. The shooting rotation is: A – B – A – C – A – B – A – C – A and so on until all of the buttons have been shot.

Starting Round Two

Just like in traditional doubles match the second round will start with Player B taking the first shot. 

Where this often gets confusing

What often creates confusion in this format is the start of the third round of play.  The third round starts with Player A shooting on behalf of the vacant seat. At this point, Player B may instinctually want to shoot next. However, because player A is shooting for the vacant seat, it is Player C who will shoot second.

The Silly Solution

It may seem silly that we name the imaginary player, but it is the start of round 3 that this name comes in handy. Player A will say out loud, “OK, I’m shooting for Jim Bob” or “Jim Bob starts this round” or something along those lines. This reminds everyone at the table that player C should shoot next.

One of the great things about this format of play is that it can help balance things out if you have different skill levels around the board.  We have found that it works best if the strongest player partners with the weakest player to make for a more even match up. You may choose to have the same person be player A each game or you may choose to take turns being player A.

Scoring for Two-V-One Crokinole

To understand the scoring systems you can use for Two-V-One Crokinole, click here and check out our blog post that explains your scoring options in detail. We typically use the NCA (National Crokinole Association) Scoring system for this style of game play. We encourage you to try it with both scoring system then comment below which system you prefer playing with for your Two-V-One Crokinole match ups.

Video of Two-V-One Crokinole in Action

With the help of Jon Conrad and Reid Tracey we recorded a quick game of Two-V-One Crokinole. We don’t explain it in the video, we just played and had fun!


Here, we will cover, the second option for managing three players at the table. Play a game of what we call, ‘1 v 1 v 1’.  We first learned about this variation of the game from a gentleman by the name of Wayne Scott. We met him at an NCA (National Crokinole Association) Tournament.  This is one of the many great reasons to attend crokinole tournaments and events.  You may pick up nuggets of wisdom and new ideas, in addition, to all of the fantastic people you meet while you play. 

In order to play in this format you will need three colours of buttons. Each of the 3 players will start with 8 buttons of their own color. Play proceeds clockwise around the crokinole board until all the buttons have been shot.

Shameless Plug Alert

If you don’t currently own a third colour of buttons click here to check out our current selection of fun colours.

Which Scoring System should you use?

You will find it best to use the more traditional scoring method of counting points rather than using the NCA’s 2 points per round scoring system. Let me explain, at the end of each round you will take the lowest score and subtract it from all three scores.

Below are two examples of how you will count the score at the end of a round.

Scenario 1

  • Player A: 65 points
  • Player B: 25 points
  • Player C: 40 points

The lowest score with 25, therefore 25 will get subtracted from each score.

  • Player A: 65 points minus 25 points = 40 points
  • Player B: 25 points minus 25 points = 0 points
  • Player C: 40 points minus 25 points = 15 points

Scenario 2

  • Player A: 20 Points
  • Player B: 25 Points
  • Player C: 20 Points

The lowest score is 20 points therefore 20 points will be subtracted from all scores.

  • Player A: 20 points minus 20 points = 0 points
  • Player B: 25 points minus 20 points = 5 points
  • Player C: 20 points minus 20 points = 0 points

The players can simply take turns starting each round and continue playing until one player reaches a total of 100 points. Here is a variation that we have found to be a lot of fun as well as a great way to even the playing field a bit. When playing in this format you will find that shooting first is a huge disadvantage and that shooting last is a huge advantage. With this in mind, it can be fun to make the rule that the player who is leading in score shoots first. This gives the other players a chance to catch up.  In the situation where 2 players are tied, the first shot is taken by whichever of those players previously had the higher score.

Whenever people are playing outside of a tournament that has established rules I always encourage the idea of adjusting the rules to make this game as fun as possible for everyone at the table. This 1v1v1 format is no exception. Tweak the rules and above all, have a blast.

Video of One-V-One-V-One Crokinole in Action

Jon Conrad and Reid Tracey joined me again for a quick three rounds of One-V-One-V-One Crokinole. As before, there is no editing done or explaining as the game goes on. This is just for you to see this style of play in action. Enjoy.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, make sure there is always room at the table for Gramma! Let everyone play.  There are always options to get everyone in on the game.  Get creative. Make up your own rules. Invite new friends to play and share your love for the greatest game on earth!Paragraph

We play crokinole almost every day, therefore we occasionally we like to throw in fun alternative rules to shake things up. Share your idea in the comments and maybe we will demonstrate your version in a future video.


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