Cornhole
Heather Charles/Chicago Tribune/MCT

Cornhole. Even the name itself sounds pretty simple, right? Take a bag filled with corn, toss it into a hole and you’ve got an afternoon of seemingly mindless entertainment, right?

WRONG. So very wrong.

The sport of cornhole is not to be taken lightly. While the origin of the game is debatable (some trace it to a German farmer, others to a man named Jebediah Magillicuddy), it has stood the test of time in a world where game-playing typically involves lining up jewels or creating words on virtual tiles.

If you feel your throwing arm is truly exceptional, you might want to look into becoming a member of the American Cornhole Organization (yes, it does exist) and competing in tournaments to vie for a spot in the ACO Worlds Tournament in Knoxville, Tenn., in July. The singles champion is guaranteed $10,000 in prize money, mind you.

For those who’d rather stick to besting their friends and neighbors with their accuracy and precision, the Alabama Power Service Organization is hosting its first-ever cornhole tournament on Thursday at Cheaha Brewing Company in Anniston.

The fundraiser will benefit a new program called Touch-A-Truck, which will launch in 2016 in partnership with Oxford City Schools.

Touch-A-Truck will educate kids in pre-K through second grade about "large trucks, heavy machinery, recreation vehicles, utility vehicles, emergency vehicles," said Keisha Chapman, a customer service rep in the Anniston business office.

"This is a great hands-on learning opportunity for a large amount of children in the community to learn at an early age the safety hazards that trucks, machinery and equipment can bring," said Logan Swilley, a business practice specialist for Alabama Power.

Registration for the double-elimination tournament is $30 for a two-person team. First place wins $150, and second place wins $75. Each registration also guarantees an entry into a fundraiser drawing, which includes a chance to win a Yeti 35 Tundra cooler or a set of cornhole boards.

Erin Williams is a freelance writer for The Anniston Star.


Three tips for playing cornhole

Matt Hageman, president of the Central Alabama Cornhole Club, has been playing competitively since 2003. He works with area nonprofits, including various chapters of the Alabama Power Service Organization, on running charity cornhole events. He offered these tips for first-timers who are leaving the comfort of their backyards and entering a competition:

1. Completely ignore the hole in the board.

"If you’re going for the hole, you’ve completely eliminated 75 percent of the board space, because that hole sits on the back 25 percent," Hageman said. "Give your bags a chance to make you a point, and put all four of them right in the middle." That will also force your opponent to throw over you, giving them less board space to play on.

2. Go easy on the pregaming.

"If you start off with a beer at noon and the finals aren’t until 6 or 7, and you’ve had one or two beers an hour for the past four hours, you’re not gonna do so well. Most of the top players — at least nationally, that I’ve seen throughout the country — they do not drink during a tournament," said Hageman.

3. Stay focused on the real goal.

"It’s OK to be competitive and intense and fighting for a win, but at the end of the day don’t let that cloud the fact that you’re there to raise money, and you’re really just tossing corn bags to raise money for something."