Cornhole! 

Cornhole is a game in which the player throws a bag filled with corn at a board with a hole in it, hence the name. In the past several years, the game's popularity has soared. Frank Geers, president of the American Cornhole Organization, pinpoints the game's rise to the surge in serious tailgating and barbecue competitions. Where there are such gatherings, there is Cornhole.

"It's easy to set up, and it's easy to play while eating chicken wings and drinking beer," Geers says.

During this weekend's Smokin' Aces Festival & BBQ Competition at Harrah's Tunica, the American Cornhole Organization is hosting a series of matches, which will serve as a preview of the upcoming World Championships, also at Harrah's Tunica, in January.

According to Geers, the ACO has roughly 15,000 members, with 1,200 of them competitors. There are some 40 sanctioned events per month, with four main tournaments leading to the World Championships. Purses go as high as $20,000.

Two boxes (the boards with the holes) are set up 27 feet apart, with players, individually or in teams of two, pitching the bags from opposite ends. A bag on the board, a "woody," equals one point, while a bag going into the hole, a "cornhole," scores three points. One that goes cleanly into the hole is an "airmail," also three points. The person or team that reaches 21 first wins.

There are a number of strategies to employ in Cornhole. The bag has one side made of suede, which sticks to the board, so the bag can be used to block players from the hole. The other side of the bag is a slippery brushed twill, which is ideal for a pitch made to slide the bag into the hole.

Those with good eye-hand coordination tend to excel, but that's not everything, according to Geers. "You have to stay strong mentally, stay focused on how important every bag is."

American Cornhole Organization tournaments during the Smokin' Aces Festival & BBQ Competition run hourly, Friday-Saturday, September 14th-15th, with $5 buy-in. For a complete schedule and for information, go to facebook.com/americancornhole and click on the events link.

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