Last night I ran my 52nd Switcholio tournament at Hapa’s Brewing Company in San Jose as the weekly blind draw of Silicon Valley Cornhole, a club I founded 2 years ago. That represents a full year of Switcholio, because on Wednesday January 16, 2019 I ran the first Switcholio tournament…in the world…EVER!
The anniversary inspired me to look back at the inception of the idea and the amazing way it’s grown and impacted how cornhole is played across the country.
(If you want, skip ahead to see how much tournament directors love Switcholio!)
Stumbling onto Scoreholio
The “Good Old Days” of Double Elimination: When I founded Silicon Valley Cornhole in the fall of 2017, every cornhole club I talked to ran their weekly blind draw tournament as a double elimination bracket, so I did the same. I used Brackelope and a whiteboard to run them, and frankly it sucked. It was a full-time job, nobody could read my writing, and worst of all I never got to play.
Enter Scoreholio! In mid 2018 Jeff Chimienti, who runs Pacific Coast Cornhole an hour away, changed my life by showing me a new app he’d started using: Scoreholio. It was brand new and a little clumsy at first, particularly prone to user error, but I was hooked. Between digital scoring and the automation of round robin play, my crew fell in love and made me swear I’d never run another bracket again. Throughout 2018 Scoreholio started to blow up, clubs across the country were seeing the advantages of round robin and seeded playoffs over random brackets.
The Inception of the Idea
While things were way better, I started to see the flaws in what I now call old-fashioned blind draws where everybody gets one player for the entire night. The one causing me the most pain was that newbies (especially ladies) didn’t want to play because they were intimidated by the prospect of playing with really good players. Yes, I said with. When I’d explain the A/B system we used to ensure fairness, they’d say they didn’t want to feel the embarrassment/guilt of holding back a good player when money’s on the line.
I desperately wanted to overcome that challenge and make my weekly scene one that anybody would feel welcome jumping in to. I asked in our user group what other clubs did to make new players feel comfortable while making the event competitive enough for experienced players. Somewhere along the line, the lively discussion gave me the idea of giving people a new partner for each game.
When I took it to the Scoreholio development team they were intrigued, but not convinced. So on January 9 I ran something I called “Switchalicious.” It was a Scoreholio powered blind draw, but I manually mixed up partners after every game using a poker chip system. They thought I was crazy, and it was a lot of work, but it worked, and everybody loved it. That success sold the guys on the merits of the idea and Nick added the format to the app in one week flat, which amazes me to this day.
When we started promoting the format we learned that the idea of round robin with new partners is common in the card game Euchre. Learned that from a guy named Bill Sobleski who runs Rubber City Cornhole in Ohio, and had been doing something similar manually. He was pretty psyched we were automating it for him, helped us refine some of the mechanics and uses it to this day!
The rest, as they say, is history…
Look How Far We’ve Come!
Switcholio has swept the nation, changing the way people play cornhole for the better from coast to coast. Scores of clubs run hundreds of Switcholio tournaments every week, and people use it to add a combination of structure and social interaction to charity and corporate events, family reunions, and backyard get-togethers.
Why is Switcholio So Cool?
Rather than wax poetic about why I think that is, I asked our user group to share what they love about Switcholio, and what it’s meant to their club. I’ve included them below, but honestly they don’t convey the passion people have for Scoreholio, which is why I was so glad to get this message this morning (I swear!) from Jennifer Pruett-Jones who runs Dardenne Prairie Cornhole in Missouri.
Without further ado, here’s just some of the rest of what people had to say about Switcholio:
- “Best players do not always win. New shooters have more fun. WAY more coaching and helping each other. More games for everyone and not just the great players. Also no walkers! Golden rule of 4. I don’t have to worry about odd numbers.” Jordan Tiedt
- “Switcholio has benefited our club by making the sport of cornhole very inclusive and social. It gives new players pair up with regular cornholer players, and this gives them an opportunity to talk, and share tips and make it an all around good time. This has converted new players to cornholers as they love the social interaction between players of all levels.” – Old Pueblo Baggers
- “I use it on Monday nights as a way to bring new players in…learn the game and helps them mingle with the regulars. It’s been a HUGE success!” – Trevor Warnken, Duke City Cornhole
- “We run Switchholio at all our league nights and everyone loves it. It allows experienced players to partner up with less experienced players and help guide and coach them during that game. It also allows two dominant players to partner up sometimes and they get to put on a dominant performance. With Switchholio it allows you to partner up with different players throughout the night which is good in my opinion because you get to meet new people this way or become closer to your partner. Overall Switchholio is great for growing the game!” – Michael Schroeder, DFT Cornhole
- “Helps level the atmosphere to bring need players into the game. Also helps with making friendships not seen in traditional tournaments.” – Earnest Lancaster
- “Switcholio has changed several things in great ways. Random draw events used to create some hard feelings for a few people. This would happen if a good player was stuck with a newbie…it’s mostly the newbie that is feeling bad for dragging someone down all night. Switcholio makes that go away…..nobody is filled with doom for the whole event after the teams are formed. Nobody is carrying somebody and nobody is bringing somebody down for the night. It takes away the pressure and the downside to a random draw event and it elevates the level of fun for everyone. Switcholio is the real the game changer in the cornhole world.” – Wicked Cornhole
- “It’s one of then main reasons the participation is growing at my new club’s events. If the newbs that come just got whacked right away by the more advanced players, I’d probably never see them again. Scoreholio brings them back with the social aspect and the fact they can be guaranteed 4-5+ games.” – Eric Rainaud-Hinds
- “SWITCHHOLIO has been running at our venue since our inception last February… Its great for competition and socializing where folks build their cornhole family..Its also cool visually for folks to understand whats going on with the tournament.. Way less work for organizers and its speeds up the entire event…No way we would exist without Scoreholio.” – Ray Thomas, North Bay Elite Kornhole
- “Switcholio is a huge benefit to growing any given club. It removes the biggest anxiety people have of ‘not being good enough,’ while simultaneously networking random people together, further increasing the likelihood of them returning.” – Eric Schreibeis
- “Best thing to happen to cornhole. Allows me to pretty much play stress free as a director. I only get grief from a couple people and those people would bitch about how much in taxes they would have to pay if they hit the Powerball.” – Arrgh Kelly
- “Switchholio is super fun for all skill levels. It’s all we do at both our cornhole nights. Folsom, Ca. Eagles Lodge and Strikes Unlimited Halftime Bar and Grill in Rocklin, Ca. Player numbers are off the charts and more newbies keep coming back. I believe it is playing a big part in growing the game. Kudos to you for coming up with such a great format. Can’t wait to see what you guys come up with next.” – Jim Wosnuk
It’s been a big year for our baby, and we couldn’t be more excited about the journey we’re on with all of you as we continue to make tournaments more fun for everyone. Those of you who’ve been using and watching the app know we’ve always got good stuff cookin’, and we’ve got some DOOZIES coming soon. : )