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Five Things To Know Before Playing Cornhole 

1. Why cornhole? Because socializing mixed with friendly competition lets some sunshine into the otherwise dark recesses of your brain — it's science! And because tossing a sack in a hole is harder than you think, you need a challenge, and this is way less scary than skydiving. Also because you muck about on Facebook too much and need some actual face-to-face interaction before your social skills completely atrophy. And because you need to do something silly with your partner to counterbalance all the bickering about the children/bills/dishes/why he thinks draping his socks over the deck railing to "air out" is the same as washing them. Also, day drinking.

2. You will need a team name. The perfect team name includes at least one of the following words: "hole," "sack," "bag," "corn," or some word related to one of them. It's also a double entendre or pun: My husband and I played in the Humboldt County Cornhole Association's annual Tournament as "The Hole Shebang." Ahem. Other favorites include: "The Hole Enchilada," "The Fun Bags," "Maized and Confused" and "Amateur Corn Stars."

3. Hearing all the rules at once confuses the brain. Essentially, you're trying to get the bag in the hole. The best way to acquire the necessary skills is to play with someone familiar with the ins-and-outs of the game, someone who will nurture you through the initial awkwardness and gently guide you into the best positions for success. With a little confidence instilled, you'll be able to find your own groove and grow into a competent, perhaps even amazing, player — but if your teammate is also a novice, don't fret. You'll just have to be patient with each other as you learn together. Then, years later, you'll have wonderful memories to share. "Remember the first time we played cornhole?" "Yeah, that was really something."

4. Remember, bag in the hole is best, bag on the board is next best, knocking the other team's bag off the board is excellent, but don't let your bag bounce off the board into the dirt, because then it becomes a "dirty sack" and nobody likes that.

5. According to the American Cornhole Association (yes, that exists!), cornhole rules because it's safe (no metal or pointed objects), can be played almost anywhere and is extremely portable (take that, bocce ball!). All true. And even minimally crafty types can make their own boards and bags.

Bonus: Join the cornhole world and expand your social options! Monday, Aug. 19, for example, Redwood Curtain Brewing Company in Arcata hosts a free cornhole tourney beginning at 6:30 p.m. Boards and bags provided. Call 826-7222 for more info. The Logger Bar also celebrates cornhole on a regular basis — check the legendary Blue Lake establishment's Facebook page and the

Journal's calendar for dates and times or call 668-5000. Start now and be prepared to dominate the annual Humboldt County Cornhole Association tournament (yes, that's a thing) next July. Forty-two teams competed this year. Check it out at humboldtcountycornhole.com.

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Jennifer Savage

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