You Can’t Stop Shuffleboard

Hendersonville hosts annual tournament with new restrictions

CUEING UP FOR CHAMPIONSHIP PLAY
Hendersonville Shuffleboard Club VP Harold Thorne.
Portrait by Rimas Zailskas

We may still be acclimating to a world of social distancing, face masks, and restricted activities, but even a pandemic is no match for shuffleboard. Hendersonville once again hosts national championship play at the Whitmire Activity Building this year, in a week-long tournament running Sept. 10-17. “We’re hoping for about 55 players this year,” says Harold Thorne, the vice president of the Hendersonville Shuffleboard Club. That compares to as many as 100 entries in past years, with players flocking to the championships from New England, the Midwest, and even further afield.

Thorne will be among the competitors, and he plans to enter all tournament categories offered as entrants vie for a spot at the national finals in Florida in October. He’s been a member of the club since settling in Hendersonville a dozen years ago, playing nearly every day. “We’re coping well with the virus, and are required this year to use only every other court and to monitor all the actions of the players,” he notes. “Everyone must wear a mask and observe the six-foot distance rule at all times.” All high-contact materials involved in the sport, like the cue sticks and colored discs that shufflers send gliding down the court, will be regularly disinfected. Participants’ temperatures will be taken before entry to the building is allowed, and only one player can sit on each court’s bench, with the second player sitting six feet behind. And, as the revised regulations firmly declare, “no handshaking, touching, or hugging.”

The virus is a particular challenge for shufflers, many of whom are well up in years and among the most vulnerable to serious consequences from infection. But the game, by nature, easily accommodates restrictions and play has safely resumed not only in Hendersonville but around the country. 

With the reduced number of courts and other restrictions, play is expected to take longer than at a typical tournament. “We won’t know the exact format until the day of registration,” says Thorne, “but there’s not much else going on, in or around town, so it shouldn’t interfere with any outside activities.”

National Shuffleboard Association Tournament: Championship play begins at the Whitmire Activity Building, 310 Lily Pond Drive, on Thursday, Sept. 10 and continues through Thursday, Sept. 17. Spectators are welcome; they must wear masks and stay six feet apart from those not in their party. For information, contact Harold Thorne at 828-698-5998, visit shuffleboardhnc.weebly.com, or check out the local club’s posts on the USA National Shuffleboard Association’s FaceBook page.

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