Cornhole (also known regionally as bags, sack toss, or bean bag) is a lawn game in which players take turns throwing 16 ounce bags of corn kernels at a raised platform (board) with a hole in the far end. A bag in the hole scores 3 points, while one on the board scores 1 point. Play continues until a team or player reaches or exceeds the score of 21 by means of cancellation scoring.

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In order to score, the bags must either be tossed into the hole or land on the board. A bag that falls through the hole is worth three points. The bag can be tossed directly into the hole, slide into the hole, or be knocked into the hole by another bag. A bag that lands on the board and is still on the board at the end of the inning is worth one point. If a bag touches the ground and comes to rest on the board, it is removed from the board prior to continuation of play and not worth any points (commonly referred to as a “dirt bag”). Scoring is done by cancellation (e.g., if Team A scores 12 points in the frame and Team B scores 10 points in the frame, Team A is awarded 2 points). Play continues until a player or team reaches or exceeds 21 points.

In the common version of cancellation scoring, the total score for each team for the inning is totaled each round, and then the difference of the two scores is awarded to the team with the higher score. It is thus only possible for one team to score points each inning. For example, if one team lands two bags in the hole and one on the board for 7 points, and the other team lands one bag in the hole and two on the board for 5 points, 5 points from the round would cancel out, and the first team would thus score 2 points. Because only one team can score points in each frame, it is impossible for both teams to reach or exceed 21 points in the same inning, and therefore ties are impossible.

A cornhole match is played until the first player or team reaches 21 points at the completion of an inning. The winning team does not need to win by two or more points.

Gameplay strategy varies by player and skill level. At the professional level, players can easily slide all 4 bags into the hole if no bag blocks the path. Defensive strategies are often employed to slow down game play or force opponents to make difficult decisions, such as throwing a blocker bag that rests in front of the hole. This forces an opponent to either slide through the blocker bag to reach the hole, throw another blocker behind the bag, or attempt a riskier airmail shot over the bag (throwing directly into the hole without touching the board).

An uncommon version of scoring also includes a 2-point option. A bag is worth 2 points if it is on the board and hanging over the hole, but has not fallen through the hole. This version of game play disincentives aggressive game play and riskier airmail shots.

Other unofficial scoring variations require one team to earn exactly twenty-one points to win. If a team’s score exceeds 21 after any inning, the result differs among various house rules. Options include that the team must return to fifteen points, that the team must return to their prior score, that the team must return to their prior score and deduct one point from that score, and that the team must return to their prior score and deduct from that the number of points they scored in the most recent inning. In some variations, if a team’s score goes over 21 three times before their opponents reach or exceed 21, they win the match.

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