History of Pichenotte

Sliding objects on a smooth surface is the basis for many competitive games

Stories, legends, and myths abound – the true origin of the game of PICHENOTTE may be lost in the mists of time, but we have pieced together some of the history, which we hope you will find informative. There are many variations in the size and shapes of the boards. The rules differ from region to region. Our lineage is from Quebec, Canada, but we will present all sides of the history as we understand it.

The word “pichenotte” is a old French noun that means “flick”. It was derived from ‘pichenette’. French-speaking people use the two words to refer to almost any game in which ‘flicking’ is involved. This includes the square game also known as Carroms as well as the round game known as ‘Crokinole’.

PICHENOTTE is generally associated with Quebec and French-speaking peoples of Canada and the United States.
referring to any game in which the players ‘flick’ a game piece, such as the square game, also known as CARROMS, and the round game that known as PICHENOTTE or CROKINOLE or CROQUIGNOLE.

CROKINOLE is generally associated with English-speaking Canada and the United States, referring only to the game with a round playing surface, and not the square game of carroms. It is very likely that the British brought the game of carroms to  Canada, from India, and that crokinole and pichenotte evolved from carroms. The word crokinole is probably derived from the French ‘croquignole’ which has several definitions, one of which is a noun ‘flick’. It also refers to a woman’s hair bun and also to a type of biscuit or cookie. The oldest known crokinole board dates to around 1867, made by Meister Eckhardt Wettlaufer of Ontario, Canada. (See photo below)

KNIPS-BRAT is associated with German culture. It means ‘flicking board’ in German and is used by the Mennonites among others to refer to the round game.

CARROMS is associated with India, Tibet and Nepal, referring to an ancient game played on a square board. There are many serious players and professional carrom tournaments are hosted all over the world. The rules are standardized. Evolving from Carroms, many claim, were games such as billiard pool, snooker, pichenotte, crokinole, croquinole and knips-brat.

We are not aware of any documentation proving a single person invented pichenotte, crokinole or carroms. The games themselves are in the ‘public domain’, although some of the names are trademarked, such as PICHENOTTE®, which we own. The games themselves are here to be enjoyed by all, for free, forever. The games probably evolved over time with people combining ideas from games like shuffleboard, curling, lawn bowling and billiards. Perhaps in the future evidence will be found that a single person invented a particular game. The bottom line is they are all fun games.

Games that players shoot for the center of the board:
Pichenotte, croquignole, crokinole, knips-brat, ice curling, croki-curl, skelly, and darts

Games that players shoot for the outer pockets of the board:
Carroms, pocket billiards, and snooker

More Pichenotte History Facts:

In the mid 1980’s, our writer/scholar/brother Paul Lagasse came across an unusual photograph while working at the University of New Mexico  Center for Southwest Research in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It is reprinted below with their permission.

Sen. Coffin & Great-Grandson 1900 Albuquerque |Pichenotte Games

“Senator George Coffin (Kansas) and his grandson, Percy Gillette Cornish, Jr.” Albuquerque, NM circa 1900

The Museum shows an octagonal board and refers to it as carroms, but everyone knows the game being played is not carroms.
We wanted to find out more about this photograph, as least partly because it was the first time we saw the game being played by someone other than our family.

So we began our internet sleuthing. We found the The Quebec Museum of Civilization had documentation relative to the existence of pichenotte. The entry has since been removed, but it was shown with many spellings, back in 1999. Also known to them as ‘pichenolle’.  Apparently someone didn’t cross the “t’s”, since there is no such word as pichenolle in the dictionary. Or perhaps someone made up a new name.

We have since seen many spellings for Pichenotte:
Pichenotte – pronounced “peash’-nut”
Pichenette – pronounced “peash’-net”
Pichenolle – pronounced “peash-noal”
Pichenelle   – pronounced “peash-nel”
Pichenot   – pronounced “peash-noh’ ”
Pichenet   – pronounced “peash-nay’ ”
————————

The Pichenotte Parlor |Pichenotte Games

———————–
Our web-sleuthing also led us to our good friend, Wayne Kelly, who had written The Crokinole Book. Wayne passed away in May of 2016. May God bless him and his family……
He was an enthusiastic and never-ending generous source of information about crokinole. We traveled to meet him in Ontario in 1999 and participated in the first World Crokinole Tournament, where we donated several our boards to the first place winners and a few to our new found friends. They were most gracious in accepting those ‘crazy Quebec’ brothers from the American Southwest. ” Are you guys really from Mexico ?” …. We made lasting friendships. We didn’t do well in the tournament, but we had a lot of fun !
———————-

Among our favorite nostalgic family possessions is a ‘pichenotte’ board made by our Canadian grandfather, Lucien Rajotte. He grew up in Drummondville, Quebec and as a child, he played pichenotte on an octagonal game board. He moved his young family to Bristol, Connecticut in the early 1920’s and began operating a grocery store and managing an apartment building. He soon made a pichenotte board for off-hours fun, using wood slats from starch crates. You can still read the original stenciling on the back of the board.

Lucien's Board | Pichenotte Games

For many family occasions, the pichenotte board games were an event to look forward to, with all the bragging rights, fun, teasing and friendly competition which was sure to take place. Drinking a few beers was part of the fun. During the Winter Holidays, the board was in constant use by pichenotte players of all ages. Pichenotte Games, LLC is a result of our desire to pass on the tradition we grew up with to all who might be interested.
———–
Hockey being a major sport and pastime in Canada, naturally our grandfather played in Quebec and Connecticut.
He is pictured on the right in the top photo, and in the very middle of the team on the lower photo.

Lucien Rajotte on the Right |Pichenotte Games

There seems to be a strong unspoken connection between hockey and pichenotte. Something about shooting a puck across a fast surface. Curling is another winter sport that is very similar to pichenotte. Skillfully sliding a large stone puck across the ice is a serious Olympic sport. And now, we understand, there is a new ice game called Croki-Curl, combining curling and crokinole.
For many years we didn’t know if our grand-father had invented the game of pichenotte, or where it might have originated. In some ways, it didn’t really matter, but we became curious.

Crokinole Game Cover |Pichenotte Games
While looking up the name pichenotte, we came across a few other French synonyms like ‘chiquenaude‘, ‘croquet‘ and ‘croquignole‘. These words also mean “to flick” or “to strike”. Croquignole refers to flicking someone on or about the head. It seems the French had assigned unique names to flicking different parts of the body!  The ‘croquignole’ definition also led us to the game known as ‘crokinole‘, perhaps an Anglicized form of the word ‘croquignole’, this new word has been used to describe a game identical to pichenotte. It also is the word for biscuit and a woman’s hair bun.
—————-

Crokinole’s origins, myths and legends are well documented in a book by our good friend, Mr. Wayne Kelly of Ontario, Canada.
The book is appropriately titled, “The Crokinole Book”. Third edition due soon.

Common spellings for Crokinole that we’ve seen:
Crokinole – pronounced – kroa’- ki-noal
Croquignole – pronounced – kroa’-kee-nul
Croquinole – pronounced – kroa’-kee-nul
Krokinole – pronounced – kroa’-ki-noal
Corkinole – infamous misspelling from turn of the century mail order catalog.
In some regions, the name stuck.


Wayne Kelly, father, author and entrepreneur
God bless him, Wayne passed away in 2016. His son Caleb is carrying on the business.

Crokinole has a much more documented history than “pichenotte”, as we were about to find out.
And the guy wearing the turban ? Well, he’s from India, where a game similar to pichenotte originated during the Mogul period, a game called Carrom.

_______________

Our board 1

_______________
That game known as Carrom is similar to pocket billiards. A square wooden board with four corner pockets; the object is to pocket all your carroms before your opponent does. You use a ‘striker’ or ‘cue’ piece to do that. And you shoot by flicking the ‘striker’. Carrom is often thought of as the precursor to pocket billiards or pool as we know it. Carrom has a world wide following with international standards and tournaments.

Traditional Carrom Game |Pichenotte Games

Carrom like pichenotte, has many spellings:
Carom – pronounced – kair’ -um
Carrom – pronounced – kair’ -um
Karum – pronounced – ka – room’
Karrum – pronounced – ka – room’
Karom – pronounced – ka – roam’
—————

Do you have stories to share about the game, or questions ? Email or call us today !