Catan Tournament in Mississauga

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If you're into board games -- and judging by the popularity of game nights at Studio 89 and the crowds at Snakes and Lattes locations in TO, a lot of you are -- you can spend a day mastering Catan and helping out a local charity.

Bill Crawford, the executive director of Eden Food for Change, has re-started the popular Catan (formally known as Settlers of Catan) board game tournament -- a Mississauga event that benefits local charity the Dam. If you're interested in the event, today is your last day to register.

"The tournament had been going on for about eight years and was sponsored by a local online gaming store called Fun Games Cafe that went under last year," Crawford says. "They were big supporters of the Dam Catan tournament and they would donate games and prizes. When they went under, no one organized it last year, so and [my wife] Natalie and [a friend] Steve thought it was a shame that the Dam in Meadowvale didn't get any money, so we thought we should re-start the tournament in support of the charity."

The Dam -- which stands for "Develop. Assist. Mentor." -- functions as a "safe community for youth and young moms offering love, respect and dignity for all." The mentoring organization was founded in 1995 and currently operates facilities in Cooksville and Meadowvale.

"It's a drop-in for youth in the community and it's meant to help troubled and at-risk youth and keep kids off the streets," Crawford, who co-founded the organization and worked there until 2007, explains.

As for whether or not it was challenging to resurrect the tournament, Crawford says a little legwork was involved.

"It just took some work because Fun Games Cafe [previously] did everything and provided prizes. We had to find new sponsors. I contacted Mayfair Games and board game stores in Mississauga and Brampton and they got involved. I also connected with online stores. To be a sponsor, you have to donate games to be used as auction items and prizes."

While Crawford says it's challenging to plan an event for 40 (or more) Catan enthusiasts, he managed to cobble together an impressive array of sponsors and is even providing players with a $5 chili dinner prepared by Eden chef Peter Costello.

While Crawford would prefer players to register online, he said that drop-ins are welcome.

While registering or showing up at the door will cost you $25, you can get in for free if you help raise money for the Dam. If you raise $100 for the organization (or more, if you can convince more friends and family members to support your fundraising efforts) you play for free. You'll also receive a complimentary Catan-related gift.

If you're victorious during the tourney, you'll walk away with prizes. There will also be a board game silent auction.

"The prizes for winners at the final table include different games," he says.

As to whether or not this year will be different, Crawford says that he and his team weren't looking to fix something that wasn't broken -- they just wanted to re-create a fun event that benefitted a noble organization that Crawford has continued to support long past his tenure there.

"We've just enjoyed the event so much [in the past] that we've put it together the way it was before."

The tournament will be held at Trinity Church, located at 69 Queen Street South in Streetsville, on Saturday, April 23. It will kick off at 3 pm and drinks and snacks will be provided.

To learn more about the tourney rules, click here.

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