Tim Peppel & Kue Lee
Tom Lee & Mark Shirkey
Jean-Claude Etallaz & Paulo Custred
Sandra Shirkey & Suzie Lee
April 10, 2022, Select Doubles
What do I remember best about yesterday’s event?
The wind my friends, the cold blasted wind. In the morning we didn’t feel it too much, but in the afternoon, it started to blow. We experienced very strong gusts that seriously disrupted our games. And it got cold, very cold. According to the weather bureau, around 5:00 pm the wind speed reached 23 mph (enough speed as we say, to dehorn a bull) and it got cold enough to cool to incite everybody to cover up.
But let’s start from the beginning. In the absence of Christine Cragg, Mike O’Leary assumed the management of the tournament and assisted by Shama and Sandra ran the show. And an excellent job they did! Kudos to them all and especially to Mike who stayed with us until the end to give away prizes.
Forty people registered to play, and by around 9:30 am things got underway. Three 45 minutes games before lunch, and elimination games in the afternoon.
Originally, I didn’t intend to play, but Francois Moser enticed me with his siren’s song, and I agreed to assist him. Yesterday, the second thing I remember best was the caliber of some of the women we encountered. On our first game, we met Brigitte Moran and Liv Kraft. I was absolutely amazed by Brigitte’s shooting skills. I would estimate her batting average to be around 90%. A really great competitor.
Later on, we met Caitlin and Albert Woodbury. Caitlin also proved to be a mean shooter (I already knew that) and gave us a really bad time. But the ultimate woman gunslinger was Suzie Lee.
We faced her and Sandra Shirkey in the Consolante’s finals and she annihilated us. She didn’t miss a single shot. I had not played against her for a while and I kind of forgot how well she performed. Now, after a crushing defeat, I will remember her for a long time. She is an amazing shooter and totally deserved to win. We lost the finals with an appalling score of 1/13.
Yesterday nothing went according to plan. As usual, I intended (after being booted out of the tournament) to take a bunch of pictures in the afternoon, but the gods of pétanque didn’t see it that way. They let us win more games than planned and almost totally prevented me from doing my job as a photographer.
I managed to take some shots between games, but I had to wait until around 4:00 pm to seriously get to work.
The last game I managed to cover was the Concour’s finals pitting Kue Lee and Tim Peppel against Tom Lee and Mark Shirkey. If I was a betting man, I would have put my money on Tom and Mark… and I would have lost. I forgot how good unconventional shooter Kue Lee was. Sure, he was greatly helped by Tim Peppel, but it was he who nailed the coffin of the other team.
In the end, both teams stood at 12/12. Both Tom Lee and Mark Shirkey missed some critical shots and Kue gave them “le coup de grâce”. The final score was 13/12 in favor of Kue and Tim. Great game. Congratulations guys!
And that’s the way I saw it
Alain Efron & Francois Moser
The New Amazons
“The Amazons were a race of female warriors in Greek mythology, who dwelt in the region of modern-day Ukraine. Two of the best-known Amazon queens were Penthesilea, who took part in the Trojan War, and her sister Hippolyta, who was the owner of a magical girdle, given to her by the god of war Ares.”
Yesterday I witnessed a new Amazon invasion. Under the leadership of Queen Ann, women warriors gathered in San Rafael to practice their fighting skills. And unlike what is presently happening in Ukraine, they were a welcome sight.
I am an unabashed woman’s rights supporter, and these women proved once again that (with some practice) they can be as good as men in any field or discipline.
“After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backward and in high heels.”
Some like Janice B. came from far away, but I am not surprised for Janice is known to eat, drink, and breath pétanque. And she gladly came to share her knowledge and experience of the game she loves.
As I mentioned before, the mastermind of this peaceful invasion was Ann K. and I was surprised by the sheer number of women who responded to her call. But I shouldn’t have been. Ann is a “locomotive” who can pull a long line of wagons, and any organization should be grateful to have people like her in their midst.
Ann was supported by two brave men, who wanted to impart some of what they had learned of Petanque. Richard Bell was in charge of showing the participants the art of shooting a boule. While Mark Shirkey was assigned the task of teaching the art of plumbee.
Yesterday I counted around 25 bodies of all shapes and forms on our field. Some were good, some not as good, but I can certify that they all enjoyed the outing and had a jolly good time. And I have the pictures to prove it.
Before I go, I want to mention that Louis Toulon (one of the club’s founders), and Christine Cragg (the actual president) were present on the field to lend their wholehearted support to this operation. Long live Ukraine and the Amazons!
March 13th, Select Mixed Triples
Kevin, Ashlee and Wolfie
So, what happened yesterday in San Rafael? Plenty, my friends and I am here to enlighten you, with words and images.
First, the weather. It was as capricious as a spoiled girlfriend. Cool in the morning, then warming up a little bit in the afternoon, and finally as cold as witches’ bubbies in the evening. it was so cold that despite my five layers of clothing I literally froze my little “derrière”.
To put things in perspective, to give you a full report, I was on the field from 9:00 am until 7:00 pm. A full day of hard labor.
But back to the main story. Sixty (60) people signed up to play in our tournament, with heavyweights coming from Sonoma, Petaluma and Sacramento. These days, with a 2 hours drive and the price of gasoline exceeding $6.00 per gallon, you really must love pétanque to come all the way from Sacto to play.
As usual, 3 games were played before lunch, and elimination games followed in the afternoon in the Concours and the Consolante sections.
My team included Tamara, the other Alain (my twin) from Petaluma, and myself. We lost 2 games in the morning and won one. We then ended up in the Consolante where things suddenly deviated from my script. I was planning on getting eliminated first thing in the afternoon and concentrating on photographing the event, but then we won another game and had to remain on active duty for another game.
Finally, around 3:00 pm, Ed Porto, Patrick Vaslet, and Shannon Bowman battered us 13/8 and we were out of the race. I immediately grabbed Big Bertha (my combat camera) and started shooting everything in sight. There was plenty of action, but since I still cannot be at two places at the same time, I tried my best to catch the most interesting stuff.
Late in the afternoon, I concentrated on the Concours Semi-finals and later in the Concours Finals. In the semifinals, it was Kevin, Wolfie, and Ashlee against Brendan, Tom Lee, and Suzy Lee. Wolfie’s team won.
In the Finals, Kevin’s team faced Mike Lee, Kue Lee, and Michelle Dang, the toughies from Sacramento. It was a very interesting match with everybody playing very well. On Wolfie’s side, Ashlee pointed extremely well. She was obviously in the “Zone” and could not do anything wrong. Kevin also amazed me (and everybody else) with his signature “plombés”. Kevin shot… and killed.
On the other side, Michelle Dang pointed, with Mike Lee and Kue Lee being the enforcers. Kue Lee proved to be an unconventional but very accurate shooter. If you noticed, he threw his boules with “open palm” rather than palm down, but he was amazingly accurate. Mike Lee (the Sphinx) was also very good and helped a lot.
Wolfie’s team finally won by 13/10, a very close score. The last game ended up around 7:00 pm with by then only a handful of half-frozen spectators remaining.
I quickly took the pictures of all the remaining winners and ran like hell for my car and a bit of warmth.
1st place: Wolfie K, Kevin Evoy, Ashlee Dencklau $72/ea
2nd place: M. Lee, Kue Lee, Michelle Dang $60/ea
The 2 teams in 3rd place decided not to play and split the fees
3rd place: B. Cohen, T. Lee, S. Lee/B. Pierce, E. Hay, R. Seder $24/ea
1st place: Ed Porto, P. Vaslet, Shannon Bowman $36/ea
2nd place: J-C Bunand, J. Gautier, Emily Etcheverry $24/ea
Februry 12th, 2022 Melee
Bernard and Shama
Yesterday’s tournament hosted by La Pétanque Marinière felt like a winter anomaly. The weather was unusually sunny and warm for mid-February and it felt like Spring came ahead of itself. But who is complaining?
Thirty-two people came from all the Bay Area counties and registered to compete. Among the newcomers, I particularly noticed the Checkered Stranger, a mysterious young man never seen on our field before. I just discovered that his name is Ben Pierce and that he just joined our club. Welcome to the Promised land young man.
Despite a lingering backache I decided to play and temporally desist from my semi-official position as the club photographer. I requested to compete as a wingman since my spine does allow me any strenuous effort, and inherited Caitlin Woodbury as my partner in crime.
It was a very fortunate occurrence. Caitlin proved to be an excellent shooter who saved our butts many times during that day. Thanks to her skills, we managed to win 3 games out of 4. Not too bad, considering my rather restrained participation. As a bonus, I rediscovered that Caitlin speaks very decent French and was able to understand some of my questionable jokes.
But “Once photography enters your bloodstream, it is like a disease.” You cannot stop cold turkey and totally cease shooting regardless of the circumstances. I am fortunate to own a small, unobtrusive Canon camera that I carry in my pocket almost everywhere. This camera has a decent focusing range and between “mènes” I managed to shoot some targets of opportunity. Yesterday I shot at least 20 people… and they will love me for it!”
I forgot to mention that the format of this tournament was mêlée, and 2 games were played before lunch and 2 games after lunch. A convenient setup that did not put too much undue strain on my back.
By 4:00 o’clock, all the numbers had been tabulated, and the names of the winners emerged.
1st place: Bernard Passemar and Kota-Gutheti Shama
2nd place: Christine Morier and Eddy Pay
3rd place: Paulo Crustred and John-Philip Wyek
And that’s the way it was.
November 15th, 2021
San Rafael mêlée tournament
Sandra Shirkey & Louis Toulon,
winners of the November 15th
Thirty-eight people gathered yesterday in San Rafael for a late season mêlée tournament. It was foggy and cold, and the weather did not improve much for the rest of the day. But the lack of shade provided an ideal setting for photography.
The games did not start until 10:00 am due to some late arrivals and last-minute changes to the players list. I for one, due to a stubborn back pain, was very ambivalent about playing and ultimately gave my spot to somebody else. The Moirai, or Fates, (the three goddesses of destiny) had decided that I should not play and take photographs instead. And so I did.
As usual 2 games were to be played in the morning and 2 more games in the afternoon. The mêlée format is attractive to beginners and dedicated pointers alike for it gives them a chance to be paired with stronger, or dedicated shooters. And as proven in this tournament, pointers were the real heroes of this event and were instrumental in bringing the bacon home.
In Pétanque, pointers are like infantrymen and shooters are like the artillery. As any general will tell you, no battle can be won without the infantry. Louis Toulon, a member of the winning team, told me himself that Sandra’s excellent pointing was a major factor of their victory.
The event mercifully ended around 3:00 pm and laurel leaves crowns (and some cash) were awarded to the 4 best teams of the day.
Despite my aching back, I managed to hop around the field to cover the action. At the end of the day, I ended up with over 500 shots that I had to review, correct or discard… an extremely time-consuming operation. I tried to keep the number of photographs published under 200 but I did not succeed. Sorry about that.
Anyway, here are the finals results:
1st place: Louis Toulon and Sandra Shirkey
2nd place : François Moser and Robert Brown
3rd place: Colin Kennedy and Tamara Efron
4th place: Bernard Passemar and Teri Thiebault
October 10th, 2021
A family affair
Joe Danielson & Stephanie Wilkinson,
winners of the October 10th tournament
With a grand total of 23 participants, last Sunday’s tournament in San Rafael felt more like a family affair than an FPUSA sanctioned competition; it was nevertheless spirited and fun.
The event was billed a “mêlée », and partners were semi-randomly assigned. I inherited a friendly young fellow named Quintin Mecke (who oddly enough reminded me of Herge’s Tintin) and proved to be quite an accurate pointer. We didn’t do particularly well (2 wins and 3 losses) but we had fun and that’s what counts.
Shama and her dog Tchai (?) kept track of the scores and we are grateful for their cooperation.
Two games were played before lunch, and three after. Among the competitors were 3 members of the Danielson family and judging by the results, they did very well. Thank you, Abby, by the way for pressuring your relatives into play with us.
The number of players might have been small, but the quality proved to be above average. On our first game, we had the (mitigated) pleasure of playing against Richard Bell and Loël McPhee, and they murdered us 0/13. I understand that Richard spent the last 3 weeks practicing his shooting 10 hours a day with only 2 hours of sleep per night… and it paid off.
We also played against Joe Danielson who (as a newcomer) had the impertinence to clobber us 5/13. Abby, I hold you responsible for your brother’s cheeky behavior.
On our 5th game, Tintin and I faced Liza and Liv and they also had their way with us. Liv pointed extremely well, and Liza acted as the merciless executioner. They shamelessly beat us 13/5.
This tournament did not have a Concours and a Consolante per se, and the results were tabulated according to the number of wins and the minimum number of points accumulated during the event.
This also meant that unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to take any pictures during this event. It is difficult to wear two different hats during any proceeding and I should have stayed on the sidelines instead of playing, but the cochonnet (piglet) always exercises a strong pull and I could not resist its appeal… And my aching back is paying the price this morning…
Here are the final results:
1st place: Joe Danielson & Stephanie Wilkinson $52.00 each
2nd place: Richard Bell & Loël McPhee $38.00 each
3rd place: Eddy Pay & Abby Danielson $25.00 each
September 13th, 2021
Select Doubles -
Erin McTaggart and Hans Kurz, winners of the September 13th
Yesterday, 16 mixed doubles teams gathered at the Pierre Joske court in San Rafael to compete for the annual Commemorative Cup. The weather was perfect… very propitious for a good tournament.
The games started around 9:30 am with the regular setup: 3 timed games in the morning, and Concours and Consolante in the afternoon. I had not planned to compete, but since Christine Cragg happened to need a partner, against common sense, I agreed to fill in.
Christine and I played 3 games in the morning (won one) and were promptly sent back to our locker rooms after completion of the 4th game in the afternoon. Ultimately though, everything went according to plan. After our ignominious exit from the tournament, I changed costume and reappeared on the field as Alain La Foudre, club photographer.
In Marin County, we have a gorgeous field protected from the sun by tall, mature trees. It is great for players, but not so great for shutterbugs. The shaded areas make it difficult to shoot well-contrasted pictures… but “a la guerre comme à la guerre » you have to make do with what you have.
The problem with pétanque tournaments is that many games are taking place at the same time, and this makes it difficult for a photographer to adequately cover the event. You try to include as many games as possible, but you cannot be everywhere at the same time. Thereof the scarcity of a great variety of pictures.
Late in the afternoon, I sat down, along with many other spectators to watch the Concours’ finals. Hans Kurz and Erin McTaggart faced Mark and Sandra Shirkey, two very good teams.
The bout started badly for Hans and Erin who at one time were trailing 1 to 7 in favor of Mark and Sandra. I thought for sure that their goose was cooked. But the mark of the champions is to be resilient, and this is what happened. Through Hans’s absolutely remarkable shooting (the best of his I have ever seen) his team slowly climbed back and won the tournament 13/8. A well-deserved victory.
This is not to say that the other protagonists did not play well. Everybody did, pointers and shooters alike, but the shooters gathered the most attention. Mark also did a great job but was ultimately outclassed by (always colorful) Hans Kurz.
All in all, a great ending to a pleasant (almost family-like) Commemorative Cup tournament.
1st place: Hans Kurz & Erin McTaggart ( name on the trophy)
2nd place: Mark & Sandra Shirkey (medal)
3rd place: Peter Mathis & Holly Sammons
4th place: Eddy Pay & Beth Caetano
1st place: Don & Linda McPherson (medal)
2nd place: Bernard Passemar & Maggie Lane
July 11th, 2021
Select Doubles - Under the
auspices of La Marseillaise
Barry Serota and Wolfie Kurz, winners of the July 11 tournament
Yesterday a sizeable crowd gathered on the Pierre Joske court in Marin County to participate in La Petanque Mariniere’s first official tournament of the season. Besides the 64 players registered to play, a bunch of friends, parents, groupies, and canines also showed up to soak in the atmosphere of this silly French game called Pétanque. And they came from all over… Fresno, Sacramento, Sonoma, Petaluma, Lamorinda… Altogether, I guestimate that around noon we were between 80 to 90 people on the field.
Many came to play, but also to escape the oppressive heat of their respective areas. To put things in perspective, it was around 110 degrees at noon in Fresno while it was 72 at the same time in San Rafael . The local weather was unexpectedly cool, even cold, and caught many people by surprise. Many had to run back to their cars to retrieve some warmer garments.
The tournament started a little late (around 10 am) and lasted probably until 7:00 PM. As for myself, I left after 6:30 pm after completion of the Concours' finals.
In the morning, shortly after Christine Cragg gave us our marching papers, Le Facteur entertained us with an enthusiastic rendition of La Marseillaise . Those who were familiar with the lyrics sang along. Applauds followed and the tournament was on.
Until the last minute, I was not sure if I would play in this tournament or not. I wanted to do it, but my back didn't quite agree.
Hey dude, it said, don't be foolish… don't play, take a raincheck. Your millions of fans will understand…
They might, but I really want to play…
OK then, but don't blame me if tomorrow morning you walk like an arthritic crab.
I overruled my whiny back and played… poorly.
Tamara and I lost our 1 st game 3/13 to Jer and Janice .
We lost our 2 nd game 0/13 against Eric and Paulo . A quick, merciless execution.
And to remain consistent we lost our 3 rd game 3/13 to Mark and Sandra .
A perfect “triplé”.
In the afternoon, we lost our Consolante game to George and Elke 12/13 and we were out.
After I was ejected from the competition, I devoted the rest of the afternoon to record this event. But this time, instead of focusing on different games and players, I chose what the military calls “Targets of opportunity”. “Targets on which attacks are unplanned and which are implemented upon favorable or unexpected circumstances.”
Keep in mind that some pictures are uneven due to the difficulty of taking balanced shots in shaded areas.
I also integrated into my photo album 2 pictures taken by Gilbert Sonnet (Noah and little old me) and 3 others, taken by Christine Cragg after I left the field.
In the Concours finals, Wolfie and Barry defeated Phomenick and Chan by the rather surprising score of 13/3.
1 st place: Wolfie Kurz and Barry Serota $ 115.00 each
2 nd place: Phominick Lee and Chan Lee $ 76.00 each
3 rd place: Fraser Bradshaw and Ian Colon $ 57.00 each
1 st place: Antoine and Max Lofaro $ 57.00 each
2 nd place: Hans Kurz and Carlos Chavez $ 38.00 each
1 st place: Jean-Michel and B. Passemar $ 38.00 each
It was a grand, glorious day… despite my miserable performance.
November 23, 2020
Hot Club News
From left to right, Elaine Andrian, Ann Krilanovich, Wanda Porcella, Cristine Cragg, AbbyDanielson, Lalena Porro Goard
Lately, despite the raging Coronavirus crisis, regular players might have noticed a recrudescence of activity on our pétanque field. I have spotted a lot of newcomers, mainly women, and although I have not met them all, I more than welcome their friendly invasion.
No club or organization is ever complete without a fair representation of the fair sex. After all, they represent half the population of the entire world and they have more than proved their mettle. I am pretty sure that our progressive president-elect is going to include a fair number of women in his cabinet and I applaud this initiative. Keep in mind that our new vice-president is a woman who might someday get the top job.
Our club increased membership is due mainly to the tireless activity of Christine Cragg our president. She has been in charge of our organization for many years (I forgot how many) and I have had the pleasure to closely work with her for 7 long years as the club secretary. I vouch for her.
Few people realize how much time and effort is needed to run our club. The job is demanding and often unappreciated. As a result, few people ever postulate for that position. But Christine has been doing this for years, and like a good wine, she is improving with age. She gets my unending support for her dedication.
It is important to remember that we all have been rookies… In a school, in an organization, in the military. It is always a stressful period that we have all experienced. As club members, our job is to quickly incorporate the newcomers in all our activities and make them feel welcome.
I know that in any discipline anybody always wants to compete with better players, but every beginner should be given a chance to improve his/her skills. I will play with any of them anytime and I urge you to do the same thing.
So, by the way, who are these women? Christine has sent us a list accompanied by names, but since every face is now covered with a mask, I would not recognize my own mother.
The accompanying photo might help, but the only unmistakable person is Ann Krilanovich. Her white mane (and her enthusiasm) stands out and she cannot be unnoticed. It might also be helpful if all the newcomers would personally introduce themselves (or wear a name tag) to some curmudgeons. Their bark is worse than their bite.
Happy Turkey Day to all!