La Pétanque Marinière
April 8, 2023 - Select Doubles
Louis Toulon & Ed Porto
Bernard Passemar & Alain Efron
Peter Wellington & Adair Hastings
Tim Wetzel & Holly Sammons
Noël Marcovecchio & Shama
Ted Bissell & Mike O’Leary
Yesterday, after weeks and weeks of torrential rain, the sky kind of cleared up and allowed us to hold a long overdue tournament. Forty (40) people showed up for this Select Doubles event and by 9:30 am things got underway.
At this point, I would like to recognize Ann Krilanovich for the tremendous job she has done in promoting our sport. Yesterday she brought along fresh-faced Bek Smith to our field, another one of her countless recruits, and she deserves to be acknowledged for her contribution to our common good. Ann, we salute you.
Since my shooting days are over, I secured a few weeks ago the partnership of Bernard Passemar for this tournament, and I felt confident that with his assistance we would do well.
As usual, I brought my cameras, but left the large one in the trunk of my car, to be used in the afternoon, after our elimination from the tournament.
Three games were played in the morning and even though the field was still wet and rather difficult to handle, we managed to win 2 games out of 3.
In the afternoon, we found ourselves in the Concours and managed to win our 3rd game of the day. So far, Bernard and I played rather well, and I felt that we could retire honorably from this tournament even if we lost the next game.
But the capricious Gods on Mount Olympus saw it differently. They allowed us to win another game, and another game until we reached the Finals. So far, we stood with 5 wins out of 6 under our belts, and regardless of the final results we were content.
In the Finals, we faced two heavyweights, Louis Toulon, and Ed Porto and I thought that it would be a challenging game, especially when we played on a different (still very wet) surface.
The game started rather poorly for us, and at one time, our opponents were leading 6 to 2. But we didn’t lose faith and managed to rally. Bernard played extremely well and managed some great defensive shots.
At this time, I didn’t have much of a chance to take many pictures, but I managed a few between games. When we started playing against Louis and Ed, I gave my camera to Tamara and asked her to fill my shoes. Photograph the action I told her and make me look good regardless of what you see. Capisce?
So the last phase of the tournament was photographed by the One and Only Tamara.
Ultimately, we lost the final game 8 to 13, but by all accounts, we lost honorably. By 6:30 pm it was all over, and Tamara dragged me to the car and put me to bed where I slumbered for approximately 10 hours.
February 11, 2023 LPM Mêlée
Fabian & Ron Rohlfes
Mark Shirkey & Larry Cragg
Noël & Loël 😆
Last Saturday, I woke up around 7:00 am to the sound of rain hammering my roof. I thought immediately that the scheduled Marin mêlée tournament would be canceled, but I was greatly surprised to learn that it was not. Our Supreme Leader obviously knew better than Little Old Me (they always do) and I accepted her assessment.
But the sky looked sullen, with big gray clouds darkening the horizon, and I didn’t feel like venturing out. I was going to stay put and work on my Russian vocabulary. But curiosity got the best of me, and after a light breakfast and a hot drink, I drove to the field around 10:00 am.
I expected to encounter at most a dozen hardcore aficionados, but saperlipopette, I counted 28 people on the field. You read it correctly TWENTY-EIGHT! Too numerous to mention all of them, but my pictures will confirm my saying.
Armed with Sneaky Pete (my innocuous-looking spying camera), I resolved to snap a few pictures and fly the coop. A cloudy sky, by the way, is ideal for taking pictures… no annoying shades, and no pesky reflections.
So, after about one hour on the court, I packed my gear and returned home around 11:00 am.
In the afternoon though, instead of getting worse, the weather improved and invited me to return to the field.
I was back around 3:00 pm and went to work again. An anemic sun was filtering through the clouds and instead of comforting me, it bothered me. It made taking clear pictures more difficult and forced me to change location more often. When you have a permanently cranky back, you have to take everything into consideration.
I forgot to mention that Christine and Shama expertly ran this mêlée tournament, and that it consisted of 5 games: 2 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon. When I showed up again later that day, most people were finishing their 4th or started their 5th game.
By 5:00 pm, it was all over and time to have a hearty drink (I wish), take pictures, and hand out big moola to the victors. I did my job as expected and ran home immediately after where it was warm and cozy.
Mark & Sandra Shirkey
Tim Wetzel & Holly Sammons
Mike & Erin McTaggart
Alain Efron & Nina Semenenko
Yesterday, to everybody’s relief, the temperature finally dropped down to a more normal seasonal level and made our annual event much more pleasant. It was overcast and cool in the morning (excellent weather for photography) and kind of muggy and sticky in the late afternoon.
To my surprise though, only 15 mixed teams showed up for combat, but it made the event feel more like a family affair: informal and friendly. I surmised that some monarchists preferred to stay home to watch Queen Elizabeth’s elaborate funeral pageantry. The Donald (surely watching from his lair) must have been green with envy.
Due to my rather substandard physical condition, and after much internal debate, I finally decided to team up with Tall Nina, a friendly newcomer. It was a wise choice since Nina proved to be an excellent pointer.
As usual, 3 timed games were played in the morning and elimination games in the afternoon. In the morning, Nina and I did rather poorly and were promptly defeated slaughtered (2/13, 5/13, 2/13) by much better teams. I tried to take notes of the names while playing but ended up erasing everything by mistake.
On our first game though, I remembered being pulverized by Tim Wetzel and Holly Sammons. I was going to put Tim on my enemy list, but he proved so photogenic that afternoon that I had to cancel that project. I decided to put him instead on my “watch” list. Be warned Tim, I am watching you.
Since I am not in my best physical condition, I was hoping to be promptly eliminated in the afternoon and spend the rest of the day peacefully photographing the event. But the Olympian Gods didn’t see it that way.
After lunch, Nina and I played our first Consolante game. As luck would have it, we won that game, mainly due to Nina’s excellent pointing. Damn! We had to play a second game, and triple damn, we won again. Lord, have mercy! Soon we were in the Consolante finals facing Erin and Mike Menefee again. We lost the coin toss and crafty Erin dragged us to the heavily graveled court on the left of the field.
Nina had never played on such a surface, and I am not exactly an expert in this area. Erin and Mike clobbered us 13/2 and finally took us out of our misery, and carried me out on a stretcher… I am kidding.
This long story, to let you know that I had very little time to photograph the event. While we were battling Erin and Mike, the Concours’ finals were taking place at the other end of the field.
Mark and Sandra were engaging Tim and Holly. But as is often the case, the finals proved a little disappointing. Instead of an apocalyptic fight, we witnessed a much watered-down event. Mark and Sandra finally prevailed and won (I believe) 13/8.
Altogether though, a very lovely, friendly event.
FPUSA Men's & Women's Singles, August 14, 2022
Men's Concours Winners
Tom Lee $217.00 + medal
Peter Mathis $145.00 + medal
Chan Xiong $109.00 + medal
Yes, I know… I am fully aware that I am late publishing this report, but like a giant python, I had to digest (and process) over 500 images that I caught last Sunday. This labored digestion required a lot of time and effort and I hope that you will forgive me for being tardy.
But good things come to those who wait…
Last Sunday, 16 women and 25 men came to Marin to compete against each other and to show who were the top dogs (or the top bitches, if you will excuse this pun). A lot of egos were on the line in this tournament and everybody fought hard.
The weather, with sunshine to spare, was good. But the sun, filtering through leafy trees can be photographers’ enemy; it camouflages the faces and clothing of all the players and makes it very difficult to photograph anything correctly.
You might notice that the pictures taken in the morning are not as good as those taken in the afternoon when the sun had shifted. I tried to photograph as many players as possible, but I preferred to shoot in areas devoid of pesky shade patches.
Since I am (not yet) ubiquitous, I could only cover a few bouts, and I ultimately concentrated on the women’s and men’s finals.
In the women’s finals, Holly Sammons and Carmen Ellis faced each other; both very good players, but with different styles. Holly is a super pointer who can position any boule very close to the cochonnet. Carmen, on the other hand (who is also basically a pointer), had no choice but shoot, and she missed quite a few shots. Altogether, it was a very good game that Holly finally won by a score of 13/12.
The men’s finals pitched Tom Lee against Peter Mathis. It promised to be a hard-fought game but to everybody’s surprise, Tom Lee defeated Peter by an astonishing score of 13/2. Peter was off his game, or maybe tired, and missed crucial shots. We all have one of these days… Tom Lee who played an excellent game deserved to win. No matter what, I think that Peter is a great player with great form (one of the best) and I like to photograph him.
It was good to see everybody, especially those living far away from our field. By the way, you are never too old to learn anything. Last Sunday, thanks to AnhHuy Phan from San Jose, I learned something that could improve the quality of my pictures. She works for SanDisk, the memory cards manufacturer, and besides being a charming individual, she gave me some very good tips that I will follow. Thank you.
Paul Moua $73.00
Men's Consolante Winners
Tinh Dinh $84.00
Andrew Loi $56.00
B. Passemar $35.00
Women's Concours Winners
Holly Sammons $130.00 + medal
Carmen Ellis $87.00 + medal
Marie-Anne Curley $65.00 + medal
Ann Krilanovich $22.00
Women's Consolante Winners
Ashlee Dencklau $65.00
Sandra Shirkey $44.00
Tamara Efron $22.00
San Rafael Select Doubles, July 10, 2022
1st Place:Philippe Arnaud & Paulo Custred
2nd Place:Serge Hanne & Philippe Guerit
2nd Place: Tom Lee & Tim Peppel
1st Place:Kevin Evoy&Jean-Michel Poulnot
2nd Place:Erin McTaggart & Mike Menefee
So, how was it, are you going to ask? Well, it was freezing cold in the morning and hellish hot in the afternoon. This didn’t stop 40 people from coming to our field and locking horns.
Due to persistent back pain, I regretfully chose to abstain from playing and instead concentrate on documenting the event with images.
I like to take pictures, but there is nothing more frustrating for a shutterbug than a combination of bright sun and dark shadows. Most of the time, it spoils the contrast and clarity of many shots. But I had to cope with this, and I did my best.
For as long as I remember, I want to warmly thank Hans Kurz for letting a little boy named Daniel borrow his dog Boomer for a good solid hour and get him out of my few remaining hairs. I don’t know how Boomer felt about this, but Daniel was pleased like punch about this turn of events. Thank you again, Hans!
I took pictures most of the day without paying much attention to the winners or losers, but I followed the Consolante and the Concours finals more closely.
In the Consolante finals, Mike Menefee and Erin McTaggart faced Jean-Michel Poulnot and Kevin Evoy. Two good teams with good shooters and good pointers. It started very badly for Jean-Michel and Kevin. At one point, Erin and Mike were leading 7/0. Then they reached 12, with Jean-Michel and Kevin lagging behind. Everybody thought that their goose was cooked, but the cooking was suddenly interrupted by the dynamic duo who managed to come back and win the game by a dramatic finish of 13/12.
Morale of the story: a game is never lost until the fat lady sings.
Now, for the Concours. Paulo Custred and Philippe Arnaud took on Philippe Guerit and Serge Hanne. Two good teams again with excellent shooters and good pointers. I thought that it would be a good seesaw fight with many developments. To everybody surprise, Paulo and Philippe executed the other Philippe and Serge, almost in a matter of minutes. Final Concours score 13/0 in favor of Paulo and Philippe. Sacrebleu, a Fanny in a Concours game! Congratulations Philippe and Paulo!
And that was the way it was…
San Rafael Select Doubles, June 12, 2022
Phominik Lee & Xiong Chan
Michelle Dang & Barbara Hall
Antoine Lofaro & Eric Thiebault
Lynn Bell & Richard Bell
Serge Hanne & Philippe Guerit
Last Sunday La Pétanque Marinière hosted its regular monthly tournament that attracted 30 “doublettes” teams from all over the Bay Area.
Christine Cragg (our venerated club president) recently back from her sabbatical in France (and assisted by Shama Gutheti) oversaw the event. To make sure that she didn’t waste her time abroad, I briefly tested Christine’s newly acquired knowledge and she passed effortlessly. Good for you Christine!
The playing conditions were good, although it was a little cloudy and slightly muggy.
When I arrived on the field, I discovered that it was already claimed by a young duck who didn’t seem to be in hurry to vacate the place. It finally flew away after cursing us in (I guess) Javanese.
As usual, 3 games were played before lunch, and elimination games followed in the afternoon. My partner (François Moser) and I did fairly well in the morning, winning 2 games out of 3. This qualified us for the Concours where after lunch we faced Carmen Ellis and Suzie (Bad News) Lee. I played against Suzie in last month’s tournament, and she murdered us 13/1. I can certify that under an unassuming look, this person is dangerous: excellent pointer and outstanding shooter. You have been warned…
After a tough game, Carmen and Suzie booted us out of the tournament with a final score of 13/9. I always hate to lose, but this worked well with my preconceived action plan. My aching back was begging me to stop, and I welcomed the opportunity to quit and concentrate on documenting this event.
I tried to photograph as many people as I could, but in photography, it is the lighting conditions that dictate who and where you can operate. The ideal conditions are light without any shade which is almost impossible to find in an urban area. This is why I prefer to shoot in a well-lit area.
If you don’t see pictures of yourself, blame the weather conditions.
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!
March 8, 2020 Select Doubles Tournament
March 09, 2020
Before I start my little briefing, I would like to recognize Mike O’Leary, Mark Shirkey, Sandra Shirkey, and Abby Danielson.
According to my intelligence people, these individuals worked tirelessly to groom our field, particularly Mark and Sandra who were here last Thursday and Saturday. Please give these people a big, very big, round of applause.
When I woke up Sunday morning, I peeked outside and the first thing I noticed was a white blanket of frost covering the surrounding roofs.
My cat who is a weather authority declined to go outside to do whatever she does every morning. This was telling. I then wondered, that due to the weather conditions and the fear of virus contamination, how many people would show up on our courts.
But Pétanquistas are a hearty breed. I was happily surprised to find out that, braving frost and virus threats, they came. Over 40 of them. Without counting those poor souls who could not find partners.
The temperature on the field that morning was hovering around 40 °F and never rose above 60. It was cold, especially in the early morning and late afternoon, and the minute they were done, most of the people hurriedly left the field. I personally was wearing five layers of clothing and managed fairly well.
Due to various reasons, I abstained to play in this tournament, and concentrate instead on recording this event on film. They say that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” and since I didn’t have anything else to do, I shot hundreds of pictures. I recorded around 900 shots to be precise.
It took me a tremendous amount of time to correct and whittle this down to a reasonable quantity and that’s why I am late in publishing this report. But you won’t be disappointed. A picture is worth a thousand words and instead of telling you what happened, I will let the images tell the story.
Interestingly enough, none of the favorites came on top. I was very surprised to notice that Peter Mathis’ team after annihilating everybody in the morning was promptly eliminated in the afternoon. Same for Manu, Maggie and Erin. On the other hand, Bleys, George and Teri showed a dogged determination and it paid off.
You will probably also notice that since the threat of contamination is real, most of the people opted to greet their friends with the elbow bump. Some though, could not help themselves and continued to smooch.
But enough with small talk.
1st Place: C. Couto, Brigitte Moran, Ken Lee $50.00 each
2nd Place: G. Bedrossian, Teri Sirico, Bleys Rose $42.00 each
3rd Place: Ed Couto, Liza Moran, Louis Toulon $33.00 each
1st Place: Kevin Evoy, Patrick Vaslet, H. Sammons $25.00 each
2nd Place: Eddy Pay, Beth Lysten, Trish $16.00 each
I hope that you will enjoy my pictures and let me know about it. It will do my heart good.
February Mèlée Tournament
February 10, 2020
Yesterday was the kind of day when any sane person would have chosen to stay home. It was a blustery, cold day with biting winds approaching 20 mph. Even my cat, a known fitness fanatic, elected to forego her daily tai chi exercises in the garden and stay home.
When I arrived at the field, around a quarter to nine, there were very few people present and I wondered how many individuals would be crazy enough to show up. But little by little, they came, those magnificent bastards. Braving the elements, they trekked to our field dressed like eskimos.
Around 9:30 am Noel Marcovecchio and Christine Cragg had cobbled 14 “doublette” teams… 28 brave souls who came from the least expected places.
The tournament format was “mêlée », and I had the good luck to be paired with Holly Sammons. Everybody knows what a great player she is.
The weather being what it was, most of the people showed up with winter attires. Personally, I sported five layers of clothing, which probably made me look like the Michelin Man. But I would rather look ridiculous than shivering.
We played 2 games in the morning and 2 games in the afternoon. As usual, the winners would be determined by the number of victories and the number of points accumulated during these games.
Holly and I did well, winning our 2 morning games. As I always said, it is often the pointer who determines the outcome of the game, and Holly proved it one more time.
The wind that had been blowing full blast in the morning abetted a little bit in the afternoon and allowed us to remove some clothing. After lunch, Holly and I hit a slump and we lost one game against the very good team of Jean-Michel and Max Lofaro.
We won our last game, and around 3:00 pm we were done for the day… with 3 winning games under our belts. Not too bad.
With very little time to spare between games, I still managed to steal a few photo shots to give you an idea of the ambiance of the tournament.
I hope that you will like them.
1st place: Mike O’Leary & Richard Bell $56.00 ea
2nd place: Jean-Michel Poulnot & Max Lofaro $42.00 ea
3rd place: Erin McTaggart & Monique Bricca $28.00 ea
4th place: Alain Efron & Holly Sammons $14.00 ea
January 12th Mèlée Tournament
January 15, 2020
Due to technical difficulties, my site was down for a few days. It is now back up and running. Sorry for the inconvenience.
So, how cold was it last Sunday, are you going to ask? Well, my friends, it was so cold that squirrels wore fur hats and Alpine insulated jackets.
But this did not prevent pétanque enthusiasts to answer the call of the cochonnet. They trickled in one by one, and around 9:15 a.m. I counted 16 hearty souls ready to rumble; 8 plucky women and 8 macho men, to be precise.
Two games were played in the morning and two more games in the afternoon. The winners of this tournament would be decided by the number of games won and by the lowest amount of points accumulated.
The morning games proved a little challenging due to the biting cold. I caught myself saying “My balls are cold and difficult to hold”. (sic) I haste to say that it sounded extremely funny to the people around me.
It was difficult to play due to the multiple layers of clothing we had to wear. We had to choose between keeping warm and hampered, or being free to move and exposed to hypothermia. I chose to keep warm.
In this tournament, I had the good luck to be paired with Francois Moser, my old partner in crime. He pointed so amazingly well, that I immediately dubbed him “Bras d’Or” (Golden Arm). Due to his prowess, we managed to win four games out of four, and be in a good position to snag First Place, and a heavy pot of gold.
But it was not to be. Our setback was due to our last game where we faced 2 determined ladies. A certain Tamara and a ringer called Liza Moran gave us a hard time and we barely managed to win the game 13/12.
Mark Shirkey and Noel Marcovecchio also won four games and beat us to the finish line by a few points.
Regardless… In spite of the uncharitable weather, it was a great day and I am pretty sure that some chilly fun was had by all.
1st place: Mark Shirkey & Noel Marcovecchio
2nd place: Alain Efron & François Moser
3rd place: Tamara Efron & Liza Moran
PS: I also had a problem with one of my cameras and I had to delete all the defective shots. What you will see on SmugMug was taken exclusively with my iPhone 11.
November 10th Doubles Melee
November 11, 2019
Yesterday was a lovely Fall day and the perfect time to have a tournament. And so, we did. When I say we, I am using poetic license because I did not play. A back attack sidelined me, and I opted instead to photograph this event instead of playing.
Thirty-two people from all over the Bay Area came to San Rafael, ready to rumble. Teams were then assembled by Christine and Sandra in a transparent, random fashion. And it turned out that most of the teams were evenly balanced.
No superstars were present and everybody had a fair chance to snap some prizes.
The weather was a little foggy (and chilly) in the morning, but it improved in the afternoon and very soon sweaters and jackets were discarded.
Three games were played before lunch and two more after that. The winners of the tournament were determined by a combination of games won and points acquired.
I felt a little frustrated about not being able to play, but I quickly forgot about it while going on the hunt. Because yes, a photographer hunts… and at the end of the day I shot so many people that my lens started to smoke.
I shot over 600 frames which I eventually reduced to around 200. It is a very time-consuming operation and I probably spent at least 6 hours preparing to publish my work.
When I shoot an event, I try to include all the participants, but let’s face it, some people are more photogenic than some others and they probably get more coverage. Sometimes, a person does not photograph well and it is my policy to avoid publishing unflattering pictures.
Yes, it is unfair, but you ought to know by now that life is patently unfair.
The tournament was over around 2:30 pm and the winners were announced, acclaimed, presented with their prizes and photographed.
It was time for me, to reholster Big Bertha and go home.
1st place: Bernard Passemar & Richard Bell
2nd place: Donna Von Edelkrantz & Caitlin Woodbury
3rd place: Sandra Shirkey & Albert Woodbury
4th place: Minette Etallaz & Peter Wellington
LPM Annual Business Meeting
November 04, 2019
Last night I attended La Pétanque Marinière’s Annual Business Meeting at the Villa Inn (courtesy of Mireille Di Maio) … with mixed emotions. I was pleased and disappointed at the same time.
I was pleased by the smooth organization of the event and disappointed by the low attendance. A club is only thriving if all the members pull in the same direction. In our group, we seem to have too many passive individuals. One way or the other (and according to their ability) every member should strive to help our association and attend this particular meeting. If you have grievances or suggestions, this is the place to voice your concerns.
On the plus side, a very nice cold spread was offered by Donna Von Edelkrantz. She has a cooking background and did an excellent job of showcasing her talents.
Mark Shirkey operated behind the bar and Sandra and Lynn McCloskey acted as usherettes.
After everybody had their fill of goodies, perennial president Christine Cragg offered a summary of what happened in the club, and what to expect.
First of all, I was very pleased to hear that Lynn McCloskey joined the Board of Directors. She is pleasant and looks like a very capable person; I am sure that she will do a good job.
Christine then recognized the people who contributed their time and labor to benefit the club. Mark and Sandra are at the forefront of this group. Without fanfare, they do a lot to benefit our club. Then there is Mike O’Leary who quietly does some heavy lifting. A real asset for our organization.
Lately, our field has been spruced regularly by indefatigable Charlie D, Jacques Gautier, and Mark and Sandra. I tip my hats to these dedicated workers.
Recently Martin Ressinger (who just came back from his French “chateau”) joined the crew and helped to collect the innumerable quantity of dead leaves inundating our ground.
Christine will remain president for another year or until a worthwhile candidate applies for the job. The club’s membership fees were increased to $40.00 a year. Still a bargain.
There was a small contentious exchange about the Federation, but frankly, I don’t think that too many people care about this. We should be more concerned about the club than far away Federation. One of our main challenges is to attract new members and everybody should give a thought to this issue.
My suggestion is to offer a bounty fee for each new catch… and a bonus for an exceptional haul.
At the end of the evening, there was a little raffle and a few lucky people took home a little gift offered by the house.
I took a few pictures of the event with my iPhone, but due to the poor lighting conditions, the results were not very successful. Sorry, but still worth looking at.
See you soon in the trenches.
2019 Happy Hurlers Select Mixed Doubles
August 12, 2019
Where are the women?
When there is a tournament, weather conditions are important; if it is too hot or too wet, things can get sticky and affect the outcomes of the games.
Yesterday though, we were blessed with almost perfect atmospheric conditions; I am pretty sure that this happy set of circumstances was due to Mark and Sandra Shirkey’s organization and diligence. Without fanfare, this power couple is doing a heck of a job and has to be recognized for their hard work… I petitioned the French government for a medal.
The only grousing I heard on the field had something to do with the lack of available women. I saw a few haggard-looking men (with a wad of dollars in their hands) desperately trying to book a partner for the tournament, to no avail alas.
I believe that we need to address the Board about importing some women from the former Soviet Union where there is a surplus of women.
“The gender ratio in Russia is currently 86.8 men per 100 women, and the ratios in Latvia (84.8), Ukraine (86.3), Armenia (86.5), Belarus (86.8) and other former Soviet nations are similarly low.”
Fifty players answered the call and showed up on our beautifully groomed field eager to rumble. As usual, 3 timed games were played in the morning to separate the Big Boys from the small fry.
I always believed that my aptitude to function has something to do with the stars’ position and yesterday something was definitely out of alignment. Tamara and I lost our 3 starting games 3/13, 12/13 and 11/13 and were relegated to the Consolante. I felt totally out of sync and unable to concentrate. Despite some Ibuprofen, my left heel hurt like hell and I almost threw in the towel.
Around noon we were graced by the presence of Calvert Barron and her sister Sally. It was good to see Calvert smile and hear her laugh again. We all miss her and hope that she will soon come back to our field.
In the afternoon, despite my lack of enthusiasm to persevere, the gods took pity on me and lent me a helping hand. I found my mojo back and suddenly everything seemed to click; due to Tamara’s superb pointing, we won every game in the afternoon… and the Consolante.
During our crossing of the desert, a lot of things happened and I was unable to catch any of it. It is only around 3:00 pm that I was able to grab my camera and take a few shots.
In the Concours finals, Tom Lee (the Cobra) and Suzie Lee faced Christophe(freshly inked) Sarafian and Michelle Dang. All excellent players.
Both men and women played very well, but in the end, Christophe and Michelle prevailed 13/7.
Christophe Sarafian & Michelle Dang
1stplace: Christophe Sarafian and Michelle Dang
2ndplace: Tom Lee and Suzie Lee
3rdplace: Toy Vorachak and Cindy Vorachak
1stplace: Alain Efron & Tamara Efron
2ndplace: Jean-Claude Etallaz & Liliane Sebban
By 6:00 pm it was all over and we drove back home to collapse on our bed.
By Alain Efron
Due to weather conditions (too much shade) the pictures are not outstanding but still pleasant to look at.
July 21st Select Doubles Tournament
July 22, 2019
Durs a cuire
My champion wife (soon to be featured on a box of Wheaties) opted out of yesterday’s tournament and offered to take some pictures while I was battling the enemy on the frontier. So, about the first 30 photos of this album were taken by her.
I cannot guaranty her work and there will be absolutely no refunds.
Now about yesterday’s affair. There was not a large number of players, but this detail was compensated by the fact that instead of quantity (28 players) we got quality.
Most of the players were what we call in France “des durs à cuire” (hard to cook). In other words, tough cookies. There were quite a few people that I never saw before and there were no easy wins.
For this tournament, I enticed Antoine Lofaro to play with me and I assured him that as his wingman I would stake my life to guard his flanks. Antoine, as everybody knows, is a versatile, outstanding player and I felt honored to play with him. In the morning, mainly thanks to Antoine, we won 2 out of our 3 games and were inducted in the Concours.
In the afternoon we faced “unheard of” Toy and Cindy Vorachak. Antoine opted to play in a sandy area, and this proved to be my undoing. Hampered by the sand trap, I could not point accurately enough and each time I succeeded, I was blown off by Toy’s murderous shooting accuracy. Cindy also proved to be a very good player in her own right and these “unknowns” kicked us off unceremoniously from the Concours.
This was not a neophyte’s tournament. It was stuffed with outstanding players and you ventured on the field at your own risk. Among the certified “shooters” there was Antoine Lofaro, Max Lofaro (Antoine’s son), Manu Le Bihan, Nicolas Humbert, Wolfie Kurz, Ed Porto, and Toy Vorachak. All tough competitors… and as stated before, des durs a cuire!
I mentioned young Frenchman Nicolas Humbert who, with his sidekick Maxime Kehon, were unknown to me and just about anybody else. They proved to be terrific competitors who, ultimately defeated Wolfie and Holly to win La Consolante 13/12.
In the Concours finales, Manu Le Bihan and George Bedrossian were pitted against Ed Porto and Brian Williams (never saw or heard of this guy before). He proved to be a fantastic pointer and of great help to Ed Porto.
I have a theory by the way, about A players. Unknown to lowly rated competitors, there exists a secret network that will provide “callgirls” on demand. Before a tournament, an A player calls a confidential number and ask the organization to send him a good partner. The quality of the player, of course, depends on the fee disbursed.
Ed and Brian proved to be an unbeatable winning combination. With Brian pointing extremely well and Ed blowing everything in his path, they could not be beat. Despite fierce resistance by Manu and George, the Dynamic Duo could not be stopped. They won the tournament 13/7.
1st place: Ed Porto and Brian Williams
2nd place: Manu le Bihan and George Bedrossian
3rd place: Max Lofaro and Jacques Gautier
1st place: Nicolas Humbert and Maxime Kehon
2nd place: Wolfie Kurz and Holly Sammons
By Alain Efron
April Select Doubles
April 08, 2019
« Les jours se suivent mais ne se ressemblent pas. »
Roughly translated this means “Days go by, yet each one is different.”
Unlike previous days, yesterday was a rather odd event for me. I arrived at the field around 8:30 am, and while trying to pay the entry fee to the tournament, I suddenly realized that I had left my wallet at home. This should have told me right away that the stars were out of alignment.
The command bunker by the way, was manned by our bionic president Christine Cragg and lieutenant Mike O’Leary.
The day was a little overcast and the field rather on the damp side; experienced players know that playing on a spongy field can be rather unforgiving. If you are not mindful, your boule will bounce and jump over its target… and as predicted it happened quite a few times.
If you want to win, you absolutely need to know how to “plomber”.
Eighteen (18) select doubles signed up for the tournament, some heavyweight among them.
Around 9:30 Christine gave us the customary briefing: 3 timed games in the morning and Concours and Consolante in the afternoon.
My battle plan was as usual, to play the best I could in the morning, end up in the Consolante in the afternoon and spend the rest of day recording the action. I am realistic enough to know that I don’t stand a chance playing against the Big Boys in the Concours.
My teammate by the way, was renown pointer Tamara Simeonovna (also known as my better half). As luck would have it, Tamara played too well (we won 2 games – 13/7 and 13/7 – out of 3) and we ended up in the Concours.
After lunch, we donned our bulletproof vests again and looked for our opponents. They turned out to be Kevin Evoy and Christophe Sarafian, two tough customers who would eventually end up in the Finals. While not really wishing to remain in the Concours, we also did not want to give away the game. We battled hard, and until the end, the outcome remained in the balance. Kevin and Christophe finally won 13/10, but had to fight hard to subdue us.
OK, I was then free to indulge in another of my favorite pastime, photography. When shooting tournaments, I usually carry two cameras. One small one for proximity shots, and another heavier, more sophisticated apparel for discreet long-distance shots.
I pulled out Big Bertha out of my bag and I suddenly realized that the battery was dead… and that I forgot to pack a spare. I would have to continue shooting with Sneaky Pete, not my favorite option for action shots.
The games went on all afternoon and we finally reached the Concours Finals.
In this decisive game, Peter Mathis and Dave Lanter faced Christophe Sarafian and Kevin Evoy, a fairly even matched game.
Again, while playing on a wet field, it is essential to know how to “plomber” and both Peter and Christophe were good at it.
Peter proved to be a more versatile player than his opponents. He could point, shoot and “plomber” whenever the situation demanded it, while his opponents could not.
Christophe also did a very good job, but Kevin proved erratic.
After a rather uneventful match, Peter and Dave finally defeated Christophe and Kevin 13/5.
1st place: Peter Mathis and Dave Lanter
2nd place: Christophe Sarafian and Kevin Evoy
3rd place: Wolfie Kurz and Wetzel
1st place: Maryanne Curley and Sandra Shirkey
2nd place: Noel Marcovecchio and Brigitte Davantes
By Alain Efron
PS: Pether Mathis gave back his prize money to the club. A classy move. Thank you champ!
March Select Mixed Triples
March 11, 2019
These last few days I have been wondering whether or not I would play in the Sunday tournament. It rained intermittently almost every day of the week and especially on Saturday when the rain pounded my roof all night.
I was convinced that soon or later I would get a “texto” canceling this event. But this message never materialized, meaning that the tournament was on.
I eventually opted not to play, but I was really curious to see who would. So on Sunday morning, around 10:00 am I ventured to the field to find out who the mad dogs of pétanque were.
I marched to the command post manned by (gloriously resuscitated) Christine Cragg and Mike O’Leary.
So how many crazies showed up this morning? I politely enquired.
We have 6 teams they told me. Being a math wizard, I quickly concluded that a total of 18 peoplewould compete in this tournament. And they were:
Doug Coleville/ Les Stone/ Kathy Stone
Mark Shirkey/Sandra Shirkey/J-M Poulnot
Beth Lysten/J-C Etallaz/Serge Hanne
Kevin Evoy/Tim Wetzel/Holly Sammons
Mone Lee/Tom Lee/Michelle Dang
Phomenick Lee/Pao Lee/Maryanne Curley
I tip my hat to those devotees, especially the Sacramento crowd. They must have gotten up at six this morning to show up on time. You must really love the game to do this, particularly on a questionable day.
So, was the field playable? It depends on who you are talking to. It was definitely muddy and not to everybody’s liking… certainly not to mine.
Three 45 minutes games were played in the morning and everybody would play in the Concours.
I spent just one hour on the field shooting pictures and went back home to process what I gathered.
I came back around 1:00 pm and was greeted by a surprising ray of sunshine. But it was just a teaser. Half an hour later the players were soaked by a sneaky shower. Nobody took cover and everybody kept playing.
Being averse to cold, I packed my gears and went home again.
Last minute (per Mark Shirkey) the top dogs are:
1st place: Phomenick Lee/Pao Lee/Maryanne Curley
2nd place: Kevin Evoy/Tim Wetzel/Holly Sammons
3rd place: Doug Coleville/ Les Stone/ Kathy Stone
4th place: Beth Lysten/J-C Etallaz/Serge Hanne
Enjoy the pictures.
By Alain Efron
Home & Home 2019 - LPM vs Sonoma @ LPM
January 13, 2019
So, how was it? you might ask. Well, the ground was a bit soggy but playable, especially for people who can plomber* properly.
In this so-called “Home and Home” tournament, 8 doublettes from Sonoma met 8 doublettes from Marin on the San Rafael court. On Saturday, February 2nd, the same Marin players will go to Sonoma to compete for the second half of this tournament.
The weather was cool in the morning, and partly sunny in the afternoon. Two games were played in the morning and two in the afternoon. One more time alas, the Sonoma youngsters bested the Marin old timers.
Feeling that the ground was a little too wet for my taste, I opted not to play and concentrated instead on photographing this event. For me, it is as much fun and as much challenging as playing.
Taking decent pictures is demanding, requires a lot of work, and nobody is more critical than the photographer himself. The light, the shooting angles, the shades, as well as the right moments, everything is important.
When I take pictures, it feels like using a submachine gun. I shoot in bursts, hoping that just like in a volley of bullets, one of my shots is going to hit the target properly.
And let’s face it, some subjects are definitely more photogenic than some others.
While playing, some competitors always remain cool and composed; those are not my favorite subjects. Besides good form, I am looking for passion, even some suffering. To me, a grimacing player is like the Mother Lode.
Yesterday, I liked the form of Erin McTaggart, the unorthodoxy of September Deignan, the passion of Steve Jones, the star quality of Jean-Michel and the composure of Bernard Passemar.
I also liked the photogenic form of Mark (Indiana) Shirkey. He always looks like he is giving it his best.
Everything was over by 4:00 pm and just about everybody left the field at that time.
I hope that you will like some of my pictures and let me know about it.
By Alain Efron
*Plomber: To throw your boule high enough in the air to get it to fall close to the cochonnet, and making it stop through its heavy impact on the ground.
2018 Annual Business Meeting
December 16, 2018
I suspect that the Villa Inn in San Rafael will be remembered someday as a historical site. It is the venue that, through Mireille Di Maio, has frequently been the site of our club’s reunions.
On Saturday, December 15, 2018 the club met again at this site for its Annual Business Meeting. About 30 of our staunchest club members turned up to show their interest and support.
In the absence of our president, Mark Shirkey, the club’s vice-president, chaired the meeting. He started by recognizing and praising the leadership of Christine Cragg, our actual President. Then Monique Bricca read a message from Christine, who due to medical complications and impending surgery, could not attend that meeting.
Mark took over again to mention what has been accomplished, what remains to be done and the need to revitalize our aging membership. Every effort should be made to attract a younger crowd, and in my opinion, monetarily rewarded for signing in anybody under the age of 30.
Mark mentioned the state of our finances and the very helpful newfound cooperation with the county. He then recognized the movers and shakers of our club and gave them a verbal accolade.
He mentioned by name Sandra Shirkey, Mike O’Leary, Charlie Davantes, Jacques Gautier, Brigitte Moran, Noel Marcovecchio, Akira Okawa, Mireille Di Maio and little old me for my photographic contribution. In addition, Henry and Calvert were also alluded for their hard work and devotion to the club.
Pressed by the audience, Mark reiterated that he did not wish to be president and was happy with his current status.
Finally, for 2019, the Board will remain as is with the following people:
Christine Cragg – President
Mark Shirkey – Vice President
Noel Marcovecchio – Secretary
Mike O’Leary – Facilities Director
Evan Falcone – Public Relations Officer
Mark did an excellent presentation and deserves to be praised for his efforts and valuable leadership.
Merry Christmas and happy New Year to all!
By Alain Efron
December 9, 2018
December 10, 2018
Yesterday, in the waning days of 2018, La Pétanque Marinière hosted its last Concours of the season. Such an event held in December is always iffy, but fortunately, it did not rain and we were able to proceed as planned.
It did not rain but the entire area was saturated by a dense blanket of fog that lingered for the entire day. It was not extremely cold, but the humidity in the air made the temperature seem much colder than it really was. Confined under a few layers of clothing, I played under par.
The ground was still very mushy and it took an extra effort to position one’s boule properly.
This situation did not prevent 28 players from all over the Bay Area to come to Marin to strut their stuff.
Mark and Sandra Shirkey, assisted by Noel Marcovecchio, oversaw the tournament and by 9:30 am, 14 doublettes were assembled and ready to compete.
The format of this contest was “a la mêlée” and I was extremely lucky (this time) to be paired with Nancy Jencks, the Petaluma southpaw wonder. Her pointing accuracy was remarkable and she contributed mightily to the outcome of this contest.
Three (1 hour) timed games were played in the morning to determine who would end up in the Concours or the Consolante. After winning 2 out of 3 games in the morning we qualified for the Concours.
Due mainly to Nancy’s supernatural pointing accuracy, we defeated all of our opponents in the afternoon and finally faced Donna Von Edelkrantz and young Steve Dudgeon in the Finals. Again, Nancy overwhelmed them with her magic touch and we emerged the winners of that concours.
A nice Christmas present for both of us.
Between games, I managed to take some pictures which reflect pretty accurately the mood and atmosphere of this contest; I certainly hope that you will like them.
While playing in the finals, I asked Noel to take a few pictures of me and you might notice a few seldom-seen shots of the photographer been photographed.
In the accompanying photo album, you will also see the winners of the Fall League, namely Liza Moran and Shannon Tracy for the first place, and Mark and Sandra Shirkey for the second place.
Jacques Gautier and Charlie Davantes took 1st place in la Consolante.
In the Concours:
1st place: Nancy Jencks & Alain Efron
2nd place: Donna Von Edelkrantz & Steve Dudgeon
3rd place: Mark Shirkey & Susan Wyatt
In the Consolante:
1st place: Tim & Larry
2nd place: Martin & Albert
By Alain Efron
Remembering Henry Wessel Potluck
October 15, 2018
Yesterday we experienced an outpouring of love the like of which I have seldom witnessed. This heartfelt outflow of emotion was a tribute to a man who was much too briefly a member of our small community.
You get to know a person over time and unfortunately some of us ran short of that commodity. Henry was like a shooting star that appeared and disappeared too quickly. He was a private and modest man who seldom talked about himself, but who cast a giant shadow. I always appreciated his good sense of humor and his quick wit. He was also a hard worker who did a lot to beautify our field.
He also struck me as a person eager to learn. When he first appeared on our field, he asked a lot of questions about the game and took a lot of video clips. He sought everybody’s advice and in a very short time, he became one of our best players.
Whenever he heard a French word or a French expression, he was always keen to learn its exact meaning. What does it mean? How do you spell it? How do you pronounce it? I was always pleased to oblige.
Yesterday, many people paid tribute to Henry. Mark Shirley, Tiaré Ferrari, Noel Marcovecchio, Sandra Shirkey, Doug Coleville, John-Philippe Wyek, Larry Cragg, Evan Falcone, and Bleys Rose were the voices of our various clubs.
We, of course, missed our Christine, but some tears were shed on her behalf. A few speakers (e.g. plucky Sandra) choked and could barely hold their tears while talking.
I was personally heartened to see Calvert again. We all missed her and it was a pleasure to have her on our field again. This Southern Belle is a resilient person and I am convinced that in due time she will be her old happy-go-lucky individual again. Her gracious sister Sally is helping her to remain seaworthy.
Mark Shirkey, Larry Cragg, and Tiaré did a great job putting this presentation together and ought to be warmly congratulated for their efforts.
After a potluck lunch, casual games sprouted spontaneously and a good time was held by all.
Henry left a huge void. He will be missed and will remain in our hearts “pour toujours” forever and a day.
By Alain Efron
October Select Mixed Doubles
September 10, 2018
Sixteen teams (with a strong contingent from Sacramento) showed up yesterday at the Pierre Joske pétanque field in Marin County.
Doug Coleville & Shellee Davis
Tom Lee & Carmen Ellis
JC Etallaz & Beth Lysten
Hans Kurz & Sandra Shirkey
Jacques Gautier & Emily Etcheverry
Kevin Evoy & Barbara Hall
Alain Efron & Tamara Efron
Noel Marcovecchio & Robin Kehoe
Peter Wellington & Teri Sirico
Albert Woodbury & Caitlin Woodbury
Brendan Cohen & Lisa Vaughn
Phominick Lee & Michelle Dang
Charlie Davantes & Liv Kraft
Mike Lee & Maryanne Curley
Wolfie Kurz & Holly Sammons
Christophe Sarafian & Genevieve Etallaz
The day started rather well with an offering of coffee and pastries. But things seldom go as planned. My scheme for this event was to play 4 games, and spend the rest of the day taking pictures.
It did not exactly work that way. On our first game of the day we faced Wolfie and Holly who quickly dispatched us with a score of 13-4.
On our second game, we came against Albert and Caitlin Woodbury and due to Tamara’s superb pointing we won 13-3.
We met Phominick and Michelle Dang on our third game. It turned out to be a duel between Tamara and Phominick. Tamara pointed like a queen but Phominick’s murderous shots got the best of us and we went down in flames 5-13.
I was very impressed by the way by the shooting capabilities of the Sacramento’s formation.
So we ended up in Consolante.
On our fourth game of the day, strangely enough we faced Albert and Caitlin Woodbury again and we were successful again.
On our fifth (and unexpected) game we encountered Mike Lee and Maryanne Curley. After a rather lengthy match they overcame us 13-8.
When that game ended, it was already around 3:00 pm. Tamara who was already chomping at the bit, decamped in a hurry and I suited up for my second job as photographer.
I came just in time to witness Mike Lee and Maryanne Curley defeat (13-11) plucky Hans and Sandra in the Consolante’s finals.
Then I turned my attention to the Concours’ finals. It was strictly a (Sonoma) family fight.
Wolfie and Holly faced Kevin Evoy and Barbara Hall. After being led 10-1, Kevin and Barbara managed to close the gap but finally succumbed 8-13.
A deserved victory for Wolfie and especially Holly who can shoot like a pro when the situation demands it.
1st place: Wolfie Kurz & Holly Sammons $58.00 ea
2nd place: Kevin Evoy & Barbara Hall $48.00 ea
3rd place: Phominick & Michelle Dang $38.00 ea
1st place: Mike Lee & Maryanne Curley $29.00 ea
2nd place: Hans Kurz & Sandra Shirkey $19.00 ea
By Alain Efron
Pierre Joske Petanque Park Dedication
August 13, 2018
Our pétanque field, formerly known as the “Marin pétanque field”, was just officially re-christened the “Pierre Joske Pétanque Park.
This happened yesterday in front of a sizable crowd, some county officials and the surviving members of the Pierre Joske family.
Pierre who passed away in 2011 was the Parks and Recreation Director for Marin County for many years and did much to promote parks and open spaces. His wife Maryse, and 3 children and grandchildren survive him.
It was a late but well deserved homage for a French immigrant who did so much to develop many parks and promote our sport. I did not know this Pierre personally, but by all accounts he was true gentleman.
“Pierre Joske, a brilliant civic leader who spearheaded formation of the Marin County Open Space District and launched a string of regional parks during his 17 years as Marin’s parks and recreation chief, died at 83.”
The Board of Directors of la Pétanque Marinière deserves high praise for this affair. They provided tables and chairs for the picnic as well as a tasty catered lunch.
They also organized a raffle to benefit our club and a Shooting and Pointing contest for some our macho players.
Mark Shirkey by the way is the winner of the pointing contest, and Joe la Torre took first place for the shooting.
Incidentally, I think that being on the mark is swell, but as a photographer I am partial to style, and some of our members have got it.
I will let you be the judges, but personally I think that Liza Moran, BrigitteMoran, Louis Toulon and Mark Shirkey (Travolta style) are among our most photogenic players. I don’t know about winning, but they have got style, and for me this supersedes a few measly wins.
Everybody will agree that it was a fun and busy day, particularly for me who shot over 600 pictures with 3 different cameras. Results vary but I think that I scored a few good shots.
If you like (some of) the pictures, drop me a line. I could live for two months on a good compliment.
Au revoir et a bientôt!
By Alain Efron
2018 Commemorative Cup
July 09, 2019
The Commemorative Cup is a special tournament where people compete for glory instead of cash. The competitors fight for the privilege of having their names engraved on the cup… for eternity. Something worth fighting for.
Last Sunday turned out to be a sunny day with mild temperatures hovering around 74 degrees. It was an ideal weather for playing pétanque but inappropriate (because of the harsh light) for taking photographs.
Upon arriving on the field, I could not help but notice the yellow numbers identifying each playing areas. If you want to know, Mike O’Leary (a heck of a hard worker) did it.
The tournament was managed by Christine Cragg, and 20 mixed doublettes signed up to play.
As usual, 3 timed-games were played before lunch to determine who would compete in the Concours and who would play in the Consolante.
My partner (Tamara) and I did well in the morning, winning our 3 first games and qualifying (sigh…) for the Concours.
12 teams qualified for the Concours and 8 for the Consolante.
After lunch, things got a little stickier when we encountered Brendan and MaryAnn. I was secretly hoping to send him back to Machu Picchu, but it did not work that way. Brendan demolished us 13/5. Curse you, Red Baron!
After being eliminated from the Concours, I spent the rest of the day taking pictures with Sneaky Pete my small Canon camera. Unfortunately, my camera’s spare battery ran out of juice unexpectedly and I had to shoot the finals with my iPhone. It is not as convenient as a true camera, but I managed fairly well.
Sandra and Mark had a good run but were ultimately defeated 4/13 in the semi-finals by Brendan and MaryAnn.
In the finals, Brendan and MaryAnn faced Hans and Maggie. The game started well for Hans’ team with Maggie pointing well and Hans shooting extremely well.
But little by little the Great Brendini and Fair Maiden MaryAnn caught up with them, passed them and finally overpowered them 13/5.
I felt (a little) sorry for the losers but at the same time comforted by the fact that our team was eliminated by the same mighty ruffians who won the tournament.
The names that will be engraved on the Commemorative Cup are Brendan Cohen and MaryAnn Curley.
1st place: Brendan Cohen and MaryAnn Curley
2nd place: Hans Kurz and Maggie lane
3rd place: Patrick Vaslet and Shannon Bowman
1st place: Erin McTaggart and Mike
2nd place: Peter Wellington and Lynda Evans
By Alain Efron
The team members
2018 Gay Games - Paris, France Posted 7/9/2018
From the day I learned that the 2018 Gay Games would be hosted by France and take place in Paris, I dreamt of competing with two of my sisters. We all play pétanque and I thought what fun it would be to play as a "sisters team" in the ancient Arènes de Lutèce, in the beautiful city of Paris. Sadly, for a variety of reasons, I will not be able to fulfill that dream. But I have had the extreme pleasure of working with two teams that will be competing.
If you have not heard of the Gay Games they, like the Olympics, offer a wide variety of sports and are hosted by countries around the world. The first Games were held in San Francisco in 1982 and have taken place every four years since inception. Canada, Netherlands, Australia and Germany have hosted, as well as several US cities. Host countries are invited to bring a cultural sport to the Games. France, of course, added pétanque.
I was contacted by USA GG Committee Officer, Doug Litwin, asking if I would be willing to do pétanque demonstrations at an Expo in San Francisco. I enjoyed a day of sharing my sport of choice with quite a few people and got to meet the Paris representative who was in town to promote the event. Doug came to Marin's next "Free-Lesson Saturday" to learn more about pétanque.
Since then, Noel and I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with two teams that will be competing in Paris. Noel hosted a Saturday coaching session for a couple members of the men's team. On a different day, I was able to work with a couple members of the women's team. Finally, on July 1, everyone's schedule allowed us to have all members of both teams play against each other in a team-strategy, tournament-nuances coaching session. The Marin County Fair made using our club terrain impossible. Instead, we met at the lovely, shaded, petit terrain at Hal Brown Park.
Marty, Gonzalo, Gaetan, Susan, Robin & Robin
While they have competed in other sports, this will be the first time they compete in a tournament of pétanque. Wanting to get in as much practice as possible before heading to France, they plan to come to the LPM courts as often as time allows. If you are there when they arrive, feel free to invite them into a game—or challenge them to one. They are excellent aspiring pétanque players and are open to the experience that long-time players have to share.
Though it wasn't in the stars for me to make the trip, I will be there in spirit. It has been most enjoyable serving as their coach, along with my teaching partner, Noel. We wish these six new friends a grand experience of pétanque in the City of Lights.
President, La Pétanque Marinière
June Regional Doubles
June 11, 2018
The Ascent of Women
Yesterday la Pétanque Marinière (Marin County) hosted the NorCal Regional Select Doubles tournament and it turned out to be a great day for the ladies.
Various clubs from all the corners of the empire sent envoys and everybody had nice words for our field’s updated look. We owe this to a few good men, particularly Mark Shirkey, Henry Wessel, Mike O’Leary, Charlie Davantes and Akira Okawa. Thank you very much gents!
The Fresno club sent a strong delegation and so did Sonoma, and Sacramento. Dave Riffo came Eugene Oregon, long lost Honor Woodardfrom St Augustine Florida and Mickey Coughlin from Oakhurst.
Altogether, 24 doublettes (half composed of women) elected to participate in this tournament. They were:
M. Shirkey & T. Efron B. Rose & S. Shirkey
P. Mathis & Manu Le Bihan J-M.Poulnot & D. Cuneo
By Vang & Fue Vang C. Couto & B. Lysten
A. Efron & F. Moser K. Evoy & C. Sarafian
M. Dang &Phominik Lee P. Yang & Jer Thao
E. Porto & D. Riffo D. Lanter & H. Sammons
L. Toulon & K. Lee S. Bowman & P. Vaslet
T. Wetzal & M. Lane H. Kurz & N. Sonet
P. Kos & Mike Dyar C. Xiong &Xua Yang
T. Lee & Chan Xiong L. Moran & H. Woodard
J. Harris & M. Coughlin T. Harris & J. Bissonette
JCBunand & Jacques Gautier
With Mother Nature’s seeming cooperation, the day started well. It was 72° at noon and some optimistic people started sporting shorts.
After lunch, the tournament started in earnest. The contestants found themselves assigned to 2 categories: Concours and Consolante. For some, being in the Concours was like a death penalty and for those in the Consolante it was a relief.
After a disastrous beginning, my team was quickly eliminated and I reverted to my true calling: photography. I followed one captivating team (Liza and Honor) from the beginning until their coronation at the end of the tournament.
Half of all the contestants were women and they did very well. They snatched 1st place in the Concours and 1st and 2nd place in the Consolante.
The tournament chugged along all afternoon with some games taking an inordinate amount of time. Around 5 pm, it seems that Mother Nature lost patience with the procrastinators and started blowing a cold Northerly wind to kick them off of the field.
By 6:00 pm, half of all the spectators had disappeared. Bundled up in my second jacket, I stayed until 7:00 to watch the victory of Liza Moran and Honor Woodard over Erin McTaggart and Barbara Hall in the Consolante.
By 7:00 pm, with a freezing wind, relentlessly attacking from all sides, 90% of the people (including myself) had gone home.
Very few people (six I have been told) stayed until the end (probably around 8:00 pm) to watch Tish Harris and Janice Bissonette narrowly defeat (13/12) John Harris and Mickey Coughlin in the Concours.
Bleys Rose took the final pictures of the tournament that I incorporated in my own album.
A great day for the “weaker sex.” Congratulations ladies! Well done.
1st place: Tish Harris & Janice Bissonette ($210.00 ea)
2nd place: John Harris & Mickey Coughlin (120.00 ea)
3rd place: Peter Mathis & Manu Le Bihan (75.00 ea)
4th place: Hans Kurz & Noah Sonet (75.00 ea)
1st place: Liza Moran & Honor Woodard (72.00 ea)
2nd place: Erin McTaggart & Barbara Hall (48.00 ea)
By Alain Efron
Marin Major upset
April 09, 2018
Yesterday I/we witnessed one the greatest upset since the 2016 presidential elections.
The Great Brendini and Patrick Vaslet.
La Pétanque Marinière was hosting a “select double” tournament sandwiched between two storms and it turned out to be one of most exciting “tournoi” of the year.
It was well attended with twenty-two “doublettes” (44 players) registered to play.
You might also have called this day “la Journée des Revenants”, the Day of the Ghosts. People who had vanished from the radar screen suddenly appeared to return from the Great Beyond.
I saw with great pleasure Colette Van Der Meulen who left the Bay Area a while ago and resurfaced yesterday (as perky as ever) to play in our tournament.
Also reappearing after a long absence, Raymond Nielsen, and his daughter Erika.
Luc Pouget also reappeared and reenlisted in LPM.
The field was still wet and soggy and it took a while for players to adapt to this condition. It was essentially (especially in the morning), a game of “plombés » and the best « plombers » were, in my opinion, Raymond Nielsen and Peter Mathis.
Especially Raymond who played with a disconcerting facility.
Before I go into the tournament itself, I want to recognize Sandra and Mark Shirkey and Akira Okawa who were instrumental in revitalizing our field. Yesterday, Mark shanghaied some sturdy fellows to move our scoreboard. It worked very well and the contraption was moved in no time.
The whole operation reminded me of the raising the flag at Iwo Jima.
Back to the tournament.
On the personal side, my teammate (Jean-Claude Bunand) and I lost our first game 6/13. We won our 2nd game 13/1 and also our 3rd game 13/6, which unfortunately qualified us for the Concours. I said unfortunately because we might have had a chance in the Consolante, while practically none playing with the Big Boys.
In the afternoon Peter Wellington and Joe La Torre quickly dispatched us, allowing me to devote the rest of day to memorialize this event with my sneaky little camera.
In the Concours semi-finals, Patrick and Brendan faced Raymond Nielsenand his daughter Erika. Both (particularly Raymond) played very well but were defeated 13/4. I felt sorry for Erika who might have been under tremendous pressure to please her demanding father.
Also in the semi-finals, Kevin and Peter defeated Ed Porto and Woolfie13/4.
In the finals, Peter Mathis and Kevin Evoy faced Patrick Vaslet and the Great Brendini. All excellent players.
Midgame though, the situation did not look good for Patrick and Brendan. Peter and Kevin were leading 10/3 and cruising to victory.
Peter who has a flair for the dramatic, was so relaxed that he even jumped the fence separating us from the dog park to fly to the rescue of a dog being attacked by another dog. Atta boy!
But as I always said, it ain’t over until the fat lady sings, and I never saw any fat lady loitering in the vicinity.
At one critical time, the score was 12/8 in favor of Peter and Kevin. They needed a single point to win the tournament.
But Patrick and Brendan kept their composure. Especially unflappable Patrick who remained as cool as a cucumber and saved the situation when it really mattered.
Toward the end of the tournament, in a stunning reversal of fortune, Patrick and Brendan scored 5 points to clinch the tournament. They won 13/12!
1st place: Patrick Vaslet and Brendan Cohen, $79.00 each
2nd place: Peter Mathis and Kevin Evoy, $66.00 each
3rd place: Woolfie Kurz and Ed Porto, $53.00 each
1st place: Delio Cuneo and J-Michel Poulnot, $40.00 each
2nd place: Charlie Davantes and Liv Kraft, $26:00 each
By Alain Efron
MARCH 11TH TOURNAMENT
March 12, 2018
Yesterday, for those of you who missed it, was a fabulous day for pétanque. Despite a heavy fog blanketing our field in the morning, the day turned out beautifully. Cool in the morning yes, but sunny and warm in the afternoon.
Expecting a low attendance, I was surprised upon my arrival to see a sizable crowd on the courts. For our first official tournament (?) of the season, we had a great attendance. It looked like all the Bay Area clubs sent some teams.
Sacramento sent a contingent of experienced players, and Sonoma also sent strong players.
The organizers of the tournament (Noel Marcovecchio and Christine Cragg) registered 45 players but unfortunately, they are too numerous to be mentioned here. If you are curious, look at one of the photographs.
The format of the tournament was “select triplettes” and I teamed up with Francois Moser and my wife Tamara. As usual, 3 timed games were played before lunch to qualify players for the Concours or the Consolante.
I am an average player. When I play a tournament I would rather not qualify for the Concours and play in the Consolante… where my peers are. But as luck would have it, our team did well, winning 2 of our 3 games and we qualified for the Concours.
While playing the morning games, I was particularly impressed by Beth Lysten and Phominik Lee. Both are great shooters and scored a bunch of stunning “carreaux.”
After lunch, we lost our 4th game 9/13 and were out of the competition.
While a little disappointing, it gave me the opportunity to indulge in my other passion: photography.
So I spent the rest of the day taking pictures. Around 5:00 pm, I had bagged over 850 photographs. This is because when photographing sporting events, I shoot in bursts, 3 or 4 pictures at the time. Later on, I choose the bests shots for publishing.
Today I struggled to bring the number of photographs under 250.
By the way, if you want to see yourself in my photo collections, don’t dress in black. It does not photograph well.
At the end of the day, Sacramento faced Sonoma in the finals. Sacramento fielded Carmen Ellis, Tom Lee and Poe Lee.
Sonoma was represented by Barbara Hall, Kevin Evoy and Peter Mathis.
I didn’t know much about the Sacramento players, so I surmised that Sonoma would come on top. But to everybody’s surprise, the scrappy Sacramento team led by Tom Lee (the Cobra) unexpectedly defeated Peter Mathis’ team by a final score of 13/10.
2nd place: Barbara Hall, Kevin Evoy
1st place: Tom Lee, Carmen Ellis and Poe Lee
ConcoursCohen and Liza Moran
4th place: Jean-Michel Poulnot, Bernard Passemar and Mireille Di Maioand Peter Mathis
3rd place: Christophe Sarafian, Brendan
1st place: Michelle Dang, Jackee Chan and Phomenik Lee
2nd place: Maggie, Rob Houghton and Tim Wetzel
Congratulations Sacramento. You deserve it!
I hope that you will find yourself in my photos.
by Alain Efron
February 2018 Mêlée Tournament
February 12, 2018
A memorable mêlée
Yesterday was not a day for the faint-hearted; it was cold and unpleasant. At 9:00 am, it was 41° with 70% humidity. But in the afternoon the weather changed for the worse. The day turned blustery with freezing gusts of wind sweeping the field and creating havoc everywhere.
How cold was it? “It was colder than a room full of ex-wives.”
I bet that the people who had the audacity to show up in shorts cursed their macho clothing decision.
At 10:00 am a small crowd had congregated on the pétanque field. With the flu epidemic still in full swing, the “fist bump” or the “rump bump” was still de rigueur. Many participants spontaneously grabbed some tools and proceeded to groom the courts. Kudos to all of them.
I did not do any of this. As a photographer, I put my priority on recording for posterity most of the details of tournaments. I will let you judge the results.
The organizer/accountant/scorekeeper/enforcer was Noel Marcovecchio. A first-time job that he managed to accomplish very well. He registered contestants, collected fees, kept scores and put together the 12 following doublettes:
Alain Efron $ Sabine Mattei
Tim Wetzel & Monique Bricca
Mark Shirkey & Susan Wyatt
Bernard Passemar & Sandra Shirkey
Ed Porto & J-C Bunand
Evan Falcone & Tamara Efron
Rob Houghton & François Moser
Charles Davantes & Logan Ginzberg
J-M Poulnot & Helga Facchini
John Morrison & Mireille Di Maio
Jonathan Dalmau & David Lindsay
Liza Moran & Calvert Barron
The tournament, by the way, was open to all (newcomers and seasoned players) and the format of the event was “a la mêlée”.
One game was played before lunch and 3 games after lunch.
I was lucky to be paired up with my old partner in crime Sabine Mattei. She is a good player and above all a cool chick. We are both natives of the Parisian area and we speak the same language. We have an easy, playful relationship and there is never tension ever between us. The way a team should be.
We managed decently, winning 3 games out of 4 while losing one 11/13 and I credit Sabine’s excellent pointing for these results.
Some of the people we played with were very good, among them Charlie Davantes, François Moser, and newcomer Logan Ginzberg. The previous day I also noticed Liza Moran who is becoming an excellent shooter and a threat to male egos. Don’t be fooled by her angel face! Under her smiling face, she hides the instinct of a killer.
To everybody’s relief, the tournament was over around 4:00 pm. and prizes were awarded to the top players:
1st prize: Rob Houghton & François Moser
2nd prize: Calvert Barron & Liza Moran
3rd prize: Monique Bricca & Tim Wetzel
4th prize: Alain Efron & Sabine Mattei
Everybody went home for a well-deserved rest and a hot beverage.
Then, shortly after I arrived home, shazam! I received a telephone call from Noel Marcovecchio (our scorekeeper) telling me that the previous results were erroneous.
After a recount, the official results are now as follows:
4th prize: Jean-Claude
3rd prize: Calvert Barron & Liza Moran
2nd prize: Rob Houghton & François Moser
1st prize: Alain Efron & Sabine MatteiBunand & Ed Porto
Sorry folks! Poopoo happens!
By Alain Efron
I hope that you like the pictures!
Home and Home at LPM
January 29, 2018
Mano a Mano
I suspect that this particular tournament (Home vs. Home) came to be when one Petalumian challenged a Marinite this way:
“Let’s step outside to have a man-to-man conversation.”
That’s one of the reasons Petaluma met Marin in the arena last Sunday. It was a clash of titans giants gentlemen bad hombres with raging testosterones.
La Pétanque Marinière fielded the following
This encounter consisted of four (13 points) round-robin games, with accumulated wins and points determining the final outcome. The club with the most wins (and points) will take first prize.grunts:
Sandra Shirkey, Mark Shirkey, Noel Marcovecchio
Alain Efron, Francois Moser, Claudie Chourré
Henry Wessel, Calvert Barron, Marc Davantes
Brigitte Moran, Charlie Davantes, Liv Kraft
The Petaluma Valley Pétanque Club deployed the undernamed doughboys:
1. Bleys Rose, Dennis Casad, Dennis Zerbo
2. Albert Woodbury, Caitlin Woodbury, Hans Kurz
3. Ed Porto, Dougie Coleville, Stu Rabinowitz
4. David Hale, Larry Brown, Joe La Torre
The weather was sunny, a little cool in the morning, but absolutely beautiful in the afternoon. Due to the recent rain, the field remained a little “spongy” and unpredictable.
One game was played in the morning and three games after lunch.
The first game was a total disaster for our team. We faced Albert Woodbury, Caitlin Woodbury and Hans Kurz and they sent us packing in a few minutes with a 1/13 score. We left the field with our tails between our legs.
After lunch, we met Bleys Rose, Dennis Zerbo and Dennis Casad. We did not fare much better, losing 4/13 to the enemy. Bleys’ impressed me with his shooting ability and handling of his team. A cool dude that Bleys dude.
On our 3rd game, we faced David Hale, Larry Brown and Joe La Torre. At this point, we were seething with pent-up outrage and we finally won our first game routing our opponents 13/1. It was a much-needed shot in the arm.
On our 4th and last encounter, we came across Ed Porto, Dougie Coleville and Stu Rabinowitz. We started well, lost a little steam midway and finally, due to the superb pointing of Francois Moser and Claudie Chourré, we scored another win 13/6.
The Petaluma folks are experienced players. They played very well and won more games than the Marinites. At the end of the day, they had won 11 games, versus 5 wins for Marin.
In 3 weeks we will meet Petaluma again (on their own turf) and the total number of combined wins of these 2 encounters will determine what club will be entitled to bragging rights.
It was an excellent day, full of action and brotherly love. Due to the flu epidemic, we avoided embracing or kissing, but some people could not help themselves and oblivious to the marauding germs smooched heartily. Containing passion is always a difficult task.
Around 4:30 p.m. it was all over. Petaluma had decisively beat us, but as we say in French “on leur réserve a chien de notre chienne” (an interesting expression meaning something like “we will have our revenge”).
By Alain Efron
2017 Annual Business Lunch
December 17, 2018
Yesterday, devoted members of La Pétanque Marinière met at the Left Bank brasserie in Larkspur, to celebrate the club’s annual holiday lunch/meeting.
This event took place in the restaurant’s private dining room located in the back of the main dining room. It was small and cozy, but the acoustics left a little something to be desired.
Your correspondent (kitted out with his sneaky little camera) was there naturellement to share with you the details of this affair.
The guests arrived between 11:00 and 11:30 a.m. and chose where and with whom they wanted to sit. They had a choice of Salmon salade niçoise, Cheeseburger, Croque- monsieur, Salade de poulet and Jacques Pepin’s mixed greens salad.
Shortly thereafter the waiters brought the dishes (plus white and red wine) that the guests had previously ordered. The service was good and the atmosphere was convivial.
Toward the end of the meal, after the “crème brulée” and the coffee, Brigitte Davantespresented a few Wesseland Calvert Barron, Mark and Sandra Shirkey and Charlie Davantes where among those recognized for services rendered.token of appreciation to some deserving volunteers. Henry
Then Christine Cragg (our president) gave us the state of the Union address and what’s forthcoming in 2018.
Everything was over by 1:00 p.m. and half of the guests headed for the field for a few rounds of pétanque.
It was a nice, good-humored affair and I believe that a good time was had by all.
“Keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and receipts for all major purchases.”– Bridger Winegar
Merry Christmas to… nearly everybody!