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

Consolante A
1 st place: Antoine and Max Lofaro                       $ 57.00 each
2 nd place: Hans Kurz and Carlos Chavez $ 38.00 each

Consolante B
1 st place: Jean-Michel and B. Passemar            $ 38.00 each

It was a grand, glorious day… despite my miserable performance.

Alain Efron


November 23, 2020

Hot Club News

Nov-New Members w Christine.jpg

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!


Alain Efron


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.


Alain Efron


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.


Final Results:

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

Alain Efron


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.


Final results

1st place: Mark Shirkey & Noel Marcovecchio
2nd place: Alain Efron & François Moser
3rd place: Tamara Efron & Liza Moran


Alain Efron


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.

Final results:

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


Alain Efron


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.


Alain Efron


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

Les boules mouillées

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:

  1. Doug Coleville/ Les Stone/ Kathy Stone

  2. Mark Shirkey/Sandra Shirkey/J-M Poulnot

  3. Beth Lysten/J-C Etallaz/Serge Hanne

  4. Kevin Evoy/Tim Wetzel/Holly Sammons

  5. Mone Lee/Tom Lee/Michelle Dang

  6. 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
Bart Zachofsky


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 ShirleyTiaré FerrariNoel MarcovecchioSandra ShirkeyDoug ColevilleJohn-Philippe WyekLarry 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.

They were:

  1. Doug Coleville & Shellee Davis

  2. Tom Lee & Carmen Ellis

  3. JC Etallaz & Beth Lysten

  4. Hans Kurz & Sandra Shirkey

  5. Jacques Gautier & Emily Etcheverry

  6. Kevin Evoy & Barbara Hall

  7. Alain Efron & Tamara Efron

  8. Noel Marcovecchio & Robin Kehoe

  9. Peter Wellington & Teri Sirico

  10. Albert Woodbury & Caitlin Woodbury

  11. Brendan Cohen & Lisa Vaughn

  12. Phominick Lee & Michelle Dang

  13. Charlie Davantes & Liv Kraft

  14. Mike Lee & Maryanne Curley

  15. Wolfie Kurz & Holly Sammons

  16. 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.

Final scores:


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.
Congratulations lads!


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


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Explaining Strategy
Practicing Pointing
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.
Christine Cragg
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. 
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
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!


Final results

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 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.

Final results:


2nd place: Barbara Hall, Kevin Evoy
1st place: Tom Lee, Carmen Ellis and Poe Lee
Cohen and Liza Moran
4th place: Jean-Michel Poulnot, Bernard Passemar and Mireille Di Maio
and Peter Mathis
3rd place: Christophe Sarafian, Brendan 


1st place: Michelle Dang, 
Jackee Chan and Phomenik Lee
2nd place: Maggie, Rob 
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:


  1. Alain Efron $ Sabine Mattei

  2. Tim Wetzel & Monique Bricca

  3. Mark Shirkey & Susan Wyatt

  4. Bernard Passemar & Sandra Shirkey

  5. Ed Porto & J-C Bunand

  6. Evan Falcone & Tamara Efron

  7. Rob Houghton & François Moser

  8. Charles Davantes & Logan Ginzberg

  9. J-M Poulnot & Helga Facchini

  10. John Morrison & Mireille Di Maio

  11. Jonathan Dalmau & David Lindsay

  12. 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 Mattei
Bunand & 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:


  1. Sandra Shirkey, Mark Shirkey, Noel Marcovecchio

  2. Alain Efron, Francois Moser, Claudie Chourré

  3. Henry Wessel, Calvert Barron, Marc Davantes

  4. 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!




December Melee

December 11, 2017

Featuring our fancy fenced field


If you were not in San Rafael yesterday you missed a great day of pétanque.
Sure it was cool in the morning, but the rest of the day was absolutely splendid. The temperature never rose above 65° F but the afternoon was sunny and very pleasant.


Twenty contestants were fashioned in ten doublettes teams and they were as follows:


  1. Mark Shirkey & Larry Cragg

  2. Henry Wessel & Liza Moran

  3. Jacques Rattaire & Daniel Martinez

  4. Jean-Michel Poulnot & Yeisi Martinez

  5. Miller Zea & Alain Efron

  6. Jean-Claude Bunand & Wyatt

  7. Brigitte Moran & Charlie Davantes

  8. Jean-Claude Etallaz & Tamara Efron

  9. François Moser & Calvert Barron

  10. William LaVelle & Mireille Di Maio


You might have noticed that they were 3 newcomers, 3 congenial youngsters from Colombia named Daniel, his sister Yeisi and Miller. They are beginners but they show great promises. I promise you that in a few months and they will give you a run for your money. I also understand by the way, that they will become members of our club starting next year.


Pastries and coffee were offered before the beginning of the tournament that started around 10:30 am. Two games were played in the morning and 3 games in the afternoon. The winners were determined as usual by the number of games won and by the number of points accumulated.


I was paired with newcomer Miller Zea and we did all right in the morning. I played as a pointer and Miller was the enforcer. We won 2 games before noon. In the afternoon we did not do as well, losing consecutively 3 games in a row (2-11, 11-13, 8-13). That’s the way the croissant crumbles…


My wife Tamara and Jean-Claude Etallaz fared much better (she always does) snatching second place (and big money). I might have to take lessons from her… Drat!


The top dogs were Jacques Rattaire (who you should know, comes all the way from Redwood City) and newcomer Daniel Martinez. They won 4 games and barely lost one 12-13. Congratulations y felicitaciones amigos!


If you did not notice, Jean-Claude Bunand was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the head of Johnny Hallyday, a French rocker who died a few days ago.

France honored him with a national tribute? This guy was never my cup of tea, but seems to be have been appreciated by a bunch of people… especially Jean-Claude.


Final results:


1st place: Jacques Rattaire & Daniel Martinez
2nd place: Jean-Claude Etallaz & Tamara Efron
3rd place: Larry Cragg & Mark Shirkey
4th place: William LaVelle & Mireille Di Maio
5th place: François Moser & Calvert Barron


And that was the day that was.




November Panache 2017

November 13, 2017

Despite a fairly low tournament attendance, there was plenty of action yesterday at the Marin Pétanque court.


The field was extremely well groomed and we owe it in great part to indefatigable Charlie Davantes and Liv Kraft. On Saturday, they did a herculean job of removing at least 20 large bags of dead leaves from the field. My hat off to this likable hard working couple.


The format of yesterday’s tournament was “panaché” and I borrowed the following definition from the Oakhurst Pétanque Club.


Panaché Doublette: Two person teams. Individuals are placed in groups of pointers and shooters and assigned numbers by lottery. Teams are formed at the start of each game according to an officially sanctioned number sequence, pairing a shooter and a pointer. Each player plays with a different partner for each game. Individual scores are maintained to establish tournament winners.

Our organizers (Sandra Shirkey, Mark Shirkey and Liv Kraft) divided all the contestants into two groups: shooters and pointers, and they were as follows:


Mark Shirkey, Francois Moser, Noah Sonnet, Jacques
Rattaire, Bob Crossley, Bleys Rose, J-C Etallaz, Evan Falcone, Brigitte Moran, Christine Cragg.


Larry Cragg, Gilbert Sonnet, Alain Efron, Tamara Efron, Liliane Sebban, Akira Okawa, Claudie Chourré, Genevieve Etallaz, Christine Morier, Charlie Davantes.


By the way, all the people who played as “shooters” were not necessarily the real article. Due to a lack of genuine shooters, some innocent people were shanghaied into acting as shooters… as a result, they struggled but they did pretty well.


Two games were played in the morning and three additional games in the afternoon.


The field was still partially wet, spongy and extremely challenging. This was the ideal terrain for “plombers” and “au fer” shooters. Pointers had to put some extra oomph in their throws to reach the cochonnet and many (myself included) missed the mark.


Due to almost 3 months of forced inactivity, I opted to play as a pointer and managed fairly well (3 wins out of 5), despite a persisting cold and a stubbornly stiff spine.
I had the pleasure to team up with young Noah Sonnet, Brigitte Davantes, Evan Falcone and Bleys Rose, who by the way has become an excellent shooter.
I also played with J-C Etallaz against mighty JacquesRattaire
and ? He demolished us in minutes with a score of 13/3. Curse you Red Baron!

Seeing my good friend Francois Moser and my wife Tamara on the winning podium was an added pleasure to an excellent day of pétanque and camaraderie.

I feel confident to say that a good time was had by all.

Final results:

1st place: Christine Cragg & Gilbert Sonnet
2nd place: Tamara Efron & Francois Moser
3rd place: Evan Falcone & Charlie Davantes



Select Doubles Tournament

October 09, 2017

I heard a few times yesterday that if you spend 5 weeks in France practicing the fine art of pétanque, it is child’s play to win a local tournament; Jean-Michel Poulnot (aka Le Facteur) proved it conclusively Sunday in San Rafael.

He and his teammate Bernard Passemar played extremely well and delivered the goods. They thus defeated all their opponents rather easily and to Jean-Michel’s elation, they glided smoothly to victory.


Le Facteur pointed extremely well (the best I have ever seen) and Bernard did a very effective job in knocking out troublesome opposing boules. Bernard, unlike Jacques Rattaire or Kevin Evoy, is not a flashy shooter but a very convincing one. He took his time and did his enforcing job very effectively.


I have always been of the opinion that in life (as well as in pétanque) we all have good and bad days; we all go through peaks and valleys and yesterday many teams muddled miserably through deep canyons.


Jacques Rattaire and Liza Moran started the day rather well but lost their touch later on, especially against Evoy and Grace. The same can be said about Henry Wessel and Calvert Barron. The Force was not with them yesterday.


This is why pétanque can be such a frustrating seesaw of elation and frustration.


Yesterday morning after coffee and pastries, the following doublettes lined up for action:

  1. Shirkey & Shirkey

  2. La Torre & Knuckles

  3. Marcovecchio & LaVelle

  4. Rattaire & Moran

  5. Evoy & Grace

  6. Rose & Sirico

  7. Moser & Facchini

  8. Bunand & Davantes

  9. Passemar & Poulnot

  10. Crossley & Okawa

  11. Wessel & Barron

  12. Casad & Brown

  13. Falcone & Drier


Eight teams made it to the Concours and five teams played in the Consolante.


In the afternoon, it was do or die time and many teams went belly up right after lunch.


In the Concours’ finals Jean-Michel and Bernard faced Kevin and Adam. Due in great part to Jean-Michel’s excellent pointing, they defeated Adam and Kevin conclusively.
Well-deserved congratulations to Le Facteur and monsieur Passemar.


At the end of the day:


1st place: Jean-Michel Poulnot & Bernard Passemar
2nd place: Kevin Evoy & Adam Grace
3rd place: Jacques Rattaire & Liza Moran


1st place: Bleys Rose & Teri Sirico
2nd place: Mark Shirkey & Sandra Shirkey


And that’s the way I saw it.



2017 Annual Lamb Picnic

September 11, 2017

So it is September again, the season’s languorous time of slowly retreating summer, falling leaves and gradually fading daylight.

It is also our club’s time-honored tradition of feasting on lamb and welcoming new would-be pétanque players. This picnic, by the way, would not have taken place without the generosity of a mysterious benefactor who donated some money to the club. Whoever you are, generous backer, thank you very much.

After taking note of Calvert Barron’s lament about my prolonged absence from the field, I tried my best yesterday to make amends and snap as many pictures I could. But still feeling a little wobbly on my legs, I used a small camera instead of Big Bertha and it shows. Sorry about that.

The weather was hot and muggy (93 degrees) but nobody should complain considering what’s happening in Florida. Warmest thoughts for all the Floridians and Georgians.

A bunch of people still showed up to munch on lamb and compete in the tournament. Fourteen triplettes (42 people) were put together and set to go head to head against the competition.

The lamb was prepared by world famous “rôtisseurs » Antoine Lofaro, Jean-Claude Etallaz and Serge Hanne. Thank you, gentlemen, for your efforts.

The tournament (panaché format) started after lunch. Panaché means that players switch partners every game. With a little luck you inherit experienced players, otherwise, you will have to green and bear it.

Three games were played after lunch and individual scores were kept for each player. To come on top and secure a prize, you had to win a maximum of games and then also score a maximum of points.

Keeping track of the scores were Christine Cragg and Liv Kraft. Thank you ladies.

This friendly tournament was a good occasion to renew acquaintances… and learn a few things. Even though I thought of possessing a decent French vocabulary, Maryann Curley taught a new word (anoure). Thank you MaryAnn.

Liza Moran is always a delight to talk to and I enjoyed listening to Noel Macovecchio’swicked lawyerly tales.

I saw again with pleasure Jacques Rattaire, a far off club member, an excellent player, and an all around good guy. Anybody who rescues animals in distress rates high in my book.

I had a nice conversation with Caitlin Woodburry (who faithfully reads my blog) and Sabine Mattei.  Sabine’s dog is adorable and if she is not careful I might dognap the pooch one of these days.

I don’t know if you noticed, but Gustave Foucher (with an arrow sticking out of his butt) was trying very hard to impersonate Custer’s last stand.

My wife Tamara did an excellent pointing job and managed to snatch one of the first places in this tournament. She always tries to outshine me and she often succeeds, dammit!

The big winners

1st place: Tamara Efron, Ed Porto, Maryann Curley
2nd place: Jacques Rattaire, Jean-Philippe Wyek, Okawa Akira
3rd place: Henry Wessel, Wyatt, John Morrison


Altogether, an excellent day and.




Summer League Final

September 07, 2017

Wednesday, September 6 was the final game for Le Petanque Mariniere’s  Summer League

Championship.   The two teams vying for the honor were the Boules Brothers – Carlos Curto and Ken Lee verses Double Trouble – Calvert Barron and Henry Wessel.   The horrid heat wave that had suspended play the previous weekend was replaced by a muggy breeze.  Players and well-wishers gathered early for chips, dip, and more chips.  Play began just after 5:00 with the devoted audience lined up in chairs along the edge of court #2.  All good play was cheered - no one really cared who won as long as the guacamole and spirits flowed freely.   


Play began with Calvert and Henry taking an early lead.   The crowd was serenaded by 70’s music from Ken’s speaker – quite a change from the French cooking music that accompanied all previous league games.  Everyone sang along as play continued.  Henry and Calvert maintained their lead to win.  Both teams were the happy recipients of wonderful prizes and everyone felt like a winner!  First place included trophies, blue ribbons, gift certificates for dinner at Le Comptoir restaurant, two boxes of cookies,  and fine head bands with glowing blue and red stars attached.  Second place prizes included red ribbons, two bottles of fine wine, and two boxes of cookies.  


After the awards presentation, as dark descended upon the Marin courts, remaining players and guests joined together in a spirited, fun-filled game.   In Petanque, there really are no losers!

By Calvert Barron

FPUSA Inter-Regional Tournament

August 15, 2017

August 13th provided a cool, breezy welcome to players entered in Sunday’s Mixed Doubles Inter-Regional Tournament held at the La Petanque Mariniere courts.  Teams were composed not only of different genders but also of members from different clubs, including LaMorinda, Marin, Petaluma, Sacramento, and Sonoma.   Sixteen teams faced off for three games before lunch with final and play-off games in the afternoon.


The Winners were as follows: 


FIRST PLACE:       Peter Mathis and Barbara Hall

SECOND PLACE:  Jacques Rattaire and Liza Moran

THIRD PLACE:      Christophe Sarafian and Michelle Dang

FOURTH PLACE:  Marc DiMaio and Terri Shirico



FIRST PLACE:       Chan Xiong and Marie Ann Curley

SECOND PLACE:  Louis Toulon and Sandra Shirkey


Morning play was brisk; foggy winds kept players moving to keep warm - though they were fully fueled from a glorious selection of pastries and coffee.   The courts were groomed to corduroy perfection but still challenging.  As games progressed and the day warmed up, jackets came off and play intensified – no fights broke out nor were complaints registered which signaled a good time being had by all.  Referee Antoine LaFaro was kept busy determining the winners of close calls – no one argued - Antoine’s a pro!


For those who stayed to watch the finals, grilled sausages were served with a tangy mustard dip during the match between Peter and Barbara against Liza and Jacques.  There were spectacular saves and smashes by both teams; the Sonoma champs took the gold medal but the crowd was treated to white knuckle entertainment as Liza and Jacques fought for their points. 


In the Consolante, Chan and Marie Ann fought hard for their victory against Louie and Sandra.  With methodical precision and, possibly some luck, they snagged each point via their amazing accuracy.  Louie and Sandra, no push-over in terms of their competence on the court, came back again and again, but were finally defeated.


The award of cash and medals to the contenders was cheered by the remaining crowd.  A frenzy of phone photos were snapped - though everyone was wishing Alain Efron, our regular photographer and chronicler, was on hand to capture the moment!  As the final refreshments were spread out, more than one person marveled at Petanque’s ability to so totally engage and amuse its players and how tasty the combination of paté on baguettes and potato chips could be!

By Calvert Barron

NorCal Inter-Club Tournament (Hosted by Petaluma at Pierre Joske's Courts in Marin)

July 25, 2017

Sunday July 23rd 2017 will remain a glorious day in the annals of local pétanque. On that day, the 6 major pétanque clubs of Northern California met in San Rafael to compete for their annual inter-club tournament.


Petaluma, Fresno, Sacramento, Sonoma, Lamorinda and San Rafael sent players to defend their respective colors and vie for the coveted cup. Ultimately, the total number of competitors came to 68.


This pétanque tournament, let’s not forget, was organized by the Petaluma Valley Pétanque Club and under the aegis of Ed Porto and Rob Everett they did an excellent job. They even managed to get the show on the road no later than 9:30 am.


Three 50 minutes games were played in the morning to determine everybody’s individual ranking and who would play in the Concours and who play in the Consolante. According to each individual score, eight triplettes teams were then selected to play in the Concours and 8 teams in the Consolante.


A slight digression here if I may…

One the problem afflicting this reporter was to identify all players and even though I am familiar with many of them I could not recognize them all. So please excuse me in advance for misspelling your (sometimes unfamiliar) names.


The second major problem for my alter ego was the weather. It was sunny and bright but there was a catch. In San Rafael we enjoy a fabulous shaded playing area but it is a blessing and a problem at the same time. It is very difficult for a photographer using a zoom lens to take decent pictures in “clair-obscur” conditions. So I apologize in advance for the quality of certain shots.


In the tournament’s Concours finals, Sacramento faced Petaluma. Two good teams. A balanced game. Each side could have won, ultimately though thanks in good part to Brendan Cohen, Sacramento won by a final score of 13/9. The losing team has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

In the Consolante, despite our warriors’ best efforts, the Fresno juggernaut demolished La Pétanque Marinière 13/2.

A great day for pétanque lovers!

1st place: Brendan Cohen, Mone Lee, Kue Lee (Sacramento)
2nd place: Bleys Rose, Albert Woodbury, Dennis Zerbo (Petaluma)

1st place: Jer Thao, Bruce Yang, Janice Bissonnette (Fresno)
2nd place: Henry Wessel, Mark Shirkey, Charlie Davantes. (Marin)

By Alain Efron


July 9th Select Mixed Triples Tournament

July 09, 2017

I happened to socialize in the East Bay last Saturday where the temperature soared well above 100 degrees. Anticipating similar weather next day in San Rafael, I dreaded the idea of playing pétanque mixed triples in such conditions. But lo and behold, the climate turned out to be almost perfect although a little chilly in the morning. Later on a slight breeze kept things cool and it was a pleasure to meet and play with friends from all over the Bay Area.

The contestants for the July 9th mixed triples meet were as follows:

  1. Mark Shirkey/ Sandra Shirkey/Evan Falcone

  2. Henry Wessel/Calvert Barron/Marc Di Maio

  3. François Moser/Alain Efron/Claudie Chourré

  4. Liza Moran/Jacques Rattaire/Bernard Rattaire

  5. Marc Davantes/Lori Davantes/Mike?

  6. Charlie Davantes/Brigitte Davantes/Noel Marcovecchio

  7. David Lindsay/Doug Coleville/Julie?

  8. J-C Bunand/J-M Poulnot/Mireille Di Maio

  9. Teri Sirico/David Katz/Jim Donahue

  10. Peter Mathis/Holly Sammons/Hans Kurz

Early that day, coffee and various pastries were offered to the participants.

As usual, 3 timed games were played in the morning to determine who would compete in the Concours and who would play in the Consolante. My partners (François Moser & Claudie Chourré) and I were very unlucky (or more likely played poorly) and were swiftly expedited to the Consolante division. Ultimately six teams qualified for the Concours and four teams for the Consolante.


In the afternoon elimination games took place and a trend developed. The Sonoma team (Peter Mathis/Holly Sammons/Hans Kurz) and one the San Rafael team (Henry Wessel/Calvert Barron/Marc Di Maio) clawed their way to the top and appeared ready to face each other in the finals.


One of the cardinal rules of pétanque by the way, is to never upset or argue with your teammates during a game. If one player fails to deliver, it is better to keep quiet and not further perturb that person. Failing to do so can lead to violent outbursts and that’s what unfortunately happened Sunday during a game.

Understandably, everybody wants to win, but invariably it always the coolest team that will prevail. It would be wise to always remember that “a closed mouth gathers no foot.”

My mixed triples team and I had the pleasure to play against the Rattaire brothers (true gentlemen who don’t quibble about a point) and utterly charming Liza Moran and even though they beat us, I would never hesitate to play with these delightful people again.


In the Concours finals, Peter Mathis/Holly Sammons/Hans Kurz predictably faced Henry Wessel/Calvert Barron/Marc Di Maio. It was an uneven game mostly because the LPM team failed to emerge from a deep slump. Their pointing was erratic and the shooting uneven.

As usual, Holly Sammons’ steady pointing was a big factor in the Sonoma’s team victory. Peter did not fail to amaze us with one of his stunning signature shot, and ably assisted by Hans Kurz, they dominated the game. They won the match by a final score of 13/5.


Former club president Louis Toulon offered the club a bottle of Pastis that was shared by everybody at the end of the tournament. Un grand merci Louis. Thank you as usual to Liv Kraft and Christine Cragg who organized the tournament and kept scores.


1st place: Peter Mathis/Holly Sammons/Hans Kurz
2nd place: Henry Wessel/Calvert Barron/Marc Di Maio
3rd place: David Lindsay/Doug Coleville/Julie?


1st place: David Lindsay/Doug Coleville/Julie?
2nd place: Francois Moser/Alain Efron/Claudie Chourré

By Alan Efron


June 2017 Potluck Picnic Panache Tournament

June 12, 2017

The day started out a little on the cool side, but slowly warmed up by the afternoon. Pastries and French roasted coffee were provided. Although the number of players was small, everyone agreed that it was a very enjoyable day. Tasty delicacy's were provided for the potluck picnic by all who came.

Due to the small turn out, the games were played as doublettes. There were 2 rounds in the morning with 2 rounds after lunch and a final to give some excitement to the tournament. The top ranked shooter and pointer played the 2nd ranked shooter and pointer in the final.

The top ranked shooter was Henry Wessel and the top ranked pointer was Noel Marcovecchio. The second ranked shooter was Bleys Rose from Petaluma and second ranked pointer was Holly Sammons from Sonoma.

It was fun to watch these players strut their stuff. Holly was as usual, pointing with proficiency, which gave the 2nd ranked team the upper edge as they won the final 13-5.

There was a donated prize of a bottle of wine for each of the 3rd ranked shooter and pointer, these were Mike O'Leary and Charlie Davantes.

Thank you to those who came from Petaluma and Sonoma. We really appreciated your participation in the tournament. Thank you to all who brought food for the potluck.

A special thank you goes to Liv Kraft and Sandra Shirkey for facilitating the signing up of players and managing the scoring/play of each of the rounds.

By Mark Shirkey

June 8th & 9th Terrain Cleaning

June 12, 2017

I would like to thank all those who participated in the cleaning and prepping of the terrains Thursday and Friday for the Potluck Picnic Panache tournament. These participants really put out their all to get the leaves raked and lines cleared.


They were:

Henry Wessel, Calvert Baron, Sandra Shirkey, Charlie Davantes, Marc Davantes, Noel Marcovecchio, William La Velle and Akira Okawa.


Without club member participation this would be a very arduous task and at best would leave us without a proper terrain to play Petanque. So very much appreciated!!


If I missed anyone, please let me know.

Mark Shirkey

2017 Spring League

June 01, 2017

Congratulations to Ken and Carlos for their first place win in the 2017 Spring league. It was a great championship match with Mirelle and Marc coming in second. It was noted that Carlos was very “lucky” last night. (You had to be there).  In consolante Tamara and William beat the lone Anton for another exciting game.


Congrats to all and thank you for playing.

Brigitte Moran



Last night, the 2017 Spring League of La Pétanque Marinière ended brilliantly with the encounter of two evenly match teams. The Boules Brothers and the M & M faced each other in an exciting match truly worthy of the Finals.

This was the last phase of a series of games in which 19 doublettes teams (38 people) took part over a few weeks.
Let’s not forget by the way, that most of the proceeds of this event will end up in the club’s coffers for the betterment of our association.

Last night 10 teams were selected to play in the Concours and 8 teams in the Consolante. This was the Sudden Death phase of the series. Upon losing a game you were out of the tournament.

My team (Claudie Chourré and I) made it to the Concours, won a single game and were swiftly routed by the Boules Brothers (who ultimately won the tournament).

In the finals, the Boules Brothers (Ken Lee & Carlos Couto) faced the M& M (Mireille and Marc Di Maio).

As I previously said, it was an evenly match with both teams taking alternatively the lead. Everybody without exception played brilliantly. Mireille pointed exquisitely, often drawing applauds from the crowd. Ken also pointed very well and was instrumental in his team victory.

Both shooters also excelled and Marc Di Maio particularly impressed me. He managed some long, difficult shots with a surgeon’s precision. He also funnily encouraged his mother with this seldom-heard call in a sports arena “Allez Maman” (Go Mother) and it seemed to work.
I won’t say anything about Carlos. He completely destroyed us on our first game and this is not something that you easily forget.

Around 8:30 pm, with the field becoming darker and darker, Brigitte Moran had the good idea to bring in a truck and use its headlights to illuminate the field.


The game finally ended in total darkness (around 9:00 pm) with the victory of the Boules Brothers (Ken Lee & Carlos Couto) with the razor thin margin of 13/11.
Both sides truly deserved to win.

On the Consolante side Tamara and (in the absence of J-C Bunand) William LaVelle managed to beat back the opposition and won 1st place.

By Alain Efron


Mother’s Day 2017

May 14, 2017

As you all know yesterday was Mother’s Day and that most probably accounted for the fairly low attendance of the Marin tournament.
In spite of this, eight select triplettes trekked to our field and they were:

  1. Henry Wessel/Calvert Barron/Sandra Shirkey

  2. Jean-Michel Poulnot/J-C Etallaz/Dello Cueno

  3. Bob Crossley/Akira Okawa/ Stephan

  4. Hans Kurz/Honor Woodard/Dave Katz

  5. Patrick Vaslet/Shannon Bowman/Hallie

  6. Charlie Davantes/ Brigitte Moran/Herb Moran

  7. Peter Mathis/Wolfie Kurz/David Lanter

  8. Teri Sirico/Nancy Jencks/ Evan Falcone

Marin fielded only 2 teams.
Personally, I declined to play due to a stubborn backache. To remain in your good graces, I endeavored to take plenty of photographs. I hope that you will like them.

Sunday morning was unusually chilly with a cold wind that persisted until late in the afternoon.
The field was impeccably groomed due I surmise to Henry Wessel and Calvert Barron, Mark and Sandra Shirkey and as always Charlie Davantes.

In the absence of our president who is at the moment gallivanting in France, Mark Shirkey (vice-president) carried the atomic football and ran the tournament with the help of Liv Kraft.

Two games were played before lunch, followed by elimination games in the afternoon. Sonoma fielded two very strong teams while Marin did its best to fight the intruders with weaker forces.

Both Sonoma teams reached the finals and ultimately the Mathis team prevailed over the Vaslet team by 13/8. A very honorable loss.
Both teams played very well, but Sonoma fielded stronger artillery.

The 3rd place was highly contested with finally the Sirico team prevailing over the Kurz team by a very slight margin.

Final scoreboard:

1st place: Peter Mathis/Wolfie Kurz/David Lanter
2nd place: Patrick Vaslet/Shannon Bowman/Hallie Cohen
3rd place: Teri Sirico/Nancy Jencks/ Evan Falcone
4th place: Hans Kurz/Honor Woodard/Dave Katz

By Alain Efron


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