Thursday, March 11, 2010

Tournament at Tampa East

(Tournament champions: Bertrand Cote, Rollande Dufour, Gilles Morin)

The gang at Tampa East RV Resort in Dover, Florida, held a nice triples tournament (random draw for teams with some allowances for gender and experience) on a cold Saturday. The team that Shirley was on made a good showing, reaching the quarter finals. The team that I was on did not fare as well and the fact that I had a very hard time adjusting to playing in soft sand was definitely a factor. As I noted in previous posts, it's fairly easy to get reasonably close to the target in soft sand, but against these guys, reasonably close is far from good enough! Most of the ends concluded with three or four boules within a couple of inches of the cochonnet.

This resort had more "local rules" than almost any place we've ever played. They play from fixed pads at the ends of the court rather than from circles on the court. That's not so unusual, as we usually play that way on our own home court for social play to take advantage of racks on which to rest unplayed boules (and refreshments!) and pre-marked six and ten meter distances for tossing the cochonnet. Strangely, though, they have little red flags at roughly a five meter distance beyond which thrown boules must land to be valid! It really changes the game (too much in my opinion) when a six meter cochonnet toss doesn't allow any room to land short and roll in to the target. But then, there's not too much roll in soft sand anyway! There is, of course, nothing in official international rules specifying how far a boule must be tossed before it lands.

Another example of strange "local rules" is the requirement that a boule must be within a certain distance of the target (I think they said thirty inches if I remember correctly) to count in the scoring. There is no such requirement in official international rules. If you've ever watched the pros play on the internet or in person, you know that they sometimes score with boules several meters from the target due to shooting away close boules or intentionally moving the cochonnet.

And then they have a few "rules" that probably started out as custom and are now thought of as rules. They require that unplayed boules must be left on the ground near their starting pads. You can't even carry them in your hands when walking out to assess the situation! Come to think of it, you can't even walk out to assess the situation! During tournament play, only team captains are allowed beyond the fixed pads.

The players are welcoming to newcomers and you'll find them a pleasure to play with if you ever stop in. Don't allow the soft sand or the "local rules" to spoil your fun. You'll soon see the sand as a challenge and can't help but come away with a real appreciation of just how well some of these guys play on their chosen surface. And you'll just have to "do as the Romans do" as regards some of their strange rules. Most of them have no real bearing on the nature of the game.

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