- Don McPherson
POINTING: THE CRITICAL FIRST BOULE
Typically pétanque is played as singles (3 boules each player), doubles (3 boules each) or triples (2 boules each). Strategically, the initial “pointing” throw is arguably the most important in the game. Play begins in each end (round) with throwing out the jack (cochonnet) at least 6 and not more than 10 meters, and then throwing the first boule. Since points are scored by getting closer to the cochonnet than the opposing team’s closest boule, the casual observer might conclude that the pointer should aim at the cochonnet, maybe even trying to hit it. NON!
Because pétanque is played on a non-groomed terrain of varied surface materials and characteristics, a boule aimed at the cochonnet predictably will pass it, leaving the front wide open to the opposing team. Instead, the pointer scans the terrain to identify the landing area (donnée) that will result in the first boule landing and then bouncing and rolling to a spot centered in front of the cochonnet. It’s the donnée that’s the target, usually one-half to three-fourths of the distance to the cochonnet depending on the terrain.
To be sure, the closer the better, but what’s most important is to be centered and in front. The first boule thus becomes an obstacle, physically, psychologically and visually blocking the opposing team’s throws. Perhaps the opposing team will throw too long or too short or to the side to avoid hitting it, or will knock it forward, even nearer the cochonnet. Or perhaps the opposing team’s “shooter” will have to spend one or two boules trying to knock away the blocking boule. Hence the pétanque maxim: “boule devant, boule d’argent” (a boule in front is a money ball).
WINE COUNTRY OPEN APRIL 27 & 28
Oakmont Pétanque enthusiasts can watch play in a high-level, sanctioned tournament, the Wine Country Open, sponsored by the Valley of the Moon Pétanque Club at Depot Park, Sonoma, April 27 & 28. The 60 select doubles teams competing include players from California as well as other states and international entrants. Qualifying games are on Saturday with championship and consolation brackets on
Sunday. “Bonne chance” to Oakmont Petanque Club member Jean-michel Poulnot, who will be competing.
OAKMONT CLUB PLAY
The Oakmont Pétanque courts are located between Berger Center and the OVA offices/Umpqua Bank, next to the new shuffleboard courts.
If you’re interested in learning to play, come at 9:45 AM on the designated Club play days of Wednesday and Saturday. We have extra boules to lend, and it’s easy later to secure your own at moderate cost. Just sign up to be listed on the roster. No membership fees are required