The more I play pétanque and the more I realize the importance of the “pointeur” in a game. A good pointer will win the game for his team; a mediocre or erratic pointer will definitely scuttle his team’s chances.
A round of pétanque is basically a brief firefight between two squads supplied with a limited amount of bullets. They must make each shot count.
In a pétanque game, the pointer plays first and must cast his boule as close as possible to the goal (le cochonnet).
The first boule is crucial; it will dictate what happens next.
A well-positioned first boule brings about two options for the opposing team:
It can force the opposing pointer to expend all his boules, or it will compel the “shooter” to fire and sacrifice a precious shot.
Most of the time, it is the team first running out of ammo that will lose the fight.
Pointing can be done standing or crouching.
A good pointer must know how to read the terrain, bumps, slope, and obstacles for the condition of the field dictates how a boule will be played.
If you do not point first, it is important to watch where your opponent’s boule lands and in which direction it rolls.
A quality pointer basically forces the opposite shooter to fire and in effect ultimately disarms him. A good shooter without ammo is as effective as a gunslinger armed with a baby pacifier.
It is important to remember that a team without a good pointer cannot be saved by the shooter.
At the end of a game/tournament, the shooter often gets all the glory, but when the winning team stands on the podium it should be recognized that the pointer deserves as much credit as the shooter.
Sometimes there are shooting contests. To be fair, there also ought to be pointing contests to highlight and recognize the skills of a pointer.
In my book, Holly Sammons is one of the best pointers in the Bay Area and was always instrumental in any victory that her team achieved.
I tip my hat to her and to all the often-unheralded pointers of the game.
Pointeurs, pointeuses, je vous tire mon chapeau! I take my hat off to you