Last Saturday, Tamara and I drove to Sonoma to participate in the Valley of the Moon 2021 Season Opener Tournament. We did this for various reasons.
First of all, this tournament might mean that after over a year of house arrest, our sentence has been commuted to an early release from imprisonment. We now feel free to visit our friends and share some good times with them.
I also did it because I have not played in a tournament for over a year, and above all because pétanque keeps me humble. It prevents me from getting a fat head and “fart higher than my arse”. On the field, you quickly learn that many people are much better than you and will swiftly bring you down a notch or two. It is highly therapeutic.
Last Saturday then, 23 select teams (46 players) came to Sonoma to compete. They came as far as Sacramento as Tom and Susie Lee did.
Joe La Torre (club president) and Michelle Benton (freelancing secretary?) welcomed us and signed us up for the tournament
Later on, in his welcome speech, Joe told us that the wearing of a mask was optional. Some people (including us) came masked, but many came bare-faced. By now, most of the people have received their Covid shots and since this tournament takes place in an open area, everybody felt (relatively) safe; by the end of the day, practically nobody was wearing a mask.
The games started around 9:30 am and ended up around 6:30 pm. By then it was cold and windy, and many people had already left.
Tamara and I started well. On our first game, we encountered Tom (the Cobra) and Susie Lee. Both good players, but we managed to beat them 13/9. When you win the first game, it gives you a big boost.
In our second game, we faced Evan Falcone and Christine Morier. Again, we did well and won 13/7. This auspicious beginning might shed some light on what I said earlier on. With each win, you grow confident and think that this streak will last.
On our third game, we came across Le Facteur and innocuous-looking Bill Miller. I don’t think that I ever played with Bill and knew very little about him. It turns out that he was the devil in disguise. No matter how well we did, Bill destroyed us with his murderous shots. We lost ignominiously by a score of 2/13… but we still qualified for the Concours.
After lunch, fate threw us in the clutches of Delio Cuneo and Casey Franklin. They won the coin toss and dragged us to a gravelly isolated area to have their way with us. They murdered us 1/13 and we were eliminated from the Concours.
I then changed costumes and slipped into my second role: story raconteur through images. I could not be everywhere at the same time, but I did my best to photograph most of the players. Some are very photogenic, some less, but everybody seemed to have a good time.
The big moments of the day were the semi-finals and the finals of the Concours. In the semi-finals, Jean-Michel and Bill Miller faced Peter Mathis and Antoine Lofaro. Peter and Antoine prevailed. Then Kevin Evoy and Wolfie played against Ed Clay and Schōn. Kevin and Wolfie won.
In the Concours finals, Peter and Antoine were up against Kevin and Wolfie. All excellent players. Peter and Antoine took immediately the lead and at one time amazingly, they were I believe, leading 8 to nothing.
Kevin and Wolfie got increasingly nervous but finally managed to get on the board. Peter was without question the star of the game. He seldom missed a shot and contributed mightily to his team’s victory. Wolfie is also a great shooter, but I think that he got too nervous to be efficient. He missed quite a few shots.
Finally, around 6:30 pm, the tournament was over. The final score was 13/5 in favor of Peter and Antoine. Joe La Torre awarded the prizes, I took photographs and it was all over. A great day of pétanque.
1st place: Peter Mathis & Antoine Lofaro
2nd place: Wolfie Kurz & Kevin Evoy
3rd place : Jean-Michel Poulnot & Bill Miller
1st place: Tom & Susie Lee
2nd place: Bernard Passemar & Adair Hastings
PS: I shot over 500 pictures. When I came home, I had to go through all of them and keep what I judged to be the most interesting. I managed to whittle down this number to around 200. I hope that you will enjoy the show and let me know about it.