Lamorinda 2019 Interclub

Sunday proved to be a nice day in Lamorinda. A little fresh and foggy in the morning but bright and sunny in the afternoon.
The day started auspiciously with a comfortable ride to the East Bay offered by Christine Cragg. Thank you, Christine.

By Vang, Michel Yang, Chong Xiong

The folks in Lamorinda worked very hard to improve their field and they succeeded. The courts looked immaculate. The ground was newly covered with a fine gravel that looked good but proved challenging to the untrained. The boules were slowed and often sank in the fine pebbles; “au fer” and “plombés” were the only options.
Coffee and pastries were offered to the forty-eight (48) people who chose to participate.

This event was an interclub tournament and each Bay Area club sent a small formation. The format of the tourney was the same as in the past; 3 panaché doubles in the morning with teams from opposing clubs playing against each other.
In the afternoon, top-ranked players from each team were paired as triples to play in the Concours or Consolante.

Marin showed up with Sandra & Mark Shirkey, Mike O’Leary, Alain Efron, Robin Kehoe, Robin McDonnell, Francois Moser and Christine Cragg.
We all fairly quickly bit the dust. I personally played 4 games losing them all. My strongest showing was when I was paired with Mark Shirkey. We did well narrowly losing the game 10/13 to Hmong players.

Fresno showed up with a very strong formation. Hmong power was evident throughout the tournament with most of their players being able to shoot and point as well.

Sonoma also performed well, with an outstanding performance from Wolfie who hit many superb carreaux. But they ultimately succumbed to the superior firepower from the Hmong formation.

Both Concours and Consolante were awarded to Fresno teams. They are the new Spartans.

1st place: Michel Yang, By Vang and Chong Xiong
2nd place: Teri Sirico, Maggie lane and Wolfie Kurz
3rd place: Holly Sammons, Mickey Coughlin, Manu LeBihan

1st place: Nicholas Yang, Carl Motschielder and Thomas Moua
2nd place: Gilbert Sonet, Beth Lysten and Serge Hanne


PS: I would be extremely grateful if somebody could provide me with the proper spelling of all the Hmong players.

I was not aware that this tournament, using the Lamorinda field, was actually hosted by the dynamic Fresno gang. Thank you guys for a job well done. It is an honor to be humbled by such a spirited group.

The embarrassment of choices

When I was a young man, life was harder but it was much simpler. It was less stressful because we had fewer choices. When we needed some shoe polish or some mustard, we would walk to the local store and purchase it. It was an easy decision since there was only a single brand of polish or mustard available. No casse-tête.

Today, whenever we go shopping, there are ten different brands of the same product on the shelves, all vying for your attention. We have an embarrassment of choices and it becomes much harder to make a sensible decision.

My purchasing philosophy is defined by the following principle: I am too poor to buy cheap stuff. So when I buy anything I want a quality product that is going to last. I am willing initially to pay more for something if, in the long run, it proves to be more durable and thus less costly than a similar cheaper item.

Like any good nerd, I always turn to the Internet for advice. I want to know what the “experts” are saying about what that I intend to buy. The problem is that the pundits cannot agree on anything. You can check 10 different websites and come up with 10 different opinions.

It a product is clearly superior, for God’s sake at least half of the experts ought to concur that it is so… but they don’t. They all promote a different product. How could that be?
Could some palms have been greased to promote certain products? Nooooooo…

The Internet is very handy and I am a big fan of it, but it is not always practical. Some products have to be seen or touched to be properly evaluated. You cannot, for example buy a mattress without lounging on it for at least 10 minutes. And even then…

I want to know what the experts (and previous customers) are saying about it. I want a clear consensus before committing myself because unlike a door handle it is not easy to return a mattress.

And when you finally find a brand that gathers some applauds, you discover that no local outfit caries that product. The damn mattress becomes like a mail-order bride. When she arrives from the Ukraine or Thailand, if she proves too firm or too soft, or if she begins to sag within a few months, it is difficult to return.

Experts, advisers or whatever you call them, like doctors or senators (?) ought to be certified. They ought to pass some exams before being allowed to pontificate on television or the Internet.

Personally, I am not certified in any way, so do not take as Gospel whatever I am saying. Take everything with a grain of salt, but honestly, who would you rather trust? Me, or a quack or a senator?

I rest my case.


Most Improved Player

Due to various reasons, I have not played pétanque for a while, and when I came back to the field last Saturday, something unexpected happened.

I played against an individual who startled our team with a rapid succession of stunning carreaux. I was not totally surprised though, for I have seen this individual slowly, tenaciously rise through the ranks. Even when his shooting accuracy was unexceptional, I noticed his dashing moves, reminiscent of the Peter Mathis style.

As a photographer, I pay less attention to scores than to style, and I always liked his smooth elegance. With time, some players become quite accurate, but their form remains awkward, lacking in grace. They get the job done, but it is not particularly pleasing to see.

Mark Shirkey whom I consider to be the Most Improved Player of the club possessed the form before the accuracy.

He has been with us for a relatively short time, but I believe that he is the rising star of our club. He reminds me a lot of Henry Wessel. When he joined our club, Henry studied the game, took notes, shot videos and practiced extensively. So did Mark, on and off the field… and it paid off.

As a matter of fact, Mark and Sandra bear many similarities to Henry and Calvert. The only difference is that they are a bit more introverted than Henry and Calvert. But they show the same love and dedication to the game. Not only did they persevere but they also did a lot to improve our club, our field, and its playing conditions.
They were the blood transfusion that our club sorely needed.

Sandra has also quietly improved her game and is becoming an accomplished player in her own right. I would be honored to play with her anytime.

So, I hereby salute this hard-working couple for their perseverance and dedication to the game and to our club.

May they always be who their dogs think they are!”