November 30, 2005

Lake Anna teams, boules & blues

Who can forget the musical quartet from Lake Anna, Virginia?
(better known as 'Smiley' for obvious reasons), Gary, Randy and Tim discovered petanque only this spring while in the French Caribbean and got hooked right away. Now going by the name "Team Dockside" they also surprised us with an impromptu guitar & harmonica performance at Friday night's dinner.
This picture does not do them justice because for once they are not smiling - but it's the only one we have so far.
They still have a bit of fine tuning to do in the petanque department, but when it comes to close harmony, rythm, major 7 and augmented 9 chords, they were the outright champions of the Open. Only Smiley, the bass player, couldn't bring his 'tool of the trade' but we'll make it a point to set him up with a bass next time around.
Whenever they hold a tournament in Lake Anna, we're going!

November 29, 2005

New petanque club in Chicago

A message from Daniel Danielson:

Come join us and have fun. Open to all Petanque lovers in the Chicago area. From beginners to tournament players... all are welcome.

Here's their web site. Nice logo!
It's striking how many creative people one finds in the petanque community.

November 28, 2005

German team report

On behalf of the German Petanque Federation, Alex Bauer presented us with one of their pretty embroidered pennants. It received a prominent place in our office and we hope it will be the start of large collection in years to come.

From the report he posted yesterday on their Club site we can conclude he and his teammate Manfred had a great time in Miami. It's in German of course but even if your German is rusty, the pictures alone are worth a visit. Very nice of them to mention our friend Aaron, now a Florida resident, who used to play in Munich. Of course they had some friends in common.

A bit of disappointment their end in that - although they won 7 out of 8 preliminary games - they did not make it to the quarter finals. Indeed, the format was unusual for certain reasons, and not the norm in traditional competitions in the US. The fact that Alex and Manfred's hotel room was on top of a bar that blasted music until 5:30 AM on Sunday morning did not help either...
Of all the teams that came, they had the longest flight. We're certainly glad they made it!

November 27, 2005

Meeting place for S. Florida players

Many folks who participated in, or walked by the tournament agreed that the spot is a perfect location to use as a permanent gathering place for South Florida petanque players.
South Beach, at Ocean Drive & 14th Street.
Central, well known, always available, with lots of space and very attractive. With a variety of surfaces: from soft to hard, with or without stones. From easy to very challenging. With Starbucks, Front Porch Cafe and the Winterhaven Bar only steps away.
And - amazing but true - parking is plentiful in the mornings. Either on a meter at $ 1 an hour, or at the 13th St Municipal garage.

A few us met and decided that - for starters - Saturday mornings at 10 AM would be the most suitable time for all. December is a busy time for everyone, so you may or may not find other players but as from Saturday January 8 someone will be there every Sat morning, with spare boules for anyone to try.
South Beach Petanque Blog

November 26, 2005

Dave Barry at the Open

Most players were very focused on their games and may not have noticed that our third guest for the weekend, Dave Barry (far left) came by on Sunday with his lovely wife and daughter.
He had announced the Open on his blog the week before:

If somebody told you that you had a chance to play in a major international petanque tournament, I'm sure your immediate reaction would be: "A what?"
That was certainly my reaction the first time I was invited to a petanque tournament. It was on Miami Beach back in 2003, and I wound up writing a column about it, as well as making a new friend, Philippe Boets, a mildly deranged Belgian man who wants petanque to become a huge sport in America. This is never, ever going to happen, but it sure is fun to watch Philippe try. It's also fun to attend a petanque tournament, in which it is not always easy to tell who is playing, and who is spectating, and who is just lying on the ground. The sport, which was invented by the French, involves tossing little balls around, in between a lot of eating and drinking.
I bring this up because Philippe is bringing the Open International Petanque Tournament back to Miami Beach this weekend. Naturally, since this is an international tournament, participation is strictly limited to pretty much anybody who shows up and pays the registraton fee. I myself plan to have a team there on Sunday. We're training hard; several key players have already had indigestion. So if you're looking for something different and fun to do in South Florida this weekend, why not go bowling?
No, seriously, come on out to the Open. You might catch Petanque Fever!
Then you will need shots.

He brought his friend Andre (far right) who joined the Michigan boys while Dave reinforced a hastily assembled Miami team consisting of two Belgians. We kicked serious butt against a.o. Jeff, Joe and Ken who filled in between their own games. There's no doubt, Dave is a natural, not only as a pointer, but also in the "trash talking" department which - as we all know - is a required ingredient of petanque when you're playing for fun. "Compliments" were flying back & forth. He also reminded me to stop saying Mitchigan. "They're ain't no T in Michigan".
Of course, Dave carried his CrapCam, a hi-tech marvel with a resolution of almost 10 pixels, to document his victory over the Michigan team for the Monday morning update:

Petanque Update
I went over to Miami Beach yesterday and competed in the big petanque tournament. It was physically very demanding -- sometimes after tossing the little ball (or boule) you have to walk as far as 20 feet (5.95847 liters) with nowhere to sit and nothing to eat or drink. But it was a good character-building experience, as well as an opportunity to hang around in a masculine fashion with other manly male petanque players, who can be seen in this exclusive CrapCam photo holding their boules.

His latest book "Dave Barry's Money Secrets" is due out in January, a must for anyone who wants to become happy while penniless. With lots of pictures of Suze Orman.
The weekend after the Open he performed timeless, excellent rock & roll hits at the Miami Book Fair together with his writer-musician-friends, a.o. Amy Tan, Scott Turow, Ridley Pearson, Greg Iles & Kathi Goldmark, aka the Rock Bottom Remainders.
Busy life!

November 25, 2005


France, actually most of W. Europe suddenly got hit by a major cold front this week. The temperature drop was amazing.
This is what could happen if it stays that way for a few days.

JP Jardinet meanwhile also posted a complete and very positive report (in French) on about the tournament. It is bound to convince more European teams to make the step across the ocean the next time. Thanks JP!

November 20, 2005

Pictures from the French team

The tournament winners, Jean-Pierre & Michel are back home in France and settled in. Jean-Pierre is also an editor of the online petanque magazine "", and posted a serie of 31 nice pictures on their site.
Direct link to the album

And below are the semi-finalists, Alec Stone Sweet and Yacob Nour. So, we had 3 different nationalities in the finals (France, USA & Canada) - worthy of an international tournament!

November 19, 2005


You must all have seen Dominique of the South Florida Petanque Club shooting hundreds of pictures last weekend, anytime she was not competing herself.
Well, she put them all together in 3 beautiful slideshows, with funny comments and music for all of us to enjoy.

You can watch them either as a slideshow or in album format. Since it's in Flash, you can't save them from your screen. But Dominique says she can email individual photos to anyone who would like some. Her email address.

There are 3 slidehows:
Friday's registration & dinner
Saturday's dinner
Sunday's finals and prize awards

Thank you very, very much, Dominique!

November 18, 2005

Tournament results & teams

The results as from the 1/4 finals of the main tournament and the consolante are now on our website. Most of you probably did not notice that with the rain and wind at the end, some of our paperwork got wet and some flew away. So we needed to do some "reconstruction". As soon as possible we will upload a complete team list so people can see who was here.

November 17, 2005


Thanks to Hans & Tom of the Valley of the Moon Petanque Club in Sonoma, CA we had original scoreboards during some of the finals. No need for electricity, no technical glitches and clearly visible for everyone. A swell idea - maybe they should patent it!

Hans & Tom run the only weekly radio show with a segment about petanque in the country - maybe in the world?
You can hear their show via internet every Tuesday from 5 to 7 PM PST on

In the top picture is Joe Zajac - President of the Michigan Petanque Club - scoring talking scores with the two charming scoreboard ladies.

November 16, 2005

Tournament pictures

As usual - busy with plenty other things during the competition - we have a limited amount of pictures.

Please send any photos you want to share to us (up to 10 Mb) or let us know where to find them on the net.

Jeff of the Detroit Petanque Club has already uploaded a beautiful set - like this one on the right - here.
Every team he and Don played against is documented. Great souvenirs.

Police and First Aid

To some of our overseas readers (we notice there are more and more -- thanks for visiting) this may sound strange:
anytime we organize an event in a public place, we need to hire off duty police and paramedics.
Fortunately, petanque being peaceful and safe, they never have to get into action. Needless to say, they all know petanque inside out by the time the event is finished.

Tournament format

When planning the tournament we knew:
(a) teams will be flying in from far, spending $$ on airfare and lodging
(b) the difference in skill levels will be substantial
That's why we used a somewhat unconventional format to match up the teams, so that all teams would play a maximum amount of games, against a maximum amount of different teams.
It is a bit more complicated than traditional grids (that's why Mario needed Tylenol here & there) but worth it.
Of course there is always room for some fine tuning for next time.

November 15, 2005

Team positions

Then came the drawing of the team positions. Although a couple of players had to cancel, three teams flew in unexpectedly from New York, and we started with 72 doubles exactly.
15 states were represented: California, Connecticut, Georgia, Florida, Maine, Massachussets, Michigan, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virgina.
Plus two teams from Germany, two from Colombia, Madagascar, Mali and... France.
An absolute 'first' in the history of American petanque!
Of the 144 players, 33 were (and still are) ladies.

November 14, 2005

Tournament briefing

Mario Olivieri and Yngve Biltsted, ready for the briefing. Since we mixed folks who have been playing for only 6 months with very experienced players we asked the latter for an extra dose of sportsmanship. As an incentive we announced a special prize for the most courteous teams.
We heard from many teams later on that - although they lost 13 to 0 - they truly enjoyed their game and getting playing tips and help with the rules from the other team.

Channel 10 - ABC

Our second guest was Miami radio & TV personality Paul Castronovo.
Fun and witty as always.
He wanted to know everything about the game, even more so about any drinks that can go with it...

The opening boule

Our first guest on Saturday morning was Mr Philippe Vinogradoff, Consul General of France.
He was very happy to see how petanque is developping in the US and tossed the first boule of the tournament.
He also told us that when he was posted in Los Angeles during the late '90's he went several times to the LA Petanque Club. We really appreciate he joined us at the beach. Maybe next time we should invite teams from the different consulates across the US to join in the tournament.

Monday morning breakfast

After an evening in town, celebrating their victory, we saw the winners having breakfast this morning on Espanola Way with one of the German teams and the umpire. From L to R:
Jean-Pierre Jardinet, Alex Bauer, Yngve Biltsted, Manfred Kuhn and Michel Faurant.

Open results

It was a bit complicated to get online during the weekend, but here we are back again.

Two beautiful sunny days. A bit of breeze to cool us off. Excellent atmosphere. There were a total of 72 teams from all corners of the country and a lot of new friendships developped. More about that later.

Let's start by annoncing the winners:

1. Jean-Pierre Jardinet & Michel Faurant (FRA/FRA)
2. Alec Stone Sweet & Yacob Nour (USA/CAN)
3. John Rolland & Roger Arpaia (USA/CAN)
4. Peter Mathis & P.J. Mallette (USA/USA)
5. Raymond Nielsen & Phimprapha Nielsen (USA/USA)
6. Gerard Gallianio & Marc (CAN/CAN)
7. Juan Garcia & Mamary Colibaly (USA/MLI)
8. Guy Labouyrie & Michel Crouzillat (USA/USA)

November 10, 2005

Petanque at the SEA Games

While we are playing on Miami Beach, the Philippines are getting ready for the 23rd edition of the South East Asean Games. Because it so popular in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, petanque is now included in the Games.
Here's an article about Vietnam team's preparation for the games.

November 9, 2005

Official tournament opening

Mr Philippe Vinogradoff, France's Consul General in Miami has been so kind to accept our invitation to open the tournament on Saturday morning.
He arrived here only two months ago after several overseas postings in Latin America, which explains why he is also fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.
Wilma caused serious damage to the Consulate on Brickell Avenue, so he has been quite busy. We are honored that he will take some time out to meet the teams and to toss the symbolic first "but" (aim ball) .

November 7, 2005

Dave Barry to be at the Open

We are honored that America's funniest columnist, Dave Barry will join us at some time during the tournament in South Beach. Ever since he discovered petanque at our first Open in 2003, he has been training relentlessly. Therefore he will compete "hors concours", a French term for 'exceptionally skilled'.

We saw Dave in action yesterday at the annual Herald Hunt, a marvelous family event he and Tom Schroder have organized in Miami since 1984. Around 7,500 contestants, some from as far as Seattle, WA flooded Coral Gables looking for clues and having a good time. For many it was also a welcome escape from Wilmaland.
The barbershop quartet performance by the Hotshots was tops.

November 6, 2005

Survey of the boulodrome

Yesterday we went to study the playing area and finalize the setup at the beach. Hurricane Wilma blew away most of the fine sand layer and left many areas bald, i.e. quite hard. No panic -- by next week the daily sunshine will have softened up the top crust. We hope some players that are flying in early will come and help us raking and setting up the courts on Friday afternoon!

Thanks to Juan for the artistic picture!

The Marseille spirit will be in Miami

There's no real petanque tournament without 'un vrai Marseillais' present. Well, there will be at least one in Miami next week!
Xavier Thibaud started playing petanque at 'La Boule Florian' - Marseille's foremost club - at age 12. But he also remained loyal to his first love - soccer - and his hometown soccer team "Olympique de Marseille" (OM in short) . Remember Zidane and Barthez?
So much so that, after moving to New York 6 years ago, he has started a NY fanclub for OM, soon to have its own website. Xavier is the first Maitre d'Hotel at the French Consulate in NY, taking care of all official receptions and functions, which leaves him little time to practice his petanque skills. But the passion is still there! Last year he reached the finals in our annual Bastille Day tournament in Brooklyn.
Although his teammate at the Open, Ray Gilles, is from Lyon (France's second city), Xavier has converted him into an OM fan as well.
Anyone interested in OM in the US can reach the Fan Club at
Update: OM-NewYork Website

PS: we suspect Xavier and Gilles will play in light blue OM T-shirts...

November 4, 2005

Everyone is welcome to watch and play

Many folks are asking us if they can come and play even if they are not registering for the Open tournament itself because it lasts two days and they only have a few hours to spare.
Of course!
We will organize short "mini" competitions around the main tournament area and you can win some of the Ricard souvenirs.
There will also be a continuous "pointing" and "shooting" competition with prizes ($ 5 to participate).
If you have no 'boules' we will gladly lend them to you.
We hope that on Nov 12 & 13 South Beach will look a little bit like Nice as in the above picture from Wikipedia's entry about petanque.

November 3, 2005

Boules on the plane (2)

An update to our previous post about boules not being allowed in your hand luggage in France.
Fresh picture from Marseille airport today. See bottom right hand corner.

November 2, 2005

Pétanque in France today

To give all of us, this side of the Atlantic, a clear picture of the pétanque scene in France right now, Alec Stone Sweet wrote this very, very interesting Letter from France.

A.o. he talks about how in 2003, the Minister of Sport declared Pétanque to be a "Sport de Haut Niveau," thus putting it on par with professional sports, how more and more players are playing professionally (unthinkable 10 years ago), how regional and national competitions are set up. If you don't have the time to read the entire 5-page report right now, go at least to page 4 where he describes La Marseillaise, the annual competiton that started this year with 12,960 players!

The picture shows Pascal Milei shooting during the finals of the 2005 national triples championships. There are plenty more great pictures by Martha Lewis annexed to his report.

On behalf of all of us: "Thanks, Alec!" - and we look forward to meet you in Miami.

Photo by Martha Lewis, rights reserved.

November 1, 2005

A truly international team

Every team at the Open has an interesting history, but we think this one beats all records when it comes to being international:

Juan Garcia was born in Cuba and moved to Madrid when he was eight. He started playing in the Spanish Petanque Federation from age 12 to 17 when the family moved to Miami. The only times he would still play was on annual vacations back in Spain. Until he discovered Petanque America on the internet in 2001 and started playing again regularly. He is an extremely good pointer and whenever he can he goes to tournaments: in Boca Raton, Lake Worth, Sarasota, Seaside and even Sonoma, CA. Quiet and very concentrated, Juan has become well known and appreciated in petanque circles around the country.

Mamary Coulibaly hails from Bamako, Mali and started playing there as a kid. Mali's petanque league has around 1000 members. Mamary came to Philadelphia to study and forgot all about pétanque until he drove by Loi Nguyen's house (Loi is another story!) and saw him practicing in his front yard. He stopped his car, the two started talking, then playing, heard about our Open tournament in 2003 and flew to Miami as a team. We wondered if Mamary happens to be the great-, great-grandson of King Bitòn Coulibaly who founded the Bamana Empire in Segou, Mali. "Yep", he said.

Juan and Mamary met in Miami in 2003, became friends, noticed that their pétanque skills are complimentary and decided to team up together this year.
We could call them the "Cuba-Mali Team".

If anyone wonders if we enjoy researching and writing these stories: "Yep!"