All posts by Jim Corr

BLBC Dominates!

BLBC Bowlers Take Top Prizes in 2018 Regional Singles Tourneys

The weekend of July 14-15 saw the annual Singles Championship Tournaments for both men and women in the Pacific Inter-Mountain Division (PIMD) and Berkeley bowlers stood out in each of the events.

First up was the women’s event, a one-day competition on Saturday involving three matches in gusty wind conditions. Three Berkeley bowlers entered—and swept the board, taking 1st (Cathy Dinnean), 2nd (Ann Brillhart), and 3rd (Giulia Gallo) place.

The men’s tournament ran over two days, with three of Berkeley’s six entrants making it to the knockout round on Sunday—Cris Benton, Jim Corr, and Rob Hoey. Unfortunately, the luck of the draw meant they ended up playing each other, so they couldn’t quite emulate the women’s feat, but Jim Corr took 3rd equal place and Rob Hoey came out on top, beating Larry Collaco of Sunnyvale in a nail-biting final. Rob initially ran up an early substantial lead (11-1) but Larry would not have it and steadily chipped away in small increments, to pull ahead to 17-14, with 18 points being the ultimate goal. But in a stellar final end, Rob put in four shots within a couple of feet of the jack and took the honors by the narrowest of margins, 18-17.

Congratulations to all!

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2018 PIMD Women’s Singles Championship (l-r): Ann Brillhart (2nd Place), Cathy Dinnean (1st Place), Giulia Gallo (3rd Place)

Berkeley bowlers in Day 2 of 2018 PIMD Men’s Singles Tournament: (l-r) Cris Benton, Rob Hoey (Ist Place), and Jim Corr (3rd= Place).

Andy Vevers Wins 2-Bowl Singles

The annual 2-Bowl Singles Event is a tournament unique to Berkeley, at least in the Bay Area. It offers a particular challenge, with little margin for error or correction, given the limitation on the number of shots available. This year’s event was no different. Andy Vevers, a relatively new BLBC member (but not a new bowler—San Francisco is his other club) topped a strong field of 12 players to become the 2018 winner.

Our new Tournament Director, John Hooper, experimented with the format a little, dividing the 12 participants randomly into three groups of four, with each group playing a mini-round robin in the morning. The rules provide that the top player in each group, plus the best second placed player overall, would proceed to the semifinals. All matches were played to 12 ends.

By lunchtime, Shawn Roney, Jim Corr, and Andy had emerged as winners of their respective groups and Rob Hoey was the best placed second player. The semis matched Shawn against Rob and Jim against Andy. Both semi-finals were close fought, resulting in a final match-up of Shawn v Andy. Well, the spoiler alert has already been given. Through the steady, consistent bowling he had shown all day, Andy pulled away and is this year’s well-deserved champion. Congrats to Andy and thanks to all who made the event run smoothly, not least our volunteer markers and the always-appreciated Hospitality Committee who made sure there were sufficient “goodies” to keep participants supplied with nourishment throughout the day.

BLBC 2018 2-Bowl Singles Winner Andy Vevers

 

Sixty-Year Rivalry Not Phased by the Weather

Seasonally late rains had been washing over the Bay Area all week, and it looked like touch and go whether the annual Berkeley-Palo Alto Meat Axe Tournament would be rained out (as had PIMD’s Opening Day just one week before). But the weather gods relented at the last minute, albeit with an unseasonable chill in the air, allowing 5 Triples teams from each club, including several novices, to assemble on Berkeley’s green March 24 to renew this now vintage competition.

The conditions, however, did not hinder a morning of fine bowling all round, at the end of which Berkeley led by 4 games to 1 and looked comfortably in control. However, Palo Alto wasn’t giving up that easily. As the afternoon games finished one by one, Palo Alto took three of them, resulting in a 5-4 position in Berkeley’s favor as the crucial final game drew to a close.

When the skips took to the mat, Berkeley was up by three points in the game, but down two in the head with two excellent bowls by PA’s lead (and a novice), Rose Selby, sitting within inches of the jack. But Rose soon learned the eternal fate of leads everywhere as John Luster, Berkeley’s skip, rolled a perfectly weighted bowl to exactly the right place even closer to the jack and leaving Bud Birkenseer, skip for Palo Alto, few options. Despite valiant efforts, Bud could not dislodge John’s bowl, and the much-coveted trophy reverted to Berkeley again with a 6-4 victory on the day.

Palo Alto took the loss with graciousness and bold cries of “See you next year!” when they will have the home advantage. All agreed that it was good to get back on the green and looked forward to a highly competitive season–in hopefully better weather–in the months ahead.

[Contextual note: The Meat Axe Tournament between Berkeley LBC and Palo Alto LBC began in 1958 as a bowling equivalent of the “Big Game” between Cal and Stanford. One of several traditions surrounding that match-up is that the victors get to carry off the “Stanford Axe” at the end of the game and hold it for the coming year. We bowlers have carried on that theme with our butcher’s cleaver mounted on a plaque highlighting each year’s winner. While we don’t (yet!) have our own Wikipedia page, the trophy is cherished with no less intensity than its footballing archetype.]

Berkeley Team Celebrate 2018 Meat Axe Victory
Palo Alto Team for the 2018 Meat Axe Tournament.

BLBC Pairs draw tournament

It started as a chilly foggy morning when a field of twelve bowlers took to the green  in today’s 2017 BLBC Pairs draw tournament. As the day progressed into a warm sunny afternoon, three twelve end games were completed. After tight competition, the scores were tallied and two teams moved on to the final match. Rob Hoey & Ann Brillhart played against Hugo Deaux & Dave McMullen. Hugo & Dave pulled ahead early in the game. Not to be held back Rob & Annie tied it up at the completion of eleven ends. Ending with a two point advantage Hugo & Dave won the final.
Congratulations to Hugo & Dave our 2017 Pairs Champs! Thanks to tournament director Shawn for hosting a great event and to everyone who came out to compete today.
Hugo Deaux and Dave McMullen

Berkeley Records First Victory over San Francisco in Annual Challenge

The Bay Bridge Challenge between Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club and San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club started in 2013. San Francisco won the tournament four years in a row. On Sunday, September 10, Berkeley put an end to the SFLBC dynasty!

All three BLBC teams won their matches in the morning:

Team Jim Corr, Giulia Gallo and Xian Zhi Luo defeated Mo Shooer, Aaron Rezendez, and John Grimes (21 to 12).

Team John Hooper, Cathy Dinnean (subbing at the last minute for Gordon Wilson) and Laile Giansetto bested Andy Vevers, Ginger Harris and Rod Arriaga (14 to 6).

Team John Luster, Frankie Napoli and Annie Brillhart came out on top against Larry Collaco, Oscar Collaco and Sebastian Sciacca (12 to 11).

A tip ‘o the hat to John Luster. With his team down three points on the last end, and both teams having two bowls each within 6 inches of the jack, John put in three perfect bowls, creating a situation of three and a measure. After some very careful measuring, SF agreed that Berkeley were holding four for the win. A wonderful finish to a hard-fought game.

Whatever the SF bowlers had for lunch, it worked, as they came storming back in the afternoon, with two substantial wins. Fortunately, for Berkeley the last result of the day was a victory for John Hooper’s team over the SF team skipped by Aaron Mendez.

With that afternoon win, Berkeley triumphed 4 games to 2 on the day.

Left to right. San Francisco LBC: Front: Larry, Sebastian, Oscar, Rod, Ginger. Back: John, Andy, Mo, Aaron.
Berkeley LBC: Front: Cathy, Jim, Giulia, John, Luo. Back: John L, Frankie, Annie, Laile.
Jim Corr and Rod Arriaga shake hands… the Bay Bridge Challenge will stay in Berkeley this year!!!

Tournament Updates

Berkeley bowlers competed at two regional competitions in August and one club tournament in early September not reported elsewhere on this site.

First, at the PIMD Mixed Pairs event on August 26 in Sunnyvale, Berkeley’s Giulia Gallo, partnered with Seattle’s Russ Leonard, took second place, missing the top spot by the narrowest of margins—a 9-10 loss to tournament winners Ian Harris (Palo Alto) and Zarka Popovic (Oakland).

Russ (l) and Giulia (r)

On the following day, Giulia kept up the momentum—this time at the prestigious San Francisco Centennial Cup Invitational, hosted by SFLBC. This mixed triples competition always draws a strong field and along with Jim Corr (Berkeley) and Frank Matskyela (Palo Alto), Giulia again contributed to second place outcome for her team. The Berkeley-Palo Alto combo won all three games, but were surpassed by an all-San Francisco team of Robb Pawlak, Tom Raher, and Christine Raher by a slim points differential of 5 (points scored v points conceded). Not a bad weekend for someone who’s still a novice bowler! Two other Berkeley bowlers—John Hooper and Cris Benton, together with Tess Ball (San Francisco)—were “in the money,” taking fourth place in the event.

Jim (l), Giulia (c) and Frank (r)

On Saturday, September 2, Berkeley held its own club Two Bowls Singles. An event that does not allow much margin for error and calls for precise drawing to the jack, this year’s tournament was held in unseasonably hot weather, adding to the challenge for all involved. Five players battled it out in a round robin format, with Shawn Roney taking the honors and getting to add his name (again) to the winners’ board in the clubhouse. Congratulations to Shawn!

Shawn

 

Open House Pronounced Success

What a great afternoon! Over 50 people dropped by the BLBC’s Open House and Neighborhood Bowl between noon and 4:00pm on Sunday, August 13, to learn about lawn bowling and give it a try. There was universal agreement that everyone had a great time, and several dozen visitors said they want to come back for more lessons.

Plenty of snacks loaded the main table in the club house, with the water barrel and paper cups on a table in the patio along with an ice chest full of bottled water. Pennants were strung on the club house roof and fence, and we moved the big “Welcome to Berkley Lawn Bowling Club” banner from the clubhouse to the front fence. Nobody walking by could miss it! We set up four rinks for adults and older children to practice on, with a separate area designated for children to play with carpet bowls. A half dozen coaches were on hand to explain the basics of the game, with a lot of allowance for stretching the normal rules as most people came in twos or threes and were not ready to form strict teams.

As always, an event of this nature could not be carried off without the enthusiastic participation of club members who designed the Open House fliers, saw to their distribution around the neighborhood and beyond, helped clean and reorganize the clubhouse from top to bottom and made the greens and surrounds look “spic and span,**” handled all aspects of hospitality and greeting of newcomers, and, not least, took on the job of coaching and conveying the fun inherent in our game. You know who you are—give yourselves a round of applause!

In the small world department, one visitor was recognized by at least three club members and five visiting bowlers. He’s a very capable, and delightful, plumber who operates under the title “Michael Your Plumber.” And all who know him will testify he deserves his 5-star rating on Yelp. His line:  “If this many people keep recognizing me, I’m going to run for mayor!”

**A special call out for Cris Benton, who created the unique new yellow rink numbers and white markers on his handy-dandy 3-D printer. It takes 3-4 hours to churn out each one.

McLaren Memorial Mixed Triples

The McLaren Mixed Triples is one of the “prestige” tournaments on the PIMD tour, being hosted each year by San Francisco LBC in honor of John McLaren, designer of Golden Gate Park who insisted the park include three lawn bowling greens, and the club’s first vice-president.

This year’s tournament saw a smaller contingent than usual sign up, but that did not mean it was any less competitive with 10 teams competing for the honors. As always, it was a tough tournament because each bowler plays each position (lead, second and skip) for four ends of three 12-end games. Only the top three teams win money.

BLBC club was well represented: of the 30 players on the green, ten were Full BLBC members and three were Dual members. 

Only three teams won all three of their games. Despite the cold and windy weather, Berkeley lawn bowlers did our club proud! Dual club member Frankie Napoli and his teammates (Arnie Barros and Angie Peet) took 1st Place, while the BLBC team of John Hooper, Cathy Dinnean and Bob Schwartz placed 2nd, and the BLBC team of Shawn Roney, Annie Brillhart and Cris Benton came in3rd.

Congratulations to all BLBC winners! 

(Author’s note: only one of the BLBC contingency apparently had the presence of mind to memorialize their performance with a team photo.)

2017 McLaren Mixed Triples: 2nd Place winners (l-r) Cathy Dinnean, John Hooper, and Bob Schwartz.

BLBC Represented at National Night Out

National Night Out (NNO) is an annual neighborhood get-together, celebrated in blocks and neighborhoods across the nation each August 1. Its aim is to strengthen communities, including through improved police-community relations.

This year, BLBC bowlers joined our neighbors and new partners the Friends of Strawberry Creek Park (FSCP) for food and fun in the Park which is situated just a couple of blocks from the club. FSCP is a citizen-organized activist group that has worked closely and consistently with City departments in recent years to improve facilities in the Park and in the neighborhood more generally.

The gathering was not just an occasion to advertise the Club but also to get to know our neighbors better and do unashamed lobbying for their support, which many were willing to provide. We successfully gathered another 30 or so signatures to add to the application recently lodged with Berkeley’s Landmarks Preservation Commission that the club be granted landmark status as its about to enter its tenth decade in West Berkeley. We also buttonholed the Deputy City Manager who was there to represent the City of Berkeley and explained to him the issues surrounding the long drawn-out process involved in the renewal of our lease on what we would consider fair and reasonable terms. He listened carefully and said he would familiarize himself with the matter in greater detail.

And a number of fliers were handed out for the upcoming (August 13, 12-4pm) Open House and Neighborhood Bowl.

Thanks go to Laile Giansetto, Ann Brillhart, Cris Benton for helping with set-up and staffing our table as well as the several other BLBC members who showed up to lend a hand.

BLBC Members (l-r) at National Night Out: Jim Corr, Erwin Vista, John Hooper (with the latest in “bowl” design), and Giulia Gallo.

The Meat Axe is (Temporarily) on Leave

Saturday, April 15 saw the 2017 Meat Axe Challenge Tournament held at the Palo Alto Club. The annual contest pits Berkeley against PALBC in a match-up that has almost the intensity and rivalry of the Cal-Stanford game, except that this is lawn bowling rather than football, so is a bit more decorous.

Long story short, although we fielded 6 strong Berkeley teams, all bedecked in the spiffy new Club colors, we were unable to hold on to the trophy that has hung on the Clubhouse wall these past two years. After two sets of six triples games (morning and afternoon), the overall result was 9-3 in favor of the spirited Palo Alto players.

Accordingly, we had to hand over the cleaver until next year when the venue returns to Berkeley, and, hopefully, the trophy returns to its rightful home.

With appreciation to all BLBC members who participated and to the Palo Alto Club, which, as always, organized a fine sporting event.

BLBC Team sports their new Club colors ahead of the 2017 Meat Axe Tournament in Palo Alto.