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.
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).
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.
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!
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.
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.)
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.
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.
The Club held its 2016 Annual Meeting on Saturday, December 10, immediately followed by the very popular Holiday Lunch. Alas, a hoped for beak in the weather did not materialize and attendees had to forgo the usual post-prandial bowling match as the rain turned the green into a small lake.
On the business side, the meeting voted to reduce the fees charged several categories of “non-regular” members—namely, Dual, Associate, and Students over 18, and amended the Club’s constitution to loosen the definition of Associate Member. Certificates were awarded to 2016 tournament winners and cheers went up for Club members who had performed well at regional or other competitive events.
As has been the practice on recent years, lunch was a pot luck affair, with as broad and tasty a selection of dishes as one might expect in the Bay Area, from competing lasagna dishes to curry chicken to every kind of salad and, of course, one had to leave room for the plentiful desserts.
Despite the downpour, a good time was had by all, and we look forward to a vibrant and fun-filled New Year, hopefully with a renewed lease as we gear up for the Club’s Centennial celebrations in a few years’ time.
And a special thanks to the Hospitality Committee—Susan Jamart, Sarah Allday, Cathy Dinnean, and Ann Brillhart—who set up a beautiful festive arrangement in advance!
Jim Corr (skip) and Ray Francis (lead) took the honors in the BLBC’s 2016 Draw Pairs Tournament. The event was held on a lovely Saturday November 12, when “passing showers” in the forecast seem to have evaporated without touching the ground and the weather was pleasantly and unseasonably warm. Twelve strong bowlers were divided into six skips and six leads and then randomly matched to make up the separate teams. After three 12-end games, only two teams—Jim and Ray and John Hooper (skip) and Ann Brillhart (lead)—managed to win all three games, setting up a tough and spirited final. John and Ann started firmly, maintaining a lead until the half way point, but, as the shadows lengthened, Jim and Ray came back strongly to carry the day (or the evening as it was by then!). Congratulations to Jim and Ray and thanks to all participants, especially those who stayed on to watch and encourage the finalists!
The John Ogden Memorial Winter League is a fun but highly competitive tournament held each year during the bowling “off season.” John was a much-loved bowler, who, with his dad Woody Ogden (a US Bowls Hall of Famer), organized the tournament for many years. John passed away a couple of years ago and the tournament, originally the San Jose Winter League, was re-named in his honor.
This year, as before, the tournament attracted bowlers from all over the Bay Area, but Berkeley fielded easily the largest number from a single club, with almost a third—nine out of 28—of the entrants. And perhaps even more impressive, Berkeley teams ended up taking three of the four top spots.
The tournament, which was held at the Sunnyvale club, was organized as a 13-game round robin, there being 14 teams in total, and was played over three weekends in January. Unlike the last couple of years when the drought and mild temperatures made a bit of a mockery of the title, this year the event lived up to its billing as the Winter League. Rain jackets and extra layers were needed on the first couple of Saturdays, but the intermittent showers did not dampen the spirits of the participants or lessen their competitive urges.
At the end of two weeks, the top spot was held by Frankie Napoli (a joint Rossmoor and Berkeley member) and his partner Dave Peters (Rossmoor) with Berkeley pairs Shawn Roney/Rob Hoey and Jim Corr/Bob Schwartz in hot pursuit. However, on the final Saturday, Frankie and Dave’s hitherto stellar mojo left them (they had lost only one game up to that point) and they faded in the stretch. This allowed Shawn and Rob to edge into first place ahead of Jim and Bob by the narrowest of margins—one game point, gained when they held Ginger Harris and Janet Mednick (subbing for absent Mo Shooer) to a draw, while Jim and Bob lost to the same team.
In the final standings, Shawn and Rob placed first, Jim and Bob second, and Berkeley duo Erwin Vista and Ann Brillhart sneaked past Frankie and Dave with a come-from-behind run to snag fourth place. Third was taken by Mario Giorgianni and Ron Marier of San Jose LBC.
Congratulations to all the Berkeley bowlers, and thanks to all those who helped organize and maintain this event despite the fickle wintry season!