BLBC 2021 Pairs Tournament—Final Results

Finalists for the BLBC 2021 Pair Tournament: Bob Schwarz & Ian Cameron (2nd Place) & Champions Cris Benton & Dan Gorelick

The finals of the BLBC 2021 Pairs Tournament were held on Saturday, June 19 involving the eight teams who had qualified from the preliminary round robin stage, seeded according to their overall results in round robin play. At the finals, the format consisted of elimination play in quarter-finals, semis, and the final game itself.

In the quarters, the teams of Jim Corr/Sal Garcia-Lemus, Daniel Gorelick/Cris Benton, Frankie Napoli/Russell (“Rolly”) Coe, and Ian Cameron/Bob Schwartz overcame their corresponding opponents: Hugo Deaux/Sarah Allday, Phil Grattan/Peter Martin, Ethan Bortman/Stephen Ng, and John Hooper/Lennon Hamilton.

Gorelick/Benton dispatched Corr/Garcia-Lemus 17-9 in the semis and Cameron/Schwartz defeated Napoli/Coe by a similar result of 15-7 to set up a strong final.

The Gorelick/Benton duo showed their intent by overcoming the handicap differential of 2 points in their first end out the gate and essentially never looked back, building up a substantial early lead. There was fine bowling all round, meriting constant applause by the “peanut gallery” of observers, and bit by bit, Cameron and Schwartz fought their way back into the game, narrowing their opponents’ lead to four points by the 13th end of the 18-end match. But Gorelick/Benton held on and surged further in front in the closing stages for a comfortable 21-12 victory, thus going one better than their second-place performance last year and claiming the 2021 Pairs crown. Congratulations to Dan and Cris!

And thanks to all participants as well as all those who helped in one way or another throughout the tournament, with a special shout out to Annie Brillhart, who rolled the green twice on the morning of finals play among many other forms of support.

Those who are interested can view the complete set of results from round robin to finals here.

BLBC 2021 Vet-Novice Tournament

On Saturday, May 8th, 2021, BLBC held what may not have been its first-ever Vet-Novice Tournament, but was the first in this writer’s memory covering 10+ years of membership.

The event was initiated by Club President, Ethan Bortman, who felt it would be an excellent way to start the 2021 Tournament season and get the newbies more wholly integrated into the Club and the sport of bowls. So, all current Novices (novice = less than two years membership in a recognized bowling club) were invited to sign up and six were able to do so on one of the date options available. Jim Corr, as acting Tournament Director, then found six of the Club’s leading Skips to join the fun—that offer was oversubscribed—and the teams were selected by random draw.

The format provided for each team to play three 12-end games, quite a demand on some of the newer bowlers who had not played more than one draw game in a day. Fortunately, the weather cooperated nicely and made for a very pleasant day of bowling throughout.

After two rounds, the teams of Ian Cameron/Jim Audas and Hugo Deaux/Sal Garcia were in contention for first place, being the only ones to have won both of their earlier games. In a hard-fought contest, Ian & Jim prevailed 13-8 over Hugo & Sal to “bear the gree,” as Robert Burns would have put it. Check it out. Congratulations to both and especially to novice Jim who literally “led the way,” and thanks to all participants as well as those other veterans who showed up to provide friendly but neutral advice and guidance  to any Novice who might have been uncertain about a technical issue or some of the more obscure Laws of the Sport.

And to top it all, the day was kicked off with the ever-popular “Spider,” with Jim Audas winning that and its prize of a bottle of wine too. When you’re hot, you’re hot!

Bowling in the time of COVID: BLBC 2020 Singles and Pairs Tournaments

This has certainly been a year to remember—or forget. And it ain’t over yet. The country is still in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century, hurricanes and windstorms have pounded the Gulf coast and Iowa, and wildfires have laid deadly waste to vast swathes of the west, cloaking the skies with lung-threatening ash. And that’s just the natural disasters. Socially, our psyches have been shaken by the ongoing lockdowns and restrictions as well as the racial injustice exemplified in the shootings of Black Americans at the hands of the police. Some of the countervailing protests have also ended in violence. Not to mention the election, now finally underway, after more twists and turns than a Stephen King novel, but equally scary with the possibility of even further polarization of the nation as ballots are counted and recounted (if the Postal Service is even allowed to deliver them) and scenarios of armed “militias” disputing results they oppose.

Against that setting, organizing a lawn bowling tournament is either an act of trivialization or an attempt to find some minimal normalcy in a world gone astray. I’d prefer to think it was the latter.

A bit of background: with the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club (BLBC) closed its green ahead of the official lockdown. Some weeks later, as a few outdoor activities were beginning to be allowed, we applied to the City’s Health Department for a limited re-opening, which they granted under the strict conditions laid out in Protocols developed by the Club’s Board (see box for examples of the restrictions).

The result was remarkably like lawn bowls. It  was a definite boost to the psyche to be back in the open—prior to the choking air mentioned above. In fact, it was so like lawn bowls that before too long the cry went up: “Let’s have a tournament!” In the absence of our regular Tournament Director, Andy Vevers, who had withdrawn for personal and work-related reasons, yours truly offered to organize the 2020 Singles Tournament on a strictly one-off basis, having no desire to take on the job permanently. Spoiler alert—his rubber arm was soon twisted to set up a Pairs Tournament later.

Seventeen bowlers signed up for the event, which was organized into an initial round robin consisting of three groups of  four players and one group with five. The winners of each group proceeded to an elimination round of semifinals and final, with a playoff for 3rd and 4th place. In the round robin phase, games were to 18 points or to 1 hour 50 minutes, so as to remain within the COVID protocol of a maximum of two hours on the green. And games were scheduled, over a roughly two-week period, in an ad hoc manner by the opponents themselves through the “master scheduler” rather than being stipulated by the TD. On the finals day, with the green being reserved for the tournament only, we were able to play to the traditional 21 points for singles. The end result? Gareth Cole, Frankie Napoli, Rob Hoey, and Hugo Deaux won their respective round robin sections. The semifinals matched Gareth against Hugo and Rob against Frankie, with Gareth and Frankie winning through to the final. In a spirited match of some really high-quality bowling, Frankie prevailed to become the BLBC 2020 Singles Champion. Overheard from Gareth at one point in the game: “It’s not that I’m playing badly—it’s that he’s playing better.” The playoff game saw Hugo defeat Rob to take 3rd place.

As hinted above, the event went so smoothly and was enjoyed by all participants, that the finals were not over before the idea of a Pairs Tournament was being spoken of.

With the experience of the Singles event behind us, the Pairs involved a broadly similar format. Twenty bowlers participated, allowing 10 teams, divided into two groups of five for the round robin phase. The top two teams in each section would proceed to the finals. The major difference was that since Skips and Leads were to be matched randomly—bowlers signed up individually, not as a pre-set team—an ad hoc six-person Handicap Committee was established to assign players to the Skip or Lead position and to set a handicap number that would, in principle, help level the playing field. The resulting handicap numbers were based on the average of the handicaps assigned by the six members of the committee.

For a change, fortune smiled on us and the air cleared, allowing the round robin phase to proceed with time to spare. Since matches were arranged ad hoc and not on a pre-established timetable, scheduling the times when four bowlers could get together proved trickier than the two-bowler set up for singles, but was managed with an extension of the originally planned date for the finals. The teams of Rob Hoey/Arthur Stuart and Daniel Gorelick/Cris Benton placed first and second in Group 1, with Hugo Deaux/Leslie Engler and Jim Corr/Ian Cameron likewise in Group 2, setting the stage for a very competitive final round.

The semifinals and finals were played to 18 ends with no time limit. After a runaway start by Hugo & Leslie in their match against Jim & Ian, the game tightened sharply. However, on the 16th end, ahead 19-17, but with Jim holding shot, Hugo came through with a wicking bowl that took out the shot bowl and rolled in for 4, putting the game not quite out of reach technically, but enough to ensure a final score of 23-20. The other semi was equally hard fought and was a one-point game with two ends left. Daniel & Cris took both the remaining ends for a 20-15 victory.

In the final, Hugo & Leslie were pretty dominant running up a win of 19-12 over Daniel and Cris. Jim & Ian won the 3rd/4th place playoff against Rob & Arthur, with Jim’s final bowl enough to ensure an 18-16 victory.

So, despite the social and environmental challenges of an unprecedented year, we pulled off the two events and 2020 will generate at least some positive memories for BLBC members. Congratulations to our 2020 Champions: Frankie Napoli in Singles and Hugo Deaux and Leslie Engler in Pairs. This is Hugo’s fourth Club pairs win in four years, with three different partners, quite a feat.

BLBC Brings Trophy Back “Over the Hill”

2019 “Over the Hill” Challenge Players at Rossmoor LBC

The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club sent seven triples teams to Rossmoor Bowling Club in Walnut Creek for the “Over the Hill” Challenge. The BLBC competed against them and indulged in a little bit of the friendly rivalry typical of the match since the Challenge began in 1969.

After a hiatus of twenty years or so, the clubs resurrected the event in 2016. Scheduling conflicts in 2019 prevented that year’s challenge from happening, so the clubs agreed to hold the 2019 version of the challenge on February 15, 2020 (the 2020 games will take place this August at Berkeley).

Berkeley went into lunchtime with a healthy advantage of 6 wins and only one loss. After the break, Rossmoor returned resurgent, as the afternoon games revealed. Some of the games went down to the wire, but Berkeley prevailed to win 5 of the afternoon games. The final total for the match: 11 wins for BLBC and 3 wins for Rossmoor LBC. Credit to Rossmoor for wonderful hosting and very sporting play. We’ll see them again in August!  Well done to everyone that bowled yesterday, especially to some members representing the club for the first time.

Berkeley Takes the Trophy

Green Closed for Maintenance. See you Feb. 14!

A note from our Greens-keeper: The BLBC greens are closed for maintenance. As the picture shows, when we mean maintenance, we mean it! We expect the work to be completed by February 14. Thanks to our Greens-keeper and the volunteer labor of our members, we will have the green in good shape for bowling when the weather turns nicer. See you then!

That’s a Wrap for Winter League 2020

The co-winning teams for the 2020 Winter League. L-R: Gareth Cole, Andy Vevers, Rose Selby, & Mike McNorton

The annual PIMD Winter League finished up its last week on Saturday January 25th and Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club members did exceptionally well. The competition is a Pairs tournament and teams from most of the Bay Areas bowling clubs participated in the three week competition.  

Each team played a total of nine games over the course of three consecutive Saturdays. After the first two weeks of competition, only a point separated the the top three teams. Berkeley’s defending champions from last year — Andy Vevers and Gareth Cole — held a slim lead of one point over Palo Alto’s team of Rose Selby and Mike McNorton. Berkeley’s other team of Shawn Roney and Jerry Knott and Jim Corr tied with for second. Berkeley’s Rob Hoey and his partner Tim Christie from Palo Alto stood within striking distance at fourth place. 

As it should in any closely contested and well played tournament, it all came down to the final day of play. The final day of play confirmed the 2020 contest to be closely contested with very good play on offer from all the team. Jerry and Jim and Andy and Gareth played each other in the first game. Jerry and Jim came to play, and they took the win despite the efforts of Andy and Gareth to rally. Jerry and Jim’s win put them in the driver’s seat for the First place tournament finish.

Alas, it was not to be. They lost their next game against a team from San Francisco that put a dent in their title aspirations. Meanwhile, the Palo Alto team of Rose and Mike quietly and convincingly won all their games and gained advantage of the Berkeley pairs first game slip up to take the top position. Andy & Gareth did all they could by winning their other two games of the day, but it all came down to the last couple of bowls of the tournament. Fortunately for the Berkeley lads, Rose and Mike could not take the maximum points on their final game, which left the field with a tie for 1st place. In view of the high levels of skill and grit on display, many may consider this a fair outcome.

Third Place Winners: Jerry Knott & Jim Corr

The final results were as follows:

Tie 1st –   Andy Vevers & Gareth Cole (Berkeley)

Tie 1st –   Rose Selby & Mike McNorton (Palo Alto)

3rd –        Shawn Roney/Jerry Knott & Jim Corr (Berkeley)

4th –        Tim Christie (Palo Alto) & Robin Hoey (Berkeley)

Fourth Place Finishers: Tim Christie & Rob Hoey

As the reader can see, a really good result for the Berkeley teams that further cements our reputation as one of the most competitive clubs in the greater Bay Area.  Many thanks to the San Jose Lawn Bowling Club for hosting a well run and genuinely fun event.

No Lessons on Nov. 23 & 24

The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club is pleased to host the PIMP “Champion of Champions” event on Saturday and Sunday. Club champions from around the PIMD for two days. This means there will be no free lessons on those days, but there should be plenty of amazing bowling on view!

2019 Closing Day & Novice Recognition Day

On Saturday, November 2nd, the Rossmoor Lawn Bowling Club hosted the 2019 PIMD Closing Day and Novice Recognition Day.

It was chilly in the morning but quickly warmed up to a comfortable 75°. Ninty-nine bowlers from around the Bay Area and beyond were on hand to visit with old friends and meet new bowlers. Zarka Popovic, our PIMD president, provided a slide show featuring photos from the National Championships played at San Francisco Lawn Bowling Club in September. Thanks to donations (raffles, etc.) from so many PIMD members toward hosting the National Championships, there was money to spare. All PIMD clubs that provided meals–that included BLBC, were reimbursed. In addition, the remainder of the overage was returned to the PIMD coffers.

Zarka also recognized all the PIMD novices and presented a trophy to this year’s Novice Champion: Michael McLintock. There were three novices from our club: Susan Carlson, Mary Collins and John Watson. (We’re looking for one of them to win the trophy next year.)

Berkeley Lawn bowling Club was well represented by 12 full members (Sarah Allday, Cris Benton, Annie Brillhart, Susan Carlson, Hugo Deaux, Cathy Dinnean, Phil Grattan, Susan Jamart, Cindy Moss, Glenn Nunez, and John Watson) and four dual members (Mary Collins, Sebastian Sciacca and Lydia and Luis Zapata). Happily, five BLBC members were on teams that won money: Sarah Allday, Cindy Moss, Sebastian Sciacca, and Lydia and Luis Zapata. Well done!

BLBC 2019 Singles Match: Vevers Takes the Prize

We had a wonderful day of bowling yesterday at the club. Beautiful blue skies graced the whole day, the green was it’s usual impeccable self and the level of competition was a credit to the Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club. Many thanks to those that helped make the day run smoothly – Annie for rolling the green and then marking all day, Susan Jamart for providing help and snacks. Bob, Rolly and Cathy also for spending the whole day marking the games. Without them the day would not have been the same. 

2019 BLBC Singles champ Andy Vevers & Runner-up (& 2018 Singles Champ) Gareth Cole

Ten participants played three random draw games to decide the top four players that would advance to the knock out round. After the first three games there were two undefeated players: Robin Hoey and Gareth Cole (the defending champion) and three players who were 2-1. Cris Benton and Andy Vevers squeaked by into the play offs on plus points, with Frankie Napoli unluckily missing out by one solitary point!

The Semi Finals were Gareth versus Cris and Rob versus Andy. Gareth squeaked out a win in a very close contested game against Cris and Andy managed to overcome after being down early against Rob.  So the final was our Tournament Director, Andy, against the defending champion, Gareth. In what was an entertaining game to watch, Andy luckily managed to squeeze out the win and became the 2019 Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club’s Singles Champion!

Thanks again to everyone that helped make the day a great success.