Bocce Ball, which originated in Ancient Rome, goes by the name of Bocce (Italy), Bochas; Bolas Criollas (South America) and Bocha (the sport in Brazil), Balinanje (Yugoslavia), and Boule Lyonnais (France).
Traditionally, it is played on natural soil or even asphalt courts approximately 20 to 27 meters in length and 2.5 to 4 meters wide. The Bocce ball can be made of metal, various types of plastic or even wood. The balls are spherical, of two colors having squares on one and circles on the other to tell them apart. The game is conducted between two players, or two teams of two to four each. The object is to get your Bocce ball as close to or to hit the “jack,” a small white ball that is thrown out into the playing area. The rules of playing are set for who throws the “jack,” who goes first to throw and the point system. From what I have read the only indication given regarding points was that the ball closest to the jack gets a point and the game can be concluded at the end of accumulating 7 to 13 points.
BUT, since we are on an island, and things are more relaxed here and generally games are meant for fun rather than heavy competition (except when football is concerned), the island version, I believe, allows for more challenging area playing.
I had never played the game and knew little about it but during a recent trip to Bonnie and Bob’s temporary home on Clark Cay to teach her how to crochet, I was offered the chance to participate in a game. Now, I love games. Card games, board games, Sudoku puzzles, dominoes, some participation sports; anything to pass the time and enjoy oneself.
At home my husband is not into games. He will play a hand of Rummy with me and if I knew Poker better I might get him interested in playing that now and then. For the most part, games, such as Scrabble for instance, go to slowly as far as he is concerned and, therefore, he has little interest in games. He likes limited outdoor activities so we do not share in this activity too often.
As he was not with me on this particular day, I wanted to learn the game. Now, I’m terrible at throwing a ball. Just have no control or little idea of how to control a ball and I do fairly lousy in horseshoes as that is another throwing game. But I was willing to give it a try and off we went.
We had two teams of two people each and went down to the beach. Now, unlike the “formal” game of Bocce with its measured court and often times boxed in by a wooden boarder, we had the whole beach to pick from! The idea is to throw the “jack,” or, as they referred to it on the beach “the puck,” into an area where you may stand a chance of getting your Bocce ball close to or hitting it but hard enough so that quite possibly your opponents have a more difficult time of it. In other words, the whole beach area is open and all obstacles are left where they stand! Trees, rocks, coral, depressions in the sand, beer bottles, pipes, all become part of the game and make interesting obstacles.
I was informed of the complicated playing order. The first person to throw the puck out is the last one to play and the person who hit’s the puck or gets closest and wins the round gets to throw the puck out. The first round is complete when both teams have thrown one ball. After about an hour or so we had thrown the Bocce ball all over the Cay and had a great time laughing and trying to figure out how to throw around a tree to hit the puck. Of course my score was very low, but at least I made some points.
About a month later my husband and I returned to visit Bonnie and Bob’s and the four of us had a game of Bocce Ball. Again, we were all over the Cay having a good time trying to throw the ball into the most difficult spot we could find while allowing ourselves a chance to hit the puck. I made more points this time, but was still the low man on the totem pole so to speak.
We returned to the house, had our lunch and then moved on the Mexican Train Dominoes which provided us with an hour or more of fun and laughter learning that game. I have since been to the States and purchased the game and am looking forward to having Bonnie and Bob over to play and maybe introducing other people on the island to the game.
Of course, now that I’m on this “game” kick, I also bought “Power Yachted” while in the states where I enjoyed playing with my friend JoAnn and her husband. We had lots of fun and I looked forward to bringing the game back to the island. I have even managed to entice several people to play on a Saturday at Manati after dinner.
All in all, games lead to fun, laughter and a camaraderie that cannot be duplicated. It is a shame that more “adult” games are not available for sale on the island to give some of the islanders a means of enjoying relaxation and fun in a stimulating and, yes, educational manner, instead of relying upon discos, drink and wandering around getting into trouble.