Ryan and I have battled each other in a fair few activities in recent weeks (with me losing, mostly), but last night we combined our powers and took the Bocce ball world by storm.
We headed to Floyd in Brooklyn Heights and added our names to a waiting list for its only court. I’d never played the game before and did not expect the rules to be as complicated as they were. It didn’t help that the wait for the game was pretty long – giving me enough time to down a few ciders.
But what I gathered is that the aim is to get as many of your team’s four balls as close as you can to a smaller, white ball called a pallino. You roll your balls down a sandy court and if they hit the back wall, they’re out, but if they roll nearest to the pallino, they count as a point.
It sounds pretty easy, but that’s not the half of it. Both teams roll a ball to start and if your team ends up further from the pallino, you continue with the rest of your balls. If at any point you get closer to the pallino than the other team, they bowl – and so on until all your balls are used. Still with me?
Then you measure the distances to see who’s closer and score accordingly – if your team has two balls closer, for example, you get two points. You play continuous matches (switching ends each time) until one team reaches seven points – and wins.
When it was eventually our go, we were up against Mike and Christian, who had won the evening’s matches until that point… and they seemed pretty cocky about it.
At first, they had reason to be. As well as having no idea of the rules, I was rolling most of my balls against the back wall – but thankfully Ryan was much more of a natural and we notched up a few points.
But we really came into our own in the final game. We were tied six-all when suddenly, somehow, I managed to roll a ball until it nestled against the pallino. Ryan rolled the last one – and did exactly the same.
There were whoops of joy from us… and grumbles of disbelief from Mike and Christian.
This was a fun, sociable beer hall game – once you get the rules. The main issue was the long wait for the court here at Floyd and how the game could just roll on forever.
But whatevs – we won!