This great annual double tournament (hosted by La Boule New Yorkaise) started under threatening skies that eventually opened up after the lunch break, and transformed the alleys of Bryant Park into individual swimming pools! The cochonet didn’t float, but we came real close!

Many teams flocked to New York City for the occasion, from Maine, Boston, Philadelphia, Illinois, Oregon, Canada, North Carolina and even France as our friends from Leers came one more time to New York. Hat down to them as they played the whole weekend dressed alike in beautiful dark blue shirts and with some of their players even wearing a white tie!

The day started with a bang as our own Gilles Ray and Eric Bertin had to play against last year winner’s team of Alec Stone Sweet (LBNY) and Yacob Nour (Canada). Our players took the better of the game and won 13-4.

The rest of the day saw all the teams from New York Pétanque Club qualify without too many problems for the next day. The main problem each player had… was to remain dry!

Sunday morning brought back the sun and the top 16 teams out of the 32 that started.

During the 8th of final, some casualties occurred and we saw the early departure of the good team from Boston, formed of Peter Crowley and Philippe Riand who lost to Jeannot Ruperti and Jean-Pierre Hemery (12-13), although the reverse happened the day before! The last team from France was knocked out by Thierry Julliard and Robert Dunn and Gilles and Eric could not overcome Keita and Charles and lost 12-13. Ernesto Santos and partner Yngve Bilsted took also revenge from the day before on team Philippe Hemery and Richard “Ti” Mias as they won 13-12.

In the quarter final Team Xavier Thibaud and Jean-Pierre Subrenat played a strong game against Jeannot Ruperti and Jean-Pierre Hemery forcing them to retire earlier that they had planned. Alec and Yacob took Thierry and Robert out and the set up for the semi final was: Alec/Yacob against Keita and Charles on one side, and Ernesto/Yngve Vs JPS and Xavier on the other.

Most of the crowd went to see and support the local team of Keita/Charles as they played a great game against two experienced players such as Alec and Yacob, eventually winning by the score of 13-11 and taking one of the favorite team out of the tournament.

The other semi was a more methodical game, a slower game without any big theatrical play but a conservative one point at a time. Sometimes this is how pétanque is played! The two teams (Ernesto Santos and Yngve Bilsted vs. Jean-Pierre Subrenat and Xavier Thibaud) were evaluating themselves round after round and trying to outdo each other during each round. Eventually, Team JPS/Xavier took the best and won 13-8.

The final was set in the very nice “carré d’honneur” situated on the practice courts at 42nd and Avenue of the Americas, and, with a large size crowd watching, the game began.

Both teams showed their own individual, but very different, style of play. Team Keita/Charles, a bit more impulsive and quick to play than Team Xavier/JPS, was certainly all pumped up and ready to play. The crowd reacted to each player’s move making it even more exciting. As each tournament’s final is an important one, players were obviously more nervous than during their previous game on Saturday morning! Thus a couple of errors and miscalculations from both teams, but altogether, the level of play remained very enjoyable as the cheers went on until the end of the game, won by Team Xavier/JPS on the score of 13-5.

Other websites have reported very negative vibes about the final and also about previous games, therefore denying all the players involved their enjoyment of their performance after two good days of pétanque. We believe that Pétanque is like any other competition sport. Teams play better at certain times than others. Losing can sometimes bring bitterness and make you lose sight of the reality of the sport. Pétanque is not a fast pace sports, it is closer to chess than to go-cart racing. It is a game of observation among opponents, a game of skill and, most of the times, a mind game. But, then again, it’s a game about losing and winning, and, at the end of the day, there is only one winner and many losers. Writers who denigrate players and the way they played will not make their loss better, at the contrary. So, instead of judging the other players level of game, one should contemplate its own level of game and reflect…. Did I win that day?

The day ended at the restaurant Tout Va Bien (a sponsor of NYPC) for a nice dinner and award ceremony, where the top eight teams received prizes, as well as the consolante winners.

All our friends from France were there, and despite the fact that they did not have a great showing during these two days, they had the best time of all…which is the proof that results are just a state of mind and should not impair good spirit.

Our congratulations to all our players, with a special mention to Xavier Thibaud who is really on a winning streak this year because, after his great run at La Marseillaise (last 16 teams from more than 4,500), he came back to New York, won the North East regional Single and the Double the next day (associated to Gilles Ray), before the NY Open. Let’s not forget JPS who, last August, won the LBNY singles, got a silver medal for the Double Northeast Regional (with Eric Bertin) and the gold at the NY Open.

2009 was a good year for NYPC’s players, and I believe a prelude to 2010.

Article written collectively by Eric Bertin, Gilles Ray, Jean-Pierre Subrenat and Xavier Thibaud (Founders of New York Pétanque Club)