By Staff Writers Amy Chen, Hannah Chou, Heather Gan & Andrew Kan
With finals just around the corner, the Diehard Tryhards decided to wind down and play a friendly game of Bocce Ball. In an intense match involving precision, geometry, and miraculous comebacks, two teams fought to determine who would become the Smoke Signal Bocce Ball champions.
Bocce, an Italian sport, is played with two teams of one, two, or four people on a rectangular court. Each team receives four colored balls to throw. The team that starts off the game throws or rolls a small target ball into the court. They then throw in one of their own colored balls to try and land as close as possible to the target ball. The opposing team then has a chance to do the same. After the first round, whichever team does not have the closest ball to the target gets an opportunity to throw another ball. Once all eight balls are thrown, the team with the closest ball wins the match. The game is played until one team reaches 12 points.
When I first heard of Bocce Ball, I expected a sport that required an extensive amount of physical strength and endurance, and having past experience as a volleyball player, I believed that I would grasp the new sport quickly and breeze through the game. However, it wasn’t until I asked my fellow competitors about what exactly Bocce Ball was when I found out that the sport was the complete opposite of my expectations. Instead, control, which I unfortunately don’t possess, is the key to being successful. Although my incapability of aiming has been confirmed countless of times, there’s always a chance that I’m naturally talented at Bocce Ball and will leave my opponents in the dust.
I originally thought the years of strength and endurance training from swimming would play to my advantage, but unfortunately that is not the case. I was not familiar with Bocce Ball, but after doing some quick research, it is clear that this game is all about control. I am notorious for being clumsy, and during my short-lived tennis and water polo endeavors, I have injured myself numerous times, including hitting myself with a racquet. Although taking home the win would be ideal, my only goals are to do my best and to take myself home in one piece.
Bocce Ball is undoubtedly my favorite sport. Yes, I’ve only played an unofficial version of it once in my eighth grade physical education class, but I’ve found that it is one of the few sports that doesn’t require agility or a quick reaction time, which is all I look for in a sport, really. A skill it does demand, however, is the ability to aim. Through my experiences in basketball and golf, I’ve learned that this definitely isn’t one of my strong points. Somehow I managed to be pretty skilled at the game the first and last time I played it. Here’s to hoping that my second attempt will be as successful as the first.
If there is a sport I am doomed to fail at, it is Bocce Ball. Whenever I play sports, I try to outscore my opponents based on power alone, and hope that is enough to accommodate for my lack of finesse. Unfortunately for me, Bocce Ball is a game about precision, and even penalizes one for using excessive force. Luckily unlike my fellow players, I do have experience playing Bocce Ball. That may have been from elementary school, but experience is still experience. As long as I control the urge to send the ball speeding down the court, I feel confident I can score at least a handful of points.
If there was a Ball Control for Dummies book, I would definitely buy it. Sure, I already knew that I lacked aim and precision, but I did not see myself rolling my first ball and sending it smashing against the back wall. Although I did manage to get the hang of it, I quickly realized that I was no Bocce Ball prodigy and must hone my skills before the game ended in defeat. However, I believe Heather and I made a great team, and although we ended up just short of victory, we really did give our opponents a run for their money. After all, I am proud to say that we came back from a nine-point deficit.
Every team has a carry. As soon as the game started, I realized that this time it definitely wasn’t going to be me. Fortunately, thanks to Andrew, we managed to achieve a nine-point lead, but by a series of ridiculous and unfortunate events, Hannah and Heather ended up tied with us at a score of ten to ten. I couldn’t have been more stressed, but the sweet taste of a well deserved victory was worth it in the end.
My teammate, Hannah, and I had a rocky start, but we quickly learned and began devising unique strategies to win. After seeing Hannah roll her first ball which hit the back wall, I decided to throw the ball granny-style because I felt it gave me more control of the ball. Although Hannah and I fell short of victory by two points, we made a comeback from a nine-point deficit by using geometry to calculate the angle we rolled the balls with. I am proud that we improved so much over the course of one match.
The game was as exciting as I remembered, and my heart was racing every second of it. It started off rough, with Amy and I both rolling our first two balls into the back wall, but it quickly turned around from there. While my aim and power still weren’t perfect, I could tell that I was was definitely improving as the game went on. After some coolly calculated plays, I was able to help my team obtain a massive lead.
Even though my team did not win, playing Bocce Ball was an enjoyable experience. What started off as a game that I wasn’t particularly interested in became an activity that I would definitely recommend to anyone. My lack of Bocce Ball skills did not stop me from having fun with everyone else, and when our session ended, I couldn’t help but wish we could play another match. The next time I get a chance to play Bocce Ball, I will definitely claim victory and have a great time!
I did not have high expectations for Bocce Ball, but after playing, I can say I had an amazing time. The game was unpredictable -— one team would be about to win, but the other team would make a clutch play and take the lead. Even though this was the first time Hannah and I played Bocce Ball, it was easy to learn and we had fun competing against Andrew and Amy, who are more experienced players. I definitely recommend trying Bocce Ball to everyone, and I look forward to playing it again in the future.
Despite playing over a dozen rounds, each round remained as fresh and exciting as the first. The game’s low skill floor, emphasis on finesse, and unpredictability all contributed to that and its appeal as a casual but still competitive sport. Even though most of us were beginners, we were all able to make some impressive rolls, and the skill gap didn’t have an impact on my experience. I hope that others who try out this game will have as much of an exhilarating time as I had. However, as evident from Heather declining my good game handshake, I fear that playing too much Bocce Ball may break a friendship or two.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first official game of Bocce Ball, even though I started off not quite sure of what I was doing. The game was much more competitive than I expected, and the level of strategic plays my fellow players employed never ceased to stun me. My favorite aspect of the game, however, was everyone’s expressions of pure shock and incredulousness every time someone scored a seemingly impossible point. I’ll definitely continue playing Bocce Ball for fun, just to witness that look over and over again.
Photos by Graphics Editor Victor Zhou