The Joy of Bocce Weekly
In This Issue: Vol. VIII, Issue 19 - June 29, 2009 
•   Notes from the publisher
•   Bocce product of the week
•   Bocce news & readers' feedback
•   Non bocce product of the week
•   Photos of the week
•   Tournament update
Notes from the publisher
The weekly Ezine for bocce aficionados everywhere
Volume 8, Issue #19 - June 29, 2009
Publisher: Mario Pagnoni Copyright 2009
76 Emsley Terrace, Methuen, MA 01844 (vm 800-211-1202 ext 4949)

Hello again bocce lovers wherever you are.

I wasn't sure I'd get an issue out this week as I was in California for the nationals. I got some work done during some down time at the bocce venue and again on the five-hour plane ride home. Jeff O'Heir saved me a lot of time by sending some of his excellent photos. I'll add a few of my own next week. I may have been a little long winded in this issue about the nationals, but I had a blast and learned a lot and wanted to share as much as I could.

Stay close and always be up front,
Mario Pagnoni (The Bocce Guy)

Dante Club - West Springfield, Massachusetts...

Bocce news & readers' feedback
Livermore Lagging Laments

Just got back from the very well run national punta raffa volo competition at Campo di Bocce of Livermore, California (4 outdoor, 4 indoor courts – visit ). Hats off to the USBF President Danny Passaglia, the board members, volunteer referees, and Campo di Bocce’s Ben Musolf for organizing and hosting a first-class event.

There were Open Rules A & B Tourneys, Men’s & Women’s National PRV tourneys, and the Under 21 National PRV Tourney. For complete results view . One eye-opener was in the Open A Tourney where Bella Bocce (composed of four outstanding female players) bested Florida One (composed of 4 equally outstanding male players). Besides this week's photos of the PRV, there are a host of good ones from the other events at this year's nationals posted here: .

My friends Larry Casha (MA), Jose Bello (MA), and Ralph Bagarella (NH) traveled with me and all entered the PRV singles competition. Larry and Jose are relative newcomers to bocce while Ralph and I have been around the block a few times. But we are all beginners when it comes to the international PRV style of play. One week before the event we marked off our good friend Tom Grella’s court for international play (his is the biggest court around these parts at 80’ by 14’ (you need long courts to practice PRV which is normally played on about 90 foot courts). View pictures of the Grella Bocce Compound here: . I had some minimal experience with the international rules so I was elected head coach for what would be a crash course in PRV (one week should have been plenty of time to prepare these finely tuned athletes).

Strictly speaking, it's not a true national competition as we didn't have to qualify in our region to gain entrance to the event. But my friend Larry Casha, an avid cyclist, tells me that cycling started the same way some years ago.

At the Grella Compound we took red tape and marked off the various lines on the side boards – one for pointing and hitting, one for volo, and one for lofting the ball on raffa shots. These are the B, C, and D lines at each end. The B line is 4 meters from the backboard, C is another 3 meters up, and D is another 2 meters forward. (You can visualize a meter as a couple inches more than a yard.)

These lines are different from our open rules where we only need one foul line at each end and a mid court line. So, we use the B line when we roll for point or attempt to raffa (striking a bocce ball by rolling with velocity). We use the C line when attempting a volo, which is striking the target on the fly or on a short hop. Players often employ a longer run-up for this shot, hence the three extra meters. Finally, the D line designates the minimum distance a raffa must travel before it strikes the ground. In other words you have to lob the raffa (from the B line) over the D line and let it run to the target. This posed a couple problems for us. There is some bounce to these courts which is a poured, self leveling polyurethane resin. It’s the same stuff that’s at the Palazzo di Bocce, Pinstripes, and St. Louis (next year’s site for the nationals). Some of our raffa attempts were accurate, but bounced right over the target. This bouncing is compounded by the fact that many of us easterners shoot pretty hard. Sometimes one of our shots looked almost like a very short basketball player was dribbling it down court.

Another concern for us New Englanders is that many of us are candlepin bowlers. In candles you may not lob. If you do, the pins you strike don’t count. So, this style of hitting (international raffa) is almost the opposite of what we’re used to. We go from being prohibited from lobbing to being required to lob. Anyway, my friend Larry, an M.D. and experienced cyclist and fitness guru, cautioned us to “Play like a champion – no excuses!” Larry lost all his matches, but he made no excuses.

In our Men’s Singles Competition, players were put into pools of 6 or 7. You played head-to-head against each of the other players in your pool on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and the top two teams from each pool advanced to a single elimination round on Sunday. (We made arrangements ahead of time to fly back home on Sunday morning since we were pretty sure we had no chance of advancing to the elimination round).

Here’s a recap of how we fared, dealing with the challenge of pointing on the fastest surface we’ve ever encountered…

In my first match I played pretty well against a very strong opponent, Tony Ceresoli of Tampa, Florida (Tony would win every match in our pool). It was 7:00 AM, an ungodly time to schedule a competition in any sport. Ceresoli is a protégé of the inestimable Dr. Cordano. Hey, if I were Cordano’s protégé I’d be pretty good too. The courts rolled pretty fast, but not so much faster than the hard packed Har-Tru courts we often play on back east. In one frame I scored 3 points. In another I narrowly missed a volo on the pallino which, if successful, could have resulted in another 3-point frame. But soon enough the cream rose to the top as Ceresoli outplayed me the rest of the way, trashing me 12 - 6.

I felt good that I had given a good player a run for his money (sort of), but the rest of the tourney was all downhill for me. As the sun got higher in the sky and the temperature rose, the outdoor courts seemed to play faster and faster. Pretty soon I couldn’t land a ball in the same zip code as the pallino.

After each match I’d ask around for tips on rolling for point on this surface. Simply put, I needed pointers on pointing. One helpful player said that I had a nice release off the fingertips, but I had too much arm swing which applied too much energy to the ball.

Next game I tried less arm swing and made a couple decent rolls, but no significant improvement.

Another local thought that my fingertip roll was a problem because that style imparts too much spin and the ball tends to keep rolling on what seems like a friction-less surface. So, next game I held the ball loosely and kind of dropped it out front of my body with no spin at all. I was Tim Wakefield for crying out loud! The results were not much better. I spent the rest of the matches going mindlessly back and forth between one release and another – rolling off the fingers like a Michael Jordan jump shot – then letting it go like a has-been knuckleballer.

Once before we had experienced this phenomenon of a court playing faster as the temperature rose. Our friend John Rauseo has a beautiful backyard court in Middleton, Massachusetts. It’s surfaced with a high end roll of outdoor Astroturf. It plays fast in the early morning, then ramps up to hyperspeed by 11:00 AM or so. These courts at the Campo di Bocce played even faster.

As I look back on it, it was a mistake to try and change delivery style during an event. I should have concentrated on adjusting. That’s what GOOD athletes do. I had no chance of developing any touch or feel by alternating delivery styles.

I did get some good tips from many players and it was interesting to hear so many different ideas, some contradictory, from high level players. I think it comes down to the fact that there is only one rule in pointing – get your ball close to the target.

Richard Heisler, a loyal Joy of Bocce Weekly reader who often sends excellent photos, taught us how to shoot the pallino on these courts. You are allowed to shoot the pallino no matter where it is on the court, even if it is in the volo zone. The problem is that when you loft the ball over the D line, it tends to bounce over the pallino. Zio Riccardo taught us to loft the ball gently, just over the D line. This gives it a little time to settle down and go into a roll before it gets to the target. We tried this a couple times, and it worked! That’s just good coaching!

Some random points...

You have to ask and be granted permission by the referee before moving down court to view the positions of previously played balls.

When granted permission, don’t bring a ball down with you or it will be burned (removed from play for the frame). Our best player, Ralph Bagarella, learned this first-hand.

You don’t have to keep the balls in the rack, but they may not be in your hand(s) until it’s your turn to play.

On the south side of Chicago they like to “toots up” a ball – give it a little tap to bring it into scoring position. But, moving a ball more than 70 cm (about two feet) creates a “rule of advantage” situation where your opponent can burn your ball and move the other ball(s) back to where they were before you “toots-ed” them. It doesn’t take much of a toots to move a ball 70 cm on these courts.

I pointed so poorly that, after a while I was looking for opportunities to hit. If my opponent had a ball a couple feet away, there wasn’t much chance I was going to outlag him, so I tried to raffa or volo instead. This was bad strategy. Instead, just keep on keeping on (adjusting) until you can get the ball in the target's neighborhood.

We knew that home court advantage is big in bocce, probably bigger than in just about any sport. The home boys know every nook and cranny of their home turf.

The advantage for players who regularly play at Campo di Bocce is huge. As poorly as I pointed, I still think if I played another half-dozen times there I’d start to get the hang of it.

You are allowed to designate one player as your coach and he can advise you on all things PRV. After a couple losses I cajoled Dr. Cordano into coaching me. This was a big lift for me and a magnanimous effort on his part as his coaching win/loss percentage was sure to plummet. He gave me sage advice on where to stand, which shot to employ, etc. I scored two points on a couple decent rolls and hit a volo right on the button to go ahead 6 – 2. That volo “changed colors” as the veteran players say. It hit the red ball right on the nose and took its place, i.e. the balls changed places and red became green.

Just about the only players using the house red and green balls were me and Jose. Everybody else brought their own or purchased new ones on site. Michael Grasser of Http:// was selling his beautiful, high end Super Martel bocce balls, and from the looks of it, sales were brisk.

I opted to stay with the house balls because I was doing OK with the volo and I thought the brand new balls might be a tad slippery on release.

Back to my match - leading 6 – 2 with a world class coach in my corner. I tossed the pallino short, opting to keep it in the volo zone where I was having some success. I tossed a “knuckleball” and was 6 feet short. Another was 5 feet short. Trying to adjust, I rolled the next two 4 feet past and then 3 feet past. Just like that the score was 6 – 6 and I was on my way to another loss.

On the second day of the competition I won a match (kind of). One of the players in my pool had a family emergency and had to return home (not a great way to win and my good wishes go out to him and his family in the hopes that everything is OK).

But for our Massachusetts group Ralph Bagarella was the story. He was the only one of us who adjusted to the surface relatively quickly. He was just learning to volo and his usually strong raffa shooting was off, so he just pointed and pointed well. Losing 11 – 6 against a strong player (Bob Faraone who took first place in their pool), Ralph had the last ball in the frame. Faraone’s ball was about 5 inches from the pallino and I coached Ralph to raffa the point. He wisely opted to ignore my coaching and lagged his ball about 2 inches from the target, staving off defeat. Continuing to point well, Ralph upset Faraone 12 - 11, handing him his only loss in pool play. Faraone was a first class sportsman, as gracious in defeat as anyone I have ever encountered.

Some final thoughts…

One of the most gratifying parts of the trip for me was the number of Joy of Bocce subscribers who came up to greet me. Most thanked me for my efforts in getting a regular ezine out. So many went out of their way to come and shake my hand and offer a compliment. David Brewer ( ) battled the traffic to make the trip to say hello. Regular contributors David Camardo and Richard Heisler welcomed me. Many alluded to an article that I wrote or a photo display that appeared at one time or another. Some brought Joy of Bocce books for me to autograph.

One reader good naturedly chastised me for missing an occasional deadline. His wife offered “If the ezine isn’t in his in-box on Monday morning, he’s not a happy camper and he’s probably not going to have a good week.”

Many were surprised when, upon hearing their name, I was able to recite their email address (just a useless skill I have acquired somehow).

Many gave me excellent coaching tips including Ben Musolf, David Canclini, Vern Cooper, and Mario Veltri who is as animated a bocce player as I have ever seen. Canclini refereed a lot of the matches. He has the perfect attitude and demeanor for officiating. I mean the guy just looks the part. He has what we in officiating circles refer to as “field presence.” Dave’s got it!

The competition was as friendly as I have seen in a long time. Vern Cooper was such a pleasant, good natured opponent that I almost enjoyed the beating he gave me in our head-to-head match.

I handed out about a zillion Joy of Bocce pins and they were a big hit.

Our group finished with 2 wins and 20 losses. Wait till next year!

Bocce balls and boules of old...

Photos of the week
This week’s photos come courtesy of New York's Jeff O'Heir who attended the Nationals at Campo di Bocce. His camera was a lot better than mine and he's a lot better photographer than I am. So, he was kind enough to send along some pics. Enjoy!

The good looking fellow in the photo right is New York's John Samaritano sporting his gold medal for winning the Men's Raffa Shoot Out (like an NBA three-point shoot out, but heaving bocce balls at various targets and scoring points based on the number of hits).

More great photos of all the action at the 2009 Nationals at Campo di Bocce here: .

View this week's photos

Bocce product of the week
Bocce Court Maintenance Tools

I’ve seen all kinds of home-made court maintenance brushes and scrapers. Two things have always struck me about them. 1 – they look like they are home-made and 2 – they tend to be HEAVY.

7' Drag Brush

Manufactured by Lee Tennis (makers of the Har-Tru surface material), this court maintenance tool created for tennis courts works exceptionally well for bocce courts. The 7-foot drag brush is light-weight and, even if you have a 13- or 14-foot wide court, you can smooth it over with just two passes. This is quick enough to do between games without keeping players waiting very long.

Bristles are 4 ½ inches of synthetic fibers and the strong but light-weight frame is aluminum. Retails for $169.95 plus shipping.


This strangely named 30” wide device is actually two implements in one. It is an all-aluminum combination tool for scarifying, leveling, and removing loose court material.

Strong and sturdy, the tool is light enough to handle with ease and is excellent for spreading new material during top-dressing. The concave shape of the 30” wide blade allows the tool to “float” along the surface without digging in. Use the serrated edge to scrape material from high spots, then flip the tool over to rake and smooth that spot and drag the loose material to fill in a lower point. Retails for $63.95 plus shipping.

Besides a heavy roller, the lute/scarifier and 7-foot drag brush should be all the maintenance tools a bocce court owner needs.

Click to go to merchandise order...then scroll to bottom of page.

Non bocce product of the week - Outdoor Furnishings Specialty Shop

Shop Today!


Tournament update
{chronological order}


Don't let the West Coast players hog all the space!


Please - anyone running a tournament - do me a favor - put a notice near your tourney bracket board informing players that they can go to and "opt in" for my FREE Ezine on bocce. Click the logo to the right to opt in if you do not already receive this ezine every Monday.


Please consider designating someone as "official event photographer" and directing that person to send snapshots for us to reproduce as photos of the week. Our readers love seeing bocce action from around the continent.


July 4, 2009 - California - Martinez. OPEN - 2 players. Contact Jeremy Calhoun @ 510-450-2545.


July 10, 2009. Pennsylvania - Koppel. 4-player teams. Contact 724-847-4488.


July 10, 2009 - Pennsylvania - Farrell. Farrell Italian Home. 4-player teams. Contact 724-346-6931.


July 11, 2009 - California - San Rafael - Marin. OPEN - 2 men players. Contact Diana Pelligrini @ 415-485-5583.


July 11, 2009 - Washington - Auburn Bocce Club. OPEN - 4 players. Contact Salvatore Gascon @ 253-939-3502.


July 17, 2009 - Ohio - Cleveland. Little Italy Bocce Cup. 4-player teams. Contact Michael Cipullo @ 216) 513-4459.


July 18, 2009 - California - Fairfield. OPEN - 4 players. John Magnetti Memorial Tourney. Contact Vergie Trammell @ 707-425-5301.


July 25, 2009 - California - Campo di Bocce Los Gatos. RAFFA - 1 man and 1 woman. Contact John Ross @ 408- 354-0625.


July 25, 2009 - Ohio - Youngstown. 4-player teams. Contact Carmine @ 330-501-3958.


August 1, 2009 - California - San Rafael -Marin. OPEN - 4 players. Western Sector Championships. Contact Diana Pelligrini @ 415-485-5583.


August 7, 2009. Pennsylvania - Koppell. Co-ed tourney. Contact 724-847-4488.


August 8, 2009 - California - San Rafael - Marin. OPEN - 2 women players. Contact Diana Pelligrini @ 415-485-5583.


August 14, 2009 - Pennsylvania - New Galilee. 4-player teams. Contact Jessie Pomerico @ 724-622-4792.


August 15, 2009 - California - I.A.C.C. South City OPEN - 4 womwn players. Contact Rose Viscuso @ 650-349-7732.


August 15, 2009 - Wyoming - Cheyenne. Mia Maria's 4th Annual Bocce Festival. 10 AM to 6 PM at Frontier Park's Indian Village. 2 player teams, food and beverages available. Contact Jeff or Nola Thompson at 307-638-6756.


August 21 - 23, 2009 - Ohio - Mayfield Heights. Club Molisani & the City of Mayfield Heights host the MARSHALL SUPERSTORE CLEVELAND INTERNATIONAL CHALLENGE CUP OF BOCCE. With 53 teams in our first year and 72 teams last year, Club Molisani is expecting over 90 teams in this year's tournament. $150 entry fee. Tournament t-shirts for all participants. 1st & 2nd place trophies for Men's Division, which pays 12 places with $4500 for first place (all guaranteed). 1st place trophies for Women's Division, which pays four places with $1000 for first place (based on 16 teams that participated last year). Four person teams - double elimination. Free pool passes for out of town teams, gambling casino, fireworks, rides for kids, several bands - all on our grounds. Contact Wayne Farinacci, tournament director, at 216-509-4353 or .


August 22, 2009 - California - Los Gatos - Campo di Bocce. RAFFA - 3 players. Contact Bill Schlaefer @ 408- 379-9409.


August 28 - 30, 2009 - Ohio - Wickliffe. WICKLIFFE ITALIAN-AMERICAN CLUB. 26th annual CLEVELAND CHALLENGE CUP OF BOCCE sponsored by Pat O'Brien Chevrolet. $5000 first prize, $15,000 in total prize money – GUARANTEED. $150 per team entry. Trophy’s and medals for Champion and second place finishers and tournament t-shirts for all participants. Four person teams (plus one sub) Contact Gino Latessa ( @ 216-789-6393 for more info. Applications and info online @


August 29, 2009 - California - Sacramento - East Portal. OPEN - 4 players. Contact Vern Cooper @ 916-961-2404.


September 12, 2009 - California - I.A.C.C. - South City. RAFFA - 3 PLAYERS. 24th Ital.-Amer. Games. Contact Alvaro Bettucchi @ 650-871-9278.


September 19, 2009 - California - I.A.C. - Stockton. RAFFA - 1 MAN AND 1 WOMAN. Contact Romano Lotti @ 209-951-8256.


September 20, 2009 - California - P.I.A.S.C. San Mateo
OPEN - 4 PLAYERS. At least one woman. Contact Rose Viscuso @ 650-349-7732.


September 26, 2009 - California - I.B.S. - Sutter Creek. OPEN - 4 PLAYERS. Gold Country Classic. Contact Rick Wagstaff @ 209-296-6151.


October 3, 2009 - California - Stockton - Waterloo. OPEN - 4 PLAYERS. Contact David Canclini @ 209-957-3314.


October 4, 2009 - California - South City I.A.C.C. VOLO - 2 PLAYERS. Contact Ale Bettucchi @ 650-697-7702.


October 10, 2009 - California - San Rafael - Marin. OPEN - 4 PLAYERS. Contact Diana Pelligrini @ 415-485-5583.


October 17, 2009 - California - Sacramento - East Portal. RAFFA - 3 PLAYERS. Contact Vern Cooper @ 916-961-2404.


October 24, 2009 - California - Stockton I.A.C. RAFFA - 3 players. Western Sector Championship. Contact Romano Lotti @ 209-951-8256.


November 12-14, 2009. Nevada - Reno. Peppermill Casino. OPEN - 4 players. Contact Dana Shores @ 800-648-6992.


November 14 - 15, 2009. Arizona - Phoenix. Arizona International Open. 4-player teams - double elimination. Contact Pasquale D'Aliesio @ 602-569-9149 or . More info:


December 5, 2009 - California - Stockton. I. A. C. OPEN – 4 PLAYERS. At least two women players. Contact Romano Lotti @ 209-951-8256.

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