by Ray Ager
The art of Boules-Upmanship, inspired by the classic work by Stephen Potter, is all about scoring points off your opponents without, or ideally even before, having to actually play a boule. The secret is cultivating a superior attitude, appearing that you know more about the game than the opponents do and always, of course, having a variety of sound reasons why you were ‘unlucky’ in losing any match
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– “Sorry, I’m just back from 6 months playing on the Riviera, just can’t seem to get used to these damp terrains again. It’s a completely different game there, you know.”
There are various ploys that can be learnt – often in the bar or clubhouse – and deployed against unsuspecting opponents. Name dropping is but one way, “Marco Foyot never taught us to play like that on the course”, said to a team-mate but, of course, within earshot of the opponents, just after they’ve played. Remarks like these are intended to sow doubt into the opponents’ minds without having to actually play a shot.
- “When I played in La Marseillaise”,
- “When we were at the Nationals”, etc.,
all add to an air of superiority and vast experience. Who’s to know you were only spectating and never actually took part in any of the competitions, or were knocked out in the 1st round? Boules-Upmanship.
Having a repertoire of plausible, but actually fictional names, all helps to add authenticity to any remarks.
- “Joffrey the Greek from Cannes would always play a through boule in that situation”,
implies that you’ve known some of the ‘greats’, although others may not quite be able to place exactly where they’re from or what they’ve ever actually won. Such remarks also imply that you have a good understanding of the techniques and tactics of the game and at the same time suggest that the opponents perhaps did not play the best shot that the expert would have done.
Playing the French
Playing against French players, it’s better to create some English ‘characters’, which are impossible to verify.
- “Of course, old Bomber Watkins from the pub team at Handleigh in Outer Wessex – sadly now disbanded – would always hit those close shots.”
Again, a veiled criticism directed against the opponents, trying to make them doubt their abilities.
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