by Ray Ager
Not Going Too Far: the art of nearly winning
If you make outrageous claims, such as boasting “how you beat last year’s National Squad in the Regional Finals”, you’re more likely to be ridiculed than believed. Much better to make a more modest claim and, more importantly, one that can’t actually be verified.
- “You know, we nearly beat a former UK Squad on their old home terrain, in a practise game. We were leading, 12-9 and, would you believe it, the bloody Umpire’s dog ran across the terrain and moved the coche, giving the opponents 4 points and the game. Being just a ‘friendly’, we hadn’t marked the position. Normally we would quite happily put it back for the opponents, but they didn’t seem to like this, so we had to let it stand. We even had 2 boules in hand.”
Of course, you would never stoop to revealing which squad it actually was or on which home terrain the purported match took place.
The implication is that, through no fault of your own, you were robbed of a well-earned victory that should have been yours and at the same time, casting a slur on the ‘unsporting’ behaviour of the National Squad, playing you in a ‘friendly’ match against a club team. Boules-Upmanship at its best.
Pretending to ‘help’ the visitors at your home terrain is another ploy that should be effective against the unwary. At an important point that you really don’t want the opponents to get, manoeuvre yourself so you’re standing near the coche and, just as they’re about to play, walk up to the coche, hand up and, with a sweeping movement of the arm, shout,
- “Slopes a bit here you know, careful”.
Then step back. The main advantage is that you’ve broken their concentration at a critical point by interrupting play, whilst purporting to be ‘helpful’.
The Coup de Boulist is to wave your arm along the terrain, near the coche, as if indicating the line of play, for the opponents. If they are foolish enough to follow, you should be able to enjoy one of the finest fruits of Boules-Upmanship: the highly satisfying sight of their boule rolling away in the opposite direction down the slope, while you commiserate,
- “Told you, need to watch the slope.”
If they accuse you of giving them false information, you can simply retort, in an as helpful tone as you can muster,
- “Reading the terrain is an important part of the game, you know. It’s best to check.”
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