The Joy of Bocce Weekly
The FREE, weekly Ezine for bocce aficionados everywhere
Volume #1 Issue #1 January 7, 2002
Publisher: Mario Pagnoni   Copyright 2002

If you are receiving this electronic newsletter you opted in when you ordered my book, The Joy of Bocce, or when you purchased some other bocce item from an affiliate.  To be deleted from this publication simply…  Conversely, if you know others who would enjoy and benefit from this Ezine, have them…  I promise that I will never be in the business of selling or trading your email address or other personal information. 

Disclaimer: Hey, I don’t claim to be a bocce pro.  Heck, I’m not even a very good player – but no one loves the sport more than I do.  My contribution to the game is in having interviewed many of the top players and then assembling the information into a concise, easy-to-read book.  What I’ve created is comparable to what others have done for softball, soccer, and other sports.  This Ezine is a forum for bocce lovers.  I’ll spout off on what I know about various bocce related issues and ask for readers’ feedback and disseminate those views in future issues.  If the readership gets large enough, maybe The Joy of Bocce Weekly (along with can have a unifying influence on the game.  This issue is the first in a kind of a trial run.  If The Joy of Bocce Weekly is well received, the plan is to publish weekly as of March, 2002.

A word about ads.  Like any entrepreneur, I’d like to turn a profit from my involvement with something I really enjoy.  But, for now I’ve decided not to accept paid ads.  If I pitch a product here, it is something I have personally investigated and deem beneficial to our readers.

In this issue
 	* Let’s Talk the Talk – bocce jargon
	* The Joy of Bocce – the only instructional book on bocce in America
* What’s the Score Anyway?
* Bocce Measuring Devices
* Variations of Play
* Other Outdoor Games

Let’s Talk the Talk – bocce jargon

	One of the things that has always fascinated me about bocce is not only the variations of play in pockets across the country, but also the jargon that has evolved in different locations.  It bugs me no end when someone asks, “Want to play some bocce ball?”  I think of a kid going to the hockey rink or frozen pond and asking his friends if they want to play some “hockey puck.”  Although the game in America is a long way from standardization, it seems to me that we should at least agree to call the game “bocce”, and reserve “bocce ball” for the round object we roll in the direction of the pallino.  Some refer to the object ball in the masculine (pallino) while others in the feminine (pallina).  I also hear jack, kitty, pill, cue ball, and every variation beginning with the letter P from Pauline to piñata.  

Hitting an opponent’s ball to displace it because it is “in” for a point is one of the nifty skill shots in bocce.  If it happens to be a red ball that has the point, I’ve heard the other team talk about making a shot called a “Visine” – one that’s designed to “get the red out!” And on the south side of Chicago they “toots it up” when they tap a ball gently to push it closer to the pallino to score the point.

What do players in your area call the object ball?  What other colorful language do you hear in your bocce travels?  Let me know so I can share it on with our readers.  Click REPLY below – also let me know what part of the country you are from – I’ll report back next issue.  

Still available at
The Joy of Bocce (128 pages – 7” X 10” B/W Photos & Diagrams ISBN 1-57028-044-4) 
The first instructional book on bocce in America.  

Chapters include…

The Game
The Terminology
The Game, A Closer Look
The Game As Played On Official Courts
The Equipment
Strategy & Tactics
Building A Backyard Court
Tournament Play & Rules
International Play
A Brief History Lesson

Here’s what people are saying about The Joy of Bocce…

“Answers Yes, Yes, Yes to the three questions most frequently asked of our bocce organization: Can you show us how to build a court? Can you tell us where to buy equipment? Is there a good book on the subject?”

Donna Allen, Editor
United States Bocce Federation

Only $12.95 plus Shipping – you can pay by mailing a check or on-line with PayPal – let me know if you want any special autograph inscription.  Click here

What’s the Score Anyway?

I hear about bocce players who play games to scores of 11, 12, 15, 16, and 21. I’ve always liked 12 because it’s sufficiently long to make for fair competition, yet doesn’t keep the on-deck players waiting too long (there always seems to be on-deck players).  Some tournaments schedule games to 12 but increase it to 15 in the finals, presumably to ensure that the better team wins.  (The shorter the game, the better the chance of an upset.) 

In lawn bowls I understand that they sometimes play a set number of “ends” (frames or rounds) instead of playing to a set point total.  They might agree, for example, that the leader after 15 ends is the victor.  

A woman from a retirement home in Florida told me that they played games to 11 but tournament play went to 21.  “Wow!” I said.  “Those tournament games must take forever.”  
“Well,” she countered, “We have a lot of time at the senior center.”

Players from the Crockett Bocce Club of California tell me they play “deuce game” – the winner must win by two points.  Rick Bushong, webmaster for the Crockett site ( says that “the two point rule makes for some exciting finishes in close games.”
Still, it seems to me that we all should be able to agree on a set point total and stick to it.  Then we could all say bocce is a game that is played until one team reaches X points.

Hit REPLY and tell us what score you play to and whether you favor “deuce game.”   Also, when you are scoring these points what are you using for measuring? – hands and feet – twigs – tape measure – carpenter’s rule – automobile antenna – special bocce measuring device.  Experienced players can call “by eye” some really close points.  They always stand by the object ball and get a vantage point where they can gauge the relative positions of the balls in question.  I’ve consistently been on the losing end of matches with WWOBA president Rico Daniele of Springfield, Massachusetts (  It not only amazes me how good a player he is, but also how he can call “eyeball” a point that is “in” by a mere fraction of an inch.

Bocce Measuring Devices

Prohawk International of the UK manufactures and distributes lawn bowling equipment including what I think are the finest measuring devices made.  I’ve selected two that I think are top quality and the best value.  To better show the features of each, I’ve put some photos on my website at  They are very high quality and sell for about 20 % to 25 % less than comparable products I’ve seen elsewhere.  The Premier Boule Measure is a tape measure (extends to 2 meters – about 6 ½ feet) with a self-locking mechanism, calipers, and a game scoring mechanism.  The Clubhawk Gold uses string instead of a steel tape (extends to 9 feet), and includes calipers and a belt clip.  Either of these would make a great gift for the bocce lover in your life. Every serious bocce player (and not-so-serious player) should have one.  Please check them out at


Variations of Play

In 1995 the Special Olympics World Games were held in Connecticut, and I served as one of the bocce officials.  (Four years later the Games moved to North Carolina, and in 2003 we are headed to Dublin, Ireland).  During the rare “down time” when we weren’t officiating, we played bocce with some of the Connecticut locals.  They insisted that the initial toss of the “pill” had to come to rest at least 12 inches from the side boards.  If it stopped say, 8 inches or so from the side, one player would give it a gentle kick into legal position (approximately 12 inches from the board) rather than roll it back to the player to try again.  They reasoned that this kept the game moving. The position of the object ball (now in the same general area as the person rolling it intended) is not going to unfairly favor one team or the other.  For informal play, this makes a lot of sense to me.

At the North Carolina World Games in 1999 we encountered locals who played a fascinating variation.  They favored teams of four players, each rolling one ball.  Furthermore, the balls are marked 1, 2, 3, and 4.  Teams must decide at the start of the game who will be first roller, second, etc.  This order may not be altered during the course of play.  This they claimed partially negated an outstanding player’s skills.  For example, a player couldn’t say “Tom, you take this short.  You’re better at hitting than I am.”  The sequence can never be altered.  Another nifty difference to their play was in the “hitting”.  They never rolled with speed to knock an opponent’s ball away.  They rolled almost as if for point, gently nudging the opponent’s ball out of position and leaving their ball close to the target.  Conventional wisdom is that faster speeds make for truer rolls, but it was hard to argue with the uncanny accuracy we witnessed at Fearrington Village, NC.

Part of me likes this idea that you play the home team’s rules when you visit their court, and they have to play your rules when they come to your park.  It’s part of the charm and fascination of the game.  The variations are testimony to the enduring appeal of an activity that evolved in different parts of the world, is played somewhat differently from place to place, yet whose basic idea is the same.  Let’s see who can roll, toss or otherwise deliver their bocce balls closest to the object ball.

And yet another part of me cries out for standardization for everybody so that the game can advance to the level of say, professional bowling. Hey, I like bowling, but bocce has it all over bowling.  It has a cerebral aspect that I don’t see in just knocking pins down.  If bowling can achieve such a high level, there is no reason bocce can’t as well.

How do you play bocce?  On what surface?  Grass, dirt, gravel, stone dust, artificial surface?   Court or no court?   Do you have a ditch at the ends?   A swingboard to deaden the play of balls rebounding off the back wall?  Side-  and end-boards? Do you play the ball dead off the backboard if your attempt to hit an opponent’s ball misses…or does “anything go?”

Other Outdoor Games

I know that in the Connecticut area quite a few bocce players like to pitch horseshoes too.  I am interested in finding out if there is any bocce/other outdoor games correlation.  REPLY and let me know which games you like.  I’ve found a series of Outdoor Games books by talented author Steven Boga.  He’s written short, well crafted, clearly illustrated books on Horsehoes, Croquet, Badminton, Volleyball, and Archery.  I recommend them highly (each under $10.00) and you can find them at

Another issue of The Joy of Bocce Weekly coming soon – please tell your bocce playing friends about us.