Symposiums Games & Contests – Alice’s Backyard Bocce

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Alice’s Backyard Bocce

“Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice ‘without pictures or conversations?’”

Even Alice needs a break sometimes from a hard day adventuring. She and her sister form quite a bocce team, if she can get her sister to put her book down long enough to play! There are many versions of the rules for Bocce, some that are very complicated and specific, and some that are simpler for those who just like to play. Because of time constraints and space limitations, we’ve chosen a simpler set of the rules for use at the Symposium Games. We will set up two Bocce courts (smaller than regulation) in the space provided. This will allow 4 teams of 2 players to complete at a time. It will be a single elimination tournament with points awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.


Any team of 2 players is welcome to participate in the game, whether associated with an airship or not. HOWEVER, if you are not part of an airship, one of the competing airships may try and convince you to join afterwards, and therefore earn your points. This year only one set of points will be available per competition. If the winners are not part of an airship or not convinced to join one, the points go unawarded to any airship. Airships will have until 3:30pm on Sunday at the convention to claim an unaffiliated winner. The winner must announce his decision to join an airship, in person, to the Games’ MC (Peter B Slayer) before that time.

Equipment Needed:

  • Balls are provided by the Symposium for this Game

Race Rules:

  • Bocce is played with eight large balls and one smaller target or object ball called a pallina. There are four balls per team and they are made of a different color or pattern to distinguish the balls of one team from those of the other team.
  • The game is played with two teams, with each team having two players. A playing rotation is determined at the start of a game (i.e. who goes first) and is maintained throughout the entire game.
  • A game begins with the toss of a coin. The team that wins the coin toss can choose to either have first toss of the pallina or the color of the balls they will use. To start a game, the pallina is rolled or tossed by a member of whichever team has been decided. A player can toss the pallina any distance as long as it passes the center line of the court and does not hit the backboard. If the player fails to toss the ball properly into play, a member of the opposing team will toss the ball into play. If the opposing team fails to properly toss the pallina into play, the pallina is passed to the Master of Ceremonies or a “Pallina Designate” who will deploy the pallina in a matter suitable for the situation that will likely be silly and possibly arbitrary, but ultimately a timesaver. It will be as if the original team’s pallina was successful.
  • The player tossing the pallina must deliver the first ball. If the ball hits the backboard, that team must roll again until the first ball is put into play or has thrown all its balls. Otherwise, that player steps aside and the opposing team will then deliver their balls until one of its Bocce balls is closer to the pallina or has thrown all its balls. This back and forth is called a “frame” (like in bowling).
  • The “nearest ball” rule governs the sequence of thrown balls. The side whose ball is closest to the pallina is called the “in” ball and the opposing side the “out” ball. Whenever a team gets “in”, it steps aside and allows the “out” team to deliver. The other team throws until it gets its ball closer (not ties) to the pallina. This continues until both teams have thrown all their Bocce balls.
  • After both teams have exhausted all their balls, the frame is over and points are awarded. The game resumes by teams throwing from the opposite end of the court. The team that was awarded points in the previous frame begins the next frame by tossing the pallina into play.
  • All balls must be thrown underhanded. A team has the option of rolling, tossing, bouncing, banking, etc. its ball down the court provided it does not go out of bounds or the player does not violate the foul line. A player should not step on or over the foul line before releasing any ball. If a player steps over the foul line, the player will receive one warning. For a player that commits a second foul line infraction, the team fouled against will be awarded points as they were, immediately proceeding the foul, and the frame will end. The team committing the foul will be awarded no points for the frame. Or, the fouled against team may have the option of declining the penalty and completing the frame.
  • Any ball that makes contact with the backboard is considered a dead ball on impact and is removed immediately from play until the end of a frame. If a ball after hitting the backboard strikes a stationary ball, that stationary ball is replaced to its original position.
  • At the end of each frame, points will be awarded. Only one team scores in a frame (similar to tabletop shuffleboard). One point is awarded for each ball that is closer to the pallina than the closest ball of the opposing team. In the event that the closest ball of each team is the same distance from the pallina, no points will be awarded and the pallina returns to the team that delivered it. Only balls which are distinguishably closer to the pallina than any of the opponent’s balls are awarded points. All measurements should be made from the center of the pallina to the edge of a Bocce ball. Games are played to 12 points with the first team reaching 12 points being the winner of a game.

Victory Points for Bocce:

1st Place – 30 Points

2nd Place – 20 Points

3rd Place – 10 Points

Sign Up for the Contest HERE


To officially register your Airship or Steampunk Group in the Symposium Games, open the link below, and enter the chance to win glory, prizes, the Symposium Trophy, and four weekend badges to 2017 International Steampunk Symposium

2016 Airship Registration

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