For the 2005 edition, a record 4,320 teams (12,960 players) competed in the first round of the tournament, which proceeds through direct elimination. By the close of the first day, three games had eliminated more than 11,300 players. The champions had to win eleven straight games. (My teammates from the north of France cancelled at the last minute, so I found partners at 8.00 a.m. on the first day; we lost the third game).
This year, more top players came to the event for the first time, including a half-dozen former world champions. Christian Fazzino teamed with Marco Foyot (a six-time winner vying to match Albert Pisapia’s record of seven titles) and Jean-Marie Puccinelli (probably the best shooter in Marseille). The Foyot team suffered day after day, barely surviving 13-12 (after being down 1-10) in the second round. Foyot finally succumbed in the 1/8 finals, 8-13, to last year’s finalists, the partnership of Michel Schatz (“Passo,” world champion in 1991 and 1993), Jean-Pierre Daudé, and Gilbert Issert, in the 1/8 finals.
The semi-finals were disappointing for the locals. In the morning game, Quintais beat a team from the Boule Florian, 13-3; and the afternoon saw Passo win fanny against Gilles Gayraud (winner in 1998, and a five-time semi-finalist), Michel Adam (now a four-time semi-finalist, but never a titlist), both of the Boule Florian, and Stéphan Robineau, a member of the French junior team, licensed in Nievre.
For the first time ever, the championship game featured the same two teams from the year before — calculate the odds! With Pécoul dominating the point, Suchaud hitting 12 of 14 of his shots, after missing his first two, and Quintais playing flawlessly in the middle, the defending champions won easily, 13-4. No team had doubled since the legendary trio, Jean Kokoyan-René Luchesi-Foyot, did it in 1983-84.
For Martha Lewis’s photos of the 2005 Marseillaise .