New game in town: Seattle Double-Tap Bocce anyone?

That need to fix

Five player Seattle Double-Tap Bocce.

Wintertime Seattle Double-Tap bocce on WPLBC’s new synthetic turf bocce courts. Action and movement is not in short supply with 5 players and 20 balls on the court.

Some of us who love to play board, card, and lawn games have an innate need to improve existing games. When required, we sometimes even bang out a new game from an old one. Well, maybe “required” is too strong an adjective. But sometimes a game just cries out for a bit of doctoring. So we try to inject it with more action, strategy, or complexity vitamins. Just such a call came to me while playing bocce recently at the club I belong to, the Woodland Park Lawn Bowling Club ( in Seattle.

Bocce, with roots back in the Roman Empire, is a popular game played in over 50 countries worldwide, I read somewhere. With roots that old, you expect the basic game rules to vary a little by venue, locale, or country. And they do. One game variation a group of us enjoy weekly at WPLBC is known as Cutthroat. This game pits three to five players against each other.

The game is enjoyable but comes with a limitation. Five players playing 4 balls each, or even 4 players rolling 16 balls, makes for a lot of balls clustered out ther on the court. To reduce the clutter, players can be limited to three balls each. Still, those 12 to 16 balls rolled each frame for one or two points makes for a long game. And using only 3 balls restricts scoring. With four or five players, I’ve seen games go on for two and a half hours even though the game is played to only 7 points.

“…and thus, Seattle Double-Tap…”

In an “Ahah!” moment I thought to myself, “This game needs a quicker finish.” Reducing the number of points it takes to win didn’t seem like a good solution. Leaves too much to chance rather than to bold play and skill. It also limits comeback opportunities.  Clearly, faster scoring seemed like the fix needed. In my mind I’d previously toyed with the idea of someday experimenting with a game that at some point requires the pallino be tossed toward the bocce balls instead of the reverse.

Bocce with coyote

Not quite the WPLBC courts in Seattle but it is bocce. Played the regular game here with friends at Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley National Park. One of those “friends” just happened to be a wandering coyote.

That’s when it struck me: “Why not use two pallinos?” The second pallino could be introduced midway through each frame with a toss onto on the court at a bocce ball. Or to an open area. The two pallino idea would open more scoring

Bocce with horse

The author about to play bocce (boules) with two friends at Bullara Station in Western Australia. The hoofed friend was easy to beat because she could only kick the balls.

opportunities as well as slip in more strategy and defense possibilities. And it would also allow 4 or 5 players to play 4 balls each without overcrowding since the balls would be more spread out. Such a game would also work for two players. After that it was just a matter of several players willing to try it out and to hammer out the basics. My fellow cutthroaters indulged me and thus, Seattle Double-Tap Bocce came about in November 2016.

Finished product?

The author now playing bocce (boules) at Bullara Station in Western Australia with just one friend (the horse eventually gave up).

What’s next? I can envision others introducing variations if it catches anyone else’s fancy. And I can see myself doing the same. Three pallinos would surely be overkill, but I’m already considering a form of team Double-Tap where each teammate plays their own set of 4 balls, but with a coordinated strategy and combined score. Maybe I’ll give that a try next time we play!


To see the Seattle Double-Tap Bocce rules, click here or click on Games on the navigation bar above and then the Seattle Double-Tap Bocce link.

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