Sports

Shuffling all the way to Brazil

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

Rio de Janeiro is well known for beautiful white sand beaches, Carnival and Salsa dancing. But this weekend some of the best shuffleboard players in the world will converge on the Brazilian city.

Federal Way’s John Hauf will be making his way to the South American paradise as one of 10 shuffleboarder’s representing the United States at the 24th Annual International Shuffleboard Tournament today through Sept. 25. The tournament will also feature 10-man teams from places like Canada, Brazil, Japan and Australia.

“It’s going to be quite a gathering,” said the 73-year-old Hauf. “It’s a pretty neat game.”

Hauf just started playing shuffleboard three years ago while he and his wife, Doris, were snowbirding during the winter in Arizona. The low-impact game is popular with retirees of all ability levels in the desert climates of Arizona, California, Florida and Texas, along with things like bocchi ball, lawn bowling, billiards, tennis and golf.

“It gives old people something to do,” Doris Hauf said with a laugh. “They really enjoy it.”

Hauf qualified for the United States Shuffleboard Association’s National Team by winning a district tournament in Mesa, Ariz. At the International Tournament in Rio, teams will play a total of 16 games with an ultimate winner being decided.

“It going to be a pretty cool production,” Hauf said. “They bring in the flag and sing the national anthem just like they do in the Olympics. There’s opening and closing ceremonies.”

Shuffleboard is a game that dates back to 15th century England when people slid a large British coin called a groat. But the game didn’t experience its biggest success until the 1950s.

The shuffleboard court is 52-feet long and 6-feet wide, but the actual playing surface is only 39 feet long. There is a 12-foot neutral zone in the middle of the playing area, marked by a pair of “dead lines.”

At each end of the playing area is a scoring triangle. Each triangle is broken up into five scoring areas — a front triangle worth 10 points, two quadrilaterals worth 8-points each, two quadrilaterals worth 7 points each, and a wide rear area that is known as “The Kitchen” by the serious shuffleboarder. The area is marked as “10 off,” meaning if a disc lands within “The Kitchen’s” lines, the competitor gets 10 points taken off their score.

“You don’t want to put it in the kitchen,” Hauf said with a laugh.

Each player has four disks, or pucks. The disk has a 6-inch diameter and is colored black and yellow.

The cue — the stick used to propel the disk — is no more than 6 feet, 3 inches long, and has a tip shaped like a half moon, which a disk is fitted for shooting.

“It’s not as easy as it looks,” Hauf said. “There’s a lot of strategy involved.”

Although the Haufs will be both heading down to Rio for a 10-day vacation, the competitive juices will still be flowing through John’s veins when he steps onto the shuffleboard court.

“When you hear guys in sports say they have to gear their games up to another level,” Hauf said. “I know what that feels like. When you are playing in a tournament and you need to get where you’re going you have to really concentrate. One mistake and it might cost you the games. Your insides are just turning.”

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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