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Competition promotes clay pipe smoking as art

Still mainly a manly game

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

SNEEK, the Netherlands - Participants in the recent Open Frisian Championships Clay Pipe Smoking sat down for a talk, a smoke and a wary eye of their neighbours. Competing for the title were some 40 men, all trying to keep a small amount of pipe tobacco lit, puffing not too fast nor too slow.

All men - this time there were no women contestants - started off on an equal foot: a new long-stemmed clay pipe (just like the ones in Dutch paintings from the Golden Age), three grams of tobacco, a tamper and two matches only. A five-minute time limit was set for filling the bowl and tamping the tobacco. Lighting the tobacco would have to take no longer than one minute and then it was off to try and be the one to keep his pipe lit longest, without adding tobacco or relighting.

While the first casualties already were registered after two minutes - puffing too slow and thus the smoldering died - the winner of the event held on for two hours: Belgian participant Karel van Abeele. Dutch national record holder Rients de Jong (he once kept his tobacco lit for two hours and thirty minutes) settled for third place in just over 108 minutes.