Jack not visible after last boule is thrown

What happens if the last boule in the mene knocks the jack into a location where it is not visible from the circle (e.g. behind a tree)?

Normally a jack knocked out of sight would be considered dead. But the last boule has been played. Nobody is going to throw another boule. So it seems like it shouldn’t matter whether or not the jack is visible from the circle.

Is the jack dead?

Petanque jack (hiddent by tree)

Petanque jack (hidden by tree)

Yes, the jack is dead.

Article 9 – Dead Jack during a mene
The jack is dead in the following 7 cases:

When, located within the in-bounds area, the displaced jack is not visible from the circle, as specified in Article 7.

Article 9 says that if the jack is shot out of sight, it is dead. It doesn’t say that the jack is dead unless there are no more boules left to be played.


At first, this answer may seem puzzling. But if you think about it, it makes sense.

In a game played on a marked terrain, deliberately killing the jack by shooting it out-of-bounds is a legitimate strategy. Things are different in a game played on an unmarked terrain, in a park for instance. There are no boundaries, so it isn’t possible to kill the jack by shooting it out-of-bounds. But a shooter can still try to kill the jack by shooting it. With luck, he can knock it more than 20 meters from the circle, or knock it out of sight behind some trees on the terrain.

In these circumstances, it is just as legitimate to deliberately kill the jack with your last boule by shooting it out of range, or out of sight, as it would be to shoot it out-of-bounds on a marked terrain.

And for that to be the case, a shot-out-of-sight jack must always be dead, even if it was shot with the last boule in the mene.

This question was also discussed on petanque.org in 2007.


Consulting with the team coach

Periodically, questions appear on petanque forums about how, and whether, a team can consult with its coach during a game.

Before we get too deep into this topic, let’s immediately settle two basic points.

First, players ARE allowed to confer with their coach during a game, and coaches ARE allowed to offer advice to their players. HOWEVER, there are appropriate procedures for doing this, which we’ll discuss in a minute.

Second, in competitions on marked terrains the only people allowed on the terrain during a game are the players and the umpires. Coaches, like other spectators, are not allowed on the game terrain. This rule is often simply assumed, although sometimes it is explicitly written into tournament rules. Sometimes the coach is allowed to sit inside the crowd-control barriers. More frequently, coaches, managers, and alternate team members have a special area reserved for them in the spectators area.

In this tournament, the competition organizers have allowed coaches to sit inside the steel crowd-control barriers, as long as they stay outside of the wooden surround and don’t come onto the terrain proper.

The FIPJP rules have nothing specific to say about coach-player consultation. The behavior of coaches, therefore, is governed by the same rules that govern spectator behavior in general. Similarly, the behavior of players toward their coach is governed by the rules that govern player behavior in general.

Article 16 – Behavior of players and spectators during a game
During the regulation time given to a player to throw his boule the spectators and players must observe total silence. The opponents must not walk, nor gesticulate, nor do anything that could disturb the player.

This means that while a player is throwing, coaches, spectators, and the other players must stay motionless and quiet. At other times they should maintain a reasonable calm and quiet, and not do anything by word or action to distract the opposing players or to interfere with the smooth progress of the game.

Not to put too fine a point on it, this means that while one player is throwing, the other players cannot shout across the terrain to ask their coach for advice, or walk across the terrain to consult with him. And of course the obverse is also true — a coach cannot shout instructions or advice at his players. Players and coaches should NEVER attempt to communicate by gesturing wildly in the other’s direction. If one or more of the players wish to communicate with their coach, they should wait until it is their team’s turn to throw, then walk over to where the coach is sitting and talk quietly.

While they are conversing, player and coach should remember the one-minute rule — the player is allowed only one minute to throw his boule. That means that players and coaches must keep their consultations short and to the point. Typically, the first violation of the one-minute rule will earn a player a yellow card and a warning from the umpire, but not a penalty. No big deal. But players need to be careful about gross or repeated violations of the one-minute rule — that can earn them more serious penalties.

Some players are confused about whether or not they are allowed to confer with their coach, because they remember Article 31, which says that—

No player may absent himself from a game or leave the game terrains without the permission of the Umpire.

Players sometimes misunderstand this rule as saying that, during a game, players can’t step outside the boundaries of the terrain in order to walk over and talk to their coach.

That is a mistake — that’s not what Article 31 is about. Players are of course allowed to step outside the boundaries of the terrain. In fact, when a player isn’t throwing, standing outside of the terrain boundary is the best place to be. If a boule or jack unexpectedly flies across the terrain and hits a player, there will be no problem — the boule or jack will have gone out-of-bounds before being stopped.

Article 31 has nothing to do with stepping outside of a terrain to consult with your coach. As international umpire Mike Pegg says

The rule about leaving the terrain/lane is not designed to prevent a player stepping out of the lane to talk to his coach who is standing or sitting at the end of the lane. The rule is is designed to deal with players that move way from the lane or the playing area to get a coffee, have a smoke, go to the toilet, etc.

The bottom line is that players definitely ARE allowed to walk over to the edge of the playing area and confer with their coach. They just need to behave appropriately when they do it.

The “landing strip” for a thrown jack

See other posts about boundaries and boundary lines.

Article 7 specifies a number of distance-related constraints on a thrown jack. One of them is that “the [thrown] jack must be a minimum of 1 meter from … the nearest boundary of an out-of-bounds area.”   This requirement (unless it is modified, see below) can be a problem on narrow lanes.

We are playing on a marked terrain that is 3 meters wide. Does the one-meter rule in Article 7 mean that the area where we can legally throw the jack— the “landing strip” as it were— is only one meter wide running down the middle of the terrain?

The answer to the question is “It depends…”

The landing strip

Suppose that we have a playing area that contains only one marked terrain (one lane, piste, cadre), so that the boundary lines of all four sides are dead-ball lines. The lane is 4m wide and 15m long. If we measure one meter in from each of the four boundaries, then we have a landing strip in the middle of the lane that is 2m wide and 13m long.

Things get more interesting when we create multiple lanes by dividing a large playing area into a grid of lanes. In this kind of arrangement, the boundary strings that consititute the exterior boundary of the grid, and also the strings across the short ends of the lanes, are dead-ball lines. The other strings, the strings that divide the playing area up into separate lanes, are “guide lines”— that is, they indicate the boundaries of the lanes, but they aren’t out-of-bounds lines (“dead-ball lines”). If we diagram the landing strip for such a grid of lanes, the result looks like this.


Look at lane A. On one side it has an exterior dead-ball line; on the other side is a neighboring lane (B). So the landing strip for lane A (as also lanes D, E, and H) is lop-sided. On one side, the landing strip stays one meter from the exterior dead-ball line around the playing area. On the other side is a neighboring lane— on that side the landing strip can go right up to the guide line. So if the lanes are 4m wide, then the landing strip for lane A is 3m wide, but the landing strip for lane B extends the full width of the lane and is 4m wide.

When the landing strip is too narrow

There are situations where circumstances can combine to make the landing strip too narrow— only one meter wide.

Under FIPJP rules, games below the national level may be played on a lane that is only 3m wide. And in time-limited games, all four boundaries of a lane are considered to be dead-ball lines. This means that in one common situation— during a round of time-limited games played on a grid of 3m-wide lanes— the landing strip for each lane would look like our first diagram (lane L) and be only one meter wide.

The same problem can occur even in non-time-limited games when the lanes are arranged in a long strip, as in the diagram at the right. This kind of arrangement is quite common for competitions that are played on long, narrow areas like the paths in a public park or along a waterfront.

In order to deal with the problems of a too-narrow landing strip, many national federations, clubs, and competitions change the one-meter rule for competitions played on lanes that are only 3m wide. They change the minimum distance from a dead-ball line from a whole meter to a half-meter— a thrown jack must be a minimum of half a meter from the nearest dead-ball line. So even on a lane that is only 3m wide, the landing strip will still be at least 2m wide.