Playing somebody else’s boule

[updated: 2021-11-27]

When a player mistakenly plays somebody else’s boule, it is not considered to be a boule played contrary to the rules. Instead, Article 23 (“A player throwing a boule other than his own”) says—

The player who plays a boule other than his own receives a warning. The boule played is nevertheless valid but it must immediately be replaced…

somebody_elses_boule
The general idea behind this rule seems sensible. Unfortunately, this rule, like so many FIPJP rules, can be difficult to apply in specific situations. Let’s look at some of them.

Situation A
Bob still has unplayed boules of his own. By mistake, Bob picks up and throws a boule that belongs to another player. (The boule may belong to another member of his own team, or to a member of the opposing team).

This is the kind of situation that the rule was designed for. The resolution is clear. The boule that Bob played is picked up and replaced by one of Bob’s unplayed boules.

Situation B
Bob has no unplayed boules of his own, but other members of his team have unplayed boules. Bob mistakenly thinks that he still has one unplayed boule. He picks up and throws a boule that belongs to another player. (The boule may belong to another member of his own team, or to a member of the opposing team).

It is at this point that we realize that the rule doesn’t say WHAT we should use to replace the mistakenly-thrown boule. Fortunately, common sense can provide a reasonable answer. If the mistakenly-thrown boule belongs to the opposing team, it is replaced by a boule belonging to one of Bob’s team-mates. If the mistakenly-thrown boule belongs to one of Bob’s team-mates, it is simply left in place.

Situation C
Bob’s team has no unplayed boules. Bob mistakenly thinks that he still has one unplayed boule. He picks up a boule that belongs to a member of the opposing team and throws it.

Now we’re starting to run into trouble. Bob’s team has no unplayed boules, so the mistakenly-thrown boule can’t be replaced by a boule that belongs to anyone on Bob’s team. What should we do?

At his point we’re beyond the scope of Article 23. This is a case of a Category B boule thrown contrary to the rules. The offended team gets to use the Advantage Rule described in Article 24. They can choose to…

  1. Pick up the illegally-thrown boule. At the same time, they can put anything else that was moved and whose original location was marked back in its original location.
     
  2. Leave everything where it is and carry on with the game. They might want to do this if the illegally-thrown boule is one of their own, and is situated in an advantageous location.

The jack is dead – what do we do now?

There are a number of ways that a jack can go dead. It can be shot out-of-bounds. On an open terrain, the jack can be knocked behind a rock or tree so that it cannot be seen from the circle. And there are other ways, too.[1] When the jack goes dead, players face the question: “What do we do now?” That question breaks down into three separate questions.

  1. Which team scores?
  2. Which team throws the jack at the beginning of the next mene?
  3. Where should the circle be placed at the beginning of the next mene?

Q1. When the jack goes dead, which team scores? ▲

The answer is —

  • If one and only one of the teams has unplayed boules, that team scores as many points as it has unplayed boules.
  • If both, or neither, of the teams has unplayed boules, then neither team scores any points.

A mene in which neither team scores any points is called a “scoreless mene” (une mène nulle or mène annulée). A scoreless mene is a perfectly normal mene in which (as it happens) neither team scores any points. It is like a baseball inning in which neither team scores any runs.


Q2. When the jack goes dead, which team throws the jack at the beginning of the next mene? ▲

The standard rule in Article 15 applies whether or not the jack went dead.

The first boule of a mene is thrown by a player belonging to the team that won the toss or was the last to score.

If one of the teams scored points, then that team won the mene and throws the jack at the start of the next mene. If the mene was scoreless, then the team that last scored points in some previous mene (in effect, the last team that moved its marker on the scoreboard) throws the jack.

Before the 2016 rules revision there was a bad rule-of-thumb that confused many players. “The team that threw the jack at the start of the scoreless mene throws the jack to start the next mene.” The problem with this rule was that it was ambiguous. Suppose that the mene started with team A trying three times, unsuccessfully, to throw the jack. Team B then successfully threw the jack.  In such a situation, which team “threw the jack at the start of the mene”? Team A or team B? Hopefully, with the 2016 rules revisions, players will forget this bad rule.


Q3. When the jack goes dead, where should the circle be placed at the beginning of the next mene? ▲

Here is the basic rule.  I discuss it in more detail in the post on Placing the circle after it is shot out of the terrain.

At the beginning of a mene, the circle is drawn or placed on the assigned lane, in the place that is closest to the last place where the jack was still alive during the previous mene.

That means that –

  1. If at the end of the previous mene the jack was still alive and on the assigned terrain, then the circle is placed around its location on the assigned terrain.
  2. If at the end of the previous mene the jack was still alive but located on a neighboring terrain, then the circle is placed on the assigned terrain, as close as possible to the jack’s location on the neighboring terrain.
  3. If at the end of the previous mene the jack had been knocked out-of-bounds, then the circle is placed on the assigned terrain, as close as close as possible to the place where the jack crossed the dead-ball line.


FOOTNOTES

[1] The jack can die without crossing the dead-ball line if—

  1. it is knocked behind something (e.g. a tree) so that it can't be seen from the circle
  2. it ends up on the far side of a patch of "dead ground"
  3. it is knocked closer than 3m to the circle
  4. it is knocked more than 20m from the circle
  5. is knocked into a pool of water so deep that it floats

At the start of the next mene, in the first four cases the circle is placed around the jack. In the last case, any puddle of water that is deep enough to float the jack would be considered a throwing obstacle, so the circle would be placed one meter away from the edge of the puddle.


Placing the circle after the jack has died or left the terrain

robot_soccerArticle 7 contains the rule about placing the circle – the circle is drawn or placed (a) on the assigned terrain (b) around the place X on the assigned terrain where the jack was located at the end of the previous mene.

Traditionally, if the jack is sitting on the terrain in location X and then hit and knocked out of the terrain, at the beginning of the next mene the circle is placed around location X, even if X was not marked. This rule is perfectly suited to playing in the traditional way, on an unbounded terrain. You can find the rule in Article 12.[1]

Umpires generally operate on the principle that nothing can be restored to a location that wasn’t marked. They are also used to umpiring games played on bounded terrains, where it is relatively easy to see and remember the place where a hit jack crossed a boundary string. Umpires have therefore invented an unwritten rule to replace the traditional practice. The rule is—

If during the previous mene the jack was knocked out of the assigned terrain, the circle is placed on the assigned terrain as close as possible to the last place that the jack was still alive.

This means that if the jack died because it went out-of-bounds, the circle is placed on the assigned terrain as close as possible to the place that the jack crossed the dead-ball line. That is, it will be placed flush to, just inside, the dead-ball line. If the jack ended up alive on a neighboring terrain, then the circle is placed on the assigned terrain as close as possible to the jack’s final location on the neighboring terrain. In umpired play, this is how an umpire will rule.[2]

Note that the jack can also die without ever leaving the assigned terrain.

  1. It can end up floating in a puddle of water.
  2. It can be hidden from view by a feature of the terrain.
  3. It can be hit to a location on the far side of a patch of dead ground.
  4. It can be hit and come to rest more than 20 meters, or less than 3 meters, from the circle.[3]

In all of these cases, the jack hasn’t left the assigned terrain, so Article 7 applies. The circle is “drawn or placed around the place where [the jack] was located in the previous mene”. If, for example, the jack died because it was knocked back and came to rest 2 meters from the circle, then the circle is placed 2 meters from the circle’s previous location.

Even if the jack was on the assigned terrain when it died, other rules still apply. You still have to place the circle a meter away from any throwing obstacle. If the jack died because it ended up floating in a puddle, you don’t put the circle down in the puddle. The puddle is a throwing obstacle, so the circle is placed a meter away from the edge of the puddle. Similarly, if the jack ended up hidden under a pile of leaves, you don’t put the circle down on the pile of leaves.


Footnotes  ▲

[1] Article 12 says— "If, during a mene, the jack is displaced onto another game terrain ... At the following mene the teams continue on the terrain that was assigned to them and the jack is thrown again from the place it occupied when it was displaced..." Article 12 doesn't tell us what to do when a jack goes out-of-bounds because Article 12 was designed for play on unmarked terrains where there is no such thing as out-of-bounds.

[2] There is an interesting Youtube video where Pascal Milei shoots the jack out-of-bounds and you can see Marco Foyot placing the circle in the traditional way around location X. The umpire comes onto the terrain and corrects him. The umpire points Marco to the place at the foot of the lane where the jack went out-of-bounds, and shows him where to place the circle, close to the dead-ball line.

[3] Note that knocking the jack farther than 20 meters from the circle is usually possible only on an unbounded terrain, but theoretically it could be possible on a bounded terrain if the terrain was large enough.