Playing somebody else’s boule

Usually, a boule played contrary to the rules is considered dead, and everything it moved is returned to its original place (Article 23). But there is one exception to this rule.

Article 22 – A player throwing a boule other than his own
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, like so many FIPJP rules, Article 22 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 Article 22 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 Article 22 doesn’t say WHAT we should use to replace the wrongfully-thrown boule. Still, some reasoning by analogy is enough to enable us to apply the rule in a fair way. If the wrongfully-played boule belongs to the opposing team, it is picked up and replaced by a boule belonging to one of Bob’s team-mates. If the wrongfully-played boule belongs to another member of Bob’s own team, it is 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 wrongfully-played boule can’t be replaced by a boule that belongs to Bob or to one of his team-mates. What should we do?

Of course, if the thrown boule did not move anything on the ground, we can simply ignore Bob’s mistake, and pick up the boule and return it to its rightful owner. Even if the boule disturbed the situation on the ground, that might be an acceptable/appropriate course of action if the disturbance was minor or insignificant.

But suppose that the illegally-thrown boule caused a significant change to the situation on the ground. Nothing was marked, so we can’t undo the changes. What should we do? The fairest course of action, it seems to me, is to let the opposing team apply the Advantage Rule.

The Advantage Rule

In some sports the Advantage Rule is spelled out and actually part of the rules. (For soccer, see THIS and THIS.) However, that is not the case for petanque. In petanque, the Advantage Rule functions as a vague general principle rather than a true rule.

The basic idea behind the Advantage Rule is that if team B fouls team A, then team A gets to choose how to continue with the game. Team A has several options to choose from, and they get to choose the option that is most to their advantage.

This means that in order to apply the Advantage Rule in a particular situation, we need to know what the Advantage Rule options are for that particular situation. (The only mention of the Advantage Rule in the FIPJP rules, in Article 23, allows a team fouled by a boule thrown contrary to rules to choose between (a) declaring the boule dead or (b) leaving it where it is.)

For Situation C, I think the Advantage Rule options might be—

  1. Leave everything where it is.
     
  2. Leave everything where it is, except for the wrongfully-thrown boule. That boule is picked up and returned to its proper owner, who can then throw it in the normal way.
     
  3. Declare the jack dead. The opposing team will then win the end, and score as many points as they have unplayed boules (including the wrongfully-thrown boule).

Although Article 23 is the only place in the FIPJP rules where the Advantage Rule is mentioned by name, there are other rules in which a team is given a choice about how to proceed, including
- Article 14 – Positioning the jack after being stopped
- Article 19 – Stopped boules

The jack is dead – what do we do now?

There are a number of ways that a jack can go dead. On a marked terrain, the jack 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 a few other ways, too.

When the jack goes dead, players face the question: “What do we do now?” This is actually three 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 (in the mene where the jack died) one of the two teams scored points, then that team won the mene and throws the jack at the start of the next mene. If, on the other hand, 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.

There is a bad rule-of-thumb that confuses 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 is that it is ambiguous. Suppose that the mene started when team A tried, three times, unsuccessfully, to throw the jack. Team B then successfully threw the jack.  Then the mene ended without a score. Which team “threw the jack at the start of the mene”? Team A or team B?   We really should try to rid the world of this bad and confusing rule-of-thumb.


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 on the playing area 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.

 


Remember that the jack can go dead without going out-of-bounds (crossing the “dead-ball line”). It can go dead—

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

In the first four cases, the standard rules apply and the circle is placed according to the normal rules for the placement of the circle.  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_soccerThe basic rule about placing the circle is in Article 7 – the circle is drawn or placed (a) on the assigned terrain (b) around the place X on the assigned terrain where the jack was sitting 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. Approximately is good enough. This rule is perfectly suited to playing in the traditional way, on an unmarked terrain. You can find the rule in Article 12.[1]

Umpires generally proceed on the rule that nothing can be placed, or put back, in a location that wasn’t marked. They are also used to umpiring only games played on marked 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 alternate (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 ended up dead 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. 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 there are ways that the jack can 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 around the location where the jack came to rest—which, in this case, is only 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 unmarked terrain, but theoretically it could be possible on a marked terrain if the marked terrain was large enough.