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.


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