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…

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


3 thoughts on “Playing somebody else’s boule

  1. I would think most players (myself included) keep hold of their boules. However, I suppose it’s possible that boules picked up from a previous end may end up in the wrong hands.

    • Yup, that’s it. This post was prompted by a recent incident in my club that involved several first-time players. New players often have difficulty telling boules apart, and in this case two players had each picked up one of the other’s boules, and played them, before realizing the mistake. So then the question came up… “What do the rules say about a case like this?”

  2. I’d like to ask your opinion when this situation arises. Three players are playing against another three players. When the score is 7 against 8, one of the players receives a mobile telephone call that he has to leave the game (urgent personal family call) —- a valid reason. What will happen with his boules? How does the game proceed?

    Do you have a different answer if —
    1. the score is 1 against 11 (the player of the losing team has to leave)
    2. when the score is 11 each and a player leaves, always for a valid reason

    Thank you in advance for your guidance. You see, these things happen.

    Jules says—
    The current score is irrelevant. The answer is the same, regardless of what the score is.

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