Must a team throw ALL of its boules?

updated 2021-07-25
There are a couple of situations in which players ask— Must a team throw ALL of its boules?

One of the common forms of this question is — Can a team “take the point”?

Team A is out of boules. Team B has the point and has one unplayed boule. Afraid of messing up the situation and losing the one point that they now have, Team B decides to play it safe. Team B’s player holds on to his unplayed boule and says “We’ll take the point”, meaning “We’re not going to throw any more boules; we’ll just take the point(s) that we already have.”

When that happens, players on Team A sometimes ask: Can he do that? Can he say “we’ll take the point” and not play his remaining boules? Isn’t he required to play his last boule?

The answer is that it depends on the circumstances. Everyone recognizes that when one team is out of boules and the other team has game on the ground, the game is over; there is no reason to throw any more boules. Before the end of the game, however, the practice of “taking the point” is not universally recognized. Some clubs accept it, but others do not. In clubs that don’t accept it, a visiting player will be told that he can’t just “take the point”— he must actually throw his last boule.

One consideration is that “taking the point” can cause problems.

Team A is out of boules; Team B still has one. Team B is sure that they have the point, so they say “we’ll take the point”. The teams walk to the head, examine the situation, and realize that they need to measure. When they do, they discover that Team B does NOT have the point. Team B then says, “Well, in that case we will play our last boule.” But Team A objects. Team A argues that when Team B said “we’ll take the point,” Team B gave up the right to play any more boules.

Who is right? Can Team B play their last boule?

Opinions differ. An FIPJP umpire will probably rule that saying “we’ll take the point” has no significance under the FIPJP rules (basically, it was just an off-the-cuff remark), so Team B can play their last boule. The Dutch petanque federation (NJBB), on the other hand, says—

When a team chooses to say “we’ll take the point” they are in effect saying “Consider all of my boule(s) as thrown: Let’s determine the final score”. That is, by saying “we’ll take the point” they are giving up the right to play their remaining unplayed boules. They are in effect VIRTUALLY throwing away their last boules.

The NJBB position seems sensible, but the FIPJP interpretation has a significant practical advantage— it prevents debates about what Team B may or may not have said. For that reason the best maxim is— always play all of your boules.

There is another kind of situation in which players ask whether or not a team must throw all of its boules. It is the situation that Ernesto Santos mentions in his comment (see below), and occurred recently in mene 11 of a game between Marco Foyot and Christian Fazzino. It typically happens in singles. Player A is out of boules and doesn’t have even a single boule on the terrain. Player B has one or two unplayed boules. It is impossible for player B not to score points with those boules— all he has to do is drop them on the terrain. In such a case, it is reasonable to award Player B the points for his unplayed boules without requiring that he actually play them. Still, in an umpired game, an umpire will expect him actually to play them. As Mike Pegg wrote on “Ask the Umpire”

To win the points your boule(s) must be closer to the jack than the nearest of your opponent. Any boules “yet to play” will not be counted.

The requirement to play those boules became explicit in 2016 when the FIPJP added a new sentence to Article 6.

If a player picks up the circle when there are boules still to be played, the circle is replaced but only the opponents are allowed to play their boules.

The rule is quite clear. If Player B picks up the circle without throwing his remaining boules, he loses the right to throw his remaining boules… which means that they cannot be considered to have been thrown. So in such a situation, the rules are absolutely clear— the player MUST throw his remaining boules.

3 thoughts on “Must a team throw ALL of its boules?

  1. Ernesto Santos left some interesting comments on Facebook. I’ve copied them here, with a bit of editing. —Jules

    A related issue is when (in singles, say) a player is left to play his last boule when the opponent does not even have a boule in the terrain. It is customary just to allow that last point without the player actually throwing his boule. But umpires expect the point to be played even if all that’s required is to drop the boule anywhere in-bounds to gain the point. So in an umpired game a player just drops his last boule in front of his feet.

  2. I think that all boules must be played and then the last player must measure for the point at the end of the mene. Otherwise there is no last player at the end of the mene and measuring can not be done. It looks like the game is in an undecided point situation 😃

  3. Before saying ‘we take the point’, the players of that team must be sure for 110% that they have the point. So, I would say, when there is a doubt, always measure first to be sure before saying that the point is yours. And of course, to avoid all discussions, you can drop your last boule. But sometimes that looks ridiculous…

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