“We’ll take the point”

Saying “we’ll take the point” is a local custom that can raise questions.

QUESTION 1

The score was tied at 12-12. Robert and I had the point, and Robert had one unplayed boule. Our opponents threw their last boule, but failed to gain the point; we had won! I was ready to declare victory, but Robert insisted that the game wasn’t over until all boules had been thrown. So we waited while Robert went to the circle and threw away his last boule. THEN we declared victory. Was Robert right?

QUESTION 2

Team B is out of boules; Team A still has one unplayed boule. There are many boules close to the jack. Team A believes that they have the point, and they are afraid that if they play their remaining boule they might mess up things around the head and lose the point that they have. So the captain of Team A says “we’ll take the point” and walks to the head for the agreement of points.

The teams measure, and they discover that Team A actually does NOT have the point. So the captain of Team A says, “Well, in that case we will play our remaining boule.” Team B protests and says that Team A, by saying “we’ll take the point” has given up the right to play any more boules. Who is right? Can team A play their remaining boules?

It seems that, at least in some clubs or in some parts of the world, there is a custom of saying “we’ll take the point” rather than throwing your team’s remaining unplayed boules. I don’t know how widespread the custom is, but one thing is clear— it is a local or national custom. It is NOT part of the FIPJP rules. The FIPJP rules generally do not recognize verbal actions such as saying “we’ll take the point”, and certainly do not recognize such verbal actions as binding. Therefore saying “we’ll take the point” is not binding on the team that says it, and it is legitimate for a team to require the opposing team to throw all of its remaining boules, regardless of anyting that the opposing team may say about just “taking the point”.

FIPJP umpires of course are under strict orders to disregard anything that they cannot witness themselves (like marks on the ground). So in answer to Question 2, an FIPJP umpire’s answer will be: YES, team A can and should play their remaining boules. And, under a strict interpretation of FIPJP rules, and FIPJP umpire will also answer YES to Question 1; Robert was right.

But there are disagreements. The answer to Question 2, according to the rules interpretations of the NJBB, the Dutch petanque federation is NO.

“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. By analogy with the rule that you may not re-throw a boule once it has been thrown, a boule that has been thrown (even if it was thrown virtually and not actually) can’t be thrown again.”

To me, it seems important to remember that the custom of saying “we’ll take the point” is just exactly that, a local custom. It is NOT part of the FIPJP rules. As a local custom, it should never have been endorsed by the NJBB.

The easy way to avoid problems with “we’ll take the point” is to abandon the custom. Players should NEVER say “we’ll take the point”— they should actually play their remaining unplayed boules, even if that means simply tossing them aside.

There is one reasonable exception to this rule. At the end of the game if only one team has unplayed boules, but it is absolutely no-doubts-about-it clear that they have the point and have won the game, it is OK to declare victory and go home. There is no need or requirement to throw their unplayed boules. In Question 1, Robert didn’t recognize that exception, which is why he insisted on throwing his last boule. Insisting on throwing that last boule probably wasn’t absolutely necessary, but it wasn’t crazy either.
Post revised: 2018-01-20


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One thought on ““We’ll take the point”

  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.

    I don’t think this is a strictly European vs America thing. It’s just common sense. You can find many videos that show instances of teams not playing last boules. And more interestingly: instances when a team gives up the game before the last boule is thrown. It’s the opposite side of the same coin.

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