Must a team throw ALL of its boules?

updated 2022-07-13 

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— It depends.

At the end of the game, when one team has game on the ground and the other team is out of boules, everyone recognizes that the game is over.

Before the end of the game, however, the practice of “taking the point” is recognized in some clubs, but not in others. The NJBB (the Dutch national petanque federation), for instance, does recognize it.

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.

But in clubs that don’t recognize it, a visiting player will be told that he can’t just “take the point”— he must actually throw his last boule. One reason for this policy 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. Most FIPJP umpires will 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. On the other hand, as we’ve seen, the NJBB considers saying “we’ll take the point” to be VIRTUALLY throwing the last of the team’s boules, so Team B can not play their last boule.

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.

My personal opinion is that it is best to avoid such questions if you can. And for that reason I think a good maxim is— always play all of your boules.

The official FIPJP position— unplayed boules don’t count

This sometimes happens in singles games. Player A has thrown all of his 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 to fail 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. For an example, watch Christian Fazzino score three points in mene 11 of a singles game against Marco Foyot… even though he doesn’t actually throw his last two boules.

Still, in an umpired game, an umpire will probably expect him actually to play his remaining boules. 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 FIPJP rules are clear— the player MUST throw his remaining boules if he wishes to score points with them.

1 thought on “Must a team throw ALL of its boules?

  1. 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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