Can a team “take the point”? Can a team retract taking the point?

Can a team “take the point”?

Sometimes this happens.

It is near the end of the mene. Team A is out of boules. Team B has the point and one unplayed boule.

Team B is worried— if they attempt to gain another point, their last boule might mess up the situation around the jack… they could lose the one point that they now have. So they decide to play it safe. Team B’s player throws his last boule far away from the jack.

When he throws away his last boule, the player can expect some good-natured ribbing about his “chicken throw”. So, rather than performing a chicken throw, he holds on to his last boule and says “We’ll take the point”. By that he means— “We’re not going to throw any more boules; we’ll just take the point(s) that we already have.”

When he does this, rules wonks may 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 a definite “maybe”. The practice of “taking the point” is universally accepted when one team is out of boules and the other team has game on the ground. When that happens, the game is over; there is no reason to throw any more boules.

IN OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES, 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.

Can a team retract taking the point?

“Taking the point” can cause problems.

Team B is sure that they have the point, so they say “we’ll take the point”. The two teams walk to the head and examine the situation. They realize that matters are not as clear as they thought, so they decide to measure. When they measure, Team B discover that they were mistaken; they do not have the point.

The captain of Team B says, “Well, in that case we will play our remaining boule.” But Team A objects, on the grounds 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?

Here, as in so many other cases involving the FIPJP rules, 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.

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.

I’m sympathetic to the NJBB position, which seems very commonsensical. But the FIPJP interpretation forestalls debates about what Team B may or may not have said, and about whether it can be retracted. This is an important practical benefit, and for that reason I personally endorse the FIPJP interpretation.

My advice, therefore, is that even if “taking the point” is acceptable in your club, you should always play all of your boules. A chicken throw is nothing to be ashamed of when it is also the Smart Thing To Do.

[revised: 2020-08-08]

1 thought on “Can a team “take the point”? Can a team retract taking 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.

    Your [original] post suggested that “we’ll take the point” might be more common among European players than American players. 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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