Which team throws next?

[revised: 2020-12-16]
Here is a quick review.

If the point is decided, the team that does not have the point plays next. If the point is null, the teams play alternately until the point is decided, starting with the team that created the null point.
 

Some background concepts

  1. Assuming that both teams still have unplayed boules, there can be one of two situations on the ground.
    • One team has the point: the point is decided (attribué).
    • Neither team has the point: the point is null (un point nul).

     
    So—

    • If the point is decided, the team that does NOT have the point throws next.
    • If the point is null, the teams throw alternately until the point is decided, starting with the team that threw the ball that created the null point.

     

  2. The point is null in two situations.
    • The best boules of the two teams are the same distance from the jack (an equidistant boules situation).
    • There are no boules on the terrain (an empty terrain situation).

     

  3. There are two ways for a team to create an empty terrain situation.
    • The team throws the jack to start a mene. Throwing out the jack creates an empty terrain situation, so the team that threw the jack starts alternating play by throwing the first boule.
       
    • The team throws a boule that knocks out all of the boules on the terrain and then itself rolls out-of-bounds, leaving the terrain empty. When that happens, the team starts alternating play by throwing the next boule.

These procedures are described in Article 16 and Article 29 of the FIPJP rules (see below for the text of those articles). Unfortunately, those articles don’t describe them clearly, so players are often unsure about how to apply them in unusual situations. Let’s look at some unusual situations and see how they should handled.

(A) The opening boules keep going out-of-bounds.
What if the first boule thrown goes out-of-bounds?
What if the first boule and the second boule go out-of-bounds?

Team A creates a null point by throwing the jack. It then starts alternating play by throwing its first boule, A1. If A1 goes out-of-bounds, then Team A has failed to decide the point (the terrain is still empty), so Team B continues alternating play by throwing its first boule, B1. If B1 goes out-of-bounds, then Team B has also failed to decide the point (the terrain is still empty), so Team A continues alternating play by throwing its next boule, A2. And so on. In an extreme situation, if each of the first four boules (A1, B1, A2, B2) goes out of bounds, play looks like this.

  • Team A throws the jack (creating an empty terrain situation).
  • Team A throws boule A1 (to start alternating play).
  • Team B throws B1 (continues alternating play).
  • Team A throws A2 (continues alternating play).
  • Team B throws B2 (continues alternating play).
  • Team A throws A3.


(B) An equidistant boules situation comes back from the dead.
Team A points boule A1, Team B points boule B1, and B1 comes to rest at the same distance from the jack as A1. (left, below) Because Team B has created an equidistant boules situation, Team B starts alternating play by throwing boule B2.

  • B2 gains the point. (center)
  • Team A throws A2, which hits away B2. Now A1 and B1 are again in an equidistant boules situation. (right)

Players sometimes think of this as “bringing back” the original equidistant boules situation. This is a mistake. What has happened is that another equidistant boules situation has been created. Equidistant boules situations are like solar eclipses. They can happen over and over again, sometimes involving the same objects in the same arrangement, but each episode is a different event. The throw of B1 created an equidistant boules situation (left) that lasted until it was ended by the throw of B2 (center). The throw of A2 removed B2 and created another equidistant boules situation (right). The situation on the right is similar to, but different, from the situation on the left, just as this year’s solar eclipse is is similar to, but different, from last year’s solar eclipse. Team A has created a second equidistant boules situation, so it starts alternating play by throwing its next boule, A3.


(C) One of the equidistant boules is exactly replaced.
Suppose that Team A points boule A1. Team B points boule B1, which comes to rest at exactly the same distance from the jack as A1. Team B starts alternating play; they throw boule B2, trying to shoot A1. But the shot misses! B2 knocks away B1 away and exactly replaces it. Now, A1 and B2 are equidistant.

Players sometimes think this has created “a new null point” (“c’est un nouveau point nul“) “because it is a different boule that is now equidistant from the jack.” This is a mistake. While it is true that the boules involved have changed (and in this sense there is “a new situation”), the relevant fact is that the point was not decided. Alternating play therefore continues. Since Team B was the last to play, Team A throws next.


(D) An equidistant boules situation is converted into an empty terrain situation.
Suppose that Team A throws boule A1. Team B throws boule B1, which ends up exactly equidistant from the jack. Team B starts alternating play by throwing next. Team B wants to use boule B2 to shoot A1, but misses. B2 knocks both boules on the terrain out-of-bounds and then itself rolls out of bounds. There are no boules left on the terrain.

Players sometimes think that this creates “a new null point” because an equidistant boules situation was changed into an empty terrain situation. This is a mistake. As I said in connection with the previous situation: while it is true that the situation has changed, the relevant fact is that the point was not decided. Alternating play therefore continues. Since Team B was the last to play, Team A throws next.


The relevant articles in the FIPJP rules of petanque.

Article 16
If the first boule played goes into an out-of-bounds area, it is for the opponent to play, then alternately as long as there are no boules in the in-bounds area. If no boule is left in the in-bounds area after a shooting throw or a pointing throw, apply the provisions of Article 29 concerning a null point (point nul).

Article 29 – Boules equidistant from the jack
When the two boules closest to the jack belong to different teams and are at an equal distance from it… If both teams still have boules, the team that played the last boule plays again, then the opposing team, and so on alternately until the point belongs to one of them.

Post a comment, or send us a message

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.