2020 rules – new rules about placing the circle and the jack

[revised 2021-05-30]
[For other posts about the 2020 rules and changes to the rules, see THIS.]
The FIPJP rules have changed. Article 7 of the 2020 version of the rules makes dramatic changes to the rules about where the circle and the jack can be thrown or placed. Basically, the new rules specify minimum required distances from three things— boundaries, other games, and obstacles.

Previously, the rules defining the landing strip were quite complex. Now there is only one simple rule. The jack can be thrown or placed anywhere on the assigned lane, except within 50cm of an end (short side) of the lane.

There is no longer any requirement that a jack must be a minimum distance from a side line or a dead-ball line. As long as the jack is touching the ground of the assigned lane, it is valid. It can touch a side line, and even extend over it, and still be valid. (A thrown jack is not like a hit jack, which can be resting on ground outside the dead-ball line and still be good.)


Other games
The rule now is simple. The circle and jack must be at least 1.5 meters from any other active circle or jack.

Formerly, the circle and the jack had to be at least 1 meter from any obstacle. The distance for the jack was reduced to 50cm, so now the minimum distance from an obstacle is different for the circle and the jack.

  • The circle must be at least 1 meter from any obstacle.
  • The jack must be at least 50cm from any obstacle.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: there are three simple rules.

  1. The thrown or placed jack must be at least 50cm from an end line or a pointing obstacle.
  2. The circle must be placed at least 1 meter from any throwing obstacle.
  3. The circle and jack must be at least 1.5 meters from any other active circle or jack.

Worst-case scenarios under the new rules
The new requirement that the jack must be at least 1.5 meters from any other active circle or jack, has raised concerns that it would create problems, especially when playing on a narrow 3-meter-wide lane.

One worst-case scenario occurs with active jacks in neighboring games kissing the boundary strings on both sides. The full width of the lane is available only if you throw the jack to 6-7 meters. There is no place on the lane where you can throw the jack to 8.5 meters. (In this diagram, pink areas show the landing strip for the jack.)

Perhaps the very worst scenario is this one. The neighboring jacks are offset from each other, so that there is virtually no place where the landing strip extends the full width of the lane.

Obviously, such situations will be extremely rare. But they are possible.

Can the thrown jack straddle a side boundary line?

The 2020 rules removed the requirement that a jack must be some minimum distance from a side line. This has prompted players to ask questions like this one on Ask the Umpire.

Must the thrown jack be 100% inside the side line of the lane? Or can it straddle the side line and still be valid, like a boule or a hit jack?

The rules say that the jack must be thrown on the assigned terrain (see Article 6). So the question essentially boils down to this—

What does “on the assigned terrain” mean?   Is a thrown jack straddling a side guide line considered to be “on the assigned terrain”?

The answer to this question was provided by Mike Pegg. In order to be valid, the thrown jack must be touching the ground of the assigned lane. A jack that is touching the ground inside the line is valid even if it is also touching the the line (string) around the assigned lane. Because the jack has a round shape and is larger than the string, if the jack is touching the string, it will also be slightly bulging over the string. That’s OK. The jack is valid.

Note that this is different from the rule about “entirely crossing the line” in order for a boule or jack to be considered dead. In that rule, a boule or jack may be resting on dead ground, or even on the string itself, and still be alive. That is DIFFERENT from the rule governing a thrown jack.

Because a plastic throwing circle doesn’t have the same kind of round shape as a jack, the rule for the throwing circle is different. To be considered “on the assigned lane”, the entire circle must be inside the boundary lines of the lane. The side of the circle may touch the line, but the circle cannot extend over the line.

Some players have asked—

What if one throws the jack up to the side line string, the jack rolls and touches the string, and then curves back in and comes to rest in a valid position. Would the jack be considered as valid?

The answer is clearly YES. If the jack had rolled up to the string and stopped right there, touching the string, it would be valid. And rolling away from the string afterwards doesn’t change that.

But consider a more radical question.

What if one throws the jack. It crosses the terrain boundary-line, hits something on the ground near the line, and bounces back inside the boundary line of the terrain. Is the thrown jack valid?

There is a difference between a jack being alive and being valid. Mike Pegg says that the thrown jack comes alive when it leaves the player’s hand. It is alive as it flies through the air. When it comes to rest on the terrain— if it is in a valid location, and if it is still alive— it becomes valid. On the other hand, if the jack in its journey crosses the dead ball line, it is dead on arrival. It cannot become valid.

11 thoughts on “2020 rules – new rules about placing the circle and the jack

  1. (a) In the new rules, is it compulsory for the jack to be marked?

    (b) In Article 6, the team that throws an invalid Jack should move the jack away. But here’s a problem with the expression ‘second team’. The “second team” — is he a opponent? That is to say– The opponent gets yellow card if he puts the jack in an invalid location?

    • Hi Mani,
      (a) Yes, the jack MUST be marked when it is placed, and whenever it is hit and moved.

      (b) Yes, in Article 6 the “second team” is the opponent. (The people who write the FIPJP rules should be more careful about using consistent terminology!) So YES — if the opponent puts the jack down in an invalid place, the opponent gets a yellow card. The opponents must then also go back and put the jack down in a place that is valid.

      See also this

  2. Can the jack be thrown from one lane to another where adjoining lanes (side by side) are not separated by dead ball lines?

    We have 15 adjoining lanes with a dead ball line surrounding the whole 15. The lines separating the lanes are not designated as dead ball lines. In other words— Should the jack be thrown only within the designated lane (other constraints accepted) regardless of the lines around the terrain are designated dead ball or not?

    • The jack must be thrown on the designated lane, regardless of whether the side lines are dead-ball lines (as they are in time-limited games) or merely guidelines (as they normally are). So there are no circumstances under which the jack can be thrown onto an adjoining lane. Thanks for writing your question so clearly! 🙂

      I’m happy to be able to answer your question.
      Just for future reference there is also a Facebook Petanque Q&A page:

  3. Having just joined a club I have noticed the thrown jack (kosh?) is frequently being repositioned due to NOT being a metre from the terain boundary line or NOT being 6 m from the circle. Am I correct in saying these are old rules and that the jack is valid providing it is on the ground within the lane, even if touching the lane marker, provided it is 50cm from the 10m end line or back board?

    • Hi Rob,
      Yes, you are correct. The old rules said that a thrown jack must be at least a meter from any dead-ball line. The new (2020) rules changed that rule, and the new rules now say that a thrown jack must be at least 50cm from an END line. There is no required minimum distance from a SIDE line. You are correct to say that under the new rules the jack can be touching a side line and still be legal.

      Many players dislike this change to the rules, and they continue to use the older rules in social play. That may be what you’re seeing.

  4. Hi Mani,
    The wording of your questions seems to me to be very odd. You do not use the same vocabulary as the French rules of petanque. Perhaps your native language is not French, or perhaps you speak a dialect of French that I’m not familiar with. In either case, can you write your questions in English?

    Je suis désolé, je ne comprends pas votre question. Mon français est limité et vous utilisez des mots et des expressions que je ne connais pas. Vous devriez poser votre question sur un site web francophone tel que “La pétanque et ses règles” – https://www.facebook.com/groups/498721234161561

    Perhaps this will help you. Peut-être que cela vous aidera.


    After the first mene, the last-scoring team draws or places the throwing circle on the terrain using the following procedure.

    {1} If in the previous mene the jack’s last stationary location was on the home terrain, the circle is placed around that location. Otherwise, the circle is placed on the home terrain, as close as possible to the last place where the jack was alive in the previous mene.

    Then —

    {2} If the circle is in a location from which the jack cannot be thrown to the maximum legal distance (10 meters), the last-scoring team may optionally move the circle in a direction away from the circle’s location in the previous mene, up to but not beyond the point where it is possible to throw the jack to the maximum legal distance in the direction of the circle’s previous location.

    {3} If the circle is located less than 1 meter from a throwing obstacle, or less than 1.5 meters from another game’s circle or jack, the circle is moved the minimum distance necessary to fix those problems.


    Après la première mène, l’équipe qui qui a marqué le dernier point, dessine ou place le cercle de lancement sur le terrain en suivant la procédure suivante—

    {1} Si, dans la mène précédent, le dernier emplacement stationnaire du bouchon se trouvait sur le terrain désigné, le cercle est posé autour de cet emplacement. Sinon, le cercle est posé sur le terrain désigné, aussi près que possible de la dernière place où le bouchon était bon dans la mène précédent.


    {2} Si le cercle se trouve à un endroit d’où le bouchon ne peut pas être lancé à la distance maximale légale (10 mètres), l’équipe qui a marqué le dernier point peut, si elle le désire, déplacer le cercle dans une direction qui s’éloigne de l’endroit où il (le cercle) se trouvait lors de la précédente mène, jusqu’au point, mais pas au-delà, où il est possible de lancer le bouchon à la distance maximale légale dans la direction de l’endroit où se trouvait le cercle.

    {3} Si le cercle est situé à moins de 1 mètre d’un obstacle à lancement ou à moins de 1.5 mètres du cercle ou du bouchon d’un autre jeu, le cercle est déplacé à la distance minimale nécessaire pour résoudre ces problèmes.

  5. I am from Iran. In my country, there is a lot of disagreement over petanque laws My question is about putting the ring in Jack’s place after the set. Can I put the ring in Jack’s place at a distance of 7 meters from the finish line or not ??

    • Hi Mani — I remember talking to you earlier in English. I think English works better for both of us! 🙂

      The answer to your question is YES. If you put the circle (the ring) down around the jack, and it is a distance of only 7 m to the dead-ball line at the end of the lane (terrain), the rules say that you CAN, if you want, move the circle. But the rules do not require you to move the circle. You can leave it there, at 7 m, if you want to.

      If you leave the circle at 7 m, the problem is this. You must throw the jack to at least 6 m from the circle. And you cannot throw the jack closer than 50cm from the dead-ball line at the end of the lane. Therefore you must throw the jack to 6m – 6.50m. That might be difficult to do.

      I discuss these questions in this post —

      “Stepping back” to move the circle

      Your question is similar to Q8.

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