Can an object outside the lane be a pointing obstacle?
The answer is— YES.
With the 2020 rules changes, it is now legal to throw the jack right up against a side boundary line, and players are asking questions that they never asked before.
Lanes A and B are separated by a boundary string. There is an object (a tree) in lane B, very close to the boundary string. This object is a pointing obstacle on lane B. Is it a pointing obstacle for lane A?
Article 7 specifies that a thrown (or placed) jack must be at least 50cm from any obstacle. This insures that there is a sort of open range for boules around the jack so that it is possible for a player to point a boule anywhere into that zone. So the question boils down to— Are there any situations in which the object on lane B could be located in the open range around a jack on lane A?
The answer is YES, but there there are two slightly different situations that we need to consider.
The boundary line is a guide-line but not a dead-ball line
When the boundary line is simply a guide-line, neighboring lanes are live ground (terrain authorisée) for a game, and the open range around the jack can extend across a side boundary string and into a neighboring lane.
The boundary line is a dead-ball line
When the boundary line is a dead-ball line (as it would be in a time-limited game), the open range around the jack can extend 8cm, but only 8cm, into a neighboring lane.
The maximum legal diameter of a boule is 8cm. A boule can almost cross a dead-ball line and still be alive. That means that an object that is less than 8cm outside a dead-ball line actually can be an obstacle to a boule that has almost, but not completely, crossed the line. In effect, the open range for boules generated by the jack extends 8cm into dead ground, but no more. Beyond 8cm from the dead-ball line no boule can survive, so an object located there can not be an obstacle to a live boule.
THE BOTTOM LINE— Something outside the lane is a pointing obstacle if (a) it is less than 50cm from the jack, and (b) it is less than 8cm outside the dead-ball line.
In this diagram the shaded area is part of lane B, and it is also part of the open range for boules around the jack on lane A. Any object that occupies any part of the shaded area is a pointing obstacle for the jack on lane A.
Let’s look at a concrete example. In this diagram we see a tree on lane B, close to the dead-ball string. There are areas of the open range around the jack where the boule can’t be pointed— those areas are already occupied by the tree, and no two objects can occupy the same space at the same time. So the tree really is a pointing obstacle. This is just the kind of situation that the notion of an open range around the jack is meant to prevent— a feature of the terrain is blocking a boule’s legitimate access to part of the area around the jack.
Players often have similar questions about wooden surrounds (boule-stops), which are, after all, objects outside the lane boundaries.
Is a wooden surround a pointing obstacle?
Our terrain is marked by dead-ball strings and enclosed by a wooden surround (boule-stop). Is the wooden surround a pointing obstacle?
Since the open range for boules around a jack can extend 8cm into dead ground—
- If the wooden surround is 8cm or less from the dead-ball string, it is indeed a pointing obstacle and the thrown jack must be at least 50cm from it.
- Otherwise (if the surround is more than 8cm from of the dead-ball string) it is not a pointing obstacle. You can throw the jack right up against a side dead-ball line.
This is why a wooden surround should always be installed more than 8cm outside a dead-ball string. Or maybe we should say— the dead-ball string should always be installed more than 8cm inside the wooden surround. The recommended minimum distance is 30cm.
When there is no dead-ball string, is a wooden surround an obstacle?
Our terrain is enclosed by a wooden surround, but we have no dead-ball strings. Is the wooden surround considered to be a pointing obstacle?
Not installing dead-ball strings may be a perfectly sensible decision in light of your local conditions. Still, it means that you are not playing by FIPJP rules; you are playing by your own local rules. Don’t waste time trying to figure out how the FIPJP rules should work under your local rules. Develop your own local rule for this situation. Adopt whatever rule makes the most sense in your local conditions.
If it were my decision to make, I would decide to consider a wooden surround a pointing obstacle. That would mean that the thrown (or placed) jack must be at least 50cm from it. I think that that would be the best way to achieve the intent of the rule— to insure that there is an open area on all sides of the the jack, so that a player can point a boule anywhere into that open area.