2020 rules booklet

Many players and umpires like to carry a rules booklet in their boule bag. Here is our booklet of the FIPJP’s British English translation of the 2020 rules. Our American English translation is still under development. Download and print on 8.5″x11″ paper or A4 paper.

FIPJP British English booklet    pdf    docx

The 2020 rules, in French and English, in other formats can be found on our RULES ARCHIVE page.

This is what the booklet looks like when assembled.
[updated 2021-01-12: Thanks to Gary Jones for catching a FAQ that hadn't been updated for the 2020 rules.]

2020 rules – placing the jack

The 2020 version of the FIPJP rules contains new rules about throwing the jack. Naturally, this means that players have new questions. Here is one that was recently posted on Ask the Umpire.

Must the thrown jack be 100% inside the side line of the lane? Or can it touch the side line (like the validity of the jack or a boule during the game)?

This question was prompted by the 2020 rules revision, but Article 6 has always said that the jack must be thrown on the assigned terrain. So the real question is— What does it mean to say “on the assigned terrain“?   A hit jack straddling a dead-ball line is considered to be live. Is a thrown jack straddling a side guide line considered to be “on the assigned terrain”?

Mike Pegg’s answer was NO… “The jack can be thrown up to the side line, but not on or over it.” Mike’s opinion is that in order to be “on the assigned terrain” the thrown jack must be COMPLETELY inside the guide lines of the lane; it must not be straddling or even touching a guide line.

The editors of boulistenaute.com disagree. This diagram from boulistenaute.com clearly shows a valid thrown jack straddling a side line.

History and earlier versions of the FIPJP rules don’t really offer any insight, because this issue simply never came up. In the past, if the adjoining lanes were dead ground, the jack always had to be at least 50cm away from the sidelines. If the adjoining lanes were live ground, there was no reason to care very much about whether or not the thrown jack was straddling a guideline. I think that if you travelled back in time to, say, 2016 and asked around, most umpires would probably say YES: a thrown jack straddling a guide line between two live terrains is valid.

The bottom line is that the written rules do not define “on the assigned terrain“. The rules do clearly say that a boule or a hit jack is still alive if it is straddling a dead-ball line. Reasoning by analogy naturally leads to the conclusion that a thrown jack is valid if it is straddling a guide line.

If you’re playing in a competition and this situation comes up, what kind of decision can you expect from the umpire? Well… who knows?


[This post was revised 2021-01-02 after further thought and research led me to change my opinions on this topic. I've deleted or edited comments on the first version of this post that refer to opinions that no longer appear in this post.]

2020 rules – new constraints when placing the circle and the jack

The FIPJP rules have changed. With the 2020 version of the rules comes an almost completely different set of constraints on how far the circle or the thrown jack must be from obstacles, dead-ball lines, and jacks and circles in neighboring lanes. The new rules are in Article 7.

With respect to circles or jacks in neighboring games:

  • When placing the circle or the jack, the placed circle or jack must be at least 1.5 meters from any jack or circle in a game on a neighboring terrain.

With respect to obstacles:

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

With respect to dead-ball lines:

  • The jack must be at least 50cm from any end dead-ball line.

When throwing the jack, note that:

  • There is no requirement for a minimum distance between the jack and a side dead-ball line. This constraint was abolished.
  • Mike Pegg says that “The jack can be thrown up to the side line, but not on or over it.” This means that a thrown jack is not like a hit jack, which can straddle a dead-ball line and still be good.
  • The minimum distance between a thrown jack and a pointing obstacle has been reduced from 1 meter to 50 cm.

To help me remember these new rules, I diagrammed the “landing strip” for the jack (the area where a player is permitted to place the jack) and I did the same for the circle.


The landing strip for the circle
The area where you are allowed to place the circle is shown in pink. Note the areas cut out of the landing strip by constraints from a jack, from another circle, and from a throwing obstacle (a tree). I’ve shown the circle in the neighboring lane as located just across the end dead-ball line— this seems to me the most likely scenario for that particular constraint. (The diagram is drawn to scale; the lane is 4 meters wide.)


The landing strip for the jack
The area where you are allowed to throw or place the jack is shown in pink. Note the areas cut out of the landing strip by constraints from another jack, from end dead-ball lines, from another circle, and from a pointing obstacle (a tree). Note that the minimum distance between a thrown jack and a pointing obstacle (such as a tree) has been reduced from 1 meter to 50 cm. (The diagram is drawn to scale; the lane is 4 meters wide.)


The worst-case scenario for throwing the jack
With these new rules in place, assuming competition conditions (no obstacles), when are your options for throwing the jack most limited? It is in a time-limited game on a 3-meter-wide terrain with the circle 10 meters from the far dead-ball line. The full width of the terrain is available only if you throw the jack to 6-7 meters. There is no place on the terrain where you can throw the jack to 8.5 meters. (The diagram is drawn to scale; the lane is 3 meters wide.)

This one gets my vote for the worst-case scenario. The problematic jacks aren’t opposite each other. The size of the largest contiguous area is smaller than in the previous diagram and there is virtually no place where the full width of the terrain is available.

UPDATES TO THE ORIGINAL POST
[2020-12-28] An error in the English translation of Article 7.3 was discovered, and then correctd. The post is now based on the French version of the rules.]
[2020-12-29] Fixed a mistake in the diagrams. 1.5m distances were being shown as only 1.25m.
[2020-12-29] Added two diagrams of the worst-case scenario.

2020 rules – new FIPJP rules for 2021

The FIPJP has just released a new/revised version of the international rules of petanque. You can download a copy of the 2020 version of the rules (in pdf format) from the FIPJP or CEP web sites. You can also download a copy of the new version (in pdf or docx format) from our archives page. Our archives page also has files generated by Microsoft Word showing the differences between the 2016 rules and the 2020 rules. There is also a link to a quick online reference page where you can easily read the rules on your smart phone.

Our American English translation of the 2020 rules is in development and should be ready in January or February 2021.

Here is an overview of the changes in the 2020 rules. First I list some minor changes to the rules, then I list the more substantial changes.


Minor changes to the rules

1. A few paragraphs have been moved to slightly different places.  In a few places, the wording of the rules has been slightly improved.  In the French rules, the word for a singles game (tête-à-tête) has been replaced by the word individuel.    In Article 20, the expression terrain jouable has been changed to terrain autorisé.   References to the “penalties” specified in Article 35 have been changed to references to the “sanctions” specified there. References to “the umpire” have been replaced by “an umpire”.

2. In Article 22, a boule moved by a boule in the game is no longer “valid”; now it “remains in its new position.” But in Article 12, a jack moved by a boule in the game is still “valid”.

3. Errors left in the text after the 2016 revision have been corrected. In Article 8, the sentence “If any team proceeds differently, it loses the benefit of the throwing of the jack” has been removed.   The incorrect reference to the “second paragraph of Article 8″ in Article 16, was corrected to “third paragraph”. 

4. Over the years, the umpires have tried to specify— everywhere in the rules— that an illegally-moved boule or jack could be put it back in its original location, provided it was marked.  Now they’ve fixed a few places that they’d missed earlier. [Article 22, Article 23] 

5. Now: the rules explicitly state that boules must be hollow (creuse).  [Article 2]

6. Now: if a disabled player plays with only one foot inside the circle, “the other foot must not be in front of it.

7. Now: no-one, as a test, may throw their boules during a game including away from the lane where they are playing. 

Substantive changes to the rules

1. [Article 6] [Article 12]

Formerly Article 12 said: “To avoid any argument, the players must mark the jack’s position. No claim can be accepted regarding boules or jack whose positions have not been marked.”  This was widely, although not universally, interpreted as a hypothetical imperative— “If you want to avoid arguments, then you must mark the jack’s position.” This rule has been REMOVED from Article 12.

It has been REPLACED by a new rule in Article 6: “The players must mark the position of the jack initially and after each time it is moved. No claims will be allowed for an unmarked jack and the umpire will rule only on the position of the jack on the terrain.” This rule is clearly a requirement, not a hypothetical imperative.  Players must mark the position of the thrown-or-placed jack, and must mark the jack’s location again every time it is subsequently moved. Mike Pegg says that it is the responsibility of the player that threw or placed or moved the jack to mark it. I think that in practice it will be acceptable for the jack to be marked by whichever player is closest to the jack at the time, but if there is ever a problem because the jack wasn’t marked, the player that threw or placed or moved the jack will be held responsible and he/she will be given a warning (shown a yellow card).

2. [Article 7] Throw away all of your old rules about how far the circle or the thrown jack must be from… whatever. The new rules are different.

With respect to circles or jacks in neighboring games:

  • When placing the circle or the jack, the placed circle or jack must be at least 1.5 meters from any jack or circle in a game on a neighboring terrain.

With respect to obstacles:

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

With respect to dead-ball lines:

  • The jack must be at least 50cm from any end dead-ball line.
  • Note that there is no requirement for a minimum distance between the jack and a side dead-ball line.

You can find a helpful explanation of the current state of Article 7, complete with colorful diagrams, HERE.

Why 1.5m?   I think it must be because 3m is the minimum width of a terrain in regional competitions. Half that width is just about the right distance to be effective and workable on a 3m-wide terrain.

Formerly the rule was that a thrown jack must be 1 meter away from a side dead-ball line in normal games, and 50 cm in time-limited games. Mike Pegg says that the reason for changing the rule was to provide “more room to play and a uniform distance for timed and not timed games.”

He also says that “The jack can be thrown up to the side line, but not on or over it.” If that is true, it means that a thrown jack is not like a hit jack, which can straddle a dead-ball line and still be good.

3. [Article 8] If Team A fails to throw a valid jack, the opponents must place it on the terrain at a valid position.  ADDED: “If the jack is not placed in a valid position by the second team, the player who placed it shall be subject to the penalties outlined in article 35. In the event of a repeat offence, a new card will be issued to the whole team, in addition to any cards previously received.”

This change addresses a frequently-asked question about the 2016 rules: “If Albert, on Team A, fails to place the jack in a valid location, should he (or Team A) be penalized, or merely instructed to place it properly?”   The rules now answer that question— he should be penalized.

In fact the 2020 rules provide a remarkably detailed account of how the penalty must be imposed. Suppose that Albert fails to place a valid jack. The umpire gives him a warning (yellow card). Then, if any player on Albert’s team fails to place a valid jack (a repeat of the same offense), a yellow card (warning) will be imposed on Albert and on each of his teammates.

4. [Article 16] REMOVED: “It is forbidden to moisten the boules or the jack.”   Mike Pegg says that the rule was removed “because it is extremely difficult if not impossible for the umpire to enforce/check that each and every player is not using a damp cloth.”

5. [Article 28] The phrase “or disturbs” was added to the first sentence, like this: “The team, whose player displaces or disturbs the jack or one of the contested boules, while effecting a measurement, loses the point. If, during the measurement of a point, the Umpire disturbs or displaces the jack or a boule…” This was probably added in order to increase the parallelism between the two sentences.  But it is problematic.   Up to now a player who gently bumps a boule (it rocks in place but doesn’t change location) has been held not to have displaced it. Now I wonder whether or not bumping but not moving a boule counts as “disturbing” it. Mike Pegg says that merely touching a boule counts as disturbing it.

6. [Article 32] [Article 33] Formerly a team was eliminated from the competition if it was late by more than an hour; now they will be eliminated if they are more than 30 minutes late.

7. [Article 33, Late arrival of players] ADDED: After the first end of a game… “the following ends are considered to have started as soon as the last boule from the previous end has stopped.”  For a long time it has been the standard practice in time-limited games to deem one end to have finished, and the next end to have started, when the last boule thrown in the end comes to rest.  Now this same criterion has been adopted by the FIPJP rules for the purposes of determining when a late-arriving player may join a game.

Notes on the English translation

In a few places the English translation was wrong and has been corrected.   For example, in Article 5 the teams may now be “required” (not “asked”) to play on marked terrains.

However, in several important places, the FIPJP English translation is still incorrect.

► Article 16 still mistranslates point nul as “dead end” rather than “null point”.

► Article 29 still mistranslates une mene nulle as an end that is “dead” or “null and void”, rather than “scoreless”.

► In a number of cases, the English rules mistranslate terrain autorisé as “authorised terrain”, rather than “the in-bounds area” of a game.