Foot faults – What to do?

For a number of years a slow-motion discussion/debate has been creeping along on Mike Pegg’s “Ask the Umpire” Facebook forum, about how umpires should handle foot faults. This is a technical debate by, for, and about umpires and has little relevance for grass-roots players. And it seems to be settled; the umpiring community seems to have reached a consensus on the answer. But it is something that keeps coming up periodically on “Ask the Umpire”, so I think it is worth-while to summarize the current state of the discussion.


The basic question is— When a player commits a foot fault (steps on the circle or lifts a foot) what should the umpire do? And two different answers have been proposed.

  1. The umpire should impose one of the standard penalties listed in Article 35. In most cases, this means giving the player a warning (yellow card).
     
  2. The umpire should impose a standard penalty. In addition, the umpire should disqualify the player’s boule, and restore any balls that it moved to their original locations (if those locations were marked).

Two different arguments have been offered for the second answer.

  1. The player violated the rules when he committed the foot fault. The umpire therefore should follow the procedures described in Article 24 for handling boules “thrown contrary to the rules”. This means disqualifying the boule, re-spotting balls, etc. etc.
     
  2. The player derived an “unfair advantage” from his violation of the rules. An umpire should never allow a player to benefit from violating the rules, so the umpire should undo the effects of the player’s boule. This means disqualifying the boule, re-spotting balls, etc. etc.

The consensus of opinion (supported in my opinion by sound reasoning) seems to be that the correct answer is (1). The umpire should impose a penalty, but leave the situation on the ground unchanged.


The grounds for this opinion go back to 2016 when the bolded text (below) was inserted into Article 24. I don’t know why this change was made. Possibly it was designed specifically to resolve the question that we’re now discussing.

Article 24 – Boules thrown contrary to the rules
Except for cases in which these regulations specify the application of specific and graduated penalties in article 35, any boule thrown contrary to the rules is dead, and anything that it displaced in its travel is put back in place, if those objects had been marked. However, the opponent has the right to apply the advantage rule and declare it to be valid. In this case, the boule pointed or shot, is valid and anything it has displaced remains in its place.

It took a while for the implications of the change to filter out into the umpiring community. In 2018 the foot fault question came up again on Ask the Umpire. In the Masters de Pétanque an umpire had given Dylan Rocher a warning for a foot fault, but he did not disqualify Dylan’s thrown boule. The question was— Did the umpire rule correctly?

Mike Pegg replied with answer 2b— “The umpire should have disqualified the boule and put back the original boule because the player who lifted his foot should not be given this unfair advantage.”

In response, FPUSA umpire Gary Jones pointed out that “Since Article 6 clearly states that Article 35 should be applied for the infraction of lifting one’s foot while throwing, and Article 24 clearly states that it is applicable only where the rules do not provide for specific and graduated penalties as outlined in Article 35, I would rule exactly as the presiding umpire did.”

At the time, Mike didn’t accept Gary’s position. But Gary was clearly correct and by 2022 Mike had changed his mind and ruled in in the same way as Gary and the original umpire.


Let’s look at the arguments supporting the position that the umpire should step in and disqualify the thrown boule. For a number of years, umpires found these arguments persuasive, although they weren’t often articulated clearly.

The first argument is that the player violated the rules when he committed the foot fault, and the umpire therefore should follow the procedures described in Article 24 for handling boules “thrown contrary to the rules”. This is wrong. The new clause in Article 24 makes it quite clear that the penalties in Article 6, not the advantage rule in Article 24, should be applied in case of a foot fault. And in fact, Article 24 has never given the umpire the right to step in and undo the effects of a boule “thrown contrary to the rules”. The rule has always been that the offended team, not the umpire, may apply the advantage rule.

The second argument is that the player gained an “unfair benefit” from his violation of the rules. An umpire should never allow a player to benefit from violating the rules, so the umpire should undo the effects of the player’s boule. As Mazlan Ahmad puts it

What if the score stood at 12-12, and then the player shoots with feet outside the circle. He gets the yellow card, but wins the game! He still benefitted from the fault!   I have [a rule] embeded in my mind, from reading the article/book “Petanque – a guide to umpiring” (by our Admin, Mike Pegg) and I’m holding fast to it— A FAULT MUST NEVER BENEFIT THE PERSON WHO COMMITTED IT.

The crux of this argument is the idea that if a player commits a foot fault while making a successful throw, his success must be due to the foot fault— committing the foot fault gave him some kind of special benefit. But this is the well-known mistake of confusing proximity in time with causation, the old post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy. In fact the idea that (say) stepping on the circle can enable a player to carreau when otherwise he would miss completely, isn’t even remotely plausible. Even in the most extreme cases that one can imagine, the possible benfit of the foot fault is insignificant. In short, it is a myth that committing a foot fault gives a player some kind of benefit. When we accept this fact, the second argument collapses.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The consensus of opinion in the umpiring community is that when a player commits a foot fault, the umpire should follow the provisions of Article 6 and penalize him with one of the standard penalties listed in Article 35. The umpire should NOT change anything about the situation on the ground, no matter how successful or unsuccessful the player’s throw was.

Dylan Rocher’s right foot is lifed completely off of the ground and outside the circle. The thrown boule is still too high in the air to be seen in this picture. He has sloppy form, but that’s not what makes him one of the most accurate shooters in the world.


The boule advantage – an important petanque concept

updated 2021-12-21

To understand petanque at the strategic level, you need to understand the concept of “the boule advantage”.

The basic idea is simple — the team with the most unplayed boules “has the boule advantage”. If your team has two unplayed boules, and my team has four, then my team has the boule advantage.

Digging a bit deeper

It is possible to provide a precise definition of the boule advantage.

If a team gains the point every time it throws, we will say that the team plays perfectly. (Note that it doesn’t make any difference how the team gains the point. They can out-point the opposition, or shoot away an opposition boule that is holding the point, or shoot the jack. The important thing is that they never require more than one throw to gain the point.)

At any point during a mene, a team has the boule advantage if, assuming that it plays perfectly from that point forward, that team will play the last boule in the mene.

At the start of a mene, the second team to play always has the boule advantage. You can often see this in world-championship games. Team A points the first boule, and Team B shoots it with their own first boule. Team A points their next boule and Team B shoots it with their next boule. Point. Shoot. Point. Shoot. The teams alternate gaining the point until Team A points their last boule. This leaves Team B to play the last boule of the mene. They shoot or point with their last boule and often win the mène.

In short, if you think of a mène as a conversation, then the team with the boule advantage is the team that gets to “have the last word” in that conversation.

Among world-class players, the “point, shoot, point, shoot” pattern is so predictable that often the best way to follow the game is to watch for cases in which a team fails to play perfectly and requires two or more throws to gain the point. The real drama in a world-championship game is in the shot that just barely misses, and the pointing throw that doesn’t quite gain the point. Such failures turn over the boule advantage to the opposing team.  At this level of play, losing the boule advantage can mean losing the mène.

To point? or to shoot? Some strategic considerations

Suppose that your team has two pointers and one shooter. The opponents throw the jack and point a very nice first boule… it is close to the jack and is going to be very hard to out-point. What do you do?

  • Should you ask your shooter to try to shoot it?
  • But… it is very early in the mene, and the opposing team still has five boules. Should you point, and save your shooter for an emergency?

This is petanque’s classic question — to point, or to shoot?  If you decide to point, you may end up with another classic situation— your team ends up throwing all of its boules, trying to out-point the opponents’ opening boule. After you’ve done it, you realize that you’ve lost the boule advantage big time. The opposing team still has five boules that it can play without fear of any response from your team. And you realize in retrospect that you should have used your shooter to try to shoot that opening boule.

If this happens to you, here’s how you should think about the situation.

  • Your team started with the boule advantage.  You might have kept the boule advantage if you had brought out your shooter and shot the opposing team’s opening boule. Even if it took your shooter more than one attempt, it would have been worth it to get rid of that dangerous opening boule.
     
  • In deciding not to shoot, you not only lost the advantage, you gave the advantage to your opponents, to the tune of five boules. With a boule advantage that big, they are almost certainly going to score several points and win the mene.

The moral of this story is that one of your highest priorities should be NOT to lose the boule advantage. And that can sometimes mean using your shooter very early in the mene.

The Forgotten Boule and the Boule Advantage

Suppose that there are a lot of boules on the ground. Your team has the point, so you ask the opponents if they have any unplayed boules. They look around and then say “No, we’re out”.  So you play your last boule.  As you’re walking to the head to count your points, one of the opposing players says “Ooops! I made a mistake. I still have one boule left!”  What should you do?

You can say “It was an honest mistake. Go ahead. Play your last boule.” But giving away your team’s boule advantage in this way would be a big mistake. With their last “forgotten” boule, your opponents can do all sorts of mischief and win the mene. So a good general rule is that a forgotten boule— even in friendly play— cannot be played. See our discussion of dealing with a forgotten boule.


Boules thrown out of turn

extensively revised 2022-07-13
A boule played out of turn is a boule that was played when a team mistakenly believed that it was their turn to play. Consider the following situation.

Team A has the point. Bob, on Team B, plays a boule (B1). B1 gains the point, but Bob doesn’t realize that. Without leaving the circle, Bob judges that he has not gained the point, so throws a second boule (B2). Again, judging incorrectly that he has not gained the point, Bob throws his third boule (B3). Both teams then walk to the head to assess the situation. What they discover is that Bob had gained the point with B1. That means that B2 and B3 were thrown “out of turn”.

examining_the_head
At this point, the question is of course— What do we do now? A variety of answers have been proposed.


1. The boule was thrown “contrary to the rules”

There is no FIPJP rule that specifically covers boules thrown out-of-turn. What players and umpires usually come up with is that the boules were thrown “contrary to the rules”. They reason thus—

  1. Article 16 says that “it is the team that does not hold the point that plays.”
  2. Since Bob WAS holding the point when he played boules B2 and B3, he broke the rule in Article 16.
  3. Since Bob broke a rule when he played boules B2 and B3, B2 and B3 must have been “played contrary to the rules”.
  4. Article 24 contains a rule about what to do when a boule is played contrary to the rules. Therefore, the rule in Article 24 is what we should use.

Article 24 says that when we discover that a boule has been played contrary to the rules, we should apply an “advantage rule”.

  1. The offended team may choose to leave everything where it is, and carry on with the game. Or—
     
  2. The offended team may choose to declare each boule that was thrown out-of-turn to be dead, and to put every ball that was illegally moved back in its original location, if its original location was marked.

Note that the offended team— not the umpire— decides what to do with a boule thrown out-of-turn. Note also that a boule thrown out-of-turn is not automatically dead— the offended team can choose to declare it dead, but they can also choose to leave it where it is.

The bottom line for Bob is that Team A is probably going to choose the second option, and declare B2 and B3 to be dead.

The rule is straight-forward, but it can be emotionally unsatisfying, especially when several boules are involved. When Team B throws two or three boules out-of-turn, players begin to wonder— Where was Team A when Team B was throwing all of these illegal boules? Surely Team A must have realized that Team B had the point! Shouldn’t they have informed Team B? Isn’t Team A at least partly at fault, for knowing that Team B had the point, but sitting around and watching Team A throw all of these illegal boules and saying nothing?

These suspicions are almost always groundless. In cases like this, as often as not the players on Team A said nothing because they didn’t have enough time to carefully assess the situation, or they really did not realize (or were not sure about) who had the point. Still, we often have a gut-level feeling that Team A must somehow share the guilt, and it is unfair or harsh to punish Team B so severely. This has prompted proposals for other ways of dealing with multiple boules thrown out-of-turn.


2. The boule was NOT thrown “contrary to the rules”

In 2008 Petanque New Zealand (PNZ) published rules interpretations saying that a boule thrown out of turn should not be considered to have been thrown contrary to the rules. In 2012 John Degueldre, Director of Umpiring for Petanque New Zealand, followed up by issuing the following ruling.

Boules played out of turn are not considered as an infringement to the rules [i.e. as "boules thrown contrary to the rules"] but indeed as a mistake. Players making such a mistake penalise themselves by reducing or losing the boule advantage. In conclusion, players do not incur any penalty, and boule(s) are valid and stay in place. But it is still the player or team not holding the point that must play the next boule.

The practical effect of this interpretation is that, after it is discovered that one or more boules have been thrown out-of-turn, everything is left where it is, and the game carries on.

It’s true that playing a boule out-of-turn is usually a mistake— often a newbie mistake, sometimes a result of lazy playing— and so shouldn’t be treated too harshly. But a blanket no-fault policy may be excessively tolerant. Even a mistakenly-thrown boule can have consequences. If you point a boule right in front of the jack, or right in front of a boule that I was planning to shoot, you’ve changed the situation on the ground in your favor. Saying “Oops, my mistake,” doesn’t change the fact that your boule has just created a real problem for me. My sense of fairness tells me that your throw really should be undone.

I think that PNZ came to the same conclusion. As of the 2021 version of its rules, it now interprets Article 24 in the standard FIPJP way (position #1).


3. Only the LAST boule was thrown “contrary to the rules”

The NJBB (the Dutch national petanque federation) agrees that a boule thrown out-of-turn has been thrown contrary to the rules, but its rules interpretation guidelines specify an unusual way of applying Article 24.

Every team has a duty to investigate and must ensure that a player who is about to play belongs to the team team whose turn it really is to play. … If the opposing team has had the opportunity to object and has not removed from play the boule that was thrown contrary to the rules, one may assume that they have agreed to leave the boule(s) in question. Thus, the rule does not automatically apply retroactively if the error is discovered at a later time.

The NJBB position is that when Team A didn’t object to Bob throwing B2, Team A must have implicitly (and without telling anyone) invoked Article 24’s advantage rule, and must (without telling anyone) have chosen the first option— to leave everything untouched. After it is discovered that B3 was thrown out-of-turn, then Team A may explicitly invoke Article 24’s advantage rule and choose to disqualify B3. But it can do nothing about B2 because it has already implicitly agreed not to disqualify B2.

In effect, the NJBB rule is that when it is discovered that Team B has thrown multiple boules out-of-turn, Team A can disqualify only the last one.

This is obviously an attempt to find a minimally punitive way to handle multiple boules thrown out-of-turn. And I think that it would be acceptable for the NJBB simply and arbitrarily to rule that when one team throws multiple boules out-of-turn, the other team can disqualify only the last one. (Most of the rules of most games are completely arbitrary.) But the NJBB’s feeble attempt to rationalize its ruling is absurd. Not realizing that a boule has been thrown out-of-turn is not the same thing as (a) realizing that a boule has been thrown out-of-turn, then (b) making a conscious choice to choose one, rather than the other, of the two options offered by Article 24’s advantage rule, and then (c) concealing that recognition and that decision from the opposing team.

The bottom line

The bottom line, I think, is that while the standard FIPJP position (position #1) can sometimes leave us emotionally dissatisfied, there is no other position that is compatible with the current FIPJP rules and obviously better.

The lesson for all of us is therefore—

You can’t count on the opposing team always to point out that you have, or might have gained the point. The responsibility for claiming the point is yours, and you can’t expect your opponents to do your job for you.

Before you play a boule, always make sure that you know where the point lies, and that it really is your team’s turn to play. Or be prepared to deal with the consequences.


Why boules thrown out-of-turn cause so much confusion

It is difficult to discuss boules thrown out-of-turn, because players commonly believe (incorrectly) that a boule thrown out-of-turn is automatically dead, or that an umpire will automatically rule the boule to be dead. They believe this because of the extremely confusing way that Article 24 is written. First Article 24 says “any boule thrown contrary to the rules is dead.” Then it says “Oh wait, I take it back. The boule isn’t dead; the offended team gets to apply an advantage rule.” The FIPJP should be ashamed of itself for the way that Article 24 is written.

Dealing with a forgotten boule

Players and umpires sometimes invoke the concept of a boule thrown out-of-turn when dealing with a forgotten boule. That’s a mistake. See our post on Dealing with a forgotten boule.


Extensive revision of this post

This post was extensively revised on July 13, 2022 in response to comments on the first version by Michael, Bruce Whitehill, and Niek. Michael and Bruce pointed out the difficulties in the 2012 PNZ position, and especially challenged the statement (now removed) that “A boule thrown out-of-turn hurts the team that threw it and does no harm to the opposing team.” Niek called my attention to the NJBB’s unusual interpretation of Article 24. My thanks go out to all of them for their help in making this post better.


Playing somebody else’s boule

updated 2022-07-20

When a player mistakenly plays somebody else’s boule, it is not considered to be a boule played contrary to the rules. Instead, Article 23 (“A player throwing a boule other than his own”) says—

The player who plays a boule other than his own receives a warning. The boule played is nevertheless valid but it must immediately be replaced…

The idea behind this rule is sensible, but the rule is defective— it doesn’t say WHAT we should use to replace the mistakenly-thrown boule.

Case 1

Bob accidentally throws a boule that is not his. Bob still has at least one unplayed boule.

This is the kind of situation that the rule was designed for. The resolution is clear. The boule that Bob played is picked up and replaced by one of Bob’s unplayed boules.

Case 2

Bob accidentally throws a boule that is not his. Bob has no unplayed boules of his own.

If Bob accidentally threw a boule belonging to one of his team-mates, the solution is simple solution— leave the boule where it is. If the accidentally-played boule did NOT belong to one of Bob’s team-mates, but his team still has unplayed boules, again the solution is simple solution— replace the thrown boule with one of Bob’s team-mates unplayed boules.

Note however that in this case, Bob not only threw a boule that wasn’t his, he threw more boules than he was allowed to throw. A strict umpire might rule that the thrown boule was played contrary to the rules, and that the opposing team may apply the advantage rule in Article 24. A very strict umpire might also disqualify one of Bob’s boules in the next mene.

Case 3

Bob accidentally throws one of the opposing team’s unplayed boules. Bob’s team has no unplayed boules.

Here is where we run into problems, because there is no boule that Bob’s team can use to replace the mistakenly-thrown boule. The umpire will probably rule that the thrown boule was played contrary to the rules, and that the opposing team may apply the advantage rule in Article 24. They can either leave everything where it is, or undo the throw (as much as possible).

Because Bob threw more boules than he was allowed to throw, the umpire may also disqualify one of Bob’s boules in the next mene.


Case 4

Bob accidentally throws a boule that is not a live boule in the game. Bob’s team has no unplayed boules.

This can happen when a player forgets that he’s in a triples game (not a doubles game).
He forgets that he’s allowed to throw only two boules (not three), and he throws a third boule. Rarely, it can happen when a player picks up and throws a boule that has already been thrown. In either case, the player accidentally introduces a foreign object into the game, as if a cow had wandered onto the terrain.
If the thrown boule changed nothing on the ground, the boule is simply removed. On the other hand, if the thrown boule DID change something on the ground, Article 22, Displaced boules applies.

If a stationary boule is moved by the wind or slope of the ground, for example, it is put back in its place, provided it has been marked. The same applies to any boule accidentally displaced by a player, an umpire, a spectator, an animal or any moving object.

Article 12 says the same thing about the jack. So we remove the boule and put everything that was marked back where it was. (See Mike Pegg’s answer to this question on “Ask the Umpire”.)

Again, because Bob has thrown more boules than he is allowed to throw, the umpire may also disqualify one of Bob’s boules in the next mene.

Dealing with a forgotten boule

updated 2021-12-21


What do you do when one team forgets that it has an unplayed boule?

There are a lot of boules on the ground. Your team (team A) has the point and unplayed boules. You ask the opponents (Team B) if they have any more boules to play. They look around, don’t see any, and say “No, we’re out.” So your team plays a boule. Then one of the opponents says “Ooops! I made a mistake. I still have one boule left!”. … What should be done?

 
Team B had an unplayed boule. Team A gave Team B the opportunity to play next. Team B refused to do so. It makes no difference that Team B acted because of a mistake rather than a deliberate desire to cheat. For whatever reason, Team B refused to play when it was their turn to play. Team B was at fault.

The determination that Team B was at fault rests on the idea that (a) playing a boule when it is NOT your team’s turn to play, and (b) refusing to play when it IS your team’s turn to play, are flip sides of the same coin. They are both violations of the rules. Just as a boule can be played contrary to the rules, a boule can be withheld from play contrary to the rules.

When a team has an unplayed boule, and it is their turn to play, and their opponents give them the opportunity to play their boule, then if (for whatever reason) they do not play their boule, they violate the rules. More charitably, we can construe the act of refusing to play their unplayed boules as a declaration that “We’ve played all of the boules that we’re going to play.” (Compare: “We’ll take the point.”) In any event, by refusing to play when it is their turn, they forfeit the right to play any more boules. The bottom line is— a forgotten boule is dead and may not be played.

Note that the situation would be different if Team A had simply gone ahead and thrown its boule, without checking to see if Team B had any unplayed boules. In that case, Team A would not have done its due diligence, and they would have been guilty of throwing a boule out-of-turn.


How NOT to think about a forgotten boule

Before a team plays a boule, it is responsible for verifying that it is their turn to play. With that in mind, players sometimes say that in our example, Team A was at fault, and its last boule should be considered to have been “thrown out-of-turn”. If you point out that Team A had made a reasonable effort to verify that it should play next— that it had “done its due diligence” by asking Team B if they had any unplayed boules— these players will reply that that was not enough— Team A should have “counted the boules”.

This is rubbish. If your opponent tells you that he has no unplayed boules, that is enough to justify you in going ahead and playing your next boule. You are under no obligation to double-check what he says by counting the boules, or by doing anything else.

If either team is at fault for not counting boules, it is Team B, not Team A. Just as a team has a responsibility to make sure that it is their turn to play before they play, a team also has a responsibility to make sure that they have no unplayed boules before they refuse to play. It was Team B, then, that should have been counting its boules, not Team A.


The Forgotten Boule and the Boule Advantage

There is also a very pragmatic reason why a team must not be allowed to play a “forgotten” boule. It is connected to the notion of the boule advantage. Let’s look at a scenario in which a team is allowed to play a “forgotten” boule. Team A has just taken the point, leaving both teams with one unplayed boule.

  1. Team A turns to Team B and says “We have the point. It’s your turn to play.”
  2. Team B (conveniently forgetting its unplayed boule) says “We’re out of boules.”
  3. Team A says “OK” and throws its last boule. Team A now has game on the ground.
  4. Team B says “Oops. I just remembered that I still have one more boule!”
  5. The umpire agrees to let Team B throw its “forgotten” boule.
  6. Team B plays its “forgotten” boule, and with it takes the point, wins the mene, and wins the game.

Team A had the boule advantage at the beginning of this scenario, but Team B ended up throwing the last boule. How did THAT happen? By conveniently “forgetting” its unplayed boule, Team B forced Team A to throw its last boule. When the umpire allowed Team B to play its “forgotten” boule, this gave the boule advantage to Team B. In short, allowing Team B to play a “forgotten” boule allowed Team B to cheat Team A out of the boule advantage. This kind of scenario is the predictable consequence of allowing a team to throw a “forgotten” boule, which is why teams must NOT be allowed to throw forgotten boules.


What is “a boule thrown contrary to the rules”?

[updated 2021-12-25]
Players use the expression “boule thrown contrary to the rules” all the time and in a variety of contexts. But what does it really mean? And what should you do if you see one?

Problems with Article 24

The title of Article 24 is “Boules thrown contrary to the rules”.

Except for cases in which these rules provide specific and graduated penalties as outlined in article 35, any boule thrown contrary to the rules is dead and if marked, anything that it has displaced in its travel is put back in place. However, the opponent has the right to apply the advantage rule and declare it to be valid. In this case, the boule pointed or shot, is valid and anything it has displaced remains in its place.

There are two serious problems with the way that Article 24 is written. First, it should never have used the phrase “boule thrown contrary to the rules”. If a player steps on the circle while playing, those words direct our attention toward the boule when we should be thinking about the player’s foot and the circle.

Second, it should not begin by saying categorically that the boule is dead… and then a dozen words later say “Oh, it’s not really dead. The opponent can decide whether or not it is dead.” The article should have been written this way.

Article 24 – When a player breaks a rule while throwing a boule
When a player breaks a rule while throwing a boule, if the rule specifies application of the penalties in Article 35 for that kind of infraction, the umpire will apply a penalty. Otherwise, the opposing team may apply the advantage rule and choose either (a) to declare the boule to be valid and leave everything that it displaced where it is, or (b) to declare the boule to be dead and put everything that it displaced back in its original location, if the original location was marked.
 

There are two categories of “boules thrown contrary to the rules”

Note that Article 24 says that there are two types of infractions (violations of the rules) that a player can commit while throwing a boule. Let’s call them Category A and Category B infractions.

  • Category A infractions are handled by the umpire imposing penalties listed in Article 35.
     
  • Category B infractions are handled by the offended team applying an advantage rule.

What Article 24 says, basically, is that if a player breaks a rule while throwing a boule, anything that isn’t a Category A infraction is a Category B infraction.


Category A infractions

Category A infractions are listed in Articles 6 and 16.

The players’ feet must be entirely on the inside of the circle and not encroach on its perimeter and they must not leave it or be lifted completely off the ground until the thrown boule has touched the ground. No part of the body may touch the ground outside the circle.Any player not respecting this rule shall incur the penalties as provided in article 35. [Article 6]

Before throwing his/her boule, the player must remove from it any trace of mud or whatever deposit, under threat of penalties outlined in article 35. [Article 16]

For a first infraction, an umpire will typically show a yellow card and give the offending player a warning. For a second infraction, an umpire will typically show an orange card and disqualify one of the offending player’s boules.


Category B infractions

Category B is a residual category— a grab bag of unspecified ways that a player can break a rule while throwing a boule. We don’t know what kinds of things the FIPJP umpires imagined would fall into Category B when they wrote Article 24. The FIPJP rules have only ever included one example of a Category B infraction— a boule thrown from a circle other than the one from which the jack was thrown. That example was added to the rules in 2008 and then removed in 2010. Nobody knows why.

If we search the rules we can find a number of infractions that probably fall into Category B.

  1. Throwing from the wrong circle, that is: throwing from a circle that was drawn on the ground during an earlier mene and never erased.
     
  2. Throwing more boules than you’re allowed. (After playing in a doubles game, you begin playing in a triples game. You’re still holding three boules. Forgetting that you’re now allowed to play only two boules, you throw a third.)
     
  3. Throwing your last boule while holding an extra boule in your “off” hand to help with your balance. (See Article 16.)
     
  4. Throwing two or more boules simultaneously.
     
  5. Throwing a boule out of turn.
    This is the most important Category B infraction… if it is indeed a Category B infraction. There is significant debate about whether “a boule thrown out-of-turn” really should be considered “thrown contrary to the rules”. (See our post on boules thrown out of turn.)

Note that mistakenly throwing a boule that doesn’t belong to you (i.e. throwing one of your team-mates’ boules or one of the opposing team’s boules or even a dead boule) is not a case of “a boule thrown contrary to the rules.” There is a special rule (Article 23) for handling a mistakenly-thrown boule . (See our post on playing somebody else’s boule.)

If a team commits a Category B infraction, the offended team gets to apply an advantage rule. (That is, the offended team gets to make a choice about what to do next.) The offended team has two choices.

  1. Declare the offending boule to be dead. And then put anything else that was moved and whose original location was marked, back in its original location.
     
  2. Leave everything where it is and carry on with the game.


POP QUIZ

This photo shows a number of infractions as a player throws a boule. Which of them are Category A infractions? Which are Category B infractions? Which are neither?
Answers are HERE.