# Dead ground between the jack and the throwing circle

The Dead Ground Rule in Article 9 says that “The jack is dead … when an out-of-bounds area [terrain interdit, dead ground] is situated between the jack and the throwing circle.” What does “between the jack and the throwing circle” mean?

Consider this diagram. (Note that it is not drawn to scale.) A game is being played on an L-shaped terrain. The jack has been knocked to a place where it is almost, but not completely, “around the corner” from the circle. Or, to put it another way, an area of dead ground is protruding into the terrain; it may possibly be blocking the line of play between the circle and the jack.

The players are uncertain what to do; they are asking questions: Is the jack alive or dead? Is there dead ground between jack and the circle?

What does “between the jack and the circle” mean?

The answer is that “between the jack and the circle” means “between the jack and any part of the circle”.

Suppose you draw lines from the jack to all of the parts of the circle, as in this diagram. If any of those lines crosses dead ground, then there is dead ground between the jack and the circle, and the jack is dead.

Mike Pegg described the rule this way on “Ask the Umpire”.

Imagine two lines extending from the two sides of the circle to the jack. If there is any dead ground between those two lines, the jack is dead.

Visual inspection should be enough to resolve the situation, but if it isn’t, you can take a long tape measure and pull it tight between the jack and various random points on the circle. If in any of those positions the tape crosses dead ground, there is dead ground between the jack and the circle, and the jack is dead.

# Zombie boules

A zombie boule is a boule that dies and then returns to life and attacks the living. It is a boule that is knocked out of bounds, hits something, rebounds back onto the terrain, and then moves or deflects or stops still-living balls (boules or the jack). When that happens we are confronted by The Zombie Boule Question:

A zombie boule has interfered with the game. What should we do?

Article 19, which covers dead boules, gives us these instructions for dealing with zombies.

Any boule is dead from the moment that it enters an out-of-bounds area. … If the boule then comes back onto the game terrain, either because of the slope of the ground, or because it rebounds off of an obstacle, moving or stationary, it is immediately removed from the game and anything that it displaced after its trip through the out-of-bounds area is put back in its original location provided that those objects had been marked.   [Note that the words “provided that those objects had been marked” were added in the 2016 rules revision.]

The problem with this rule is that “putting things back in their original places” is a useless concept. In real life, the original places of balls are never marked, so under FIPJP rules it is not possible to put things back in their original places. And who knows what “original place” means for a ball that was in motion when it was stopped or deflected by a zombie? If an umpire is called in to make a decision in a Zombie Boule situation, he will always rule that the zombie boule should be removed, everything else should be left where it is, and the game should continue.

As soon as we forget the notion of “putting things back in their original places”, everything becomes easy. What might help, perhaps, is a way of thinking about zombie boules that makes it easy to see the answer to a Zombie Boule Question. Something like this.

A boule that goes out of bounds is dead. After a boule is dead, if it interacts in any way with a live ball, it is treated as part of the terrain (like a stone). As soon as possible after a boule dies, it should be moved to a location outside of, and well away from, the dead-ball line and left on the ground. [See the rules of Petanque Libre.]

Thinking about zombie boules this way won’t change the way that zombie boules should be dealt with. But it might make it easier to see the right answer in some zombie-boule situations. Like this one.

Boule A is hit by boule B. Boule A is knocked across the dead-ball line and is stopped by the wooden sideboard. Boule B quickly follows. Normally boule B would go out-of-bounds, but in this case it is stopped by boule A. It doesn’t completely cross the dead-ball line. (See the diagram, below.) Is boule B dead?

The answer is— NO. Boule B never went completely out-of-bounds so it is not dead. The fact that the object that stopped boule B was a dead boule makes no difference whatsoever. As far as a live boule is concerned, a dead boule on or near the terrain is just another feature of the terrain, like a rock or a tree root. When boule A stopped boule B from crossing the dead-ball line, it was just as if a rock or root on the terrain had stopped boule B.

The same situation can play itself out more slowly. Suppose that Boule A is knocked out of bounds. Then another boule is played. Then another boule is played. Then boule B is played, and ends up being stopped by boule A. In this situation international umpire Mike Pegg has ruled that

The player of boule A and his team is given a warning for not removing the dead boule.

I take it that Mike is acting on a rule interpretation in which “the terrain” includes not just the in-bounds area but also the out-of-bounds area to some unspecified distance from the dead-ball line. That’s why he has also stated (the underscores are mine) that

anything (boule, bag, etc.) on the terrain and in a position that it would stop a boule or jack from completely crossing the dead ball line should be removed. Which is why you often see umpires moving bags and the like to the other side of the timber surround.

This is why the rules of Petanque Libre specify that

During a game played on a marked terrain, dead boules should be left on the ground at least 10cm outside of the game’s dead-ball line. A dead boule that is less than 10cm outside the dead-ball line should be moved away from the dead-ball line.

```This post was updated for the 2016 FIPJP rules revision.
It supercedes earlier posts about zombie boules.```

# 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.

# When the jack is knocked out of sight

Petanque jack (hidden by tree)

`[updated 2018-12-17]`
In games played on an open terrain, sometimes the jack is hit and knocked behind a tree or rock so that it can’t be seen from the circle. When that happens, Article 9 of the FIPJP rules is relevant. It says that the displaced jack is dead if it is not visible from the circle. This seems like a simple rule, but there can be problems when trying to apply it.

Who decides whether or not the jack is visible from the circle?
Article 7 of the FIPJP rules says that the jack must be visible to a player whose feet are placed at the extreme limits of the interior of the circle and whose body is absolutely upright. In case of a disagreement about this matter, the umpire decides if the jack is visible.

Suppose Alan is in the circle, ready to throw. But he can’t see the jack, which has been knocked behind a large rock on the terrain. So the jack is dead. What could be simpler?

Suppose, however, that Bill steps into the circle, to verify that the jack really cannot be seen from the circle. Bill says that he can see the jack easily. Is the jack dead?

The FIPJP rules, which are designed for use in umpired competitions, say that Alan and Bill should call in an umpire to decide. But this is a friendly, informal game; there is no umpire. Who decides? The FIPJP rules have no answer to this question.

Suppose, however, that an umpire is available. He is called in and says that he can see the jack, so the jack is not dead. But that leaves Alan with a problem, because he still cannot see the jack. Oh, did I mention that Alan is playing from a wheelchair? His head is much lower than the umpire’s head, which is why the umpire could see the jack, but Alan could not. Shouldn’t the umpire take this fact into account when deciding whether or not the jack is visible? Mike Pegg’s answer is NO. “[This rule] may put the disabled player at a disadvantage but when entering the event they would know what the rules are.”[1]

The rules of Petanque Libre (PL) are designed for use in non-umpired games, and PL gives a different answer. Under PL, “If the jack is moved, both teams are responsible for agreeing that the jack in its new location is visible from the circle. If a team has a player who has unplayed boules and that player cannot see the jack while standing in the circle, the team will not agree that the jack is visible; otherwise the team will agree that the jack is visible.” So in this case, when playing by the rules of Petanque Libre, when the jack was hit and knocked behind the stone, Alan’s team would challenge the visibility of the jack. Since one of the team’s members (Alan) could not see the jack from the circle, his team would not agree that the jack is visible and the jack would be declared dead.

What happens when the jack is knocked out of sight by the last boule?
Suppose the jack is knocked behind a tree by the last boule to be played. Nobody is going to throw another boule. So it seems like it shouldn’t matter whether or not the jack is visible from the circle. Is the jack dead?

The answer that an FIPJP umpire will give is— “Article 9 says that if the jack is shot out of sight, it is dead. It doesn’t say that the jack is dead unless there are no more boules left to be played. So YES, the jack is dead.” The problem with this answer is that there is no player in the circle to decide whether or not he can see the jack, and in an informal game there is no umpire to make the decision.

The Petanque Libre position on this question is that the visibility rule exists to insure that no player must throw toward a jack that he cannot see. But after all boules have been thrown, questions about the visibility of the jack are moot. Therefore— “After all boules have been thrown, neither team may challenge the visibility of the jack.”

Footnotes