Greetings EPC Members,

Firstly, congratulations for working with the City and Parks departments on the completion of the spectacular new petanque grove. Pats-on-the-back have been well-earned.

My apologies for the length of this message.  I will try to avoid the minutiae. 

Recently, you have received a message from the EPC board regarding a change in application of Article 24, which reads:

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…

The rule above is still enforceable , EXCEPT when a boule is played by a team whose previous boule is already holding the point. After consideration, FIPJP President Claude Azema has ruled that the unnecessary playing of the boule is a penalty in-and-of itself. FPUSA President Ernesto Santos has endorsed the modified interpretation.

Pros and cons of the adopted rule change have sparked a lively e-mail discourse among the majority of FPUSA umpires; alas, too lengthy to include here. The main crux is, “Is it fair?”

Mari asks (Q1) Would you explain this rule change again and use a scenario where it would apply? (Q2) Also, it would be good to review Article 23, in the case of someone throwing someone else’s boule.

(Answer 1) Scenario: Team A has already thrown a boule (#A1) which holds the point. Team B throws a boule (#B1) which takes the point. Due to inattention, or guile, Team B believes that they did not take the point. Team B throws a successive boule (#B2). Team A (or B) decides to measure #B1 against #A1 and finds that #B1 indeed held the point over #A1. FORMERLY, Team A had the option of disqualifying #B2 as an illegally played boule. That possible ejection of #B2 was a penalty/consequence/deterrent of Team A’s inattention or guile.

Effective immediately, disqualification of #B2 is no longer an option, because FIPJP deems “unnecessary playing of the boule is a penalty in-and-of itself.” Having fewer boules in-hand yet to play, is generally considered a strategical disadvantage.

Umpires and players are concerned about abuse of the newly adopted modification. I.e., unscrupulous players exploiting the rule for their own benefit.  

Here is my ‘take’:

  • I have no preference for the former or the latter interpretation, and would enforce the new. Is it fair? That depends on whether the factors are motive, or inattention.
  • For gamesmanship … As with other rules, players will use or abuse them to their advantage. It was so with the former interpretation, it will be also with the new one. Honest people may need to be burdened by policing the scoundrels.
  • The savvy player may recognize that it will be incumbent upon BOTH teams to discern which team has the point before proceeding to the next throw. In other words, more attention will be needed if your team plays competitively.

(Answer 2) Article 23 is about playing a boule which is not your own, and not related to our discussion of the Article 24 changes. The penalties for Article 23 violations are outlined in Article 35; first penalty being a yellow-card warning.  

FOREST asks – Seeking confirmation/clarification regarding what to do in the following situation:

[Q3] Team B member throws out of turn, bounces off the out-of-bounds board, and moves an unmarked Team B boule closest to the cochonnet  (Or moves Team A’s unmarked boule…).

 (Answer 3) – That scenario would be unfortunate for team A!

I would say that the out-of-bounds rules supersede the Article 24 exception.

Article 19 –If the boule comes back into the playing area, … by having rebounded from an obstacle, … it is immediately taken out of the game and anything that it has displaced after its passage into an out-of-bounds area is put back in place provided these objects have been marked.

If you play competitively, the first lesson here is to prove or agree upon which team holds the point. As noted above, some umpires (myself included) feel it should be incumbent upon both teams. Second lesson is to mark the positions of the jack and boules. Special prudence should be observed whilst the action is near string lines. If you don’t mark positions, your game’s fate is at the whim of self-serving opponents or unpredictable umpire decisions.

Thanks for asking. Thanks for reading.

– Gregory Conyers