A recent question on Mike Pegg’s “Ask the umpire” forum provides a good opportunity for comparing and contrasting the FIPJP rules and the rules of Petanque Libre. The purpose of this discussion is not to pass judgement on the merits of these rules. It is simply to point out the differences between the two sets of rules with regard to one specific kind of situation.
Steve Frampton asked about a situation that occurred during a recent competition. Here is my paraphrase of his question.
Team B points 3 boules (B3, B4, B5), none of which disturbs any of the balls already on the ground. The last boule clearly calls for a closer inspection of the situation around the jack. As the teams inspect the situation, they discover that Ben’s boule B2 had actually gained the point when it bumped the jack toward B1.
At this point, the question is— Team B threw 3 boules “contrary to the rules”, right? What should be done? Is it relevant that team A saw that B2 moved the jack, but said nothing?
We can take Mike’s opinion, which was shared by the consensus of comments on the question, as the FIPJP position on this question. It has three parts.
- After throwing B2, it was team B’s responsibility to verify that they didn’t have the point before throwing their next boule. They didn’t do that, so the fault for the boules played out-of-turn lies entirely with team B.
- Boules B3, B4, and B5 were thrown “contrary to the rules”. Therefore, under the provisions of Article 24, team A has the choice of deciding whether each boule is dead or still valid. Team A has the right to declare all three of the boules to be dead.
- When team A saw that B2 moved the jack, team A were under no obligation whatsoever to say “you may have moved the jack”.
The last point seems to fly in the face of our ordinary sense of fairness. Surely, one thinks, team A had a moral obligation, if not an obligation under the FIPJP rules, to speak up when they saw that B2 had moved the jack. The umpire at the competition where this situation occurred apparently shared this opinion— he ruled that it would be unfair to disqualify all three boules, and told team A that they could choose to disqualify one, and only one, of the three boules.
Note also that part #2, the assertion that the three boules were thrown contrary to the rules, is actually an interpretion of the expression “thrown contrary to the rules”, and an interpretation that is not universally shared. A rules interpretation by Petanque New Zealand, for instance, says “Boules played out of turn are not considered as an infringement to the rules [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.”
If we now turn to the rules of Petanque Libre (PL), two things are worth noting.
First— PL rules, unlike FIPJP rules, contain provisions that explicitly deal with just this kind of situation. The PL rules are designed for use by players in games where no umpires are present to provide rules interpretations. The PL rules consequently need to be so clear and explicit that questions of “interpretation” or “fairness” simply never arise.
Second— PL’s treatment of this kind of situation (in the DECIDING WHICH TEAM THROWS NEXT section) is different from the consensus interpretation of the FIPJP rules that we’ve just presented. PL (version 5, the latest version) says—
If both teams agree on which team should throw the next boule, and that team throws the next boule, the boule is considered to have been legally thrown. The legality of the thrown boule cannot be changed by subsequent measurements or discoveries (e.g. a measurement for the point or the discovery of a forgotten boule).
A team that has the opportunity to challenge the point, but does not challenge it and lets the opposing team play the next boule, is considered to have agreed that the opposing team should throw the next boule.
In our example situation:
- FIPJP: It is the responsibility of one team and one team only to determine whether or not it is their turn to throw.
- PL: It is the responsibility of both teams to reach an agreement about which team has the point and which team should throw the next boule.
- FIPJP: Team A did not have any obligation or responsibility to speak up when they saw B2 move the jack.
- PL: Team A did have a responsibility to speak up. Because they remained silent when they could easily have spoken up, team A is considered to have agreed that team B should throw the next boule.
and when it is discovered that B2 had gained the point:
- FIPJP: Team B’s three boules were thrown “contrary to the rules”, so under the provisions of Article 24 Team A may declare team B’s three boules to be dead.
- PL: No boules are declared to be dead. Since both teams had agreed that team B should throw those boules, they were legally thrown.
This is, I think, an accurate comparison of the FIPJP rules (or at least: the consensus interpretation of the FIPJP rules) and the PL rules regarding boules thrown out-of-turn.
See also the post A boule thrown out of turn on the Rules of Petanque blog.