Must teams ALWAYS measure?

I just saw a ruling from Mike Pegg on “Ask the Umpire” that really highlights the differences between Petanque Libre and FIPJP petanque.

The question that was put to Mike (I’ve slightly rephrased it) was:

Team A and Team B throw one boule each. They agree that Team A has the point, so Team B plays its second boule, which doesn’t touch the jack or any other boules. Team B then measures and reports that they have 2 points.

This implies that, despite the the teams’ agreement after the first two boules were played, Team B’s boule had the point and Team A, not Team B, should have played next.

Mike’s ruling was that Team A may declare Team B’s second boule to be dead.

To decide if a boule is holding the point, the teams must measure— simply agreeing is not acceptable. In your scenario, the teams should have measured. Because team B was already holding the point, they have played “out of turn” (art 16) making their second boule invalid.

This is quite different from Petanque Libre

If both teams agree on which team should play next, and that team plays the next boule, then the boule is considered to have been played legally, even if the teams later discover that the opposing team should have played next.

Playing by the rules of Petanque Libre, Team B did not play out of turn and Team B’s second boule is not dead.

I think that there are two points worth making here.

The first is that Mike has said, quite clearly, that teams must ALWAYS measure after every boule is thrown. [1] This is of course ridiculous. It shows the absurd lengths to which an umpire will go when trying to interpret rules written by and for umpires.

The second is that measurement, in and of itself, means nothing. All that you have in a game is agreement between the teams. Consider a slightly different scenario.

Team A and Team B throw one boule each. They measure and agree that Team A has the point, so Team B plays its second boule, which doesn’t touch the jack or any other boules. Team B then measures and reports that they have 2 points.

What are we to make of this situation? Clearly something has gone wrong, but we don’t know what. Whatever it was, measuring didn’t prevent it. Perhaps the measurement was wrong. Perhaps the jack or one of the boules was moved without either team noticing. Who knows? And what should the teams do?

My point is that measuring isn’t a magic wand that you can wave and solve all your problems. Measuring, in and of itself, means nothing. ALL that you have in a game is agreement between the teams. Measuring is nothing more than a tool that the teams can use to help them in coming to an agreement. What’s important is the agreement; not the measuring. Hence the position of Petanque Libre.

If both teams agree on which team should play next, and that team plays the next boule, then the boule is considered to have been played legally, even if the teams later discover that the opposing team should have played next.

FOOTNOTES
[1] Mike reaffirms his position in a related post [underlining is mine]— “The friendly agreement of which boule is holding has no value – the teams must measure because only then can you be sure.”

2 thoughts on “Must teams ALWAYS measure?

  1. In friendly games, but mostly also in competitive games, I regard the umpire’s role to be mainly that of solving disagreement. That is true in the case that the players are not precisely aware of the rules, but also in the case in which the umpire is to decide, based on a precision measurement, to which she tends to be better equipped than the payers.

    Something that might be considered in PL is offering the possibility to ask a bystander to break a tie, for instance by executing a measurement in cases in which the players themselves do not reach proper agreement.

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    1. Hi Niek,
      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. The PL rules leave it completely up to the players to use any means that they wish in order to reach an agreement. And I agree that in some situations asking an impartial bystander to measure might be a sensible thing to do. I’ll think about adding that to the “Interpretation Guidelines” section. Thanks! 🙂

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