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How to play petanque/boules

Petanque is an easy game to learn and play – you may have seen it played abroad – or played with your own rules using a set of leisure boules. You can play it on almost any surface – but it best played on gravel or rough ground. The more lumps and bumps the ground has the more challenging the game.

The game can be played between 2 single players, or between teams of 2 (doubles) or 3 (triples) - or as a double versus a triple. Each player has 3 boules, except in triples, when each player has 2 boules.

Toss a coin to decide who starts. The winners (team A) draw a circle to stand in, and throw the wooden jack – or coche: it should land 6 to 10 metres from the circle.

A member of team A stands in the circle and throws a boule, trying to land it as near to the jack as possible. A member of team B then throws a boule from the circle, aiming to get closer to the jack.

If team B's boule ends up closer to the jack ('holding' the jack), team A must try to beat it. If team B's boule does not beat the first boule, team B continues to throw until they beat the first boule - or until they run out of boules.

Play continues in this way - with the team NOT holding the jack trying to beat the nearest boule. If the team holding the jack have boules left after the other team have run out, they then throw their remaining boules in order to gain extra points.

When all players have thrown their boules, the points are counted. The winning team scores as many points as they have boules nearer than the best boule thrown by the opposing team. Thus, the maximum score for any 'end' of play is 6.

Continuing Play:
The team that wins the end throws the jack and the first boule. The circle for the next end is usually drawn at the opposite end of the area (or 'piste'), so play alternates from end to end. The winner is the first team to reach 13 points.

Additional rules:
• It is legal to 'bomb' or 'shoot' a boule out of the way - this is very useful if the opposition have got a boule very near to the jack.

• If it is not clear which boule is holding, then they should be measured. If they are exactly the same distance from the jack then the team that threw last must throw again, as they have not beaten the holding boule.

• Usually, petanque is played in a defined area - bounded by wooden boards or strings. If a boule goes out of the area (either completely over the string, or hits the wood) it is 'dead' and removed from the game.

• If the jack is knocked out of the playing area it is a 'dead end'. If both teams still have boules to throw - the team that threw the jack last throw again, restarting the end. If one team has run out of boules, then the other team score as many points as they have boules left unplayed - for example, if they have thrown only 2 boules they would score 4 points.

These are the basics – but for more detailed information follow the links to the official rules, and to sites dedicated to learning to play.

Site Last Updated - 12/03/2020 16:57:44
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