Throughout the years, a general consensus has been established on the details of the game rules of petanque. The game rules below are based on the official game rulesopen_in_new as specified by the FIPJPopen_in_new.
Petanque is played with hollow metal balls that have a diameter between 7.05 cm (2.78 inch) and 8 cm (3.15 inch), and a weight between 650 grams (22.93 ounce) and 800 grams (28.22 ounce).
Jacks are made of wood or an FIPJP approved synthetic material. Their diameter should be 30 mm (1.19 inch), and their weight between 10 (0.35 ounce) and 18 grams (0.67 ounce). Unlike the balls, it should be impossible to pick up the jack with a magnet.
Although petanque can be played on any surface, it usually takes place on a designated terrain — typically marked with nails and string. This terrain should then be minimum 12 metres (13.12 yards) long and 3 metres (3.28 yards) wide.
A ball or jack on the outside of the boundary of the terrain is considered to be out-of-bounds and dead.
Petanque is a sport in which 2 teams play against each other. It should be played in triples, doubles or singles.
There are multiple rounds in a game of petanque. In each round, the winner of that round earns points. A game is won by the first team that gathers 13 points.
The players must draw lots (toss a coin) to decide which team will be the first to throw the jack. A member of the team that won the toss chooses the starting point and places or draws a circle on the ground. This circle delimits the zone from which players can throw the jack and balls.
A drawn circle should have a diameter between 35 cm (13.78 inch) and 50 cm (19.69 inch). A prefabricated circle must be rigid and have an internal diameter of 50 cm (19.69 inch). The circle must be drawn or placed more than 1 metre (1.09 yards) from any obstacle.
The players' feet must be entirely on the inside of the circle and they must not leave it or be lifted completely off the ground until the thrown ball has touched the ground.
The team that won the toss will have one attempt to throw the jack. If this jack is not valid, it is handed to the opponent, who must place — not throw — it on the terrain at a valid position.
For the jack to be in a valid position, it must be:
Once the jack is in a valid position, a member of the team that won the toss throws the first ball as close as possible to the jack. There are no rules in regards to the throwing (or rolling) technique.
If the first ball goes out-of-bounds, the other team gets a chance to throw the first ball and vice versa, until a team manages to get a ball on the designated terrain. This ball is now the only ball on the terrain, and therefore nearest to the jack.
From this point on, the ball nearest to the jack is said to be holding the point. The team that is not holding the point throw their balls until they place a ball closer to the jack, thereby triggering the other team to throw their balls until they are again holding the point, and so on.
When one of the teams has thrown all its balls, the other team ends the round by throwing its remaining balls. The team whose best ball is closest to the jack at the end of the round, wins the round.
The team that won the round gets one point for each of their balls that is positioned closer to the jack than the losing team’s closest ball. The distance between the balls and the jack must be measured with appropriate instruments.
The measuring of points is the responsibility of the team that threw the last ball of the round. The other team has the right to double-check these measurements.
A game of petanque is ended and won by the first team that gathers at least 13 points over a series of rounds.
In the rounds succeeding the first one, the circle delimiting the throwing zone is placed or drawn around the point where the jack finished at the previous round. The jack and the first ball are thrown by the team that was the last to score points — as if they won the toss in the first round.
The jack is dead when it is displaced outside of the designated terrain. Or if it’s not visible from within the circle — with the exception of it being masked by a ball. A dead jack marks the end of the round.
If the jack is dead, and only one team has balls left to play, that team scores as many points as balls that remain to be played. Otherwise the round is invalid and restarted.
This situation can occur when there are no balls left on the designated terrain. Or when the two closest balls to the jack belong to the opposing teams, and are at an equal distance from it.
If at this moment both teams still have balls, then both teams — starting with the team that played last — must take turns in throwing balls until one of them holds the point.
If only one team has balls left to play, they just play them. If no team has balls left to play, and no team holds the point, the round is invalid and restarted.
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