Obstacles to Rules

Place des Lices

Places des Lices

If you’ve played pétanque in Provence, you’ll know that most terrains have lots of trees, usually Plane trees, to provide shade from the sun. The trees and their roots form natural obstacles on the terrain that local players will often use to their advantage.

In friendly games, the norm is that ”anything goes”, nothing is out-of-bounds and the borders and any other obstacles are all part of the game. Boules will be bounced off wooden surrounds and nothing is taken out of play. All good fun! This has been the case at every terrain I’ve played on in France but always best to check ”local rules” before you play.

Trees on the terrain.

Trees on the terrain.

Of course, if you’re playing in an ‘official’ competition, then the rules of the game must be respected. It’s always important to establish what is an obstacle and what is a boundary. The most important thing to bear in mind is that obstacles form part of the terrain and anything that hits an obstacles – boules or the jack – remain in play, whereas anything that hits a boundary is taken out of play.

You should also be aware of the different rules that apply to obstacles:

  • For the thrown jack to be valid, it must be at least 1m clear of any obstacle.
  • The jack must be visible from the circle and not masked by an obstacle.
  • The throwing circle must also be at least 1m clear from any obstacle.

In the latter case, the circle can be moved – in any direction – such that it is clear of the obstacle.

Shooting a Hidden Boule

How can you shoot a boule that’s hidden behind a tree? Impossible? Not for Bebert de Cagnes, one of the legendary players. He was reputed to be able to shoot a boule hidden behind a tree by placing another boule at the side of the tree and then shooting at an angle to hit the hidden boule – voilà!

Behind a tree.

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2 Responses to Obstacles to Rules

  1. Dave Smith says:

    Re ‘anything goes’ rule in fun/friendly games. Does that apply to only ‘natural’ terrains? Would I be allowed to throw the coche into a corner of a rectangular court or would that be just plain silly?

    Dave S.

  2. RayAger says:

    Well, if you’re playing ‘friendly rules’ or having a practise game, you can agree on what rules to play. So, no reason why you couldn’t throw the jack into a corner of the terrain.

    I actually think a good practise exercise is to throw or place the jack in front of the boundary so that you MUST point in front – anything behind being out of play.

    Of course, if an ‘official’ competition you must play to the official rules.



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