Petanque

Petanque is a form of boules where the goal is, while standing inside a starting circle with both feet on the ground, to throw metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a cochonnet (literally "piglet") or jack. It is also called sometimes a bouchon (literally "cork") or le petit ("the small one").

The current form of the game originated in 1907 in La Ciotat, in southern France. The English and French name petanque deriving from the expression pes tancats meaning "feet together" . It is played by about 17 million people in France . There are about 375,000 players licensed with the Federation Francaise de Petanque et Jeu Provencal (FFPJP) and some 3,000 in England. Another 20,000 or so play in Quebec - Canada and United States.

History

The Ancient Greeks are recorded to have played a game of tossing coins, then flat stones, and later stone balls, called spheristics, trying to have them go as far as possible, as early as the 6th century B.C. The Ancient Romans modified the game by adding a target that had to be approached as closely as possible. This Roman variation was brought to Provence by Roman soldiers and sailors.

It was played throughout Europe. King Henry III of England banned the playing of the game by his archers, and in the 14th century, Charles IV and Charles V of France also forbade the sport to commoners. Only in the 17th century was the ban lifted.

By the 19th century, in England the sport had become "bowls" or "lawn bowling"; in France, it was known as boules, and was played throughout the country.

Petanque in its present form was invented in 1907 in the town of La Ciotat near Marseilles by a French player named Jules Lenoir . The first petanque tournament with the new rules was organized in 1910 by the brothers Ernest and Joseph Pitiot, proprietors of a cafe at La Ciotat. The international Petanque federation Federation Internationale de Petanque et Jeu Provenšal was founded in 1958 in Marseille and has about 600,000 members in 52 countries (2002).

The first World Championships were organized in 1959. The most recent championships were held in Faro (2000), Monaco (2001), Grenoble (2002, 2004 and 2006), Geneva (2003), Brussels (2005), and Pattaya / Thailand (2007). Fifty-two teams from 50 countries participated in 2007.

Playing the Game

Petanque is played by two, four or six people in two teams, or players can compete as individuals in casual play.[ In the singles and doubles games each player has three boules; in triples they have only two. A coin is tossed to decide which side goes first. The starting team draws a circle on the ground which is 35-50 centimetres in diameter: all players must throw their boules from within this circle, with both feet remaining on the ground. The first player throws the jack 6 to 10 metres away; it must be at least one metre from the boundary.

Order of play

Petanque is played by two, four or six people in two teams, or players can compete as individuals in casual play.[ In the singles and doubles games each player has three boules; in triples they have only two. A coin is tossed to decide which side goes first. The starting team draws a circle on the ground which is 35-50 centimetres in diameter: all players must throw their boules from within this circle, with both feet remaining on the ground. The first player throws the jack 6 to 10 metres away; it must be at least one metre from the boundary.

Scoring

Points are scored when both teams have no more boules, or when the jack is knocked out of play. The winning team receives one point for each boule that it has closer to the jack than the best-placed boule of the opposition. If the jack is knocked out of play, the end is void unless only one team has boules left to play. In this case the team with boules receives one point for each that they have to play. The first team to reach 13 points wins.

Further rules

  1. A boule hitting a boundary is dead and is removed from that end.
  2. On a piste marked with strings a boule is dead if it completely crosses the string.
  3. The circle can be moved back in the line of the previous end if there is not room to play a 10 metre end.
  4. The boule can be thrown at any height or even rolled depending on the terrain.
  5. Boules are thrown underarm, usually with the palm of the hand downwards which allows backspin to be put on the boule giving greater control.
  6. Each team should have suitable measuring equipment. In most cases a tape measure is adequate but callipers or other measuring devices may be needed.
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