Basic Introduction (quick guide on how you play) It’s easy to pick up, easy to play and is enjoyable even if you are a new player playing with (relative) experts. It’s also suitable for all ages (if you can't bend down to pick up the boule - just put a magnet on a piece of string).
AIMS OF THE GAME
To get as many of your boules as you can closer to the target Jack than the opposition boules. The Jack is also called the 'cochonnet' or 'coche' or 'but'.
Games can be singles (one against one) or doubles or triples. In triples players have 2 boules each, in singles and doubles it's 3 boules each.
Basically an 'end' finishes when all boules have been thrown. You score one point for each boule nearer to the coche than the opposition’s best boule. So the maximum score in one end in a doubles or triples is 6 points - but usually only one or two points get scored.
The first side to reach 13 wins the game.
'Competition' boules are between 70.5 and 80 mm in diameter and weigh between 650 and 800 gm. They are stamped with a maker's name and unique code number. You need to use these in official events, leagues etc.
There are also 'Leisure' boules (sometimes called 'Dog' boules), which are made to less exacting standards. New players can get the hang of the game using these, but should plan to buy some Competition-grade boules once they have determined what diameter and weight suits them best.
Boules come in a variety of grooved patterns - hopefully players in a game will have easily distinguishable boules, but sometimes care is needed.
RULES SUMMARY Starting
Toss a coin to decide who starts.
The first person to play draws a circle on the ground of about 1½ feet in diameter (officially 35 to 50 centimetres). He or she then tosses the coche a distance of (minimum) six to (maximum) ten metres (6½ to 11 yards).
The throw is officially in any direction, but it is usual to play across and back across the terrain when there are a number of games being played. The coche has to finish up at least a metre from the wood boundaries or posts of the terrain.
If the coche is thrown too short, long or out, the throwing side have 2 more chances to get it right (then the opposition get the coche).
Then he or she stands with both feet inside the circle and throws the first boule, trying to get it as near as possible to the coche.
It is usual to lob the boule, in a 'back-handed' palm-down motion (this imparts back-spin and makes it more controllable).
A player from the other side then stands in the circle and throws. He or she can try to get nearer to the coche - or can try to knock away the opposition boule. Trying to get near the coche is called 'Pointing', trying to hit away a boule is quite fair and is called 'Shooting'.
The boule left nearest the coche leads (is 'on'). If it isn't clear which is closest, a tape measure may sometimes need to be used.
The next player is anyone from the side not leading (ie not closest to the coche) - so there is no fixed sequence or fixed turns to go. He or she can chose to Point or Shoot, as they wish - this is where tactics come in.
Players from the side not leading then continue to play till they get nearer the coche than the opposition’s best boule. If they don't, when they run out of boules the other side then plays all their remaining boules.
If the coche gets moved you have to look to see who is now leading.
Boules that hit the boundaries of the terrain are deemed 'Out'.
Once the coche is thrown no obstacles (stones, leaves, etc) can be moved.
When all boules have been thrown, the teams agree which side has won the end (is nearest) and how many points they have scored. Again it may sometimes be necessary to measure.
If a side reaches 13 points, the Game is over … and everyone shakes hands.
If neither has reached 13, the side winning that End starts a new End, drawing a circle and throwing the coche.
NB - an End finishes early if the coche gets pushed 'Out' (special rules apply about scoring for this end).
Pointers to the Full Rules The guide above is just a broad (and unofficial) outline. Details on playing are in the official rules which can be found at the British Pétanque Federation website (which also has lots of useful pointers).