HOW TO PLAY PETANQUE
Equipment needed: 3 boules (per player); a tape measure (6 foot), and 1 cochon.
Playing Area: Petanque is played on a large dirt or gravel/dirt, semi-level surface commonly known as a "Piste". If you wish, the playing area (terrain) can be marked off in a rectangular area with string. 15 meters x 4 meters (13ft x 49 ft).
Teams: Players are divided into 2 teams. Depending on the number of available players, or the type of tournament, each team is made up as follows:
• one player vs. one player (tete-a-tete) with 3 boules each player
• two players vs. two players (doublettes) with 3 boules each player
• three players vs. three players (triplettes) with 2 boules each player
Goal: The first team to score 13 points wins. It will take a series of rounds (ends) to get to 13.
Start of Play: The starting team is selected at random by flipping a coin. Any player in the starting team selects a place on the playing field and draws a circle in the soil 35-50 cm (14-20 inches) in diameter. When throwing the boules, each player must stand within the circle and not raise their feet completely off the ground until their boule is thrown. The cochon, which serves as the aim-ball, is thrown from the circle to a distance of 6 to 10
meters. The cochon, after it lands, must also be at least 1 meter from the boundaries of the playing area (if there are boundaries). If the cochon is thrown invalidly, then it must be rethrown. Any member of the starting team that tossed out the cochon throws their first boule as close as possible to the cochon. Being closest to the cochon is called “having the point.” A member of the opposing team then stands in the circle and attempts to throw their boule closer to the cochon than the other team’s boule. That team must keep trying until it “has the point” or runs out of boules to throw. Whichever team has thrown its boule(s) closest to the cochon “has the point” and forces the other team (which “does not have the point”) to throw their boules until they get a boule closest
to the cochon (or they run out of boules to throw).
How to Score Points: Only one team scores points during each round. That score is the sum of all of the one team’s boules that are closest to the cochon before the other team’s first closest boule. The first team to acquire 13 points wins the game. If neither team has reached 13 points, the players pick up their boules and start another round. Typically the new thowing circle is drawn around the cochon.
Playing Styles: Pointers and Shooters:
After a little experience, players usually categorize themselves as being either a pointer or shooter. The pointer lobs or rolls their boule as close as possible to the cochon. They are trying to “get the point” by moving their boule nearest to the cochon. The shooter (tirer) hits the boule of an opponent away from the cochon by rolling, throwing, or lobbing their boule at the opposing team’s boule. There is an especially difficult shot that a tirer makes called a carreau. This is when the shooter throws his/her boule hitting an opponent’s boule directly without touching the ground, in such a way as to replace it’s position perfectly with their own boule.
Strategy and Technique: Though the rules for petanque are relatively simple, the strategy can become sophisticated. There are limited boules to point/shoot, and different player experiences with shooting and pointing - as well as different areas in the terrain to work with.
Some basic strategy includes:
1. pointing your boules so that they rest in front (and in the way) of your opponent’s boules. This “boule-in-front” not only presents a barrier to your opponent, but that boule can be accidentally “pushed” closer to the cochon by an opponents boule.
2. keeping track of how many boules your opponent has left to play so that you know what shooting risks you can take.
3. leaving an “open” path to the cochon for others on your team to point.
4. leaving a “wall” in front of the cochon to keep your opponent’s boules away.
5. using an opponent’s boule as a “backstop” when pointing to the cochon.