It is a Belgian, Philippe Boets, who, in the short history of the game, is without any question, the most important person of this game for America. It is his company, Pétanque America, sponsoring the Pétanque America Openeach year that perpetuatedthe growing interest of this game. In fact, it is the largest tournament to date!
The game of Pétanque was invented in La Ciotat off the Mediterranean coast in 1910 by a shopkeep, Jules le Noir, an amateur boules player. He would invent the game once he was afflicted by rheumatism so badly that standing was a challenge, and running was no longer possible.
Together with a friend that owned a local café, Ernest Pitiot, the invented the modified version of their beloved boules so that le Noir could still enjoy the active life he loved. They set the game up so that boules were launched while standing in a circle instead of the standard running launch. This new version would off quickly and become popular, surpassing jeu provençalin France and becoming a popular form of boules.
What Is Pétanque?
Pétanque is pronounced pay-TONK and is one form of boules. In place of using wooden balls, there are metal balls which are thrown instead of rolled by a player standing with both feet firmly planted. There are a series of rounds per game with the winner reaching 13 points first.
It is played on a terrain, which is simply a patch of ground without any marked boundaries in its originating country of France. If it is being played on a market terrain, that signifies it is the Americanized version. In a championship, the terrain is 15 meters long and 4 meters wide.
The players of pétanque are referred to as a pétanqueur. Where games such as tennis have a serve, petanque does not. It is the player that loses a point that is the one to throw next. The game is scored by throwing a boule with the intentions of having it stop close to the ball, sometimes called a jack. The opponent’s intention is to throw a boule and hit the opponent’s ball.
Three important points to throwing the ball:
- la portée is a high lob which done by a player throwing the boule in a high arc with the intentions of it landing and rolling very minimally. A high throw which drops like a piece of lead and straight down on the terrain, is called a plombée.
- la demi-portée is a half-lob.
- la roulette is arolling throw, much like that of the bocce punto.