Monday, 22 August 2016

A Brief History of Freestyle Boules.


By C.B.M. Darling

The Greeks are known to have played a “kind of throwing game” as early as the 8th century B.C. Over the following three centuries, news of the Greco novelty spread slowly throughout the Mediterranean. By AD 60  Roman infantrymen were being granted up to 40 minutes of ‘the throwing game’ per week during foreign campaigns. The earliest surviving account of such a contest comes from Tacitus’ in AD 84:

            Ptolemy with great dexterousness lofted high and planted a plum on Otho, who accepted the prophecy as if it were the finger of fate. Barbius Proculus, in keeping low, secured his ownacquaintance with bold cunning, though was no match for Ptolemy.

At this stage, the game was played with crudely cut pieces of wood known as ‘hee-haws’. In periods of dearth, wood might be substituted with whatever else was at hand – grapes, pencils, sandals, and stale bread. A Roman sepulchre in Florence depicts the local population throwing forks.

After the fall of Rome, c. AD 500, regional variations on “the throwing game” continued to emerge throughout Europe. In the 11thcentury Norsemen, could refer to a game called ‘snoodel’ in which small pieces of clay would be thrown at larger pieces of clay. By the Middle Ages Erasmus was describing the prominence of a game called ‘globulrum’ or ‘boulebous’. In 1431 Septimus Hodge and twelve others marched on London protesting

            The rite of everie freeborne Englisheman to throwe his putte-putte.

To be furthered...


Sunday, 21 August 2016

BAFBA Rules, Regulations, Terminology and Criteria (Basic).


Metallic sphere thrown by protagonists of the game. Hence the game, 'Boules'.
- Also known as a "Cannonboule", a "Weightsheaf", a "Put-Put", a "Schwere Kugel", a "Rokpuuht" or a "Nebula" (pl. 'Nebulae').

The Jack, also known as a "Ballcock" or "Nubbin", is the small ball, often made of rubber or wood, used to establish a focal point for the throwing of the boules. 
- Thrown by players at will, with no limit or regulation on length / direction*.

*Sense and sportsmanship applies - see "Laxman", below.

An entire game of (first-to-21) boules.  
- A maximum of 4 boules (and a minimum of 2) to be used per player during the Bastard. 
- NB. The 3 boules Bastard, popularised in Scandinavia, is now illegal in the UK.

A single 'leg' played during a Bastard. 
- Each throw of the Jack signals the start of a new Punnett. 
- Closest boule to the Jack wins the Punnett. 
- If 1 boule is closest, the player scores 1 point and they become the Jerk (see below) for the next Punnett. 
- If they win by 2 boules they score 2 points, and so on. 
- Biggest margin of victory possible is by 4 boules (see 'Fourzer', below).
- Punnetts continue until a player achieves an overall score of 21. 
- As a player must win by 2 clear points, Punnetts within a Bastard can, theoretically, be endless.
- There is a minimum of 6 Punnetts per Bastard (producing a winning score of 21-0).

The player currently in possession of the Jack (either the winner of the previous Punnett, or the first to Jack off in a Bastard). The Jerk is always in a powerful position.

To throw the Jack at the start of a Punnett.

When the Jerk throws the ball behind his own and the opposing player(s) back in order to deliberately cause confusion or disorientation. Whilst still legal, the Introverted Jack Off is now widely considered a controversial and most unwelcome intervention. 
- Also known as a "Stephen Milligan", a "Milligan", or a "Mungo Jerry".

To hit the Jack with a boule during a Punnett.

Vintage footage from the Paris Invitational, 1910
(NB: The consumption of alcohol during matchtime is
now frowned upon)

Pronounced 'Wun - Zerr', this a victory in a Punnett by 1 boule. 
- Largely unremarkable, it is the narrowest winning margin in a Punnett.

Pronounced 'Too - Zerr', this is a victory in a Punnett by 2 boules.
- It is considered a pleasing result.

Pronounced 'Three - Zerr', this is a victory in a Punnett by 3 boules.
- It is considered a very pleasing result.

Pronounced 'Forr - Zerr', this is a victory in a Punnett by 4 boules. 
- Extremely rare, this is the best possible outcome for any player in a Punnett. 
- The opposing player, however irked by the humiliation, is legally obliged to applaud the opposition player if they lose by a 'Fourzer'. 

NB. In some countries (incl. Canada and Uruguay) conceding more than 3 Fourzers in a Bastard results in the compulsory purchase of a small wooden gift for the opponent's parents.

3 consecutive Punnett wins by a singular boule (a triple Onezer).

3 consecutive Punnett wins by a 2 boule margin (a triple Twozer). Good.

3 consecutive Punnett wins by a 3 boule margin (a triple Threezer). Very good.

3 consecutive Punnett wins by a 4 boule margin (a triple Fourzer).
- Also known as 'The Holy Grail of Boules'. Exceptional.

A particularly wise, skillful or pleasing throw, to be applauded by all and sundry.

A particularly poor or ill-judged throw, that is subsequently derided by your opponent. 
- Also known as a "Dripper", a "Douche" or a "Corn-hound".

Jo-Wilfried 'Buzz' Cardiac with his signature move
'The Pilgrim Fader'

When a player throws or lobs the boule high enough to ensure that the boule remains wholly stationary upon impact with the playing surface. Usually incorporated whilst performing on sandy or excessively muddy terrain, though occasionally also attempted on more traditional surfaces.

To apply enough back-spin to the airborne boule so that it double-backs towards the jack upon impact with the playing surface.

To apply enough side-spin to the airborne boule so that it swings noticeably to the left or the right upon impact with the playing surface. - Also known as a "Dingle", a "Raven", or a "Continental Cleft".

To intentionally strike an opposing player's boule during a Punnett.

To strike an opposing player's boule and then the Jack in one motion (a 'Winkle' followed by a 'Jack in').
- Extremely tricky, but impressive move - often used to dislodge an opponents boule that is already 'Jacked in' (touching the Jack). 

The final nebula of a Punnett.

An unidentified obstacle between the players and the Jack during a Punnett.

When the unidentified obstacle between the players and the Jack during a Punnett turns out to be a remote stool.

Common term for 'Textbook' length of jack thrown. A traditional, steady, classic distance favoured by the purists of the game, and by fans of regular conformist boules/petanque.

An extended 'Groban' (by approx. 5 - 10 feet). Made famous by Chastity Darling, who favours the throw when on song.

A particularly long throw, longer than a 'Maxi-Groban' (by approx. 10 feet). Often utilised if a tennis ball or malt roll is used as a jack. Traditionally thrown by the 'Jerk' in an aggressive skidding motion - very unpopular with players aged 65 and over.

The furthest throwing length physically possible by a Jerk. A highly controversial jack length banned in Normandy, Somerset, Haiti and Wigan. A Jerk must announce his intent to project a Laxman before releasing the jack (the only time one must inform an opponent of one's intentions). 

NB. The use of a Laxman has sparked violent scenes at several events over the last 20 years, and famously led to a messy disqualification in the final of 'The Broughborough Identical' in 1997, when Ulsterman Conway 'Broken Record' Glenn refused to state his intentions before throwing 5 successive Laxmans.

A short (often pathetically so) throw of the jack.

Short range throw, middle distance between a 'Peterhouse' and a 'Groban'. Favoured by children, and the elderly.

BAFBA Headquarters, Heehaw Lodge, UK