The sport is played with one small ball (Pallino) and eight larger balls [Bocce (singular), Bocci (plural)]—four for each team. The Pallino is thrown first and becomes the target. Then each Bocce is thrown with the goal of placing it as close to the Pallino as possible.
A full game of Bocce is called a Round, and it is separated into a series of scoring periods called Giri (plural) or Giro (singular). The team that reaches nine points first wins the Round (15 point Rounds are used in international tournaments)
In each Giro (scoring period), only one team may score points. A point is scored for the team with its Bocce closest to the Pallino, and additional points are earned for each Bocce of the same team that is closer to the Pallino than the closest Bocce of the opposing team. Hence, if all four Bocci of one team are closer to the Pallino than any Bocce of the opposing team, four points will be scored for the winning team and none for the opposing team. The team that reaches nine points first wins the Round.
Players may throw each Bocce in one of three ways:
A Punto, or point throw, has the goal of directly making a point. The throw is aimed at the Pallino and attempts to seat the Bocce as close to the Pallino as possible without hitting other Bocci along the way. The ultimate throw is one that seats the Bocce touching the Pallino—this is called a Baci (kiss) and is worth two points if it remains in place at the end of the Giro.
A Raffa is a throw aimed at another Bocce in order to move that Bocce out of the way.
A Volo, an aerial throw, is aimed to move another Bocce or the Pallino.
Each throw must be called in advance with the call acknowledged by the Referee. If a throw is executed properly—a legal throw—all balls moved by the throw remain in place. They may be inbounds or out-of-bounds, the latter being out of play (see Court Markings).
If a throw is illegal, the Pallino and all Bocci are returned to their previous positions, and the illegal Bocce is removed from play. It is for this reason that the locations of all inbounds Bocci and the Pallino must be marked. Under the “Rule of Advantage”, however, the opposing team may waive the penalty.
Typical problems subject to penalties:
Failure to properly call the throw and receive acknowledgment by the Referee;
Foot fault—throw must take place behind a designated line;
Illegal throw—see requirements of a Punto, Raffa and Volo as defined in the rules;
Delay of game—taking longer than 30 seconds to throw;
Intentional grounding—Bocce not thrown in a manner that advances the team’s position;
All of the rules exist either to define the requirements of a legal throw, or to clarify many of the situations that arise in implementing these very simple rules, and hence reduce the arguments and debates that are endemic to a Bocce tournament.
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