Rules – Q&A Forum

If you have any queries about the rules, post your question in the COMMENTS box at the bottom of this page

And if you have an answer to any questions posted here, feel free to click reply and make your comment


27 thoughts on “Rules – Q&A Forum

    • Coming over later in the year Murray. Materials are all printed. Just have to firm up some dates and I’ll be in touch

  1. There is a section in the rule book about referee errors p62. One of the situations described is when the ref makes an error but the next player is called and plays. In that situation the game continues as if the error did not happen. Often, in social play with no ref, players have suddenly noted that even though white plays ball 2, red thinks it is ball one’s turn. How do people resolve this problem and try to avoid it happening?

  2. Three questions posed by Barbara and Jim Northcott:

    Question 1 – After the players’ equipment and clothing have been inspected before the start of a game, the weather suddenly deteriorates during the game and it starts to rain. Is the game forfeited if the players then wear wet weather clothing that doesn’t match?

    Question 2 – Equipment was inspected by the referees prior to the game commencing. During the game a stick breaks and the player does not have a stick that has been inspected. What does the player do?

    Question 3 – A referee who is positioned in the stroking direction mistakenly stops, on the inner field, a ball that looks as though it will be entering the outer field. Is this an in-ball? If a player does this what happens?

  3. Q1 Although the WGU are to be fully observed most of the time, referees have a duty of care where commonsense on behalf of the referee would need to prevail. At the 2019 nationals we clarified what would happen in a situation like this and stated that players could don rain protection gear provided they still observed the 10 second rule for their individual play

    Q2 Uses another player’s stick which has been inspected.

    Q3 Page 63 17(iii) explains it all. Basically it stay where it is unless the ref makes a judgement that it was going out. In this case the ball is placed as an outball where the ref judged it would have become and out ball.

  4. A couple of sparking foul questions:

    1. After a successful spark, as the foot is removed from the stroker’s ball, the ball “wobbles” in place but does not move to a new position on the field. Is this a foul?

    2. After touching a ball, the stroker’s ball stops very close to another ball that has not been touched. The stroker sets the touched ball and completes a spark. The stroker’s ball moves under foot, but does not come out from under the foot, and strikes the untouched ball causing it to move. The stroker does not touch the untouched ball with either the foot or stick. What should the referee do?

    • My thoughts:

      The answer to question 1 is clear. The ball must move out from under the foot to be a foul (Article 16, Clause 4, 1 (2)). A wobble in place is not moving out from under the foot, there is no foul.

      Also, the rules specifically allow a movement under the foot. See Article 16, clause 2, Part 6. This reads
      “The following actions are proper plays: … the stroker’s ball moves underneath his/her foot.”

      Question 1 is clear – there is no foul, there is no action for the referee to take.

      Question 2 is much harder.
      There is no foul in question 2. The unclear bit is what to do in response.

      As noted above, the ball moving under the sparking foot is a proper play. However, we must bear in mind the next section of the rule, Article 16, Clause 2 6 (i) . This reads

      “When the stroker’s ball moves underneath his/her foot, and if this movement affects a play such as passing a gate, finishing, or making a Touch, the referee shall place the stroker’s ball back in it’s original position.”

      This rule is not utilised often. It is designed so that the stroker can’t gain advantage by rolling their ball slightly one way or the other during a spark. This matters mostly in tight spaces where the angle change can mean a lot. For example,the difference between a gate touch being available and not. While technically any change in position of a ball changes the subsequent shot, that is often immaterial. Being 6 metres or 5.99 metres from the next target doesn’t matter. But a couple of centimetres making a gate touch possible is clearly impacting the game.

      I would argue the spirit of this rule suggests that the answer to question 2 is that both the stroker’s ball and the previously untouched ball should be replaced back in their original positions. The stroker may then play their next shot.

      However, a literal reading of the rules suggests that the movement of the ball under the foot is a proper play. (16.2.6). And 11.1.1 says “all movements of balls as a result of proper plays are are valid moves”.

      Arguably this suggests that the stroker’s ball should be moved back, but the other ball should not. Compare this with Q41 in the FAQ book. There, a movement of a ball previously resting against a gate is deemed valid if the stroker’s sparking shot moves the gate and therefore the ball.

      If I were refereeing, I would move both balls back to their original positions. That is clearly the intent of the rules. But that’s just my view.

        • In the first situation (from a match at the Nationals), we followed the advice above.

          In the second situation we followed the arguably route above, and both balls were left in their finishing positions. The movement in the stroker’s ball did not affect a critical LaPlaya and so there was no reason to move it. In the rare case where the referee would need to move the stroker’s ball back (eg 2013 NSW state final where a ball moved away from the gate 3 leg) Iwould argue that the events are independent. The untouched ball is a valid move and so should stay where it finishes. The stroker’s ball is the one affecting play and should be moved back. Thanks for the analysis Philip.

      • After further discussions with Gilon, i now realise the above is mistaken.

        It is a ball touch foul during sparking.

  5. For Q1, I agree with Phillip.

    For Q2, this resembles the scenario in Q163 of the Q+A. It is a ball touch foul in the course of sparking. As in your scenario the spark is complete, the stroker’s ball becomes an outball. The ‘accidentally touched ball’ returns to its original position.

    I understand it is a ball touch foul as the stroker’s ball is touching another ball for a reason other than permitted in the game rules. I think part of the problem might be the English translation of the original Japanese rules. In some rules ‘touch’ is used as the verb, In others, ‘comes into contact’ is used.

    • I’ve just read Q163 of the FAQ and Gilon is right. Q163 clearly designates this as a ball-touch foul.

      Interestingly enough, I can’t find any mention of this sort of foul in the ball-touch section of the rule book… but as Gilon says, this may be a translation issue. My Japanese isn’t good enough to easily look this up, but the Japanese do have active and passive verbs – maybe that’s what’s going here. “Touch” is quite an active verb in English, it may not be in Japanese…

      • I remembered I had an old Japanese version of the rules in my drawer…..

        The Japanese verb used in the ball-touch foul section is sawaREru, not sawaru. Both verbs are translated in English as “touch”. But further investigation suggests that sawareru is a much gentler and occasionally abstract word, that can mean things like “brush against” or even “touch upon in conversation”.

        Notably, Japanese has a word for touching something physically and physically only. That verb is sawaru. That is NOT the verb used in the ball-touch foul section. They use the much more abstract sawareru. Hence maybe “ball-touch foul” should be read more as “ball-influence foul” or “ball-affecting foul” in English.

  6. I agree with Gilon. It is definitely a ball touch foul under sparking conditions. Clause 4.2(3) says – If a sparking foul takes place after a successful spark, and before the foot is moved away from the stroker’s ball: (i) A ball that has moved as the result of a sparking foul is returned to the position it was in before it moved. (ii) The strokers ball becomes an out-ball from the position where it stopped after the Touch.
    This is why I am a great fan of the Q & A Book as it often makes clear something which might not be so clear in the Rules Book

  7. Thanks to all for the excellent discussion. I confess that I haven’t really believed the “lost in translation” reading of the rules before, but Q163 really highlights this as an issue.
    The rules at 18.1.1 define a ball touch foul as “a stroker” touching a ball other than in accordance with the game rules. In Q163 it is movement of a ball under the stroker’s foot that causes the offence not the stroker. Contrast this with Q161, where a stroker’s possessions (glasses) cause a ball to move, resulting in an invalid move (which is clear from the rules).
    I must admit i don’t really understand why Q163 is a ball touch foul other than Philip’s explanation above.

    But, to the point, in the scenario posed, it is the action of the stroker striking the stroker’s ball (a proper play) that causes the untouched ball to be touched and move rather than movement of the stroker’s foot as in Q163. This takes me back to 11.1.1 “Aside from invalid moves, all movements of balls as a result of a proper play by a stroker shall be valid.”
    Does this make any difference to your answers?

  8. Situation: Player has touched a ball that has passed through Gate 3 and eligible for the goal pole. He then proceeds to spark it on to Goal Pole. Following the spark, the touched ‘other’ ball hits the goal pole and rebounds onto the players ball and touches it before stopping.

    I now refer you to Article 14 Finishing 1. (1) – the successful ‘finish’ of the touched other ball and Article 16 Spark Clause 3 Completions of Sparking 1. (2) and Clause 4 Sparking Foul 1. (6), – which takes precedence?

    Is it correct to state that the touched ‘other’ ball has finished once it touches goal pole and that the subsequent ‘foul’ on touching the sparking ball does not count?

    • Any ball which touches the goal pole and becomes Agari can perform no further valid moves. For the purposes of the game it has winked out of existence… This is clear from the FAQ book question 101, for example.

      14.1 takes precedence (it has occurred first chronologically).

      The touched ball is Agari, there is no foul, take your continuation stroke.

    Hi all – just had this item sent to me and posting it for comment.

    When two balls are touched with the same ball, are we are supposed to spark the first touched ball first, and then the second touched ball next, unless the balls come to stop and are touching the players ball?

    > We always thought you could spark them in any order but something in the exam seemed to indicate this was not correct. Given that Gateball rules are always about the order that the play occurs (for example, a passing of a gate stays valid, despite the ball then causing a foul), it is not impossible that the order of play when two balls are touched would be the first touched ball is sparked and then the second touched ball is sparked. There does not appear to be a specific Clause that refers to the order of sparking, other than the exception when balls are touching.
    > Clause 4.1.7 and 4.1.8 both refer to “the first touched ball” and other balls to be sparked. It could mean the ball that was “touched” first or the ball you pick up first, which is a different interpretation. It would be good to read the Japanese version of the rules to see what the interpretation is.
    > The Q&A seems to refer to Ball A and Ball B being touched and sparked in that order, A then B.
    > The exception is where they all end up against the players ball and then you can move balls to another location so you can spark one of them first, then bring the next one back which is the circumstance in Clause 4.1.7.
    > 4.1.7 is shown in Q151 and relates to changing the order of the spark when the exception occurs and the balls all end up against the players ball. It seems to say that once you’ve picked up “the first touched ball” and moved it out of the way, you cannot change the order of the sparking, that is, decide to bring it back and move the second touched ball out of your way.

    > We have not been enforcing any rule about the sparking order when two balls are touched but the discussion came up on the weekend again at a tournament, so it would be helpful if we could get a consensus on:

    > 1. When two or more balls are touched with the players ball are you required to spark the first touched ball first, then the second, etc.

    > 2.Is this interpretation consistent with the WGU Japanese version of the rules and the Q and A?

    > 3. Is there a need for a further example in the Q and A or rules to make it explicit one way or the other?

    • 1. Article 15 Clause 2.1(1) hints that the balls can be sparked in any order:
      Clause 2. Gaining the Right to Spark
      (1) If the stroker gains the right to spark a number of other balls,regardless of the order the balls were touched, all other balls can be sparked.

      More compelling for me is to consider the impact on other rules if you assume that balls must be sparked in the order they are touched. For example, if you assume that the balls must be sparked in the order they are touched, then it would not be possible to spark the second touched ball if the first touched ball becomes an out ball or agari. It is clear that this is not the case eg QA 105

      “The stroker gains the right for sparking after a
      successful Touch with two balls even if either of
      the touched balls becomes an out-ball, as long as
      the stroker’s ball and the other touched balls stop”
      Therefore I would argue that balls can be sparked in any order.
      3. Wouldn’t hurt

      • Example from 2019 tournament in Japan – go to 21:45. Ball 7 ist touched before ball 9 but ball 9 is sparked first

        • I agree entirely Geoff article 15 clause 2 explains the situation and the rights of the stroker to spark the balls in any order. I is also important to point out that it is impossible to spark a ball in the touch order if the first touched other ball is an out-ball.

          • Thanks for your feedback guys! The original question that started this was part of the Level 1 exam. The question solution was: After a successful touch with ball A and ball B, the strokers ball stops in contact with ball A and the stroker picks up ball B by mistake – this is a foul. It seemed to indicate that the stroker had to pick up ball A first because it was touched first.

            However, the feedback since indicates that either ball A and B can be sparked in any order as long as you spark the one you picked up to spark first. You can’t change the order once you have selected the ball to spark first, or a foul will occur.

            Thanks to Margaret Barnard for also providing feedback on this topic.

  10. Thanks Ros – Just to confirm why a foul is the correct answer in the scenario above, and how this is consistent with balls can be sparked in any order.

    In the situation descried, the foul is by virtue of Article 16 Clause 4.1(9) “Any of the following plays by a stroker will be regarded as a sparking foul:
    (9) If the stroker’s own ball is in contact with the touched other ball and the stroker comes into contact with yet another touched ball”, so a slightly different scenario to the general “touching more than 1 ball in the same stroke” question.

  11. Ball 2 touches ball 1 very close to the inside line. The stroker sparks ball 1 out of the court. Ball 1 is outside the court before the stroker’s stick has glanced off Ball 2 and commits a ball touch foul on ball 5 which is about 15cm away.. What should the referee do?

    Would it make any difference if ball 2 had still been moving within the court?

    • The rules are clear that once Ball 1 is outside the court and an out-ball, the spark has been completed. See on page 25 of the new rules. It reads “Completions of sparking. A successful Spark refers to the following: … (3) when the other sparked ball becomes an out-ball”

      Ball 1 is a “valid” out ball.

      The touch on Ball 5 is, to my thinking, a ball-touch foul. As such, a foul is called. Slightly counter-intuitively, although the spark has been completed, the “stroker’s actions on sparking” have NOT been completed.

      By clause 16.2.1 the “stroker’s actions on sparking refers to all actions after the point at which all the balls inside the inner field come to a stop following a successful touch, to the point when the stroker steps off his/her own ball following a successful spark.”

      Clearly the spark can be successful before the foot is removed, but the actions on sparking are not complete until after the foot is removed.

      Which means that article 18.1.4 applies. This reads “If a ball touch foul occurs during the stroker’s actions on sparking, the process outlined in Article 16 Clause 4 ‘Sparking Foul 2’ on sparking foul shall be followed”.

      I don’t know what the 2 means – I think it may be a typo or an out of date reference. But it seems clear that the rules say a ball touch foul committed with a foot still on a ball following a spark is a sparking foul, not a ball-touch foul.

      As such, Ball 5 is placed back where it was before the foul, Ball 2 is placed out of bounds. Ball 3 is then called.

      I’m assuming that you’ve made a small error in the second part of the question. “Would it make any difference if Ball 2 had still been moving within the court?” My word yes it makes a difference!!! I assume you mean if Ball 1 had been moving inside the court.

      My understanding is that if the Ball 1 was in the field of play and still moving (though it would have to be more than 10cm from Ball 2 by, the same outcome would apply. The spark is complete, so Ball 1 is left wherever it comes to a halt. Ball 2 is placed out of bounds and Ball 5 is moved back to where it was before the ball touch foul. Ball 3 is called.

    • There is a key assumption with this question that may make someone interpret it wrong in some instances. For the most part, I agree with Philip, but there is an issue. The question does not state that the ball was placed 10 cm from the inner field line from the point at which it went out. If the ball was not placed before the ball touch foul occurred then this is not a foul. The reason for this is that no foul can be committed during referee time and any such foul would be considered ineffective play. Please correct me if I’m wrong but as the question is worded there would be no penalty and the ball moved by the foot would be replaced and the stroker would continue to play with their continuous stroke gained from the successful spark. Rule 10 clause 1 defines what a play is and states that a foul is indeed a form of play albeit a turn-ending play. Clause 2.1 affirms my suspicions as discuses above that no play can be made during referee time.

Leave a Reply to Margaret Barnard Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.