A close relation of boules, bowls and pétanque, boċċi developed in Italy where it is called bocce, but the Maltese version is a little different.
It is played by two teams of one, two or three players on a marked pitch of coarse sand (or a makeshift flat area of gravel, sand, soil or short-cut grass).
A team of one or two people has seven boċċi – three small round balls and four much larger cylinders. A team of three has eleven boċċi – three balls and eight cylinders. One team’s boċċi are red (Team R), the other’s green (Team G). There is also one very small marker ball – the jack.
The jack is thrown at the start of each frame and the aim of the game is to get your boċċi closest to the jack. This is done both by simply rolling the boċċi and by knocking the opposing team’s boċċi out of the way – or indeed knocking the jack closer to your own boċċi. Balls and cylinders can be used interchangeably but the game usually starts with a ball and it is the cylinders – being larger and heavier – that are generally used for displacing opponents’ boċċi.
How to play
1 Whichever team wins the toss of a coin – let’s say Team R – starts.
2 Team R throws the jack. It must land between 15 and 37ft away from the players. If the jack is thrown out of area twice then the other team gets to throw it and start the game. During the game the jack can be knocked anywhere on the pitch and the game continues, unless it lands less than 5ft from the players in which case play stops and the frame starts again.
3 Team R rolls a bocca ball trying to get it as close as possible to the jack.
4 Team G takes a turn, trying to get a bocca closer than Team R’s. Team G continues to roll boċċi (balls or cylinders) until it gets one of its boċċi closer than Team R’s (or runs out of boċċi). Play then passes back to Team R.
5 Teams take turns in this way, switching over each time a team gets a bocca closer than the closest of its opponents’ boċċi. This continues until both teams have run out of boċċi.
When all the boċċi have been used the team with the closest ball to the jack wins and gets a point for each bocca (ball or cylinder) that is closer to the jack than the other team’s closest ball. If each team’s closest ball is the same distance from the jack no points are awarded. The winning team starts the next frame and play continues until one team reaches 12 points and wins the match.