Stick your knives closer to the nail than your opponent.

At 11 or 13 points, it's won !



Coutanque is a sport that is practiced in three formats:

Duel: 1 player against 1 player.

Doubles: 2 players against 2 players.

Triples: 3 players against 3 players.


In doubles and duels, each player has 3 knives.

In triples, each player has 2 knives.





The Coutanque is played with the knives provided by the World Coutanque Association. For reasons of equity between the players only those are allowed in competition.



It should be spruce or better poplar to have more fun.

It should be made in end grain and it is either round or square.

The thickness should be between 5 centimeters (1,96 inch) and 15 centimeters (5,9 inch) and the diameter of the round target or the sides of the square target should be more than 40 centimeters (15,7 inch).

They must be placed horizontally on the floor of the Coutanque playing field.


The nail

It is made of steel and measures between 70 millimeters (2,7 inch) and 90 millimeters (3,5 inch).

It is placed in the center of the target and pushed down to its half which is marked.


The throwing line

It measures 5 meters (16,4 feet) and must always be stretched straight.

It is represented by a rope or tape of white color stretched to the ground and its center must be 3 meters (9,8 feet) from the nail.


Team colors

In order to distinguish the two teams, a ring of red or blue tape surrounds the knives.

It is placed around the knife by the players and as they wish.



Any kind of field is possible to play the Coutanque provided that its surface is flat.

It is mainly composed of three elements: the throwing line, the target and the nail.



For the knife thrown by a player to be valid, you must:


1) have the tip of the knife planted anywhere in the horizontal part of the target. A knife planted on the vertical edge of it is not valid.

2) throw from below (as bowling). This is also call “under hand”.


3) throw the knife vertically. Side throws are forbidden.


4) hold the knife in the direction of the target. Any lateral shift is prohibited.


5) Have both feet of the player in contact with the ground and not touching the throwing line.


6)  Have no part of the body touching the ground in front of the throwing line before the knife has landed.



The measurement of a point is the responsibility of the player who played last or one of his teammates. Opponents always have the right to measure after one of these players. Measurements must be made with the steel ruler laid flat on the target, resting on the part of the knife closest to the nail and to the base of the latter.



The closest knife to the nail belongs to the team that can win points.

We then count all the knives better placed (close to the nail) than those of the opponent. Only one of your knives is placed in front of the nearest opponent knife ? You win the round with 1 point ! If they are 2 of your knives: 2 points and so on...



1) Players toss a coin to determine which of the two teams will throw the first knife to the nail. The team that wins the draw also chooses the color of the red or blue tape that will distinguish its knives and the other team will use the remaining color.


2) The first knife of a round is thrown by a player of the team who won the coin toss or who won the previous round. Then it's up to the opponent to play. Both teams throw their knives alternately one by one until the point is taken by one of them.


3) Thereafter, the team with no point plays until it has the point or has exhausted all its knives.


4) Once all the knives have been thrown by both teams the round is finished and the points counted.


5) If, after a shot, no knife has the point it is up to the other team (the one who had this point) to play in turn. It is forbidden to touch or take back any knife played before the end of a round.


6) The sets are played in 11 or 13 points according to the choice of the organizer during the qualifications. The matches can be played in 1 or 2 winning sets according to the choice of the organizer during the qualifications. Quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals are always played in 2 winning sets of 13 points. Once the game is over, you must congratulate your opponents !


For more details see the official rules of the World Coutanque Association.

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