How to play Jai-Alai
The game is played against a wall. There are three walls, a front and a back and one on the side. The three walls and the court together, is known as the fronton. The object of the game is to throw the ball at the wall in such a way that it is hard for the opponent to catch and return. The opponent needs to be able to catch it before it hits the ground or after its first bounce and return it back to the wall.
The game is started by serving the ball. The server must bounce the ball behind the serving line, and hurl the ball with the cesta directly to the front wall so that upon rebound, it will bounce between lines No. 4 and 7. If it does not, it is an under or over serve and the opposing team will receive the point.
The ball must be caught on the fly or on the first bounce. Also, the ball must be caught and thrown in "one fluid motion". The judges will rule juggling if the ball "pops up" or if it is held for "more than the required time".
All three walls of the court are in play - with the red denoting out-of-bounds. In "Spectacular Seven" scoring, the point value is 1 until each team has played once and thereafter, the point value is doubled.
Jai Alai players share the court with the opposition. If a player blocks another's line to the ball on the catch or to the wall on the return, the judges may rule interference if they deem that the ball was "playable".
The Playing Rotation
Most games use the "Spectacular Seven" scoring in which games are played to 7 points, with points doubling after the first round of play. The game is played in a round-robin rotation, usually by 8 teams or single players.
In doubles, each team consists of a frontcourt player and a backcourt player. The game begins when the frontcourt player of the first team serves the ball to the second team. The winner of each point stays on the court to meet the next team in rotation. Losers go to the end of the line to await another turn on the court. The first team to score 7 points (or 9 in Superfecta games) wins. The next highest scores are awarded "place" (second) and "show" (third) positions, respectively. Playoffs decide tied scores.
Note that the combination of "Spectacular Seven" scoring and the round-robin rotation gives an advantage to the lower post positions in that they will have more chances to play than the higher numbers.
Elimination Games in Jai Alai
The player or team scoring the designated number of points first will be declared the winner. Official Place and Show positions will be awarded to the player or team having the greatest number of points following the winner.
After a Winner has been declared, playoff rules to decide Place, Show and fourth positions vary according to the number of points scored by the participating players or teams, and will be played according to the players or teams' rotation position, i.e., the order in which they were defeated.
In case of a tie after a Win position has been officially declared, it shall not be necessary to score the full game's number of points, in order to determine place, show or fourth positions, or all three for the players or teams.
When there are still five or seven players or teams, and all of which are tied without a point to their credit, the playoff shall be for a goal of one point less than the number of post positions represented in the playoff.
When there are still five or seven players or teams, and all of which are tied one point or more, the playoff shall be continued until the player or team reaches the number of points designated for the game.
In case of two ties, after a Winner has been declared official, and there are still two players or teams tied with the same number of points, the Place position shall be awarded to the player or team making the next point, and Show position goes to the loser of said point.
In games where a fourth position is required and
Two ties remain after Win and Place have been determined, the Show position shall be awarded to the player or team making the next point and Fourth position shall go to the loser of said point.
Two ties remain after Win, Place and Show have been determined, the Show position shall be awarded to the player or team making the next point.
In case of three ties, after a Winner has been declared official, place, show, and fourth positions shall be decided among the three players or teams, with the same number of points, through elimination, according to rotating position. However, if after playing the first play-off point, any player or team score reaches the number of points that the game calls for, said player or team shall immediately be awarded the place, show, or fourth position, as the case may be, and any remaining players or teams shall forfeit the right to play for said position.
In case of four or six ties, after a Winner has been declared official and there remain four or six players or teams, tied for place, show, or fourth, or all three, play-off shall be through elimination according to their rotating position. The first two players or teams will play the first point. The next two players or teams will play for one point, and the remaining (in case of 6) players or teams will also play for one point. Winners of above points will play additional points to decide place, show or fourth positions as the case may require.
In games where a Fourth position is required and no Place, Show, or Fourth position has been determined and there remains four ties, the losing players or teams of the elimination playoff return and play a final point to determine fourth.
If at any time during a play-off, a player or team reaches the designated number of points the game calls for, said player, or team, shall immediately be awarded the place, show or fourth position, as the case may be, and the remaining players or teams shall forfeit the right to play for said position.