Definitions of terms (M-N-O-P) used in Snooker and English Billiards

Snooker Cue

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The instrument from which the cue developed. The earliest were made from a single piece of wood, made flat and wide at one end and sometimes shod in ivory. Later they were made in two pieces, a long 'stick' formed the handle and fitted into the 'head'. This was flat on the bottom to slide easily on the cloth, and concave on the top to 'sweep' the ball along when used on its side. They were made as either left or right-hand models, the head being fixed at an angle so the shaft could be held over the player's shoulder.
See:-  Cue · Point

The official who assists the referee by recording the scores.
See:-  Referee

Marking Board
The instrument used to record the player's scores. Various designs have appeared, from ones used purely for billiards to combination ones for billiards, snooker and the old English game of pool. The Victorians designed tables with small marking-boards let into the cushion-rail, and others that could be held in the hand. In the modern game the scores are now commonly displayed on television monitors for the benefit of the audience at professional snooker tournaments.

A stroke in which an extreme amount of spin is given to the cue-ball by striking down with the cue held upright. By striking down most of the force is absorbed by the table, allowing the spin to quickly control the path of the cue-ball. Although normally played with screw and side it can also be played with top and side. The more upright the cue is held, the more tightly the ball curves. As the angle of the cue decreases so the curve becomes less until at around 45° or less, the stroke becomes a swerve shot. If only back-spin (or screw) were applied it would more properly be termed a 'piqué'.
See:-  Back-Spin · Piqué · Screw · Side · Swerve · Top

Match Ball
The last ball a player needs to pot to win the match
See:-  Frame Ball · Game Ball

Maximum Break - Snooker
A break of 147, consisting of 15 reds each followed by a black, and the six colours. The term has no equivalent meaning in English Billiards, but could possibly be used to describe a break in which the player scores all the points needed to win the game; example:- in a game of 100-up, a break of 100.

Middle Pockets
The pockets located in the centre of each of the longer sides of the table.
See:-  Pockets

English Billiards - A stroke in which the cue-ball fails to contact either object-ball.
Snooker - A stroke in which the cue-ball fails to make its first contact on the ball that is 'on' and the referee decides that the striker could have made a better attempt.

A bad contact between the cue and cue-ball, usually caused through a lack of chalk or a bad cue-action.

Refers to the pocket opening as a whole.
See:-  Fall · Jaw · Lip · Pockets

The Nap runs from the baulk end of the table to the top. The very fine, hair-like surface of the cloth that runs from the bottom (baulk) of the table to the top. Like velvet it feels smooth when brushed one way but rough in the other, and causes a ball to run more truly 'with' the nap than against it, especially the cue-ball when a stroke is played with strong side spin.

Natural Angle
The path taken by the cue-ball after contact with a ball or cushion when it is played below forcing strength and without spin.
See:-  Force an Angle

Nominated Ball - Snooker
Refers to any object-ball that the player declares as the one he intends to strike first with the cue-ball.
See:-  Free Ball

Nursery Cannons - English Billiards
Nursery Cannons. A repetitive sequence of close cannons in which all three balls are kept close to the cushion and moved forward with each stroke. The animation shows a perfect run as all three balls take up the same positions after each stroke. But in reality tiny mistakes are constantly made and the player uses combinations of top, side and screw in an attempt to regain position and continue the break.
See:-  Cannon/s · Close Cannons

The balls which are struck by the cue-ball. An object-ball may or may not be "on" depending on the rules of the particular game being played.
See:-  Cue-Ball

Object-White - English Billiards
When the striker is at the table this term is used to describe the opponent's cue-ball. In English billiards each player has their own cue-ball - one with no markings, or the 'Plain' white; and one with two black spots, or the 'Spot' white.
See:-  Cue-Ball · Striker's Ball

Refers to any object-ball that the player may legally strike first with the cue-ball.

One of the two extra colours that Joe Davis added to snooker to create 'Snooker Plus'. It had a value of 8 points and was spotted halfway between the pink and the blue.
See:-  Purple · Snooker Plus

Describes the speed of a moving ball.

Penalty Points
The points that are awarded to the opponent when the striker makes a foul stroke.

Pink Spot - Snooker
Common name for the Pyramid spot on which the pink is placed in snooker.
See:-  Pyramid Spot · Spots

Similar to a massé except that it is played without sidespin. It's simply a screw shot played with an upright cue that's used when the balls are so close that back-spin cannot be applied by following-through with the cue held horizontally.
See:-  Back-Spin · Massé · Screw · Side · Top

Plain Ball
Applies to all strokes in which the cue-ball is struck in the centre.
English Billiards - Refers to the cue-ball without 'spots', generally used by the non-breaking player.
See:-  Cue Ball · Spot-White

Plants and Sets. In the last thirty years or so the distinction between 'Plants' and 'Sets' seems to have been forgotten, and both are now generally known as 'Plants'. But they are different. In a 'plant' the ball struck by the cue-ball enters a pocket, and in a 'set', a ball that touches one struck by the cue-ball is pocketed.
For a 'plant' to be 'on' an imaginary line drawn through the centres of the touching balls, and another from the centre of the ball to be potted and the pocket, need to form a right-angle.
See:-  Set

The six 'holes' into which the balls are potted. When billiards first became a table game over five centuries ago the pockets were more basic, and from early illustrations appear to have been nothing more than simple holes. They were then known as 'hazards', from which the terms 'Losing Hazard' and 'Winning Hazard' in English Billiards almost certainly originated.
Pocket Widths. For records to stand in professional play the pockets must conform to templates which accurately measure the width and depth of the pockets, and the curve of the cushions that form the pocket openings. The templates also measure the 'face' of the cushion as it curves in, and the 'undercut', which if cut too generously can effectively make the pocket opening wider.
The cushions on either side of each corner pocket must be 3½ inches apart, and at the middle pockets 4 inches apart to conform to the pocket templates.
See:-  Bumps · Cushion/s · Face · Fall · Jaw · Templates · Undercut

Pocket Side - English Billiards
Left or right-hand side applied to the cue-ball to spin it into the pocket from the cushion edge.
See:-  Long Jenny · Losing Hazard · Short-Jenny

Point - (Of The Cue)
This term was used in the days when a player could use either end of the cue to strike the cue-ball. It described what we would now refer to as the 'tip' end of the cue.
See:-  Mace · Shaft · Tips

Postman's Knock - English Billiards
'Postman's Knock A specialised break at the top of the table. It consists of a sequence of repetitive pot-cannon-pot-cannon strokes in which the white (or yellow) object-ball is kept on the top cushion by a double-kiss, allowing the player to maintain position for the next stroke.
See:-  Floating White · Top of the Table

Common term to describe a ball being pocketed.
See:-   Winning Hazard

Power Shots
Describes any stroke that is played with above average strength.
See:-  Force an Angle · Forcing Stroke

One of the two extra colours that Joe Davis added to snooker to create 'Snooker Plus'. It had a value of 10 points and was spotted halfway between the pink and the brown.
See:-  Orange · Snooker Plus

Push Stroke
Illegal in snooker and English billiards. There are two basic definitions:-
A - The tip of the cue must not remain in contact with the cue-ball as the cue-ball contacts the object-ball.
B - The cue-ball must be cleanly struck, and not pushed forward with an increasing acceleration of the cue. (This has also been described as the tip making just one contact with the cue-ball, but in many perfectly legal strokes the tip can make several contacts as the cue follows-through that are imperceptible to the naked eye.)
See:-  Foul

Pyramid Spot
The spot in the exact centre of the top half of the table.
English Billiards - For spotting the red when both the Spot and Pyramid spots are occupied, or after it has been potted twice in successive strokes from the Spot and the centre spot is occupied.
Snooker - For spotting the Pink ball.
See:-  Spots

Snooker Cue