Q & A: Answers

Snooker Cue

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Posted on 5th May 2008 by Mark Litten of Worcester.

Suppose I have 70 points and my opponent has 20. I have just potted a red but have snookered myself on all colours with 51 points (3 reds + blacks, etc.) possible remaining. That means my opponent could win with 71 or more should I lose control of the cue ball.

Knowing that illegally potted reds are not returned to the table, what would keep me from fouling, illegally potting a red, giving my opponent 4 points whilst leaving only 43 points (2 reds + blacks, etc.) possible? Now my opponent's maximum would be 67 and would need a snooker to win.   Is this possible?

If you did play that shot the penalty would be seven points, as that is the penalty for either playing at two reds in succession, or for committing a foul before you had nominated a colour. That would give your opponent a total of 27 points, and with 43 possible points remaining your opponent could tie without needing a snooker.

After calling a foul and a miss, the referee has two options. Either to warn you about your conduct, or to award the frame to your opponent on the grounds that your conduct was "willfully unfair". You would also quickly be branded a cheat, and lose the respect of your fellow players.

In cases like this I think the rules should allow for the shot to be declared null and void, carry a seven point penalty, and have every ball replaced (including the red) into its original position. Thus making such a tactic completely pointless. The player could then be warned about his conduct and the game would continue.

The rules covering the duties of the referee make him or her the sole judge of fair or unfair play, and also gives them the right to make any decision for an event that is not specifically covered by the rules. So maybe a strong referee would replace the red as mentioned above, although I'm sure there will be some who disagree.

Added 9th August 2009 by Peter Rook, co-author of The Billiards and Snooker Referees' Handbook

If a player wilfully, in the referee's opinion, plays at two reds in succession (presumably he has no good shot on a colour) then as well as the 7 point penalty, a Miss must be called, giving the next player the option of having all balls replaced (including the pocketed second red) and making the offender play again at any colour of his choice.

Posted on 20th January 2008 by Danny Nicholas of Cardiff.

In snooker has the 4 point minimum penalty always been the rule. I seem to recall it used to be the value of object ball fouled on. Please confirm.

The 4 point minimum penalty has been the rule for many years, at least since 1920. I have a small rule book published in that year which clearly states this, and that may have been introduced when the rules were standardised 1n 1901.

In the history section, you will find a set of rules dated 1896 that were published in "Pyramids & Pool Games" by J.P. Buchanan. Rules 25, 26, and 27 clearly state that it is the value of the ball played at which is the penalty; so that would be 1 point for a red, 2 points for yellow, and 3 points for green.

"The Billiards and Snooker Referees' Handbook" by John Street and Peter Rook, includes a brief history of the rules which state that in the early days the penalties were "one away for missing a red" and also "two away for missing any colour from a snookered position after potting a red."

But as they say, in another club over the road a completely different set of rules might have been in force.

As the game became more popular the need to create a standardised set of rules became increasingly necessary, and as stated above this was done in 1901. So if you can recall those days I must congratulate you on your memory!

Posted on 13th May 2007 by Chris Brown of Oldham.

I was in discussion with a mate of mine who says that the pockets in televised championships are wider than the ones at a standard snooker club so they can get higher breaks. I disagreed saying that if anything it would be the other way around with the championship tables having smaller more accurate pockets because of the level of the players.

Snooker clubs tend to have one or two match tables which are obviously different to the rest of the club tables. Can you shed some light on this aspect?

You are quite correct in disagreeing that the pockets on tables used for professional tournaments are wider than those usually found in snooker clubs. Snooker clubs tend to have larger pockets (or rather larger pocket openings) as the face of the cushion is often undercut. The average club player could become disheartened if the pockets were too tight.

On the professional tournament tables the pockets have to conform to the official templates which measure the width of the pocket opening at the top of the cushion, as well as the fall of the slate.

Some snooker clubs obviously take the game more seriously than others, and those that regularly have members only and/or open tournaments are much more likely to have a "match" table or two (which they usually charge a higher rate for) and these would probably conform to the pocket templates.

You say in your mail that these pockets are more accurate, I think you mean that once the ball is within the jaws of the pocket it is more likely to go down than on the average club table, and I agree.

On most club tables, the leather at the back of the pocket is donkey's years old, as hard as can be, and so less resilient to absorb the impact of the cue-ball. Hence they can sometimes be forced back out when they wouldn't be in the professional game.

Posted on 23rd April 2007 by Alan Massey of Manchester.

In a recent match between two players (challenge tour standard) the following occurred.

Player "A" was at the table and had potted red, brown, red, and then went in off the blue. As the referee I awarded 6 points to player "A" and 5 points for the foul to player "B" At this point there was a discussion with the board marker who was unsure of the score and in the confusion I neglected to replace the blue ball.

I gave the white ball to player "B" and he played his shot. Player "A" then returned to the table and was just about to take his shot when a member of the audience pointed out that the blue ball was missing. I replaced the blue ball and after a short spell of embarrassment, player "A" played his shot and the frame continued without any further foul awarded to either player.

After the match finished there were several points of view about what I (the referee) should have done. I took the position that the error was mine (the referees) and that if the member of the audience had not pointed out the error player "A" would have played a shot without the blue on the table just as player "B" had done.

Was I right or wrong? What would be the correct decision under the current rules?

You made the right decision, and you are also correct in assuming that as the missing blue was a result of your mistake, the player should not be penalised. This change to the rules took place in September 1995.

So when someone in the audience pointed out that the blue was missing, you did the right thing by replacing the blue, and correctly allowed the game to proceed without any further penalty.

But there is one other little oddity that could have occurred when you replaced the blue. Imagine that Player "A" was then snookered. How would the rule apply then?

Quite simply, it is considered to be the "rub of the green" or just plain "bad luck".

Player "A" would have had to play the shot, just as he would have if Player "B" had left him in that position. Player "A" could not have been awarded a "free ball" or asked Player "B" to play again as no foul had been committed.

Posted on 12th March 2007 by Andy Margetts.

A friend and I have just purchased a full size snooker table. It has E.J.Riley ACCRINGTON and the serial number:122368 wood stamped on each leg. I have been told it would have been built around 1927 and is made of West African mahogany and 2" welsh slate. It has large 10" turned legs with vertical grooves around the circumference of them, it also has lock and key locks in each of the legs. I am led to believe the model name is the Riley "Perfection".

I would be interested to know if it is relatively rare, who or what would have purchased it at that time i.e wealthy person (tried to trace the serial number but records have been lost), and what i should insure it for so it could be replaced by something of the same quality should it get damaged. It is in fantastic condition, in full working order and will soon take pride of place in my home!!! So I really would appreciate any help in finding out about any of the above.

If anyone can provide any information about this request I shall post it here.

Posted on 29th January 2007 by Steve Clark of Dawlish.

With reference to Rules Section 2 Rule 12 & Section 3 10d(vi), can you tell me what would happen in the following situation:

A player pots a red and is then snookered by the remaining reds on all colours. He does not nominate a colour (Sec. 2 Rule 12) and before the referee has time to ask (Sec. 3 Rule 10d(vi)) plays his stroke. The cue ball misses a red, misses the yellow & blue by a millimeter and ends up touching the black.

Is this a foul and what is the penalty? What would have happened if the cue ball had come to rest not touching any colour?

There is a belief that no foul was committed in the stroke given in the question, as the official rules give no clear instruction for such an incident.

However, the non-striker obviously needs to be protected from such an obviously unfair stroke being made by his opponent, whether it was made in the heat of the moment or as a cleverly planned and devious attempt to gain an advantage.

Imagine your opponent did this to you in the last frame of a semi-final and you had needed a snooker at that point in the game. Had your opponent played the shot described above, how would you feel if the referee did not call a foul, when your opponent had obviously given himself such a massive advantage?

Those of you who have not read the rules thoroughly may be surprised to learn that the official rules also cover the referee's duties, and these include being the sole judge of fair and unfair play, and being responsible for the proper conduct of the game. The referee is also free to make a decision in the interests of fair play for any situation not covered adequately in the rules.

Had I been refereeing such an incident, I would have a called a foul, and awarded seven points to the non-striker, as the stroke was, in my opinion, completely unfair and beyond the spirit of the game. Had the cue-ball come to rest without touching any ball, then again a seven point penalty should be awarded for exactly the same reasons.

Posted on 24th December 2006 by David Turner of Harlow.

A foul shot has occurred with one red left on the table, the cue ball is touching the red. Is it a free ball or can you see both sides of the red?

No free ball would be awarded by a referee and the reasoning is quite straightforward. The rules clearly state that for a free ball to be awarded you must be snookered after the foul stroke.

In your example you are not snookered, any more than you would be if the cue-ball had come to rest touching the cushion in the jaws of a pocket. You cannot be snookered by the cushion or by the ball "on" - so no free ball.

But you would have the options of playing yourself or putting your opponent back in.

Posted on 29th October 2006 by Dave Allen of Clitheroe.

Whilst watching a frame of snooker in my local league a player nominated the brown as a free ball. He took his shot, missed potting it, and the brown then snookered his opponent.

I thought this was a foul shot with a penalty of 4 points. The ref said although it was a foul he did not award the 4 points as he had hit the ball he nominated!

Can you explain the rule covering this situation please as he is adamant he is right.

The referee was wrong - the foul did carry a penalty of four points.

The rules cover this situation very clearly. They state that the penalty for playing a snooker behind a free ball is the value of the ball "on" - so in your example it should indeed have carried a penalty of four points.

Posted on 14th May 2006 by Craig Benstock of Cambridge, England.

Is it possible to pot all 15 reds in one legal shot from any position of reds & white (with all colours on their spots). This is given the maximum amount of force that can be applied to a cue ball with a cue, without it leaving the table (or shattering, cue breaking, etc...).

Or is it simply that given the maximum input of force, and distances travelled, and transferred force to reds, that the momentum would run out before all the reds could find pockets.

The momentum would surely run out too quickly as so much is lost through friction with the cloth. There would also be too many collisions for this to be possible. It would only take one full-ball collision between any two reds to make them stop dead and the chance would be lost. Even if enough force could be generated and no balls left the table (or disintegrated) I'm sure at least one colour would be potted, leading to the cry of Foul!

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Snooker Cue