Q & A: Answers

Snooker Cue

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Posted on 11th April 2010 by Keith Hall of Warrington.

Player A commits an in-off foul and Player B has the white in-hand in the D - Player B positions the white according to a shot he wanted to take which happened to be cueing over the brown which was on the baulk cushion. He accidentally fouls that brown with the cue whilst feathering, but not having taken the stroke. He calls his own foul and receives the appropriate penalty.

Question is, does the white have to stay where it is, having not had a stroke played, or can player A deem it still to be 'in hand' and move it to a more sensible position?!

My 2nd question is regarding the push stroke... rule 18 part a)... "A push stroke is made when the tip of the cue remains in contact with the cue-ball (a) after the cue-ball has commenced its forward motion."

What does this refer to exactly? Surely if you're playing any shot with any amount of follow through, deep screw, powerful top spin etc, the tip will be in contact with the cue-ball after it has started moving forwards? Is this referring to a 'double nudge'?

In your first example, player A would have to play the cue-ball from the position where player B placed it.

It was player A's earlier stroke which caused the cue-ball to enter a pocket, which resulted in the cue-ball being "in-hand" for player B. When player B fouled, though no shot was played, it would still be considered as a visit to the table, and during that visit the cue-ball obviously stayed on the table, so it could never be considered to be "in-hand".

A fairly similar example is given in The Billiards and Snooker Referees' Handbook which you should find interesting.

In that example, player A goes in-off and the referee hands the cue-ball to player B. Player B places the cue-ball on the table - outside the 'D' - while he removes a piece of fluff or dirt from the cloth.
But in doing so he accidently touches one of the baulk colours, so a foul of four is called. Player A returns to the table and must play the cue-ball from where player B left it - outside the 'D.'

However, had player B kept the cue-ball in his hand, whether it was touching the cloth or not, then the next player would still be considered to have the cue-ball "in-hand."

Your query about the push stroke:

You are quite correct in stating that the tip would stay in contact with the cue-ball when playing with any amount of top or bottom, but of course that sort of short but prolonged contact cannot be seen by the naked eye.

So the push stroke is usually thought of, or considered to be, a 'double nudge' as you describe it, but if you played a very slow shot, and literally pushed the cue-ball along with the cue, then that of course would rightly be considered a push, and a foul stroke.

Posted on 23rd February 2010 by Adam Liddell of Bournemouth.

Which is the most difficult game, snooker...   or chess?

I remember having this debate with a friend many years ago, he was a very good chess player who played just below county standard. We argued back and forth, both giving good reasons why "our" game was the most difficult, and we had almost reached a stalemate before I realised just why snooker was the most difficult.

I suggested a game of chess played by two county champions, each having their hands tied behind their backs, and each having a child allocated to move their chess pieces into positions that the chess players chose. Now that game of chess would progress in exactly the same way as if the chess players themselves had moved the pieces.

You see in chess there is no skill in actually moving the pieces, the only skill is in deciding where to move a particular piece. But a game of snooker played in the same way would be a disaster.


Posted on 16th February 2010 by Ian Phipps of Bristol.

I just potted the last red and the white went in-off. My opponent places the white in the D in several places and claims a free ball as the yellow is down the table near the blue which is on it's spot.
I claim it's an optical illusion to look in the whites path to the yellow because the white is close to your eye, then the blue is 3 feet away and looks smaller, the yellow is 1 foot away again and looks smaller still.
So I place a red either side of the blue which reveals clear paths for the white to hit the yellow. Who is right? How is a free ball decided when long distances are involved?

It's generally considered more accurate to place another ball next to the object-ball, not the intervening ball, as shown in the diagrams below.

At the table you would obviously bend down to look from red to white, as shown on the right. Providing the blue does not come between the edges of the cue-ball or the red, then in my example, a free-ball would not be awarded. You may also find the replies to Rami S. Darwish and Oliver Golding of interest.

How to confirm if a Free ball should be awarded

Posted on 7th February 2010 by Gareth Evans of The Rhondda, S. Wales.

I wonder if you could shed some light on this, whilst browsing e-bay I noticed a set of billiards balls that contained 4 reds, 4 whites and 1 black. I've tried google, etc, and the lads in my snooker team but to no avail and I wondered what game they were used for?

They were used for bagatelle - a form of billiards played on a special table, square at one end and rounded at the other.

The rules of various forms of the game can be found at Masters Traditional Games, and these rules confirm that, in at least a few variations, four whites, four reds, and a black were used.

These bagatelle tables appear from time to time on ebay, and it may be this game that bar billiards evolved from.

Posted on 31st January 2010 by Mike Pitre of Goderich, Ontario.

Are there any rules on legal breaks. Do any balls have to hit a rail for a legal break? Also can you tell me where I can get a template for the curve in the pocket openings.

There are no restrictions on the opening break, providing a foul is not made then the stroke is perfectly legal.

So providing the cue-ball is played from within the "D", and you hit a red ball before any other ball, you do not go in-off, do not make any ball leave the table, pot a coloured ball, or make any other foul, - then anything goes.

So you could play off two cushions to roll very gently into the pack (a bit pointless but perfectly legal), or you could smash the pack with as much force as you can (also rather pointless - but you might pot a red).

There is another form of the game though, known as American Snooker, where the rules have been structured to resemble many of the American games of pool. In this version it would be a foul if no reds hit a cushion or fell into a pocket, and the cue-ball needs to hit at least one cushion after striking the pack. Another curiosity of American Snooker is that any foul carries a penalty of seven points. (The rules of American Snooker can be found on the website of Brunswick Billiards.)

There are no templates for the pocket openings that are readily available. The few that exist are three dimensional objects owned by the manufacturers and the governing body.

You could try asking a manufacturer if they could trace the curve from the template and send you that via email, whether they would respond I cannot say, but it will do no harm to ask.

Posted on 31st May 2009 by Robert Kirby of Sheffield.

What is the height to the top of the cushion from the slate bed playing surface on a full size snooker table? I think it's about 37mm or 1 7/16 inch.

The only measurement I can find in print appeared in the 21st and final edition of "The Billiards Quarterly Review" published in October 1995. An article by Ernie Sanders on Table Maintenance contained the following paragraph:

On a full sized table balls should be 2 and 1/16" diameter, and to make for the best playing conditions, the height of the cushions from the table bed to the top of the nose should be exactly 1 and 1/2 inches throughout the entire length of the cushions.

The article does not state if this measurement is taken from the slate bed before the cloth is laid - as you asked, or taken after the cloth has been laid down. I should imagine it's the latter.

Posted on 6th October 2008 by David Drielsma of Brussels, Belgium.

I have a question that came up the other day while chatting with snooker mates (purely theoretical - it didn't all actually happen):

It's about commiting a fault by touching a ball with something else than the cue (usually the hand or arm, or the player's clothes). Would it be considered as a fault to touch a ball extremely slightly, for instance with one's hair or with a little wire coming out of the player's shirt? (so not with the actual skin or cloth itself).

Also - and that one already happened to one of my mates (well, he said): what if the ball is touched by some fluid (not to mention: blood - or anything else coming out of the player's nose, sometimes at great pace)?

I know this sounds funny but quite interesting I guess...

This is not clearly defined within the rules so common sense has to be applied. Probably the best method of determining whether a foul should be called or not, is to base this decision on how much control the player could reasonably be expected to have over such an incident.

An example of this is how the rules were changed a few years ago so that if the rest head fell off and hit a ball while the player was placing it in position, then a foul would not be called. The reasoning being that the player would have no control over the quality of the equipment at the table.

So if a player's long hair touched a ball it would be a foul shot, as it would be if a piece of wire from a player's shirt, or a loose thread holding a button on to the cuff of their shirt sleeve touched a ball. These would all be considered to be part of their dress, and they would be considered to be responsible for this.

But if a player had a sudden nose bleed while stretching over the table then I believe a foul should not be called, as this would be something they had no control over.

More seriously, as to anything else falling out of a player's nose; well, I can assure you that like the Queen, snooker players never have bogeys. They never have and they never will. So apart from the odd player keeping his chalk up his nostril (and we've all met one of those), there just wouldn't be anything else to fall out!

Posted 25th February 2015 by Mustafa Yaramaz-David of London.

I find this question interesting (regarding fouling a ball with anything other than cloth or skin), and would like to provide some further information with a real-life example from a couple of years ago, (I'm afraid I don't know the year, nor the exact match or tournament).

Stephen Maguire was cueing at the black when he noticed a piece of dust stuck on it (this was around the time when Maguire was rarely winning any matches that he played - I would estimate around four years ago). The piece of dust on the black was long enough to be plucked by hand, so Stephen Maguire very carefully leaned close to the black and with pinpoint precision, managed to pinch the minescule piece of dust between thumb and forefinger and removed it from the black.

However, the moment he did this, Jan Verhaas called a foul and awarded Maguire's opponent seven points as this was considered a foul because Stephen Maguire's fingers, the piece of dust, and the black ball were all in contact at the same time, thus constituting Maguire touching the black ball (albeit indirectly).

Posted on 15th June 2008 by Bob Haggarty of London, Ontario.

During our club's recent doubles tournament a disagreement arose over the interpretation of what constitutes conferring under Section 3 Rule 17 (e).

The partner from one team encouraged his own partner (who was at the table) by referring to the quality of his partner's shot making, e.g. "good shot" or "well done", etc. The referee construed this as conferring and imposed a penalty under Section 3 Rule 12 (x), "conferring with a partner contrary to Section 3 Rule 17 (e)". The offending partners felt a penalty was unfair as the one partner was only complimenting the other partner. The other team felt the referee was perfectly correct as conferring could take the form of advice, compliments (which could be advice disguised as compliments) etc., and the best way to resolve the matter would be for a partner to remain silent while his partner is at the table.

Would you please give me your comments on this matter and in particular what does the word "confer" imply within Section 3 Rule 17(e)?

The word "confer" is not defined in the rules, but the dictionary gives the definition as - "to discuss together." Both players don't have to speak for this to happen so, in snooker, especially when one player is at the table, it is best thought of as offering advice.

Now if a player encourages his partner by saying "Good Shot" surely he would say that when the ball went into the pocket, not a few moments later when the striker was deciding which shot to play next.

To call out any comment as your partner looked at a particular shot (to try and encourage him to play that shot), would be blatantly obvious to everyone present, and you would deserve to be penalised.

Providing any comments are spoken before or as the balls stop rolling, I really cannot see how anyone could object. Remaining silent does solve the problem though, and may even help the striker's concentration.

But advice can be disguised in many ways, simple mannerisms for example.

So if you took this to the extreme you could argue that the non-striker of each side should leave the room while his partner was at the table. That would clearly be nonsense, and thankfully, the rules do not yet demand that the non-striker sits or stands perfectly still.

The related query by Graham Cresswell might also be of interest.

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Snooker Cue