Q & A: Answers

Snooker Cue

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Posted on 24th March 2002 by Paul Horsfield of Keighley.

In a recent match a free ball was called as the last red could not be seen after a foul stroke. The player at the table potted black as the free ball but did not nominate the black as the free ball prior to the shot. Is this a foul as the free ball was not identified?

Not necessarily. If it was totally obvious that the black was the only colour he could possibly be playing, then it would not be a foul stroke. But had there been any doubt a foul should have been called and a seven point penalty awarded to the opponent.

A good referee would always ask the player to declare in this situation, and the player must answer - or a seven point penalty would be awarded to the opponent, regardless of which colour he intended to play.

It is not necessary for the player to declare verbally, simply pointing the cue at the ball he intends to take would be enough.

Posted on 9th March 2002 by Mark Grant of Poole.

Can you explain what the nap of a table is and do all cue sport tables have a nap?

Are all tables made from slate?

Perhaps the best way of decribing the nap of the cloth is to compare it to the surface of velvet, where if you brush your hand against it in one direction it feels smooth, and in the other it feels rough. Not all cue sport tables use this type of cloth, Iwan Simonis one of the world's largest producers make napless cloth in a variety of colours which have been used in many of the world's leading pool championships.

All full sized tables have slate beds although other materials have been experimented with. Where smaller tables are concerned the most expensive generally have slate beds, but the cheaper ones may use chipboard or a similar substance.

Posted on 9th March 2002 by Graham Hardman of Leeds.

When playing, I almost always find the cue 'sticking' to my bridge hand, the friction is presumably due to sweat. I've tried lubricating my bridge with chalk dust, I've tried wiping my hands frequently with a cloth, I've tried washing my hands before and during a match, but to no avail. What would you say is the best way to keep the bridge friction-free?

You've made no mention of cleaning your cue, this would help but must be done regularly. Follow this link to see the reply giving advice on this. If your cue has a coating of varnish or something similar it could be contributing to the problem and may be worth removing, but take care as you may damage or roughen the wooden shaft.

Perhaps the best way of all to obtain friction-free cueing is to wear a bridge glove. They are rather unsightly and bound to raise a few comments but you will be amazed at how freely the cue slides when you're wearing one. They are rarely seen in the U.K. but are widely used in America in areas where the humidity makes ordinary cueing virtually impossible.

Posted on 17th February 2002 by Carl Hughes of Fareham.

I know Paul Hunter has retained the Benson & Hedges Masters this year, but I would like to know who else has retained this title. Would you know all the previous winners of this tournament? I would be very grateful for this information.

2001 Paul Hunter 10-9 Fergal O'Brien
2000 Matthew Stevens 10-8 Ken Doherty
1999 John Higgins 10-8 Ken Doherty
1998 Mark Williams 10-9 Stephen Hendry
1997 Steve Davis 10-8 Ronnie O'Sullivan
1996 Stephen Hendry 10-5 Ronnie O'Sullivan
1995 Ronnie O'Sullivan 9-3 John Higgins
1994 Alan McManus 9-8 Stephen Hendry
1993 Stephen Hendry 9-5 James Wattana
1992 Stephen Hendry 9-4 John Parrott
1991 Stephen Hendry 9-8 Mike Hallett
1990 Stephen Hendry 9-4 John Parrott
1989 Stephen Hendry 9-6 John Parrott
1988 Steve Davis 9-0 Mike Hallett
1987 Dennis Taylor 9-8 Alex Higgins
1986 Cliff Thorburn 9-5 Jimmy White
1985 Cliff Thorburn 9-6 Doug Mountjoy
1984 Jimmy White 9-5 Terry Griffiths
1983 Cliff Thorburn 9-7 Ray Reardon
1982 Steve Davis 9-5 Terry Griffiths
1981 Alex Higgins 9-6 Terry Griffiths
1980 Terry Griffiths 9-5 Alex Higgins
1979 Perrie Mans 8-4 Alex Higgins
1978 Alex Higgins 7-5 Cliff Thorburn
1977 Doug Mountjoy 7-6 Ray Reardon
1976 Ray Reardon 7-3 Graham Miles
1975 John Spencer 9-8 Ray Reardon

Posted on 17th February 2002 by Steve Renaud of Aurora, Ontario, Canada.

When all spots are occupied where do the colours respot? I have always spotted the pink and black, closest possible behind their own spot. I have always spotted the other colors ahead of their spots. Meaning yellow, green, brown and blue spot towards the D portion of the table. Is this correct?

Spotting the Colours. You are correct with the pink and black, but wrong with the others.

They should all be spotted as close as possible to their own spots, on a direct line between that spot and the nearest part of the top cushion, as illustrated in the diagram.

Regarding the pink, and especially the black, it may happen that there is no space available due to other balls within that area. So in this particular case only, the pink or black would be placed as close as possible to the opposite side of the spot, directly in line with the blue spot.

Posted on 17th February 2002 by Jim Coady of Charlottetown, Canada.

(Note: The rules were updated in November 2019, and the rule mentioned below is now still Section 2, but Rule 17.)

The following section of the Rules has been the cause of some heated discussion:

Section 2. Definitions:- 16. Snookered (e)

A cushion cannot snooker the cue-ball. If the curved face of a cushion obstructs the cue-ball and is closer to the cue-ball than any obstructing ball not on, the cue-ball is not snookered.

1. Is this a new rule? 2. Does it mean you cannot be 'cushion hooked' or 'angled'? 3. What is the procedure if you find yourself in this situation? 4. What if only the Black ball remains on the table?

1. Fairly new, it has been in effect since September 1995.

2. You may still find yourself in this position after a foul stroke, but the previous rule of being 'angled' giving the player the option of playing from 'hand' no longer exists.

3. No 'free-ball' would be awarded, so the only options now available to you after a foul stroke are to play the shot yourself, or to ask your opponent to play again.

4. If only the Black ball remains and the previous stroke was foul, then the frame would be over unless those seven points made the scores level. The black would then be replaced on its spot, and the next player would have a clear shot as he would be playing from 'hand'.
If the previous stroke had not been a foul, then the incoming player would have to play from the position left, and attempt to strike the black after first hitting one or more cushions.

Posted on 10th February 2002 by Chris Jones of Oxford.

Does the cue ball over a number of years decrease in size, this being caused by the ball being compressed with the continuous contact with other balls on the table?

The cue-ball can get smaller over a long period of time. This is probably caused by friction on the cloth more than by the number of collisions with the other balls.
These smaller cue-balls are frequently seen in clubs around the country, and can be a great advantage to the 'home' player in competitive games.

As the cue-ball becomes smaller it also becomes lighter and makes screw shots, especially from distance, much easier. The 'away' player, being unfamiliar with the lighter weight will have difficulty in accurately controlling the cue-ball and will tend to lose position very quickly.

Added 16th August 2009.

Just how much lighter a smaller cue-ball can be would surprise most players. So let's see how much lighter a 51.00 mm cue-ball would be compared to the standard 52.50mm ball.

First we need to find the volume of each ball, and this is done by cubing the diameter and multiplying by .5236.

So the volume of the 52.5mm ball is:
52.5 x 52.5 x 52.5 (= 144703.125) x .5236 = 75766.55625 cubic mm.

Let's call that 75766.5 cubic mm.

The volume of the 51.00mm ball is:
51 x 51 x 51 (= 132651) x .5236 = 69456.063 cubic mm.

Let's call that 69456 cubic mm.

Now the weight of the 52.5mm ball, though not given in the rules, is about 141 grams.

If we divide 141 grams by the volume of the larger ball - 75766.5, we find a figure of roughly 0.00186098 grams, and if we multiply that by the volume of the smaller ball - 69456, we discover a weight of 129.25622688 grams.

So a cue-ball with a diameter of 51.00mm would weigh about 129.255 grams, considerably lighter than the 141 gram weight of the full-sized ball.

Posted on 29th December 2001 by Ed Baines of Market Harborough, UK.

What is the highest score that can be made in two consecutive shots in English Billiards?

18. In the first stroke a cannon is played from red to the object white. The red is potted and so is the cue-ball. 3 points are scored for the red, 3 for the in-off (as the red was struck first), and 2 for the cannon.  Score for Shot One - 8 points.

The second stroke is exactly the same, except the object white is also potted giving an extra 2 points.  Score for Shot Two - 10 points.

Posted on 29th December 2001 by Neil Lawlor of Brampton, Ontario.

As I am very new to this game of snooker I am trying to learn the rules properly. While playing with more experienced people one states that when you break it's ok to hit the pink before the breaking the reds. Could you please inform me if this is correct.

No, this is not correct. Striking the pink first would be a foul stroke - penalty 6 points.

When breaking off the reds are the balls that are "on", and so must be struck first.

Posted on 29th December 2001 by Gordon Wheeler of Opotiki, New Zealand.

A player breaks and, at the end of his turn, only the cue ball is left on the table.

What is the lowest break he can have made and what is the final score?

Assuming the frame was played with the full set of balls, the most likely lowest break would be 72, the final score being 72 - 0. This would be made by potting 15 reds, 15 yellows and the six colours.

15 reds = 15 points, 15 yellows = 30 points, six colours = 27 points. 15 + 30 + 27 = 72.

Occasionally more than one red can be potted in the same stroke, and it could be argued that two or more reds were potted off the break. One point would be scored for each red, but as only one colour could be taken this would lower the score from the 72 given above. There are many variations on this, each becoming more unlikely than the last.

Taking this argument to the extreme, a player could break off and pot all 15 reds to score 15 points from the first shot. The yellow would be taken as the colour to make 17, followed by the six colours to add 27 for a break of 44. Final Score 44 - 0.

Added by Peter Harrison of Sydney, Australia.

At the risk of being pedantic the lowest break would be 37 with a foul on the last shot (i.e. player touches the white ball before it stops).

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Snooker Cue