Q & A: Answers

Snooker Cue


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Posted on 22nd January 2005 by Gabriela Balasa of Waterloo, Canada.

When a foul is committed by potting the cue ball, what are the rules as to the position of the cue ball and the direction of the shot?

The cue ball must be placed within the "D" and the next player can play in any direction. But there is one exception to the rule, which is explained in an earlier reply.

In English Billiards however, potting the cue ball counts as a scoring stroke and the rules require the player to make the cue ball contact a ball or cushion outside the baulk area before striking any ball within the baulk area.

More information can be found within the Glossary section where many terms relating to this are explained in detail.

See: Baulk · Baulk-Line · 'D' · Double-Baulk · In-Hand

Posted on 9th January 2005 by Mark from Hornchurch.

Hope you can solve a debate!! In the event I am aiming at a red and the white hits the red and another colour at exactly the same time (eg they were next to each other and I hit them both half ball), have I committed a foul or not?

Yes you have committed a foul, the rules are very clear on this point.

The only two balls you are allowed to hit simultaneously are two reds or the ball on and a free ball. In your example the points awarded to your opponent would be four points if the colour had been the yellow, green or brown. Or five, six or seven points if the colour had been the blue, pink, or black.

Posted on 31st October 2004 by Serge Meessen of Bruges, Belgium.

Several of my friends want to start playing English Billiards, because they want to have a change from Snooker. It is "new" to us. Our problem is that we have no clue about the rules. Is there a site on the internet which gives the complete rules? Some stuff can be found on your site, kind of mixed to snooker. We don't get to see billiards on tv. I saw Davis and Sethi years ago on tv, but still don't know much about the rules. I would be very grateful for a detailed answer.

Reply updated May 2009.

The official rules are published online at the World Snooker Association website, you might also consider ordering a copy of "The Billiards & Snooker Referees' Handbook". Originally published in 1998 it is now back in print, and includes with the rules of English Billiards the reasoning behind the rules. More information and a printable order form can be found within the books section.

Posted on 17th October 2004 by John Davis of Stroud.

I've recently starting playing billiards (the English 3-ball variety, not pool!). Are there any standard opening shots, that either score, or leave the balls in relative safety?

Neither of the two options I've come up with seem that satisfactory - either putting bottom-spin on the white and leaving the white near the cushion and the red behind the baulk, which isn't particularly safe; or trying to run both balls back behind the baulk, which, if it goes wrong, leaves them very exposed.

The opening shot in English Billiards The diagram illustrates probably the most common opening shot.

Played at the right strength your white should finish close to the side cushion and the red perhaps 12 inches or so from the corner pocket. Experiment by placing the white in different positions until you find where you're most successful from.


Trying to get both balls behind the baulkline (a "double baulk") is risky when it goes wrong as you say, and this "Single Baulk" is a much safer alternative.

Don't play with any bottom, but experiment a little with plain ball shots, and maybe a tiny amount of side or top until you consistently get both balls into good positions.


There are no scoring opportunities that anyone would recommend for this opening shot, but follow this link to read another reply that might be of interest.

Posted on 3rd October 2004 by Frank Costa of Sorrento B.C., Canada.

I am looking for the rules to a game using 15 red balls & 1 black ball, 1 cue ball all snooker balls. We call it 101, because you have to total 101 points without going over or you have to start over again. Do you have access to them?

Yes, two versions of this game can be found within the Games section.

Posted on 2nd May 2004 by Rob Kinsey of Merthyr Tydfil.

I have read that the 'miss rule' started in 1995. But I'm sure it was available for referee's use well before this, but was not used often as it was saying the offending player was in fact 'cheating'. Am I correct?

I can find no evidence to suggest the 'Miss' rule was rarely used in its early days in case it suggested cheating, but "The Billiards & Snooker Referees' Handbook" by John Street and Peter Rook (now back in print) devotes 14 pages to the 'Foul and a Miss' rule, which includes the following statements which answers your other question.

"What is generally forgotten is that the Miss Rule has been in the rule book at least since 1936 but was very rarely, if ever, implemented."

"This 'Foul and a Miss' Rule is an entirely new one in the Rule Book but it was adopted and adhered to by the professionals in all their events many years before it was introduced into the rule book for all players in September 1995."

Posted on 24th April 2004 by David Stengrim of Jacksonville, USA.

I have heard of the billards game of CRUD, do you have any info, rules... etc on this game. Thank you.

Thank you for bringing this game to my attention. I'd never heard of "Crud" but a quick search on google provided several links, this one may be the best.

Posted on 4th April 2004 by Gary Edwards of Birmingham.

A little dispute to resolve: re-spotted black, cue ball in hand! Can you play from the 'D' with the cue ball on either the yellow or green spot, i.e. giving you the best width to try to cut the black in off the spot?  A bit of a 'party' trick.

I actually did it on a re-spotted black final frame of a cupmatch into the 'green' black bag off the yellow spot to win the match, and have emulated it several times since.

Cutting the Black Yes, of course you can try to cut the black in. You can place the cue-ball anywhere within the 'D' and the Green and Yellow spots count as being within the 'D' - but I'm not sure I'd recommend it to most players!

Many years ago Riso Levi wrote ten books on billiards. His knowledge of the game and the quality of his writing was so good that these books are now very collectable, and worth about £1000 for the full set - if you can find them!

In one of those books he wrote that if you place the cue-ball on the baulk-line touching the side cushion, it's possible to cut the black in from its spot into the corner pocket on the same side of the table that you play from.

His illustration showed the angle between the cue-ball, the black and the corner pocket to be less than 90°, which makes it possible, but not worth attempting.

I don't want to claim this idea as my own and like to give credit where it's due, so if you think it's impossible, blame "Old Riso" and not me!

Posted on 4th January 2004 by Michael Dmitrovic of Toronto.

Up to now I have not been succesfull in locating a copy of a book by Joe Davis which I had read a long time ago. Would you be able to help me in locating a copy of "How I Play Snooker" by Joe Davis (I believe this is the title) that I may purchase?

If you follow this link - abebooks.com and enter "Joe Davis" under 'author', and "How I Play Snooker" under 'title', I'm sure you'll find a copy at a reasonable price.

If you just enter "Joe Davis" under 'title' the list you'll be given will include several others that Joe also wrote.

Posted on 14th December 2003 by David Paton of London.

Has anyone ever scored 147 points in one frame but in two breaks? i.e 10 reds and 10 blacks, missed a red then cleared up on his next turn? Its been bugging me for ages and I would love to know.

Can anyone provide an answer to this one ? If you can, please provide as much information as possible.

Posted on 16th November 2003 by Jason of London.

Is it OK after lining up the shot to just look at the white when striking the shot then flick your eyes to see the contact on the object ball (this is how I play). Or should I try and just look at the obect ball whilst striking the shot (as said in most books)? I find I play way better looking at the white.

Very few experts have recommended looking at the cue-ball last, although Sidney Fry, one of the great amateur players of 100 years ago was a believer. More recently John Virgo has said that it can help maintain accuracy especially on long shots.

The advantage you gain from looking at the cue-ball last is that you are far less likely to move your eyes and head too quickly to see if you've made the pot, so this added stillness would help you push the cue through straight.

When the cue-ball and object-ball are very close it probably makes very little difference which ball you look at last. Also when you must raise your bridge or use the Spider rest to cue over another ball it can almost always be an advantage to look at the cue-ball when you play the shot.

Posted on 16th November 2003 by Mark Westbrook of Berkshire.

Whilst enjoying a frame with an associate an unusual thing happened which raised the question - foul or not a foul?

The situation was that a player approached the table to play his shot, attempting to pot a red into the middle. Stretching to play the difficult cut, the player took aim, drew back the cue and completely missed the white, didn't touch anything on the table!! So the player decided to get the rest as he didn't want to make an @rse of himself again. Imagine his disbelief as he hears his opponent jumping with glee at the 'foul'. An argument ensued (it could have got nasty), the opponent claimed his 4 points and duly potted the red and went on to win the frame on the black.

What is your take on this - foul or not a foul?

If the events took place exactly as you describe them then there was no foul. It would be exactly the same if he had merely stretched, realised that he couldn't reach properly to play the shot, and then gone to get the rest. His opponent wouldn't (and couldn't) have argued for a foul then.


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Snooker Cue