Q & A: Answers

Snooker Cue


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Posted on 18th October 2015 by Dennis Lomas of Bury, Lancashire.

In a recent match player A went in off, the referee took the white ball out of the pocket and placed it on the table behind the D up against the cush. Player B returned to the table after chalking his cue and played his shot from where the referee had placed the white and the referee called a foul.
The referee had not said anything to the player prior to the shot being taken. Should the referee have placed the ball in the D or handed it to the player and not placed it on the table?

If you watch the televised professional snooker tournaments you will never hear a referee state anything along the lines of "Cue-ball in hand." But it is customary for the referee to place the cue-ball where you said he did, so I see no fault with the referee's actions.
Some amateur referees prefer to either place the cue-ball on top of the cushion rail, or hand it to the next player, but there are no rules specifying any exact procedure.

Once the player is down on the shot the referee is not allowed to warn the player that he is about to make a foul, that would obviously be unfair on the other player. So it's down to the player to be aware of what's happening as the game unfolds. We all make mistakes, amateur and professional, and many of us have horror stories to tell. We just have to accept them and learn from them.

Posted on 13th April 2015 by Jack of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.

In a recent game my opponent pocketed both the blue and the yellow ball on the same shot. The black spot was the only one open. Which ball is spotted on the black spot?

Spotting the colours. When two colours need to be spotted the highest valued ball is given priority. So in your example the blue would be placed on the black spot, and the yellow as close as possible to it's own spot, without touching any other ball, and in a direct line to the closest part of the top cushion.

A reply to a similar question by John Wilson might also be of interest.


Posted on 8th December 2013 by Simon Green of Southampton.

During the televised tournaments we frequently hear the commentators mentioning different statistics, for example the head to head record between two players, or the number of centuries made by a particular player. Are these statistics available online?

Yes they are. Here's the link: Cuetracker. It's a fascinating website, with information going back as far as Joe Davis in the 1920s.

Posted on 18th May 2013.

In a league doubles match, the referee called a foul when it was a player's first shot at the table. One player asked the other, "what shall I do next?" whilst standing 2 or 3 feet away from the table and standing behind the cue-ball which was on the side cushion, and more or less, in line with the object-ball which was about to be struck. This was a two way conversation between the two players.

The team which were called foul upon were very unhappy, and insisted that they were not "at the table" since the striker had not yet touched the table. I understand that there is no mention of touching the table in the rules, but everyone in the club insisted that the referee was wrong.

How exactly do you define "at the table?"   Could you shed some light on this situation?

The referee gave the correct decision in this situation which the current version of the official rules make quite clear.

Recently the rules regarding doubles matches (or "Four-handed Snooker" as they describe it), has been updated, and the words "at the table" no longer appear.

"Approached the table" is now used instead, and this change must have been made to remove any misunderstanding. So if a player had taken just one step towards the table and his partner gave advice at that moment, then that would allow a foul to be called.

That may seem harsh, but the new definition is much clearer and removes any argument that may be offered.

The answers to Bob Haggarty's and Graham Cresswell's questions may also be of interest.

Posted on 21st February 2013.

In a cup match tonight a player was not happy with how the black was spotted after he potted it. He told the ref who again respotted it. Still not happy the player picked it up and respotted it himself. Is this not a 7 point foul? He went on to make a 50+ break and cost us the game. I await your response with interest.

There can be no doubt that this was foul stroke. It would be classed as touching a ball in play, and the black became "in play"" when the referee replaced it on its spot.

The fact that the player was not happy with the resting place of the black after the referee's second attempt gave him no right to respot the ball himself.

So a foul stroke should definitely have been awarded. The break should have come to an end, and, as you say, a penalty of seven points should have been awarded to the opponent.

Posted on 23rd January 2012 by Eddy Hughes.

I have been explaining to my grandchildren about snooker and a fact I'm sure is true has cropped up and I'm now unsure about the answer in today's game.

I would like confirmation or not as to if the referee supplies the set of balls used in 'match play' snooker, which is currently being televised. I feel sure I understand that this was the case in times past but am unsure about any recent changes.

A good question, and one I too am unsure of. I suspect that as everything else is brought in new, tables, cushions, and cloth, that the balls are also brought in specifically for each tournament. I'm sure the referee would bring them to the table before each match begins, but whether the table suppliers/fitters, or World Snooker bring them to the tournament venue, I simply don't know.

If anyone can provide definite information, please make contact and the details will be posted here.

 19th January 2016 - A grateful contribution from reader Dean Howell.

The referees do take the balls to the table, they have been assigned from a stock 'back stage' and they look after them for the duration of the match. But they do not supply them as such.

The balls themselves are supplied by the manufacturer (Aramith for WPBSA and ISBF tournaments) under the suppliers contract with World Snooker Services. The contract allows the suppliers to advertise their wears on the sides of the tables.

Actual numbers are not known but Aramith would supply a certain number of sets of balls, at the start of a new season or at certain times through the season (unknown) and probably they have an agreed number of uses before they are often sold to fans at an event; usually through the tournament director.

The same supplying contracts are with the table (Star) and cloth (Strachan), again actual numbers and times of supply unknown. As you have probably heard, cloths are changed at certain times through an event, i.e. for the 1/4 finals, for the final, etc.

The tables and balls are used across the season and travel by World Snooker Services, along with all the gantries and TV screens and score boards (TV with computer access), markers booths, arena fixtures, etc.

Of course, full details of the suppliers contract are confidential so probably never find out the numbers of tables/cloths/ball-sets etc.

Please note, that referees do buy and use their own 'triangle' for setting up the reds pyramid.

Posted on 20th August 2012 by Gary Potter of the Rhondda Valley.

I'm aware that in doubles my partner can advise me on the first shot of a break.
Am I right to believe he cannot intervene or recommend further after the first shot is played? As that would result in a foul.

The answer to this question became obsolete when the wording of the official rules was changed after this reply was originally posted.

See the reply to the post of 18th May 2013 which takes the change into account.

Posted on 29th August 2011 by Eric Rowntree of Portsmouth.

Player A comes to the table mid game and he is faced with a touching ball. No other reds are available so he strikes the cue ball away, hits nothing, but because his cue ball starts from a touching ball it is deemed to have touched a red, so no penalty is awarded.

Player B comes to the table, pots a red and his cue ball ends up touching another red. His next shot must be aimed at a colour, but because his cue ball is touching, is he automatically penalised knowing that his cue ball is already deemed to have touched a red?

When player A came to the table, the cue-ball was touching a ball that was "on" and he was able to play away from it quite legally, with or without hitting any other red. When player B left the cue-ball touching a red after potting one, he was then "on" a colour, and had to play for one.

So the red was effectively irrelevant, although of course he still had to play away from it. Had he left the cue-ball touching a colour, he could have nominated that colour, and played away from it, as Player A had with the red. If he nominated any other colour then he would still have had to play away from the one the cue-ball was touching, but would have had to hit the colour he nominated.

Perhaps the easiest way to understand the rule is to remember that if the cue-ball is touching a ball that is "on" you can play away with or without hitting any other ball, whether "on" or "not on", perfectly legally.

If the cue-ball is touching a ball that is "not on" you must also play away but must strike a ball that is "on".

It may seem strange that the rule seems to reverse itself depending on whether the cue-ball is touching a ball that is, or is not, "on" - but the rules are structured not only to govern the game, but also to make the game itself fair and playable. If that were not the case, in your example when player B had left himself touching a red after potting one, had a foul been called as he played away from the red, there would be a very good argument to say he had been unfairly penalised, and/or that his opponent had received an unfair advantage.

Posted on 12th June 2011 by Simon Rae of Perth, Australia.

Would you be able to answer a question I have regarding the rules, it regards a player being snookered? Is it legal to place an object (say a piece of chalk), or otherwise mark, on the rail above the point on the cushion where you intend to hit.

I think this would be useful in instances where there is a likelihood of a 'miss' being called as it would give the player a point of reference to make their adjustment in the event that they are asked to play again from the same position.

It would be considered a foul to either mark the cushion or to place any object on the cushion to use as a reference point, and doing so would give your opponent seven penalty points. It would also be considered ungentlemanly conduct as it would give you an unfair advantage.

However, there is a way around this. And that is to look beyond the cushion and try to find something further away on the same line to use as a reference point.

By this I mean perhaps the corner of an alcove, part of a jacket, a pattern on the wall, the edge or middle of a window, or anything else that just happens to be on that line. Quite often there's nothing of course, but sometimes you do get lucky.

If you devote any of your solo practice to getting out of snookers, then of course you are free to place any object on the cushion to give you that reference point. And such practice will always benefit your game.

Posted on 6th June 2010 by Joseph Ruskiewicz of Switzerland.

When you have a private game between two people, who replaces the color balls and who marks the scores? My mates and I have been playing the following:

The person who is not on replaces colors and marks the points for the other person when he is finished, and every person is responsible for marking their own fouls.
Another point that may be relevant is the calling (or attention) to fouls. That is, should it be gentleman like, or is it up to the opponent to look for fouls?

Can you direct me to how a private game should be conducted?

The rules say that when no referee is present the opposing player referees the other, but gives no other advice on the matter.

The way you are playing now only needs a slight improvement. If you're at the table and begin a break, your opponent should spot the colours for you and call out the score as your break progresses. That way the player at the table can concentrate on what he is doing.

So your opponent calls out the score but at the end of your break, you add those points to the scoreboard yourself, leaving your opponent free to immediately concentrate on his first shot. By adding your own scores to the scoreboard there can never be any question of cheating if a mistake is made.

Regarding foul strokes, you must always admit to a foul immediately even if you don't think your opponent has noticed. Even if your opponent has not noticed someone else in the room may have, and you will quickly be regarded as a cheat, a reputation very hard to lose.
But fouls you cannot notice, perhaps your shirt sleeve just touching a ball when you're stretching over the table, should be called by your opponent, and accepted as graciously as possible.

The player committing a foul should add those points to the scoreboard, again to leave the opponent free to immediately concentrate on his first shot.

Posted on 16th May 2010 by John Spicer of Bournemouth.

Where do you play from when your opponent accidently pots the white and there is no space in the semi circle for the white?

A good question but the situation could never arise. It's a surprise to many but you can quite easily get two full sets of snooker balls within the "D" and still have room to spare.

Showing how many balls you can get in the D

 Contributed 30th November 2011 by Robert Hancock of Port Elliot, South Australia.

Your answer is quite correct for a full size table, however on smaller tables the situation could conceivably arise.

Assuming the diameter of the D is one third the width of the table, it would be possible for the D to be occupied by other balls sufficiently to prevent the white ball being placed inside without touching. For example, on a 7 x 3½ foot table, the D would be 14 inches in diameter. Even with smaller balls, 1 7/8" in diameter, it would only need about 12 balls to fill up the D leaving no space for another ball to be placed. Normally snooker games on small tables only use 10 reds, so admittedly the situation would be highly unlikely.

I realise the rules do not say anything about this situation, my suggestion for a suitable ruling would be to place the white ball as near as possible to the D, behind the baulk line, without touching another ball.

The playing areas of 12ft and 6ft snooker tables Thank you Robert, and apologies to John. It never occurred to me to consider the smaller tables. The playing area of a 6ft table is about a quarter of that on a 12ft table, as can be seen in the diagram. And so quite obviously, the area of the D is 75% less, and yet the balls are only about 8½% smaller.

So transferring your thoughts to the 6ft snooker tables, the D would have a diameter of 11½" and the balls a diameter of 1 7/8". These are the measurements shown for the "6ft. Standard Table" in the 1968/69 edition of the rules.

Showing how many balls you can get in the D on a 6ft table The diagram to the left is drawn as close to scale as possible, and clearly shows that 10 reds could easily fit within the D leaving no space for the cue-ball. So although there is no possibility of this happening on a full-sized table, it is clearly possible on a smaller one.

So what should happen if you found yourself in this situation? I would suggest that the next player is allowed to play from anywhere within the baulk area, but only because that is the standard practice in many of the American pool games. You could quite validly argue that the American games are not snooker, but at least it does give some precedence for this solution.

There has never been any official rule to cover this situation, so there can be no right or wrong answer to the problem. Robert's thoughts are as valid as mine or anybody else's. So if this did actually happen the players involved would need to decide how to continue.

More from Robert Hancock.

Some further thoughts about how likely it would be to get 12 balls in the D when there are 10 reds and 6 colours on a 7 x 3½ foot table. Since the radius of the D is 1/6 the width of the table, its area would be a fraction equal to Pi/144 of the whole table area, or 2.187%.

According to my understanding of probability theory, the chance of having 12 or more balls in the D (assuming the Yellow, Green and Brown are already on their spots, and the other balls are randomly distributed around the table) would be about 1,352,214,784,880 to 1! Just as a comparison, the odds of having 6 balls in the D under the same conditions would only be about 400 to 1.

For a six foot table, only 10 balls are required to occupy the D so that no more balls can be added without touching. The chance of having 10 or more balls in the D (under the same conditions), would be about 278,070,884 to 1.

The chances of the D on a full sized table being occupied by all the 21 object balls would be practically infinitesimal.

As you will have observed, the larger the table, the less likely it would be that the D is occupied by sufficient balls to prevent the cue ball being placed within the D without touching.

Maybe we will have to wait a few millennia before the situation actually comes up in a snooker game.


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Snooker Cue