Versions Of Snooker

Different versions of Snooker

The main version of snooker is the one described in the International Billiards and Snooker Federation rules of snooker. The IBSF rules are a part of the BCA rule book since 1993.

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association uses its own set of rules in its tournaments (these are the tournaments where players such as Stephen Hendry, John Parrot, Steve Davis and Jimmy White play in) including the World Professional Snooker Championships. The most important difference in these rules is the MISS rule, which is given more exact guidelines in the professional rules.

A rule committee has been started to take care of the rules, including changes and rewrites. We will probably hear more about this later this year.

The United States Snooker Association is a member of the IBSF and as such uses its rules in its tournaments.

Chinese snooker is not a game, it is a situation where the cue ball is very close to a ball not on and all balls on that are visible require the striker to play over that ball (with a raised cue butt and bridge).

American Snooker

The 1990 BCA Official Rules and Record book has this description of American snooker: "American snooker is a cousin of snooker as it is played widely around the world: the rules giving it a distinct orientation toward the structure of many American pocket billiard games."

Some mappings between terms

British and
to pot to pocket
the ball on the on ball
striker shooter
stroke shot
nominate designate
forced off the table jumped off the table
the spot the billiard spot
to string to lag
top of table foot of table
bottom of table head of table
baulk balk
cushion rail

Differences in equipment

IBSF Imperial English billiard table BCA (American snooker)
playing area: 11' 8.5" by 5' 10" (+/- 0.5") playing area: 5' by 10' or 6' by 12'
height: 2' 10" (+/- 0.5") height: 29.25"
pockets: shall conform to official templates (app. 89mm at drop) pockets: Pocket openings curve smoothly into the pockets
the "D": a semicircle described in baulk with its centre on the middle of the baulk line and with a radius of 11.5" the "D": radius 9.1875" (on a 5x10)
the spot: 12.75" from the point perpendicular below the face of the top cushion billiard spot: 10.5" from the rail (on a 5x10)
pyramid spot: midway between the centre spot and the face of the top cushion pyramid spot: 28" from the rail (on a 5x10)
baulk line: A straight line drawn 29" from the face of the bottom cushion and parallel to it balk line: 23.5" from the head rail
balls: 52.5" (+0.05mm .. -0.08mm) colors specified. No mention of numbering. Weight is not specified but tolerance in weight is 3 grams per snooker set. balls: 2.0625" or 2.125" Reds are not numbered but colors may be numbered. Weight is specified [BCA 1993].
cushion rails are more narrow than on pool tables

Differences in the game

IBSF American
Player draw lots for break Players lag for break
The pink is spotted on its spot and the reds are racked in a triangle with the apex red as close to the pink as possible without touching The triangle of reds is racked so that the apex ball is on pyramid spot and the pink is frozen to the apex red.
No special requirements concerning break-off shot Opening break must make a red ball cntact a cushion or enter a pocket and the cue ball contact a cushion after hitting a red. Failure to do so is a foul and a breaking violation, incoming player has choice of accepting the table and shooting or making offender to break again.
Penalty is 4 points minimum and seven points maximum depending on foul Penalty for fouls is seven points
It is not possible for the non-striker to make a foul. If he for instance touches a ball and the referee doesn't think he is doing so in purpose to for example disturb the striker, the ball is simply replaced and the shot retaken. The player not in turn can foul.
No requirements of contacting a cushion On all shots a ball must contact a rail unless a ball is pocketed.
A jump shot is usually a foul but in certain instances fair. For instance if the cue ball first hits a ball on fairly it can then jump over another ball A jump shot is always a foul if it is an attempt to clear an obstructing ball.
A foul but a new rule will make it the responsibility of the referee, just as long as the striker gives him time to spot the balls as necessary A slightly different "striking when a ball is not correctly spotted" rule.
Hitting two reds or two balls considered to be reds is allowed Apparently hitting two balls simultaneously when both are not reds ends the inning, but is no foul. (No mention of this in the BCA book).
Free ball rule: if the cue ball is snookered after a foul the striker may nominate any ball not on as free ball and that ball shall be considered to be the ball on for that shot. No free ball rule.
Angled ball rule: If the cue ball is behind a corner of the cushion after a foul the striker may play from in hand should he so choose. This rule is soon history. No angled ball rule.
MISS rule: The striker must to the best of his ability attempt to hit a ball on, if in the referee's opinion he hasn't done so, the non-striker may require the offender to strike from the original position all balls having been replaced. No miss rule.
If the cue ball is touching a ball on or a ball that can be on teh referee shall state "touching ball" and the striker must strike away from such a ball and no further contact with a ball on is required. No touching ball rule.
Push shot is a foul: The tip of the cue must not be touching the cue ball when the cue ball contacts an object ball or after the cue ball "has commenced its forward motion". It is always legal to strike "the finest possibel edge" of a ball "almost touching". Double hits are fouls (the tip of the cue must not hit the cue ball more han once in a stroke) Push shots are legal if the cue ball is only struck once (?).
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