Bumper pool is a pocket billiards game with a difference. It is remarkably different from most other pool games or cue sports. Every feature of this game is entirely different from other cue sports like billiards or snooker. The most distinguishing feature is the strategic placement of obstructions called 'bumpers', on a special table. The rules of play are also quite peculiar and different, which makes the game quite interesting to play.
This game evolved in the last century, out of the need to develop a game with an affordable set of accessories, which required lesser space. A big pool table may not be affordable for all. Plus, it also takes a lot of space. As opposed to that, tables in this game are much smaller and the playing gear is much more compact, which includes the cue stick. It allows you to have the fun of playing pool in your own house, without the space constraints of a normal table.
About the Game
The three most important things in setting up any game is the playing surface, the playing equipment, and the rules of play.
A standard bumper pool table is rectangular and has the dimensions of 4' X 2 ½'. That makes them way more compact, compared to standard pool tables which have minimum dimensions of 6' X 3'. Unlike other cue games, the table has only two holes, which are placed on two sides of the table in center. These holes are referred to as 'cups'.
A remarkable feature of these tables are the bumpers or obstructions that are placed in it. A standard table has 12 bumpers but there may be as many as 16 bumpers on some. Eight bumpers are placed at the center of the table, in the shape of a cross, with one of the perpendicular cross lines, in line with the holes. The spacing between bumpers placed in cross pattern is such that a ball could easily pass through. The other 4 bumpers are placed around the holes. Two bumpers are positioned outside each hole, on the left and right. Octagonal tables with different placement of bumpers are also available.
Bumper pool is generally played between two opponents. Four people could also play the game, making two teams of two players each. They take turns in hitting the shots. Each team gets five balls each. One set is red colored and other is white colored. One ball in each set of five is marked and it must be cleared before the rest of the four.
Objective of the Game
The objective of the game is to hit the balls placed on one side, into the holes placed on the opposing side, through the constraints imposed by the bumpers. The first one to pocket all the five balls, wins.
Rules of Play
The rules of bumper pool make it quite a challenging cue sport. At the beginning of play, two balls are placed on the left and right of the holes, on each end, by both teams, along with the marked ball which is placed in front of the hole. Both players begin by shooting the marked ball simultaneously and aim for the opposing pockets. There is no cue ball in this game and any ball can be hit directly.
They must maneuver the ball through shots aimed by the cue stick, that make it pass through or around the bumpers and towards the opposing holes. The one who shoots the ball nearest to his hole or into the hole, plays next. If both directly pocket their balls, then both again shoot simultaneously. If the marked ball is not hit first by a player, the opponent can remove two of his own balls and deposit them in his cup/pocket, as penalty.
The player who pockets a ball, gets another chance of play. If any player shoots a ball out of the table, his opponent may place the ball wherever he wishes and may remove two of his balls directly as penalty. The penalty is the same if there is jumping of balls over the table, during a shot or if a player hits his own balls into opponent's cup. There is no time limit as such in the game. Winning a game requires a lot of skill, accuracy, and timing. You can only get better through rigorous practice.