Snooker is one of the most popular cue sports in the world, and it is a part of the billiards and pool family. The game is fairly simple to understand and highly enjoyable. It involves the simple skill of potting the snooker balls into the pockets on the table. The objective is to gain more points than the opponent (or the opposing team) by potting more snooker balls, and the team with the most points ultimately wins.
A snooker table is rectangular in shape with 4 pockets, one in each corner of the table. There are two more pockets present in the middle of the longer sides of the rectangular table (these sides of the table are known as cushions). The table's dimensions are 12 feet x 6 feet, so this is a table that requires plenty of space. One end of the shorter cushions has a line that is 29 inches away from the cushion, and this line is known as the Balk Line and this end is known as the Balk End. The other end is conversely known as the Top Cushion. At the center of the Balk Line is a semi-circle with a radius of 11.5 inches (this circle is known as the D), and it is drawn behind the Balk Line.
The Snooker Balls
Before we get into the rules and regulations, we need to understand the kind of snooker balls that are present on the table, and their significance. There is one white ball and this is the cue ball that the snooker player needs to make use of to hit the other snooker balls on the table. Apart from this there are 15 red colored balls on the table, and there are 6 colored balls (that are known as the Colors). These colors are Green, Brown, Yellow, Blue, Pink and Black.
When the table is being set up, the green, brown and yellow balls need to be placed on the Balk Line. The green ball comes on the left side where the D meets the Balk Line, the brown balls comes on the middle point and the yellow ball comes on the right side where the D meets the Balk Line (this combination can be remembered with the help of the mnemonic God Bless You). Now the blue ball comes at the exact center of the table.
The pink ball comes at the mid-point between the blue ball and the Top Cushion, and the 15 red balls are placed close together in a tight triangle (with the help of a frame) just behind the pink ball without touching it. Lastly, the black ball is placed between the red balls and the Top Cushion. Every snooker table has some markings to indicate the exact position at which the various snooker balls need to be placed, so it is not that hard to figure out.
International Snooker Rules
When a certain snooker ball is potted, a number of points are gained by the team that does so. The ultimate objective of the game is to gain more points on the board than the other team. One player will start the game by 'breaking' the snooker balls on the table, and his cue ball must be placed anywhere inside the D when he does so. It can even be placed on the Balk Line if he pleases.
Each player will play one turn, and his turn will end only if he fails to pot any ball, commits a foul or completes the game. You must remember that on every turn a player can only play those snooker balls which are 'on' for him. For instance, a player can only pot a colored ball after he has potted a red ball. Failure to do so will result in a foul.
Now, when a player starts his turn, he has to aim to pot any of the red balls (as long as there are red balls on the table). Only after he has potted a red ball can he attempt to pot a colored ball. Failure to adhere to this will result in a foul. This alternation between red balls and colored balls will continue till there are no red balls left on the table. Potting a red ball gives a player 1 point, potting the yellow ball gives 2 points, the green ball gives 3 points, 4 points for the brown ball, 5 points for the blue ball, the pink ball gives 6 points and the black ball gives 7 points.
Once a red ball has been potted, the player must indicate to the referee which of the colored balls he is aiming for and he can only pot that ball. Once it has been potted he will get the equivalent points, but the colored ball will be returned to its original spot. This will continue till all the red balls have been potted.
Once all the red balls have been potted, the colored balls need to be potted in the right sequence. This sequence is yellow, green, brown, blue, pink and black. In this case, once the colored ball has been potted it will not return to the table and once all the colored balls have been potted, the game will be over and the team with the most points will win.
Fouls in Snooker
There are certain instances when a foul can occur in the game of snooker, and this will result in the non-offending team getting penalty points. The number of points that the other team will get will be the highest value of the fouled balls that are potted. Hence the maximum can be 7 points, but the minimum will always be 4 points. If after a player fouls, the other player feels that there is no shot 'on', he can ask the fouling player to play again from the resulting position.
Here are the common instances of fouls in snooker.
- Failure to hit the ball that is 'on' first.
- Failure to hit any ball on the table.
- Accidentally potting a ball that was not 'on'.
- Potting the white ball.
- Causing a ball to fly off the table.
- Hitting a ball that is not the white ball with the cue stick.
- When the cue ball and another ball are touching each other, the player must play the cue ball without moving this other ball. This is known as a Push Shot, and failure to do so will be a foul.
- Jump shots are strictly prohibited in snooker, and these represent a foul shot.
These basic rules and regulations should be enough to get you started. There are many more complications that arise during the game and these can only be learned once you start playing. Situations like Snookering, Free Balls and Miss Shots can only be explained to someone who has played the game. For now though, the information provided here should suffice.