Rules of Snooker | How it is Played?

Snooker is one of the famous sports that is played indoor and requires no physical fitness level to compete but skills and instincts. It is a cue sport originated among British Army officers stationed in India in the 19th century.

Rules of Snooker

Like all big sports, snooker is run by a governing body known as World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association. Besides being internationally played at different levels, the sport is also played in clubs, pubs and many similar places for fun.

Objective of Playing Snooker

Things in snooker move along sequentially. Among different types of balls available, the players have to use the white cue ball to pot other colored balls in the correct sequence and ultimately score more points than his opponent – based on which a winner is chosen when no balls are left on the table.

How to Play?

Snooker is played with a cue stick and snooker balls of different colors on a snooker table. The important thing to learn about snooker is in what sequence the balls are supposed to be hit, because failing to do so causes you your turn and some points. There are different colors of balls placed on the table but the white ball serves as the cue ball for both players.

Everything from fouls and which colour of the ball is to be hit first, and the rules associated with scoring can be found below in general rules of Snooker.

An Overview of Rules in Snooker

Before we delve in the details of rules followed in snooker, let’s have an overview what they are:

  • As discussed above, who’d take the first break is decided on a toss.
  • Break begins with the cue-ball in the D, hitting a red ball is must.
  • A Push shot is considered as a foul shot.
  • A Push shot occurs when the tip of the cue remains in contact with the cue-ball while it touches the target ball.
  • For the next shot, it is mandatory that all cue balls must come back in a stationary state.
  • A situation can occur during the game when both players feel that balls are so placed that the frame could lead to a stalemate. In such instances, a frame can be restarted by the consent of both players.
  • If a player fails to hit the correct ball and the referee thinks he missed the ball on purpose, the opposite player is awarded the foul ( four or more points) and he can also ask the player to retake the shot.
  • You are not allowed to touch any ball on the table with your body, but only with the help of white cue ball that you hit with your cue stick. You can’t touch any ball directly, otherwise it’d count as a foul.
  • While taking a shot, at least one feet of the player must be on the ground.
  • Sending a ball off the table is considered a foul.
  • Red balls are not respotted but colours will be.
  • If there is a ball already placed where the colour is supposed to be replaced, the colour is placed on the next highest spot available. If there are no spots available, it is placed closed to its spot available.
  • If you are on red colour and two red balls are potted in the same stroke, you get 2 points and go on with the next stroke.
  • If two consecutive red balls are potted in different shots, then it is a foul.
  • If a cue-ball is already touching a ball, the player has to play away from that ball now. If the ball has moved while taking the shot, it’d be considered as a foul.
  • If while taking a shot, a player’s cloth or any part of the body touches any ball, it is considered a foul – be it unintentional. And if it was intentional, then falls in 6.16 unsportsmanlike conduct of the game.
  • You can’t pot white cue ball, if you do, it’d be considered as a foul.
  • If a player pots a cue ball, then his opponent is entitled to place the cue ball back anywhere within the D.

What is a Frame in Snooker?

Frame refers to a single game of snooker. The number of frames in a snooker tournament vary from match to match. In the first round, eleven frames are played in each game. The player that wins six frames is declared as the winner. In the next round, matches are played over 15 frames.

How many players can play snooker?

Snooker can be played between 2 or more than 2 players. It’s up to the players how many they want to play as each of them will have his own points. But usually, a snooker is played between 2 or maximum 3 players to maintain the competitiveness of the game.

Toss decides who will take the first Break

A coin toss takes place to decide which player will take the first strike. The similar method is followed in all frames.

Duration of Snooker Tournaments/Game

Unlike other famous sports in the world, there’s no fixed time duration of a snooker game. It depends on the time taken by one frame, which depends on the chances players get and the position of the red pack. A frame can last for up to 30 minutes. But that’s not the limit, in the history, frames have lasted for more than 2 hours as well.

In general, the best of 11 or 13 frames matches end up with a winner in one day. Best of 15 frames match usually last for 1 complete day and first half of the next.

Snooker Equipments & Playing Area

Following are the equipment required to set up and play a pool game.

Table: A snooker table is always of rectangular shape and has a standard size (full size) of 12ft x 6ft and just under 3ft in height. Sturdy tables are usually made of wood with a slate top generally covered in green baize.

Cue sticks: The cue sticks are made of wood and their sizes vary – they are available in all sizes from small ones to standard size. A cue stick must not be less than 3ft in length and must feature generally accepted shape and form.

Pockets: Every table has 6 pockets into which balls are potted. 4 of these pockets are located in each corner while 2 are in the middle of the long sides. The standard pocket size of a snooker table is 3.5 inches.

Balls: The balls used in snooker are made from phenolic resin and are approximately 2.7 inches in diameter. The detail of number of balls used and their positions is as followed:

Ball Positioning

The starting end on the snooker table is called Baulk end. A line is stretched across the width of the table 29 inches from the baulk cushion, in the center of this is the D. This D is 11.5 inch-radius semicircle with the baulk line.

  • There are 15 red balls.
  • One each of black,pink,blue,brown,green and yellow.
  • White ball is known as cue ball.
  • The green, brown and yellow balls go from left to right on the baulk line across the semi circle.
  • The blue goes in the middle of the table.
  • The pink sits at the top cushion – opposite end to the baulk cushion.
  • The black stands in the center, 12¾ inches off the top cushion.
  • The red balls are placed in a triangle, one of them is placed at the point behind the pink.

Point Scoring in Snooker

You can’t take random shots in snooker, though each ball is worth some specific points but they must be hit in sequence. The scoring sequence of different balls in snooker is as followed:

  • A red ball worths (1) point, black worths (7), pink (6), blue (5), brown (4), green (3) and yellow (2).
  • Except red, all colours are respotted. The player reverts to red then colour until all reds are gone from the table. The remaining colours then go in ascending order finishing at the black.
  • Each time you have to pot a red ball to get the chance to pot a coloured ball. This goes on until all red balls are gone.
  • In case of a foul, the opponent gets 4 points. If the player commits whilst playing with colour balls, hitting the highest values first, then the foul scoring depends on the value of ball in question.
  • For instance, if you have decided to pot the black ball, but instead of black you end up potting the blue ball, then it would be considered as a foul. And the foul points would be considered with respect to black.
  • A player can score 147 points in one break (at maximum). It’s rare as it will only happen if you have potted all the balls at once.

Being Snookered

Being snookered is an occasion when a player has been stripped from any opportunity that could exist of executing a legal shot or in other words, non-foul shot. When the object ball is hidden in such a way that the player cannot take direct aim of the ball, in this case, he is being snookered.

You can Concede a game early

In some rare circumstances when a player thinks he can’t win a frame from there – he is too far behind from the lead and there aren’t that many balls left on the table. In such instances, a player can accept the defeat before the frame is finished technically.

Different Shots in Snooker

Like all games, the more you play the more your skills grow in snooker. There are some shots in snooker that every snooker enthusiast loves to learn and play. Have a look at some of those shots:

Top Spin: In topspin, a player hits the ball from above the midpoint of its vertical plane as it faces the snooker. It’s a spin in the direction a ball naturally wants to take in reaction to friction that occurs when it makes contact with the pool felt. By learning this simple trick you can ensure the white carries on much further than the striking point of the object ball.

Massé Shot: A masse shot is in the armoury of snooker professionals – even they don’t claim to be good at it. It is executed by hitting the cue ball with the butt of the cue stick elevated by 60 degrees or more. The white ball takes the path of the banana and hits the right ball. The amount of swerve depends on the amount of force you put behind the ball and at what pace it actually hits the object ball.

Screw Back: The screw shot is used to bring the white ball back after making contact with the object ball. To execute this handy shot, you have to strike the cue ball below center to get the ball to spin backwards.

Stun Shot: As the name suggests, it means stunning a ball. Hit the bottom of the centre of your cue ball and apply backspin. The ball will now stay put after making the contact. This requires a lot of practice, as you have to be sure what amount of force is to be put behind so that the spin wears off on time to stun the ball.

Who Wins the game?

Who wins the game is decided on the basis of the number of frames won by a single player. The rules mentioned above are the same for each frame, and how many frames will take place for a particular match depends on the tournament.

Famous Snooker Events

Like all sports, snooker too has some famous events that take place annually or after certain spans.

  • World Snooker Championship
  • European Masters
  • English Open
  • China Open
  • World Grand Prix

Who Governs the game?

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association Limited (“The WPBSA”) is known as caretaker of the game in the professional snooker world.

Its objective is to encourage and popularise the game of snooker and billiards all around the world. They set up rules and settle disputes among the members of the community. If there are any changes to be made in the rules of the game, it is their job to decide whether a certain law is appropriate or not.