Snooker is an English game played on a six by twelve foot table with twenty two balls. Curved pocket cushions and the large table size makes pocketing balls difficult. The goal of the game is to outscore your opponent. Although Snooker has its own terminology, these rules use pool terms for consistency and ease of understanding. Snooker is a great game for all skill levels. Don’t get discouraged because balls are difficult to pocket. There are many subtleties to this game.
There is a semi-circle called the D located at one end of the table with the flat side of the D running down the baulk line. The baulk line is similar to the headstring on a pool table. The D is the area where the cue is placed when the player has ball-in-hand. There are no restrictions on crossing the D or baulk line when shooting with ball-in-hand.
Fifteen Red balls in a triangle with six colored balls; a Black below the rack, a Pink just above the foot spot, a Blue on the center spot, a Brown on the baulk line at the center of the D, a Green on the baulk line at the far left of the D, and a Yellow on the baulk line at the far right of the D.
No special requirements.
Snooker Game Phases
There are two game phases; the Red Phase where Red balls are still on the table, and the Color Phase after all Reds have been pocketed. During the Red Phase, the shooter must hit a Red first and Red is referred to as the ball on. If a Red is pocketed the shooter chooses a color, which becomes the ball on, and must hit that color first. If pocketed, the color is spotted and the ball on is again Red. This continues until all Reds are pocketed. The Color Phase then commences and the ball on is the low point color on the table, meaning the colors are pocketed in point order.
A player is said to be snookered when all balls on are wholly or partially obstructed by a ball or balls not on. If a player is snookered following a foul, the player can nominate a free ball. A free ball can be any ball and it acquires the value of the ball on. The free ball must be struck first of it is a foul. If the free ball is pocketed, it is scored and spotted. It is legal to pocket and score the ball on as long as the free ball is hit first. If both the free ball and ball on are pocketed, only the ball on is scored. It is a foul for the shooter to snooker the opponent behind the free ball except when only the Pink and Black are left on the table.
Pocket any ball on or free ball to continue at the table.
Each Red pocketed is worth one point. Colors are worth the following: Yellow 2, Green 3, Brown 4, Blue 5, Pink 6, and Black 7. If a free ball is pocketed, it is scored as the value of the ball on.
Extra Reds pocketed when Red is the ball on count 1 point each. If extra balls pocketed when a color is the ball on it is a foul.
Colors pocketed during the Red Phase are spotted on their corresponding starting spot. If it is occupied they are spotted at the next highest valued balls spot that is open. If no spots are open the color is spotted near its own spot towards the top cushion for Yellow through Blue and towards the bottom cushion for the Pink and Black.
Penalty for Fouls
If your opponent fails to hit a ball on when shooting you score the value of the ball on, the value of the ball hit first, or 4 points, whichever is higher. Scratch or cue ball off table is ball-in-hand in the D. For all fouls the opponent has the choice of making the shooter play again.
When a player is behind in points and there are not enough points on the table to win, snookers must be played in hope of gaining points via opponent fouls. Typically, a game is resigned if two or more fouls are needed to win.
Foul and Miss
When a player completely misses the ball on a Foul and a Miss may be called by Virtual Pool. The reason it may or may not call foul and a miss is because this rules is dependent on ability of the players and the difficulty of hitting a ball on. For a Foul and a Miss, the opponent has the original choices for fouls (see Penalty for Fouls) plus an additional choice of making the shooter play the same exact shot over. Foul and Miss is not called if the player needed penalty points to win before or after the stroke played, or points are equal to the points difference excluding the value of the re-spotted black.
Play safe until a good shot opportunity is presented. During the Red phase, make sure you can get shape on a color when pocketing a Red. It’s not worth leaving your opponent a good opportunity for a 1 point score. The best safeties snooker your opponent giving you a chance to score if the ball on is not hit and forcing a kick shot that could leave you a good opportunity. If you can’t snooker your opponent with a safe leave a long shot as they are difficult to pocket on a snooker table. Play to pocket the Blue, Pink and Black as they are worth the most points. You can play shots that are both offensive and defensive by playing shape on balls toward the baulk end of the table when all Reds are near the rack. Shooting a Red and running the cue back up the table leave a long shot if missed and a possible score on the Yellow, Green, or Brown if made.
During the Color Phase try to run the table if possible. If there are balls on rails or in clusters play the open balls and then play safe.
Keep track of the score. If you are behind and there are not enough points on the table to win you need to play for a snooker to score the extra points necessary. If you are ahead and there are just enough points left on the table for your opponent to win don’t take chances and sell out. Play conservatively and shoot balls when sure of pocketing or play for snookers to get enough points where your opponent needs a snooker.