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Snooker

An interesting game similar to billairds.

Snooker is a billiards sport that is played on a large (12' × 6') baize-covered table with pockets in each of the four corners and in the middle of each of the long cushions. It is played using a cue, one white ball (the cue ball), 15 red balls and 6 colours: a yellow (worth 2 points), green (3 points), brown (4 points), blue (5 points), pink (6 points) and black ball (7 points). A player wins a frame of snooker by scoring the most points, through using the cue ball to pot all the red and coloured balls. A match consists of an agreed number of frames. Snooker is particularly popular in English-speaking countries (Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia and South Africa), and there has recently been a surge of interest in East Asia, with players from Hong Kong, China and Thailand entering the rankings. It's also very popular in Pakistan and India.

History
The game of billiards dates back to the 15th century but snooker is a more recent invention. In the late 19th century billiards games were popular among British army officers stationed in India and players used to experiment with variations on the game. The most commonly accepted story is that, at the officers' mess in Jubbulpore in 1875, Colonel Sir Neville Chamberlain (no relation to the later Prime Minister) suggested adding coloured balls to a billiards game. The word 'snooker' was army slang for a first-year cadet. This came to be used for novices to the game, and eventually for the game itself. British billiards champion John Roberts travelled to India in 1885, where he met Chamberlain. Chamberlain explained the new game to him, and Roberts subsequently introduced it to England.

Snooker championships date back to 1916. In 1927, Joe Davis, by far the best player of the time, helped establish the first professional world championship, and won its prize of £6.10s (£6.50, equivalent to about £200 today). He went on to win every subsequent world championship until 1946, when he retired from tournament play. The trophy he donated all those years ago is still awarded to the world champion.

A dispute between the professionals and the Billiards Association & Control Council (BA&CC, the game's then-governing body) meant that there were only two entrants for the 'official' world championship – Horace Lindrum (Australia) beat Clark McConachy (New Zealand). However, the professionals organised their own 'world championship' (termed the Professional Match-Play Championship) between 1952 and 1957, and the winners of this version are generally accepted as the World Champion. Nevertheless, it is Lindrum's name that is engraved on the familiar trophy.

Snooker suffered a decline in the 1950s and 1960s, so much so that no tournament was held from 1958 to 1963. In 1969, the BBC, in order to demonstrate their new colour broadcasts, launched a new snooker tournament, called "Pot Black". The multi-coloured game, many of whose players were just as colourful, caught the public interest, and the programme's success wildly exceeded expectations. Ted Lowe, the commentator famous for his whispering delivery, was the driving-force behind Pot Black, which survived until well into the 1980s.

In the early 1970s, the world championship received little TV coverage. However, in 1976 it was featured for the first time and very quickly became a mainstream professional sport. World rankings were introduced in 1977. Money poured into the game, and a new breed of player, typified by Steve Davis, young, serious and dedicated, started to emerge. The first maximum break of 147 in televised tournament was made by Davis against John Spencer in the Lada Classic, Oldham, in 1982. The first 147 at the World Championships (Crucible, Sheffield) was by the Canadian Cliff Thorburn. The top players became sterling millionaires. There was even a comic snooker song in the pop charts: Snooker Loopy by Chas & Dave.

Perhaps the peak of this golden age was the World Championship of 1985, when 18.5 million people (one third of the population of the UK) watching BBC2 saw Dennis Taylor lift the cup after a mammoth struggle against Davis that finished with the potting of the last possible ball (with the exception of a re-spotted black), well after midnight on a Sunday night. To this day, polls rank the 1985 World Snooker Championship final amongst UK TV's most memorable all-time moments.

Snooker remains immensely popular in the United Kingdom, second only to football amongst television viewers.

The game

Snooker is played on a rectangular 6' by 12' (about 1.83m by 3.66m) table (often referred to as 'Full Size' as smaller same ratio tables can be used) with six pockets, one at each corner and one in the middle of each long side. At one end of the table (the 'Baulk End' ) is the so-called 'baulk line', which is 29 inches from the baulk end cushion. A semicircle of radius 11� inches, called the "D", is drawn behind this line, centred on the middle of the line. On the baulk line, looking up the table from the 'baulk end', the yellow ball (2 points) is located where the "D" meets the line on the right, the green ball (3) where the "D " meets the line on the left, and the brown ball (4) in the middle of the line. An easy way to remember these positions is to see the phrase 'God Bless You' with the first letter of each word being the first letter of the three colours. At the exact middle of the table sits the blue ball (5). Further up the table is the pink ball (6), which sits midway between the blue spot and the top cushion, followed by the red balls (1 each), placed in a tightly-packed triangle behind the pink (the apex must be as close as possible to the pink ball without touching it). Finally, the black ball (7) is placed on a spot 12� inches from the top cushion.

A snooker match usually consists of an odd number of frames. The winner of the match is the player who first reaches a number of frames higher than half of the total number of frames. If a match has 19 frames, this means a match will end when one of the players reaches 10 frames.

At the beginning of each frame the balls are set up by the referee as explained. This will be followed by a "break-off" shot, on which the players take turns. At the break-off, the white cue ball can be placed anywhere inside the "D", although it is common for players to start by placing the ball on the line, between the brown ball and either the green or yellow ball.

The cue ball is the ball that players must hit with their cue in order to let it hit and possibly pot another ball. The cue ball is always the white ball and hitting another ball with your cue directly is not allowed. The ball "on" is the first ball that, according to the rules of the game, must be hit by the cue ball after the player has struck it. This changes from shot to shot.

Players take turns in visiting the table. When one player is at the table, the other cannot play. A "break" is a number of points scored by one player in one single visit to the table.

The game consists of two phases. In the first phase, which begins every new frame or every time a player comes into turn, the balls "on" are all the red balls. A player gets 1 point for a red ball potted. If more than one ball can be potted in a single stroke, the player will receive 1 point for every red. However, the white itself or another colour cannot be potted. Red balls potted will always stay down. If no red ball is potted, the other player comes into play.

If a red ball is potted, the player currently in play stays at the table and continues with another stroke. This time one of the six colours is the ball "on". When playing a colour, the game's rules state that a player must nominate the ball being played for to the referee, so that the referee knows which ball is the ball "on" and which are not; however this is not necessary on most shots because the choice is obvious. The choice is usually made explicit only if two or more coloured balls are in close proximity or near the same line of sight.

When a colour is potted, the player will be rewarded the correct number of points (Yellow, 2; Green, 3; Brown, 4; Blue, 5; Pink, 6; Black, 7). The colour is then taken out of the pocket by the referee and placed on its original spot. If that spot is covered by another ball, the ball is placed on the highest available spot. If there is no available spot, it is placed as close to its own spot as possible in a direct line between that spot and the top (black end) cushion, without touching another ball. If there is no room this side of the spot, it will be placed as close to the spot as possible in a straight line towards the bottom cushion, without touching another ball.

A player cannot pot more than one colour at the same time, or a colour and a red.

When all reds are gone, the second phase begins. In this phase, all colours have to be potted in the correct order (yellow, then green, then brown, then blue, then pink, then black). They become the ball "on" in that order.

When a foul is made during a shot, the player will receive no points for the shot. The other player will receive penalty points.

Common fouls are:
* not hitting the ball "on" with the cue ball
* hitting another ball with the cue
* pocketing a red when "on" a colour, or a colour when "on" a red, or potting a colour when "on" a different colour
* pocketing the cue ball
* making a ball land off the table
* touching a ball with something else than the cue
* playing a "push shot" - a shot where the cue, cue ball and object ball are in simultaneous contact
* playing a jump shot, which is where the cue ball leaves the table and jumps over a ball (even if touching it in the process) before first hitting another ball

Whereas in other games, such as pool, if the cue ball is touched with the tip of the cue when it is in baulk after being potted then a foul is committed, in snooker if the cue ball is touched with the tip after being potted and in the D, a foul is not committed as long as the referee is satisfied that the player was only positioning the ball, and not playing, or preparing to play, a shot.

Penalty points are at least 4 points. This can increase depending on the value of the ball "on", and the value of the "foul" ball, whichever is the highest. When more than one foul is made, the penalty is not the added total, but the most highly valued foul.

The foul of not hitting the ball "on" first is the most common foul. The name of the game originally comes from the verb "snooker" which means to bully, or to put in trouble. Players can put other players in trouble by making sure they can not hit the ball(s) "on" in a direct line from the next shot. This is called a "snooker".

Since players receive points for fouls by their opponents, snookering your opponent is a possible way to win a frame when potting all the balls on the table would be insufficient for you to win.

If a foul has been committed by not hitting a ball "on" first, or at all, and the referee judges that the player has not made the best possible effort to hit a ball "on", and neither of the players are in need of snookers to win the frame, then 'foul, and a miss' is called and the other player may request that all balls on the table are returned to their position before the foul, and the opponent play the shot again. (In top class play, this will usually require only the cue ball and a couple of other balls to be moved). When a foul shot has been played, the player who committed the foul may also be asked to go back to the table for another shot if the position is still difficult to play from. It should be noted that this rule does not normally apply to amateur matches.

The highest break that can be made under normal circumstances is 147. To achieve that, the player must pot all 15 reds, with the black after every red, followed by potting the six remaining colours. This "maximum break" of 147 rarely occurs in match play.

When a player leaves an opponent snookered on at least one side of all balls "on" after a foul, the other player will receive a free ball. This means any colour can be nominated and played as the ball "on". Points are received for the ball "on" after potting it. If the ball "on" is a red ball, after potting the free ball, a player can nominate and pot a colour as usual.

This means the highest achievable break is actually 155 points. If an opponent fouls before any balls are potted, and leaves the player a free ball, the player can then nominate a colour and play it as a red ball. Then, black can be nominated as the next colour. This means it is actually possible to score the value of 16 "reds" and blacks, which equals 155 points. This has never been done. The highest break in tournament play is 149, the highest break in professional matchplay is 148. (see also highest snooker break).

A frame ends when one player gives up or 'concedes' (sometimes done by nodding to the referee, purposely touching another ball with the cue or walking away), when all the balls are off the table, when only the black remains and the difference between the players' scores is more than 7 points, or when a player fouls on the final black, which costs the frame. It is sometimes wrongly assumed that play continues after a foul on the final black if there is then less than seven points in the scores. This is not the case - the player who makes such a foul loses the frame.


Source: Wikipedia


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