The Green Baize of Glory

Snooker that is!

Snooker derived from billiards and originated in India during the later half of the Victorian Era.

I have to say I am a keen snooker player and have been playing since I was old enough to reach the table.

Variations on the traditional billiard games were devised by Army officers stationed in India but in particular came about in the officers’ mess in Jabalpur (a city in the Mahakaushal region of state of Madhya Pradesh in central-east India). during the mid 1870’s when different coloured balls were added to the reds and black which were used for pyramid pool.

The term snooker appears to have been coined by Sir Neville Chamberlain. Chamberlain himself joined the Central India Horse (The Central India Horse – 21st King George V’s Own Horse was a regular cavalry regiment of the British Indian Army. They were formed at the start of the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857) in 1876, taking the game with him.

Tradition has it that when one of the players failed to hole a coloured ball, Chamberlain shouted to him: ‘Why, you’re a regular snooker.’ (a snooker being the term used for a first-year cadet at the Academy) He then pointed out the meaning and that they were all ‘snookers’ at the game. The name seemed to name itself!

After being wounded in the Afghan War, he moved to Ooatacamund and the game became the specialty of the ‘Ooty Club’ with rules being posted in the billiards room and still today any snooker club worth it’s salt will have the snooker rules adorning it’s wall.

For those not quite au fait with the rules of the great game here is a brief explanation:

1. Aim of the game

Snooker is played with fifteen object balls that are not numbered and are red and therefore called ‘reds’, six other balls of other colours that are not numbered  and are called ‘colours’ and a cue ball called the white ball.

The aim of snooker is to pocket the balls legally according to the rules and to score a greater number of points than the opponent.
Point values for object balls: red 1, yellow 2, green 3, brown 4, blue 5, pink 6, black 7.

2. Opening break rules

  • The game of Snooker begins with the cue ball in hand in the Half Circle (so the starting player can place the cue ball anywhere inside the Half Circle).
  • The rules for the opening break are the same as when one of the players gets the right to strike.

3. Game Rules

A player who gets the right to strike has to hit one of the red ball first.
Each shot has to be completed in 60 seconds, otherwise a foul is called.

A strike, when the next legal object is a red ball, is legal when:

  • The white ball is not potted.
  • The white ball hits a red ball first.
  • Only red balls are potted.

Otherwise the strike is a foul.

When the strike on the red ball is legal:

  • If no red ball is potted then the opposing player is next.
  • When a red ball is potted then the player gets as many points as the number of red balls he has potted. The striker’s next legal object is a colored snooker ball (see next point rules).

A strike, when the next legal object is a color ball, is legal when:

  • The white ball is not potted.
  • If there are still red balls on the table then one of the colored balls is hit by the white ball first.
  • If there are no more red balls on the table then the colored ball with the lowest points is hit first.
  • Only the ball that was hit first by the white ball is be potted.

Otherwise the strike is a foul.

When the strike on the colored ball is legal:

  • If no ball is potted then the opposing player is next.
  • When a colored ball is potted then the player’s points increase by the point value of the potted colored ball. The striker’s next legal object is a red ball. If there are no more red balls on the table, the next legal object is the ball with the lowest points.

4. Snooker Fouls

If a hit is a foul then the other player gets penalty points:

  • 4 points if the white ball is potted.
  • 4 points if time limit is exceeded (60 seconds/shot)
  • If the white hits the wrong ball first then the value of this ball.
  • If the wrong ball is potted first then the value of this ball.

When a hit results in more fouls then the opposing player gets the points of foul with the highest value.
Penalty points have a minimal value of 4.

After committing a foul the incoming player may

  • play the ball(s) as they lie
  • request to pass the shot and let the offending player play the stroke again (without returning to the original position)

5. Game over rule

When the only ball left on the table is the black one and

  • The black ball is potted by the next legal shot.
  • The next hit is a foul.



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