Billiards - Terms


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Game − It is the period of play from when the striker breaks the formation of balls and either −

  • Finishes the game in concession
  • Total time of the game has elapsed
  • Either side scoring the required number of points
  • Close of play called by referee

Match − A match comprises of stipulated number of games.

Balls − A striker uses the cue ball to pocket object balls like red, yellow balls.

Stringing − Stringing is a way of deciding which player first gets options to strike. It is similar to toss in any other match. In Billiards, both players play the cue ball towards the opposite cushion and ensure it comes back to baulk cushion. Whosoever manages to keep the ball closer to the baulk cushion shall give options to opponents. The strikers have to ensure that cue doesn’t hit side cushions or intrude into opponent’s half.

Striker and turn − The person who breaks the formation of balls at the start or someone in play is called striker. If the striker commits a foul or finishes his turn then, opposite player gets to play out of turn. The referee should be satisfied that striker has finished the turn and moves away from the table for opponent to play.

Stroke − Striker hits cue-ball with tip of cue in alignment and ensures to apply rules of the game then, it is called a stroke. A stroke is complete after −

  • All the balls in motion have to come to halt.

  • A striker moves away from the table or stands in readiness to play next stroke.

  • Move out any equipment of the game from hazardous position.

  • The umpire or referee gives a score for the stroke.

Direct stroke − Striker hits the object-ball with cue-ball directly without hitting cushion of the table.

Indirect stroke − Striker hits the cue-ball to cushion for an angle and hit the object-ball is called indirect stroke.

Pot − Striker hits the object ball with cue-ball giving it direction into a pocket. The object ball falling in pocket when it comes in contact with cue-ball or another object ball is called a pot.

In-off − In-off is a condition where the cue-ball hits object ball and goes into a pocket without violation of rules. If the cue-ball contacts more than one object ball then, it is said to have gone in-off of the first object ball contacted.

Hazard − A scoring stroke excluding cannon like a pot, an in-off, a pot and an in-off, etc. are all hazards.

Cannon − A stroke where the cue-ball makes contact with two object balls. Only one cannon can be scored in a single stroke.

Break − In a single turn, break is the number of scoring strokes made in succession.

In-hand − The instances when it is called player’s ball in-hand are −

  • Before the start of each game
  • When a ball forced out of the table
  • After a player’s ball is spotted touching the non-striker’s ball
  • When a player’s ball has entered the pocket

Until the stroke is played fairly, the player’s in-hand stays active. The other two situations when it remains player’s ball in-hand are −

A foul is committed whilst it is on the table and the other is when the striker makes a foul and loses points while passing the turn to next player.

If the cue-ball is in-hand, then the striker is in-hand.

Ball in Play − A ball is in play until it is in neither pocketed nor in-hand. It should also be not forced off the table.

Ball in Baulk − A ball is said to be in baulk when it is located centrally on the baulk-line or in the region between bottom cushion and baulk-line.

Forced off the table − A ball is forced off the table when it comes to rest outside the playing surface or has been picked by the striker when in play.

Miss − A striker misses to make contact with object ball using the cue-ball while the other object balls are on the baulk-line.

Running a coup − A striker pockets the cue-ball when no ball is outside the baulk-line. The cue-ball should also not contact the cushion but enter pocket directly.

Foul − Any violation of WPBSA rules is considered as foul.

Spot Occupied − A ball in-hand is not placed in its original position because some other ball is occupying the spot or is too close to be placed as without touching it.

Push Stroke − Push stroke can called in two occasions −

  • When the striker hits the cue-ball and the cue is in contact while cue-ball is in motion.

  • The cue is still in contact as the cue-ball makes contact with object ball except when it just grazes the ball.

Jump Shot − The striker should ensure that cue-ball jumps over an object ball and strikes the intended ball without contacting the cushion with the exception of following cases −

  • The cue-ball strikes an object ball and then jumps over other ball.

  • The cue-ball jumps and strikes an object-ball but not on the farther side of it.

  • The cue-ball strikes an object ball as per rules and jumps over it to hit the cushion of the board.



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