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Nine ball

Nine ball is a billiards game played with a cue ball and 9 colored billiard balls, numbered 1 through 9. The cue ball is solid white.

Two persons or two teams play against each other.

NOTE: The rules for this game, like any billiard game are subject to debate and local variation; MAKE SURE that you and your opponent agree on the rules before playing. Many people and leagues in the USA use the Billiard congress of america (BCA) rules as their standard.

What follows is not exactly BCA form, but is close enough for most play.

Winning situation:

  • the player has legally pocketed the nine ball

Losing situation:

  • the player faults on three consecutive turns

Possible fault situations:

  • the player does not execute a legal stroke
  • the player pockets the cue ball
  • the player does not have at least one foot on the floor
  • the player shoots the cue ball before all other balls have come to a complete stop
  • the player hits the cue ball more than once during a shot
  • the player touches the cue ball with something other than the tip of his cue
  • the player touches any other ball

A legal stroke is defined as:

  • the player hits the cue ball, then the cue ball hits the lowest numbered ball on the table, then either the player pockets one or more balls (not necessarily the first one hit) or any ball hits a cushion.

Brief definition of some areas of the table: imagine the pool table divided the long way by an imaginary line (called the "long string"). Also imagine two lines crossways to the long string one quarter of the way from each end. These are called the "head string" and "foot string". The intersection of the long and head strings is called the "head spot", and the intersection of the long and foot strings is called the "foot spot".

Start of the game: To start the game, the colored balls are placed in a diamond shape. The one ball is on the head spot, with two balls directly behind it and touching it, then three balls directly behind those two (the nine ball is the middle ball of these three), then two more balls directly behind the three and the last ball directly behind them (picture?). The location of the one and nine balls must be as above, the other balls can be anywhere within the diamond.

Break: One person is chosen to shoot first ("break" the balls apart; note that this is a different definition of the word "break" than in other billiards games, notably snooker) by any number of methods: flip of a coin, loser of last game breaks, winner of last game breaks, "lag", etc. If the shooter who breaks fails to make a legal break (usually defined as at least four balls hitting cushions) then the opponent can either re-rack and break, or play from the current position.

If the breaker pockets a ball, it is still his turn.

Turns: The players now take turns. The turn is over if a player makes a fault or when he is unable to pocket one of the object balls.

Faults: When one player commits a fault, the other player gets "ball in hand", that is, may place the cue ball. The cueball may be placed anywhere, and shoot at anything.

Winning: Note that the nine ball can be sunk on the break, in which case the breaker wins. Also, if the shooter hits the lowest ball on the table (say, the five) and also (by combination or carom) sinks the nine, then the shooter wins.

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