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Snooker is a Billiards game, played on a special table, with one white cueball, 15 red balls and 6 balls of various colours (the 'colours'). It is particularly popular in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The intention of the game is to score points by causing the red and coloured balls to be played into the pockets along the edge of the table (in all 4 corners and the middle of each of the long cushions).

Table of contents

The Game

Snooker is played on a 6' X 12' table with six pockets, one at each corner and one in the middle of each long side. At one end of the table is the so-called 'baulk line'. On this line the yellow ball (2 points) is on the right, the green ball (3) on the left and the brown ball (4) in the middle. At the exact middle of the table starts the blue ball (5), and yet further down the pink one (6), followed by the red balls, touching each other and placed in a triangle behind the pink, and finally the black ball (7). The white cueball starts on the baulk line, between the green and the brown balls.

The game consists of two phases. In the first phase, the players have to play a red ball (that is, play the cueball so that it is a red ball it first touches). When they succeed in potting a red ball, they get another shot, now at a colour. When this colour is potted, it is replaced on the table - if possible on its own spot, otherwise on the highest remaining spot, or if all spots are occupied, as close to its own spot in a straight line as is possible without touching the ball sitting there. After this another red has to be played, etcetera.

After the last red and the following colour have been played, 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).

One scores points by potting the correct ball - 1 point for each red, the ball's value for the colours. One also scores points if the opponent makes a mistake such as:

  • not hitting any ball with the cueball
  • hitting a colour first when a red should be hit, or a red when a colour should be hit, or the wrong colour
  • potting a red when a colour should be potted, or a colour when a red should be potted, or the wrong colour
  • potting the cueball
  • making a ball go off the table
  • touching any ball other than the cueball

Penalty points are 4 points, the value of the ball that should be hit or the value of the ball that was faulted with, whichever is highest.

The highest possible score that can achieved without receiving penalty points is 147; in that case, the player must pot the black ball after each red ball in the first phase of the game. The event that a player scores the 147 points consecutively (in a single break) occurs only rarely in match play.


The most important event in professional snooker is the World Championship, held annually since 1927. The tournament is also known as The Crucible, after the Crucible Theatre[?] in Sheffield (England), where it has been held since 1977.

The group of tournaments that come next in importance are the so-called invitational tournaments, to which most of the highest ranked players are invited. The most important tournament in this category is the Benson & Hedges Masters[?].

Third in line are the nine ranking tournaments, which includes the World Championships. Players can score points here for the ranking. A high ranking ensure qualification for next year's tournaments, invitations to invitational tournaments and an advantageous draw in tournaments.


Some famous snooker players are


  • baulk area: The area between the baulk line and the nearest edge.
  • break: Series of consecutive pots by the same player.
  • cannon: Strong hit at another ball after the object ball has been hit. Can for example be used to spread a pack of balls.
  • century: A break of 100 points or more.
  • cherry: A red ball
  • clearance: Break ending with potting the black in phase 2, and thus with an empty table (except for the cueball).
  • fluke: Unintended, usually lucky, way to pot a ball.
  • frame: A single game in a match over a number of games.
  • hooked: Snookered (see below)
  • kiss: Situation where either the cueball or the object ball makes unintended contact with another ball (or each other) after the object ball has been hit.
  • maximum: The maximum possible score of 147, scored in a single break.
  • plant: Shot at a red ball, such that it hits another red ball which then is potted.
  • respotted black: When the frame ends with both players having the same number of points, the black is put back on the table, as is the cueball, and the first player to pot it wins the frame.
  • safety: A way of playing the ball, not with the intention to pot something, but to make it hard or impossible for the opponent to make a pot on his next shot.
  • shot to nothing: An attempt or half-attempt to pot a ball in such a way that opponent is not left an easy chance if the pot fails - a combination of a potting attempt and a safety shot.
  • snooker: A player is said to be snookered when he cannot hit any correct ball directly in a straight line. A player 'needs snookers' when potting all the remaining balls would still leave him trailing his opponent.
  • touching ball: Situation in which the cueball is touching another ball. If this is a ball that is to be hit, the ball counts as having been hit if the cueball is played away from it.

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