Blackball (pool)

Blackball (pool)

Blackball (sometimes written black ball or black-ball) is a pocket billiards (pool) game that is popular in the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland and several other countries. The game is played with sixteen balls (a Cuegloss|Cue ball|cue ball and fifteen Cuegloss|Object ball|object balls) on a pool table with six Cuegloss|Pocket|pockets. Blackball is an internationally-standardised variation of the popular folk game eight-ball pool (or 8-ball pool), closely related to the originally American and now professionally internationalised game of eight-ball.


Eight-ball pool (and thus its standardised form blackball), like American-style eight-ball, is derived from an earlier game invented around 1900 and first popularized in 1925 under the name "B.B.C. Co. Pool" by the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company. Like blackball and eight-ball pool today, this forerunner game was played with seven Cuegloss|Yellow ball|yellow and seven Cuegloss|Red ball|red balls, unnumbered (in contrast to the American-style numbered Cuegloss|Stripes|stripes and Cuegloss|Solids|solids, commonly called kelly pool balls in the UK), a Cuegloss|Black ball|black ball, and the cue ball. The game had relatively simple rules compared to the modern game.cite book
last = Shamos
first = Michael Ian
year = 1993
title = The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Billiards
publisher = Lyons & Burford
location = New York, NY
pages = Page 85
id = ISBN 1-55821-219-1
] [cite journal
last = Jewett
first = Bob
year = 2002
month = February
title = 8-Ball Rules: The many different versions of one of today's most common games
journal = Billiards Digest Magazine
pages = Page 22–23
] [Ralph Hickok (2001). [ Sports History: Pocket Billiards] . Retrieved December 13, 2006.] [Billiard Congress America (1995-2005) [ A Brief History of the Noble Game of Billiards] by Mike Shamos. Retrieved December 13, 2006.]


of England.

A competing but very similar set of rules has been promulgated by the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA), under the game name "blackball" to better distinguish it from the American-style game (for which WPA also promulgates rules), [ "World Pool Association sic Blackball Rules"] , World Pool-Billiard Association, 2005.] . It was intended that "blackball" would unify the various existing English-style rulesets (presumably also including the WEPF rules) although this has not yet happened. The self-described "governing body" for WPA blackball in Europe, with numerous national and local affiliate groups, is the European Blackball Association (EBA).


Plain unnumbered Cuegloss|Red ball|red (or sometimes Cuegloss|Blue ball|blue) and Cuegloss|Yellow ball|yellow Cuegloss|Colour ball|colour balls are used in lieu of numbered Cuegloss|Solids|solids and Cuegloss|Stripes|stripes common to international eight-ball and other pool games, which in the UK are usually called kelly pool balls. (Many suppliers refer to the yellows-and-reds ball sets as "casino" balls, whether UK- or US-sized, because they were briefly used in US casino-hosted, televised, modified eight-ball rules tournaments; the coloured rather than numbered sets were selected for their distinguishability on TV). The Cuegloss|Black ball|black ball, however, still typically bears a number "8" (a holdover from kelly pool), though numberless variants are not unknown.

The table has pockets just larger than the balls, as in the game of snooker, whereas the American-style table has pockets significantly larger.

Tournament rules may require the presence of more than one type of Cuegloss|Rest|rest, again adopted from snooker.


The balls are racked with Cuegloss|Black ball|the black (the 8 ball) on the Cuegloss|Foot spot|foot spot (or "black spot"), in contrast with US-style eight-ball, nine-ball and most other pool games, in which the apex ball is placed on the foot spot. A "fair break" is one in which an object ball is potted, or at least 4 object balls touch a rail. If the black is potted, the game is restarted with a Cuegloss|Re-rack|re-rack, broken by the original breaker. If the cue ball is potted on an otherwise fair break, it is a "non-standard" Cuegloss|Fault|fault (foul) that simply ends the breaker's turn, with no further penalties. If it is a foul (non-fair) break, the incoming player gets Cuegloss|Two visits|two visits as with other "standard fouls" (see below), and gets to break, after a re-rack, without the option to instead play the balls as they lie. Openness of the table (unlike in the American-style game) does not last long, in that if the breaker pots a ball on the break from one group, and elects to continue shooting that group, then that group are his/her balls-on, even if the post-break followup shot is missed, while if the group chosen did not have any balls potted on the break, the table remains open until a ball is legally potted (does not matter if legal or illegal shot by pocketing the cue ball), (while if no balls were potted on the break, the table is of course open). While the table is open, the shooter must nominate what group (s)he is shooting for.

A legal (non-break) shot is one where the cue ball first hits a "Cuegloss|Ball-on|ball-on" (one of the balls in the player's own group), and does "not" pot the cue ball, the black or any of the balls in the opponent's group, "and" either one of the shooter's balls-on is pocketed, or a (any) ball contacts a cushion after the cue ball contacts the (first) ball-on. I.e., it is the same as in American-style, but with the additional requirement that one not sink an opponent's ball (doing so is a fault), and lacking the requirement that ball and pocket have to be called (i.e. Cuegloss|Slop|slop shots are perfectly valid, even on the black.) There are other forms of fault, generally the same as in other pool games, such as potting the cue ball (except on the break, as noted above), knocking balls off the table, moving balls accidentally, double-hits and pushes (though the standards are weaker than in American-style rules), unsportsmanlike conduct, etc. There are also other unique fouls such as the requirement (borrowed from snooker) to shoot away from any ball that the cue ball is Cuegloss|Frozen|frozen to, without moving it (however if the frozen ball is the shooter's own, it counts as contacting a ball-on, and only a (any) ball must reach a rail for it to be a legal shot. As in informal American Cuegloss|Bar pool, bar rules|bar pool, but "not" WPA/BCA/IPT standardized American-style rules, players are sometimes required to take certain shots (besides the break shot) from Cuegloss|Baulk|baulk or Cuegloss|Kitchen|"the kitchen", i.e. from behind the Cuegloss|Baulk line|baulk line (Cuegloss|Head string|head string), shooting forward across it. Also, all jump shots that result in missing an intervening ball are faults.

After a fault, the offending player will effectively miss a turn and give the opponent Cuegloss|Two visits|two visits. These free shots must be taken from Cuegloss|Baulk|baulk, unless the cue ball was potted, in which case the incoming player has Cuegloss|Ball-in-hand|ball-in-hand anywhere. The second free shot can be taken from baulk even if a legal ball was potted on the first post-fault shot; this is known as the "Cuegloss|Two-shot carry|two-shot carry" rule.

There are other unique rules, such as a relaxation of the legal shot requirements when the shooter is "Cuegloss|Total snooker|totally snookered", a prohibition against using either the Cuegloss|Cross|cross or Cuegloss|Spider|spider rest whilst the player is attempting to pot the black, and special handling of a Cuegloss|Snooker|snooker that resulted from an opponent's foul, such that the incoming player can elect to shoot the black or an opponent's ball first in attempting to pot his/her own ball-on, and can even pot both the black and the opponent's ball if the incoming player is on the black.

It is a loss of Cuegloss|Frame|frame (game) to fault in any way while actually potting (but not just shooting at) the black.

Informal rule variations

The cue ball is often initially placed on the Cuegloss|Head spot|head spot, "directly" opposite the apex of the racked object balls, on the Cuegloss|Baulk line|baulk line.

The specifics of the "two shot" rule are highly contentious in unorganized, amateur play. For example, in some variants the "Cuegloss|Two-shot carry|two-shot carry" rule does not apply, while in others, free shots may required to be taken from Cuegloss|"D", the|the "D" instead of from baulk more generally. Another common variant is to allow the free shot to be taken where the cue ball ends up after an initial miss. In some versions the incoming player does not get two shots after an opponent fouls if the incoming player is shooting the black. See Cuegloss|Two shots|Two shots for information on standard two shot rules.

In some variations, whether a ball contacts a cushion, or the player pots a ball-on, is irrelevant in deciding a fault. Instead, a legal shot may require only that it is one where the cue ball first hits a ball-on and does "not" pot the cue ball, the black, or any of the balls in the opponent's group.

A common area of contention concerns "faults on the black". Non-standard variants include (and are not all mutually exclusive): any foul committed by a player while that player is "shooting for" the black (whether potted or not) is an instant loss; a fault when one's opponent is on the black does not give the opponent two-shot carry; or any fault committed by a player while not just one but "both" players are on the black is an instant loss. There is also variation in the handling of "shooting backwards" (toward the Cuegloss|Head rail|head rail after the cue ball is respotted after being potted. Possibilities here include: a player may not hit a ball that is on or behind the Cuegloss|Baulk line|baulk line without hitting another ball or cushion first; may not shoot backwards from the baulk line, but may shoot at balls behind the line provided that the direction of motion of the cue ball is forward; or may simply be allowed to shoot backwards. Further disagreement may arise over whether it is acceptable to deliberately pot the cue ball (which might be done if a "no shooting backwards" rule is in effect, and the balls-on are behind the baulk line).

Due to the fact most pool tables in game halls are coin-operated and thus don't allow players to retrieve balls after they have been potted until a new game is paid for, in such circumstances the players may agree that the breaker wins the game instantly for potting the black on the break shot also known as a golden break.


External links

* [ European Blackball Association] — Main governing body in Europe:* [ English Pool Association Website] - Main governing body in England:* [ World Pool Association] — World governing body for all pool
* [ Blackball Pool Community] — community site promoting Blackball pool in the United Kingdom
* [ UK Online Pool Community] — community site that organizes local league and tournament websites
* [ Professional Pool Players Organisation] (UK) — "Professional Pool Tour as seen on Sky Sports"
* [ Blackball Pool Rules] — Blackball pool rules for viewing on mobile phone browsers
* [ Nottingham pool site] local league site in nottingham uk
* [ Leamington Spa Pool Site] Leamington Spa & District Pool League / UK
* [ Leamington Spa Winter Pool Site] Leamington Spa Winter Pool League / UK
* [ Shropshire County Pool Association] — News and Reviews for all things Pool in Shropshire

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