What is snooker? The rules, equipment used and gameplay explained

What is snooker? The rules, equipment used and gameplay explained

Kenneth Mwenda
updated at April 12, 2023 at 8:28 PM

What is snooker? Can you differentiate it with Pool and Billiards? For the non-professional players, it is easy to see their tables as the same thing. Snooker is a popular sport in many countries, especially in the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, as well as in China and other parts of Asia.

What is snooker?: The rules, equipment used and gameplay explained
Man playing snooker. Photo: Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy
Source: Getty Images

Snooker is a cue sport played on a rectangular baize-covered table with six pockets—one in the middle of each long side and one in each corner. It is a game played with a cue stick and a set of 22 balls, including one white (the cue ball) and 15 red in addition to six other coloured (yellow, green, brown, blue, pink, and black).

Using a cue stick, each player or team alternately strikes the white to pot other balls in a set order, earning points for each successful pot and each foul the other team commits. In a single frame, the player with the most points wins. The snooker match is over when a player wins a certain number of frames.

Snooker game history

What is a snooker ball made of?
Men playing snooker. Photo: Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy
Source: Getty Images

Snooker was first played by British Army officers stationed in India in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Army officer Sir Neville Chamberlain, stationed in Ootacamund, Madras, and Jabalpur, created a set of rules that combined black pool and pyramids in 1875, giving the game its name.

Snooker was a well-known insult for inexperienced or newly enlisted military personnel. It was primarily played in the United Kingdom in the early 20th century, where it was regarded as a "gentleman's sport" until the early 1960s. From there, it became a national pastime and eventually spread abroad. The game's standard rules were established when the Billiards Association and Control Club was founded in 1919.

What is snooker vs pool?

What is snooker vs pool?
Pool balls on a table. Photo: Felicia Rabago / EyeEm
Source: Getty Images

Snooker is played with 15 numberless pinks, six numbered objects, and one white, while Pool is played on a table with six pockets, with 9 to 15 object balls, and in addition, the white. Snooker is played on a table with six pockets, but the table size is usually larger than that of pool tables. The snooker table's pockets, however, are smaller.

What is a snooker table?

This table is a rectangle with dimensions of 12 feet by 6 feet and a height of just under 3 feet. It is typically made of wood and has a slate top covered in green baize. It has six pockets: two in the centre of the long sides or cushions and one in each of the four corners.

The baulk end, from which the game begins, is marked by a line that spans the table's width 29 inches from the baulk cushion. In the centre of this is the D, an 11.5-inch-radius semi-circle with the baulk line as its diameter.

What is a snooker ball made of?

Rules of snooker
Snooker ball on a table. Photo: Vladdeep
Source: Getty Images

Nowadays, snooker balls are made of cast phenolic resin, a light plastic resin that provides much more control, in contrast to earlier materials like clay and ivory. They may be created in separate moulds or as a strip that is cut apart after hardening. Thermosetting plastic is heated, poured into moulds, allowed to harden, and then sanded and polished into balls.

What is a snooker cue?

Cues are tapered sticks typically between 57 and 59 inches (about 1.5 metres) long and used to strike a ball. Most cues are made of wood, but they also frequently have fibreglass, carbon fibre, or graphite layers.

The size of the tips is where a pool cue and a snooker cue diverge most. Other variations include the type of wood used, the ferrule material, and occasionally the size and weight of the cue. Both sets of cues were created based on the specifics of the intended game.

What is a snooker room?

What is a snooker room?
A snooker table inside a room. Photo: HAO ZHANG
Source: Getty Images

This is a location where the players gather to play snooker. The room may be in the public centre of the house or the private areas of the house. Additionally, the space needs to be well-lit and have enough space to play games.

What is a snooker referee called?

They are known as referees. The road to becoming a well-known snooker referee is complex. Prior to being given a chance to officiate at The Crucible, years of practice are necessary to learn and perfect the science of officiating.

Not every young game enthusiast will aspire to be a top-level referee. Naturally, upholding the rules in any sport involves pressure, scrutiny, and frequently stressful circumstances. Below are the rules of snooker

  1. A coin toss determines who starts the first frame, and players take turns breaking (starting the frame). The break is made with the white in the D, and a red must be struck.
  2. If both players concur, a frame can be restarted. For instance, if both players concur, the balls are placed so that the frame might result in a tie.
  3. When the cue tip remains in contact with the white as it touches the target ball, it is considered a push shot, which is illegal. Only one precise cue strike is allowed when playing the white.
  4. The referee may call a miss if the player does not hit the correct one and is declared not to have made a reasonable attempt. The other player is accorded the foul (four or more) and has the choice to have the player replay the shot.
  5. Before the next shot is taken, all balls must be in a stationary position.
  6. The white must first strike the nominated ball or any red if it is red. The failure to do so, as well as failing to hit any or potting an unnominated ball, are fouls.
  7. A foul is committed if the player uses any part of their body to touch a ball or uses their cue to touch other than the white.
  8. It is a foul to hit the ball off the table. Reds are not replaced, but colours will be re-spotted.
  9. If the spot on which the colour would usually be replaced is covered by another ball, the colour is placed on the next highest available spot. If every spot is filled, the colour is placed between that spot and the top cushion, as close to its spot as is physically possible. They must be free from any other contact.
  10. The referee must signal "touching ball" whenever the white makes contact with another, and the player must move away from that ball. A foul is committed if the ball moves. It is considered to have already made contact if the player nominated it, allowing them to play away.
  11. A free ball is awarded if a player fouls and the other player cannot hit the next legal ball. After that, the player may hit any they choose (they must nominate), and it will score and behave as if it were the next legal. For instance, black may be selected as a red and, if potted, followed by a colour.
  12. When playing a shot, the player must have at least a portion of one foot on the ground.
  13. Potting the white is a foul, as is a jump shot, where one ball leaves the table and clears another.

Snooker requires a great deal of precision, and coaches frequently have a deeper understanding of the technical foundations of the game. Receiving instruction from a snooker professional can help one's game, regardless of whether the goal is to improve hard technical skills or soft positioning abilities that develop over time.

READ ALSO: The different types of pool games and how to play each of them

Sportsbrief has published an article about the different types of pool games and how to play each. A pool game is a cue sport played on a carpeted table with six pockets along the rails, into which balls are deposited. There are different pool games categorized by different sets of balls. Click the above link to read more!

Kenneth Mwenda photo
Kenneth Mwenda
Kenneth Mwenda is a business and sports writer with over five years of experience. At Sportsbrief, he contributes to writing biographies and listicles.