Snooker Questions & Answers

On this page we shall be displaying all your questions and answers about snooker. Do you have a question

about technique, rules, tactics, or anything else to do with snooker? I have over 50 years' experience playing

the game to a reasonable standard, so I will answer your questions as fairly and accurately as possible. I am

not a qualified referee, but after that amount of time I can answer most questions on the rules!The questions

and answers will be displayed on this page. (N.B. We are unable to answer questions about past tournament results. Please check out the fantastic Cue Tracker on the internet for comprehensive results!) For now, please

ask your questions by email to or use the grey Let's Chat box below.
Please note (2020) that these pages have not been updated for several years, so there may be some out

of date information or Rules on display. My snooker and pool DVDs are no longer on offer, for copyright

reasons. You can ask basic or more advanced questions, depending on your knowledge of the game.
Below are a few sample questions I have been asked over the years. I will try to add more pages of these at

some point, so please come back later.

And, of course, if you dispute any of my answers, please let me know!

Question 1. Hi! I was playing a frame, we were on the last pink and black and I gave my opponent a free ball. He said

'black' and potted the pink with it. I said it was a foul, but he said he was allowed to do it. Who is right?
Answer: You can pot the ball 'on' with the free ball at any time, so it is a legal shot and the pink stays down. Six points

scored. By the way (and many old hands do not know this), you can also pot both balls in one shot, but only the pink is

scored. Black comes up again.

Question 2 (from a player in Saudi Arabia). I was considering buying a more costly cue because I believe that a more costly cue supposedly uses a better/different material, which I hope will be smooth on the bridge because I have sweaty palms

and in a way it affects my cue action/feathering. Do you think a different cue would give me different results? I've tried

using a cloth to wipe after every break and I've even tried washing my hands after every frame but still it doesn't help. Sandpaper would not be good would it? So how does a new cue sound?
Answer: I don't think a new cue is necessarily the answer to your problem. Probably the climate has more to do with it than anything else. Most cues are made of either ash or maple, so the material won't be very different. There are various

methods of keeping a cue smooth: talcum powder, a dry/damp cloth (experiment), special sprays, e.g. Cue Glide, or a

glove on the bridge hand, but most experts do not recommend sandpaper, although I usually take the varnish off a new

cue. See the posts at under 'snooker' about this. However, try a new cue by all means, but ask to play with

it first if possible.

Question 3. What are the rules for Snooker Plus (has two additional colour balls)? 
Answer: Snooker Plus was played a lot by Joe Davis and other old-time professionals, mainly because they had more

variety and could score bigger breaks! It was shown occasionally on TV in the UK. There are two extra balls - the orange (8 points) and the purple (10 points). Basic rules are the same as for normal snooker, with the order of colours in sequence: yellow, green, brown, blue, pink, black, orange and purple. I append below an extract from Snooker Scene (with

acknowledgement to Clive Everton and Mike Young for digging it out): "Snooker Plus was a desperate measure

introduced in 1959 to inject new interest into the professional game in the depths of its darkest depression. Two extra

colours, orange, counting eight and spotted midway between blue and pink, and purple, counting ten and spotted

midway between blue and brown, were added. Joe Davis (multiple World Champion on his own terms) made a break of

108 the first time this game was unveiled in public. The highest recorded break was 156 by Jack Rea, well short of the maximum, 210. The Composition Billiard Ball Supply Co. saw the innovation as a stimulus for sales. Davis was contracted to them. The public recognised the game for the gimmick it was and it sank without trace."

Question 4. What are the rules of Volunteer Snooker?
Answer: This game was a forerunner of present-day snooker. Thanks again to Mike Young for the research and with acknowledgement to the "Know the Game" Series, these are the basic rules: 
Volunteer snooker is a variation of the normal snooker game which is easy to play and appeals to those who have no wish

to master the real game. The balls are set out exactly as in snooker but whereas in snooker the player's task is to pot a

red and then a colour, and when reds are all potted, the colours in rotation, in volunteer snooker, after potting a red and

then a colour the player may take another colour out of its proper order; this colour must be named and is then said to

have been "volunteered"; by the player. For example, suppose you have potted a red and pink, you may now declare or volunteer any other colour you wish by naming it. This ball would, of course, be the easiest one to pot after the pink. If you

fail to pot your volunteered ball you forfeit its value (7 if black, 6 if pink, 5 blue etc.) to your opponent. This risk naturally imparts an extra element of expectancy to the game. If, however, you pot the volunteered ball three times in succession in the same turn it remains off the table until the next stroke. For this next stroke a red or any colour may be

chosen and it is "free". That is, there is no penalty if you fail to pot it. You may not "volunteer" a ball until you have lawfully potted a red in each visit or turn at the table. If a player who lawfully pockets the last red ball pockets any pool ball by his

next stroke, the latter ball is respotted. A red ball is always free, that is you may play on it. If the reds are all off the table

then the next ball to be played is the ball which is on.


Question 5. Hi, I was wondering if you can handicap snooker? 
Answer: You can certainly handicap snooker players, but you have to have a good idea of each player's standard before

you start. It is usual to handicap the best player as scratch (no start) and, depending on the worst player's standard, you

can go up to +45 or even higher. It has been known for some players to receive as much as +60, but it may be difficult

to give this sort of start in one frame. We handicap in our local league between -21 (really goo)and +45, so the weakest

player would sometimes get 60+ points from the best! If you can be more specific about your question, (i.e. what sort of

competition you want to handicap) I may be able to help further.


Question 6. When playing the last red, the shooter pockets the red and the cue ball. Does the next player have to play the yellow or does he/she get a free ball?

Answer: When the last red is potted, it stays down, of course, and because the cue-ball has gone in-off it is a foul stroke,

four points away, and the yellow is then played from hand. A free ball would only come into effect if the next player

were then unable to see the yellow full-ball from hand (the D), in which case he/she could play any other colour as a

free ball (two points) followed by the yellow if the free ball is potted.

Question 7. Hi snookermag! My name is Keith Stehl and I have a small pool room in Ottawa,Il. with two snooker tables

5x10's. My customers would like to have a snooker league but we don't know how to handicap it. I had sent you some

e-mail and to hear from you was great to find out that snooker can be handicapped. I was wondering if you could give

me a breakdown on how to set up handicaps and how many games do you play in each set of players? Thank you for

your help. My friends will glad to hear about a league. Keith

Answer: You did not tell me how many players you have for your League, and this is needed if you want to play purely

on a League basis, in order to fixture the matches. You can play as a League or a Ladder, a Ladder would allow new

players to enter too, whereas a League would be limited to those registering at the beginning. You would need to

know the standard of each player you handicapped, otherwise someone would 'get in too easy' and walk away with it!

It's a bit complicated! Let me know more details and I'll give you some help on setting it up - I'll even provide the fixtures

if you give me the names - we like to help at Cornwall Snooker Scene!

I have a separate page on Fixturing the Leagues here.

To see more Questions and Answers, click here. This will take you to a page on my old site.