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Catwalk
05-25-2011, 05:24 PM
Over the past few years I've been tinkering with rules for a new pool game which combines what I love about pool games with some elements from Snooker and a few other billiards games. I decided a few days ago that the game was about complete and came up with the name Snooker-Ball because that gives people a good idea of what it's about. I'm hoping other players will find this game interesting and spread it around, I think it has a lot to offer. Please let me know if you spot any mistakes or omissions in the ruleset, or if any of it is unclear. Rules are as follows:

Outline
You score points according to the value of the ball, 60 points wins. All shots must be called when you enter the table. You only get as many shots as you call when entering the table, and should always try to end your run with a safety.

Break
Same as in Straight Pool, except you are not allowed to call a ball.

Foul
You foul same way as in 8-Ball. The opponent gets ball-in-hand behind either the headstring or the footstring and has to hit a ball on the other half of the table. He may also opt to leave the ball where it is. There is no sanction for making balls in the wrong pocket.

Calling
When you enter the table you must call all shots you intend to make, including pockets for those shots. You don't have to contact the called ball first on a given shot, and you're allowed to cancel your break and play a safety at any time (off of any ball). You must complete your run in order to score, if you fail to make all called shots in correct order you get zero points and any sunk balls are respotted. Gentleman's rules apply to calling, if you forget to call anything and make a ball (with obvious intent), your round ends and you score for that ball.

Scoring
- Any foul gives a 2 point penalty and a 2 point reward for the opponent. 3 fouls in a row gives a 10 point penalty.
- Any called ball sunk correctly gives its value in points.
- When making a run, you get a bonus. A 2-ball run gives +1 point, 3 balls give +3 points, 4 ball gives +6 points, 5 balls give +10 points and so on. These extra points are also subtracted from your opponent's score.
- If you scratch on a shot you still score as usual if relevant, with the foul penalty applied.

Respotting
If your opponent makes any balls in the wrong pocket or only completes part of his run, you get to respot those balls when you enter the table. They may be spotted by any rail at any diamond, excluding the diamonds closest to the corner pockets.

Etiquette
Making fun of your opponent when he screws up something easy (especially if it costs him a bazillion points) or gets too greedy on a run is not mandatory, but encouraged. If your opponent intentionally moves balls around on the table, whack him on the head, subtract however many points you deem fair and try to move the balls back where they were


I wanted to accomplish a few different things with this game:
1) Less luck
2) More focus on risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis
3) More interaction between players
4) More focus on defensive play, while keeping offensive play a viable option
5) More rewards for outstanding plays

I don't generally enjoy games with a lot of luck, and that's one of the reasons I like pool. It's a game based on skill with enough unpredictable to keep it interesting. Yet luck can play a big part in individual games from time to time, especially in the form of where the cue-ball ends up when you fail your shot. At the highest level, players are able to play offensively and defensively at the same time, but below that level it's more a matter of chance. Luck is also a big factor (especially in 8-ball) whenever your position ends up differently than you wanted and you either happen to have a shot there or you're screwed. Breaking up a cluster is also fairly chaotic, although there are ways around it. Many players feel differently about luck and see it as a natural and interesting part of games, I have no problem with that.

In Snooker-Ball, the point system means that you always have to hold the risks up against the rewards. You may be encouraged to go for a harder shot than you'd usually go for because it gives you a higher reward. You need to know your limitations, if call a run that's too big or too difficult you risk ending up with zero points where you probably could have had some. And if the opponent gets to spot three balls when he enters the table, playing a safety on him becomes really difficult. At the same time, if you play too cautiously you might pass up opportunities to win the game.

One thing that frustrates me in high level matches (of which I did play a few, although I'm by no means anywhere near pro) is that you often play more against yourself than the opponent. This ties in with the comments about luck above. Snooker-Ball forces a lot of interaction between players because of the limited number of shots you get, and encourages players to leave deliberate safeties for your opponent rather than going all out offense and shrugging off the occasional miss because it's worthwhile to play offensively. I was inspired by the Danish pin game of Cobbler, where you only get one shot at a time and need to make the most of it. For a while I played Snooker-Ball the same way, limiting players to one shot at a time with no option to make a run. This had some big downsides, the game's pace was a lot slower and it was too difficult to make a comeback when you were behind. It also didn't feel quite like pool without any offensive position play, and there was little chance to truly excel.

Due to the slower pace and high level of interaction, each game feels like a match in itself, much like Snooker. This appeals a lot to me and reminds me of what pool was like back when I sucked horribly and played other players at the same level. This game is not for beginners, and makes little sense unless both players have the mindset and skill to play defensively.

EDIT: Just read a comment in the Fatal Flaw thread saying that chess is boring to watch because you can only see which moves they make, not the reasoning behind them. Snooker-Ball can be quite fun to watch because it's easy to follow what a player is doing. You can see exactly what he's trying to do and how well he's able to execute his plan. And it has a pretty nice mix of slow and fast, games typically last 10-15 minutes between players at a decent level.

I hope you'll try it out, I'd love to get more feedback on it! I have no intentions of copyrighting it or whatever, you may use it freely for any purpose. I only ask that you credit me with its creation if you spread it around or use it for local tournaments.

Extra credits go to Flip, Ray and Jim from Slim's Pool Palace in Amarillo for moral support and constructive criticism :)

Renegade_56
05-25-2011, 05:50 PM
I don't generally enjoy games with a lot of luck, and that's one of the reasons I like pool. It's a game based on skill with enough unpredictable to keep it interesting. Yet luck can play a big part in individual games from time to time, especially in the form of where the cue-ball ends up when you fail your shot. At the highest level, players are able to play offensively and defensively at the same time, but below that level it's more a matter of chance.

not to criticize, but this sounds like you need a good dose of one pocket with a good knowledgeable one pocket player. No game offers more challenge, imo,,,,,,,,have fun

Catwalk
05-25-2011, 06:01 PM
I did in fact play a few games of One Pocket this past week with one of the players I was playtesting Snooker-Ball with, and I had fun with it. It does indeed deal with many of the issues I raised in my post, and I consider it a good game. I'm not too keen on the focus on bank and kick shots, mainly for the selfish reason that I suck at those :) And I actually find the game too complicated to strategize about, I find Snooker-Ball simpler to get an overview of.

Catwalk
06-19-2011, 06:01 AM
Two small rules updates:

Scoring
I decided to remove the bonus points for making a run in an effort to streamline scoring, it got a little tricky to keep track of. Runs are sufficiently rewarded without a bonus.

Safety
The last shot of a run is always considered a safety without having to call it. If you decide to abort your run and play a safety without going for the ball, you have to call it. If your opponent misses a shot on which he didn't call a safety, you may choose to play a safety with no requirements to hit a ball or a rail. In other words, you may play a pushout that your opponent has to take. You may also take the shot where it's at, of course.