Guidance on too-close-to-call shots

Bob Jewett

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There has been a lot of discussion about the foul/fair call on SVB in the UK Open. He made a hit on the 3 ball that looked like a typical ticky situation.

For that particular position and paths of the balls, there were three possibilities that showed up in the discussion. Only the least probable could be considered a foul, and that was that the cue ball entered the cushion and was still in the cushion when it hit the 3 ball.

The current guidance to the ref for how to rule in such a situation is limited. Here is the only regulation that seems to apply:

27. SPLIT HITS​

If the cue ball strikes a legal object ball and a non-legal object ball at approximately the same instant, and it cannot be determined which ball was hit first, it will be assumed that the legal target was struck first.​
This establishes a precedent that shots that cannot be decided clearly as to fair/foul are assumed to be fair. The discussion is limited to split hits -- which ball first situation -- but the idea can be extended to other situations where it is simply not possible to tell from observation or knowledge of the action of the balls whether a foul occurred.

A second area where the written guidance is not adequate in the current rules/regulations is about video review and other resources the referee might use in making a call. The only such guidance is for an area referee, not for a match referee, in Regulation 5, which reads in part:

If a dispute arises between two players in an unrefereed match, and the area referee is asked to make a decision without having seen the cause of the dispute, he should be careful to understand the situation as completely as possible. This might include asking trusted witnesses, reviewing video tapes, or reenacting the shot. If the area referee is asked to determine whether a foul occurred and there is no evidence of the foul except the claim of one player while the other player claims that there was no foul, then it is assumed that no foul occurred.​

While it is fairly standard in televised matches to review problematic calls by looking at the video recording, there is no guidance in the regulations for the referee to do so.
 
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dr_dave

Instructional Author
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Here are the Guidelines from my recent video on this topic:

- A shot is legal unless there is clear visual evidence of a foul.
- The evidence can be direct, or indirect based on motion of balls.
- If video review is used to resolve an uncertain or questioned call, the initial call has no impact on the final ruling.
- If evidence of a foul is found, the shot is a foul.
- If evidence for a good hit is found, the shot is called good.
- And if it is too close to call, the benefit of the doubt goes to the shooter, and the shot is still called good.
 

Poolplaya9

Tellin' it like it is...
Silver Member
- If evidence of a foul is found, the shot is a foul.
- If evidence for a good hit is found, the shot is called good.
For reasons explained in the post linked to and quoted below, it seems to me that the above two rules aren't precise enough and allow too much room for confusion, misunderstanding, or argument. I would instead suggest replacing them with the following single rule: "if a foul cannot be determined conclusively, or if there is some possibility for a good hit to have actually occurred, then the shot cannot be ruled a foul and must be treated as good."

"I think the wording of these two leaves room for confusion or argument. As to the first one, the ref that incorrectly called Shane's shot would often just feel and say "I had evidence, my eyes, and I think I saw the cue ball hit the rail before the three and with no second rail contact afterward, so since there is evidence of a foul the shot is a foul". That misinterpretation obviously wouldn't be good. I don't like "preponderance of the evidence" as the standard either because he will make the same argument, "looked like a bad hit to my eyes, don't see any evidence saying it was a good hit (or that evidence is less compelling than what I think my eyes saw) so it meets the preponderance threshold". I also don't think the standard should be "compelling evidence" for essentially the same reasons, he will feel what his eyes think they saw was compelling enough for him. The poorer the ref, the more issue that wording would be likely to cause IMO.

As for the second line, I'm not sure "evidence" is the appropriate word here because the ref would just argue "I didn't have any evidence that it was good so I stuck with what it looked like to my eyes and it looked more like a foul to me". The possibility that it could have been a good hit, and evidence for a good hit, are of course two very different things and there will be situations where the ref will feel that the former is true but not the latter (but the rule is using the latter even though the spirit of the rule was intended to be more aligned with the former) and so I like the use of the word "possibility" or the like here more than "evidence".

I think something along the lines of the following single line would best replace both of the above lines: 'if a foul cannot be determined conclusively, or if there is some possibility for a good hit to have actually occurred, then the shot cannot be ruled a foul and must be treated as good.'"
 

dr_dave

Instructional Author
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I think something along the lines of the following single line would best replace both of the above lines: 'if a foul cannot be determined conclusively, or if there is some possibility for a good hit to have actually occurred, then the shot cannot be ruled a foul and must be treated as good.'"

That sounds like a good starting point to me.
 

dr_dave

Instructional Author
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Silver Member
I think something along the lines of the following single line would best replace both of the above lines: 'if a foul cannot be determined conclusively, or if there is some possibility for a good hit to have actually occurred, then the shot cannot be ruled a foul and must be treated as good.'"

That sounds like a good starting point to me.

Here's an alternative for possible wording suggested on Facebook:

A shot is presumed to be legal absent clear and convincing evidence of a foul.
 

Bob Jewett

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I think a better wording is:

If a shot could have resulted from either a fair shot or a foul shot and the referee cannot determine which it was, the shot is ruled fair.
 

Poolplaya9

Tellin' it like it is...
Silver Member
Here's an alternative for possible wording suggested on Facebook:

A shot is presumed to be legal absent clear and convincing evidence of a foul.
That would seem to give the ref too much discretion. For example, the ref in the video in the post below would likely just say "that it was a foul was clear and convincing to me, which is why I called it, so a foul it is" and the rule above as worded would not seem to prevent that line of thought.
I think a better wording is:

If a shot could have resulted from either a fair shot or a foul shot and the referee cannot determine which it was, the shot is ruled fair.
It's more professional sounding but what I don't like about it is that it is just vague enough to allow someone to misinterpret that as saying if either could be possible but you still feel you can make a ruling one way or the other, then making the ruling is allowed. I can just see Josh's ref from the video link above trying to say "while it is possible I saw it wrong and that the it being a good hit is possible, I can only go by what my eyes tell me and my eyes are seeing a foul so I think I can go ahead and make the determination that it was a foul so foul it is".

There may be no choice but to word it along those lines though as my wording may not be allowing for any doubt which might be unrealistic. I would prefer to see something better though.
 

justnum

Redhawk PI
Silver Member
In other sports a decision is based on a majority of refs available.

Who has ultimate say in these too close to call hits, tournament director?

The situation I am thinking is a ref makes a bad call, then a player appeals or calls for a second opinion. The second opinion being from the tournament director. Is requesting a second opinion worth putting in the rule book?
 

Bob Jewett

AZB Osmium Member
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In other sports a decision is based on a majority of refs available.

Who has ultimate say in these too close to call hits, tournament director?

The situation I am thinking is a ref makes a bad call, then a player appeals or calls for a second opinion. The second opinion being from the tournament director. Is requesting a second opinion worth putting in the rule book?
The referee is always the person who determines matters of fact under the current rules. He is free to consult as he sees fit.
 

CocoboloCowboy

Cowboys are my hero's
Silver Member
The referee is always the person who determines matters of fact under the current rules. He is free to consult as he sees fit.


Pool Tournaments are not captured by many different cameras like say an NFL game. Referee watched shot, made call on what they saw.

Referee are human and not perfect machines.

Want perfect world find UTOPIA. BTW no UTOPIA, yes a street banned Utopia is in many places.

Referee is final decision maker.
 

justnum

Redhawk PI
Silver Member
Should there be a universal hand signal to call for a TD.

This way players can avoid any sharking during the request process. Some players are not meant to talk to each other. As well a hand signal for a players silent recognition of the request.

Its a way to police hand flipping and develop billiard codes.

Bet 100 on SVBs call he would cash in.

7. PROTEST RULING​

If a player needs a decision to be taken, the first person to be contacted is the referee. The referee will form his decision by all means that seem suitable to him. If the player wants to protest against that ruling, he may contact the head referee and after that the tournament director. In any regular tournament, the tournament director’s decision is binding and final. In the WPA World Championships, there may be a further appeal to the WPA Sports Director, if he is present. A deposit of $100 from the protestor is required for such an appeal and it will be forfeited in case of an adverse final decision.

A player is allowed to ask for a reconsideration of a factual decision by the referee only one time. If he asks for reconsideration of the same matter a second time, it will be treated as unsportsmanlike conduct

 
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