Pool specialties and rules of the game

MBM Biliardi beyond design is passion and sport


It is very popular in the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and India, where it was born in 1875 by British officers stationed in Jubbalpore, forced to play endless games of english pool in the rainy season ( game of series on the alternation of carambola and holes). So they decided to invent a new game that they called “black pool”, then redifined “snooker”, which was the nickname given in a derogatory sense to the cadets of the Wollowich Military Academy. Of all the specialties of billiards it is the one that has been able to adapt to the changing tastes of the public and today anjoys exceptional popularity also in Europe, particularly in the United Kingdom.

Rules and methods of play. – The pool table has six holes. In ‘Grand Match’ matches, the standard competition table measures are 3.50 x 1.75 m; the external dimensions are 3.76 x 2.00 m. The weight of the billiards is about 1700 kg, the height of the playing surface from the floor is between 85 and 87.5 cm. The play surface, which is not heated, is made of slate, 5 cm thick and weighing 1000 kg. In normal competitions the competition table is 2.84 x 1.42 m. In addition to the white sash, 21 colored balls are used: the 15 red, not numbered, are placed in a wooden frame, in the shape of a pyramid or triangle, called a ‘pack’ and have a value of 1 point; the white swing is not worth points, the yellow is worth 2, the green 3, the brown 4, the blue 5, the rose 6 and the black 7.

Snooker is a game of series, and for this reason whoever is at the bar remains on the table until they make a mistake. The aim is to put the balls in the hole following this sequence: first a red one, then a colored one, repeating the mechanism until the 15 red balls are exhausted (the other balls once pocketed are put back in their place and can be hit later, always being to the rule), then the rest in the following order: yellow, green, brown, blue, pink and black. The maximum score is 147 points. There is not only the attack tactic, but also the defense one which makes the path difficult for the strongest hitters, even if the spectacle is that of the balls entering the hole.


The specialty was made famous by Robert Rossen’s American film The hustler (1961; The bully), in which Paul Newman challenges the great American champion Rudolph Wanderone junior, known as ‘Minnesota Fats’, played by Jackie Gleason.

In the nineteenth century this game was called ‘4 ball game’, a more elaborate version of the ‘3 ball game’ played in England. It was the French champion Claudius Berger, in the middle of the Civil War (1861-65), who imported carom and massé to the United States, which in Europe were played on tables without holes and smaller than the English ones. In the wake of this pioneer, other titled players such as Francois Ubassy, ​​called ‘the ferret’, Pierre Carme, A.P. Rudolphe and Albert Garnier, most skilled carambolists (Garnier will be the first world champion in 1873), landed in America and promoted the game.

It was certainly an engaging game but also a very elaborate one, which needed tweaking. The transformation was not immediate. Only around 1870 the English rules were supplanted by the ‘4 ball game’ with the adoption of 10 x 5 foot tables, the classic carom tables, without holes, against those of 12 x 6, coming from the British Isles. The Americans became passionate and invested a lot. The specialty enjoyed a long period of prosperity, with world championships and challenges among the best.

Rules, specialties and game modes. – The tables are distinguished in promotional measures of 2.20 x 1.10 m; for races of 2.54 x 1.27 m. They all have six holes located at the four corners and in the middle of the long banks. The best known specialties of the pool are: ‘8 ball-8th pool’, ‘American continuous pool 14.1’, ‘9 ball’, ‘one pocket’ and ‘rotation’. The 8 ball-8th pool is very popular at an amateur level, due to its simplicity. You need to pocket a series of balls from 1 to 7, or from 9 to 15 and the black ball always by means of the cue ball. The player is entitled to continue shooting until he produces holes. The winner is whoever manages to pocket their series and lastly the black ball that wins the game.

The American continuo 14.1, also known in Italy as ‘125’, was for many years the main specialty, that of the official world championships from 1878 to 1990. There are 16 balls, one of which is white, 7 colored with bands, 7 of a different color and 1 black numbered 8. Excluding the cue ball, the other 15 must be placed in the triangle according to a precise prospect. the black one in the center, while on the peripheral sides the colored ones and those with the band alternate. In this game you must always declare the ball to hit and the hole to be sent to. After the second round (rack) the last ball left in play is missing from the triangle, pocketed by the cue which, continuing its run, opens the new triangle and allows the continuation of the series. The arrangement of the balls in the triangle also varies.

The 9 ball game includes 10 balls, nine numbered and one cue ball. It is currently the most practiced in the world and in Italy. Since 1988 it is the specialty that assigns the world title, also because it is considered very suitable for television times. The decisive ball is the 9, which is why, if they pocket the eight balls against none of the rival, they can still lose. The goal of the game is therefore to legally pocket 9. The one pocket specialty, usually reserved for professionals, is a strictly defensive game reminiscent of chess. The table has only one hole in which the eight balls arranged randomly on the billiard must end up. The indirect shots, called ‘football’ shots, are decisive. The sequence of the balls is chosen by the player at the start of the game. Rotation is one of the oldest games, still very popular. The balls on the table are 15 and all numbered; the points are equal to their number. You must post in ascending order, starting from number 1. The winner is the one who reaches 61 points first.



The carom, played on a table without holes, represents the artistic aspect of the game of billiards. The basis of the game is the carom, that is the figure or the track, internationally coded, that the player must perform. The tests granted are three; the figures are numerous: only the artistic carom provides 68 and each figure has a coefficient of difficulty that determines the score.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, in America, where carom professionals were considered great artists of this game, new rules were studied to make the specialty more and more challenging, in particular the American series prepared by the Canadian brothers Cyrille and Joseph Dion, called ‘quadro 45/2’, which was baptized at the Concert Hall of Madison Square Garden in New York from 30 March to 4 April 1896, with the first official tournament won by the Frenchman Frank C. Yves, with an average of 24.2 and the best series of 200.

Rules, specialties and game modes. – The carom is played on a table without holes, 2.84 m long and 1.42 m wide, with two white balls and one red. One of the two white ones must be marked with two opposite dots or circles. The game consists in hitting the red ball and the opponent’s ball with one’s own white ball with a direct or indirect shot; carom is made when the player’s ball comes into contact with the other two, according to the rules established for the various specialties. Each carom is worth one point and is scored only when the three balls have stopped without a foul being committed; if you do carom you have the right to make another shot, in case of error the shot passes to the opponent.

There are eight specialties of star fruit recognized in Europe: free, framework 47/1, framework 47/2, framework 81/1, framework 81/2 – which present some variations regarding the number and methods of carom in the corner interdiction area-, one-sided, three-sided, artistic (classic fantasy) or artistic billiards. In the one-sided specialty, the player’s ball must touch at least one bank before making a carom; in the three-way, the striking ball must touch three or more banks before hitting the target ball; in the artistic specialty, which requires more suitable ivory balls than synthetic ones, the player performs carom balls of varying difficulty according to a program of figures divided into groups, established by the CEB.

International 5 pins

Today in Italy the International 5 pins specialty is the most practiced and popular, with matches that in the official international competitions stop at 50 points at the best of five or seven matches, against 500 points of the goriziana specialty (double castle of nine pins).Rules and methods of play.

The billiards on which the 5 quilles specialty is played, called the ‘International match’, has no holes, 2.48 m long, 1.42 m wide; the sides in profiled rubber are from 37 to 38 mm high. The wooden edge where the rubber profile is fixed is 12.5 cm wide. The height of the playing surface must be between 75 and 80 cm.

The cloth is plain, green, non-glossy, of the type approved by the UMB. The ‘diamonds’ must be affixed along the horizontal surface, indelible marks at intervals corresponding to 1/8 of the length of the playing field, which must be left strictly free. The heating of the billiard table must be ensured according to the environmental situation. The billiard table must be adequately lit by four lights at a height between 90 and 95 cm from the playing surface.

Three different colored balls are used (white, yellow and red) with a diameter of 61.5 mm and a weight between 205 and 215 g. The red ball acts as a cue ball. The quilles, that are the skittles, are five: one red, the other white or yellow, 25 mm high. They must be placed in the center of the table, placed in a cross shape, whose seat is indicated by disks, spaced 9.9 mm each. The set of pins located in the center is called ‘castle’. There is also a centerline. A playing area must also be respected in the execution of ‘ball in hand’ shots in which at least one foot of the player must remain within the sideline.

The match begins with the player who won the “shot” by making the ball closest to the lower short edge stop. The first shot at the jack does not involve scoring.In national competitions the score ranges from 120 to 130 points per game, to 150 for pair competitions, while in international ones, the best of five games reaches 50 points. The game ends as soon as a player reaches or exceeds the set score. The shot must be made with the tip of the cue: only the end part of leather must come into contact with the ball. No shooting is allowed, in which case a penalty is incurred.

Points are valid when: the cue ball touches the opponent’s one and it knocks down the pins; the cue ball touches the opponent who meets the cue ball and knocks down the pins. Points are lost when: you hit the pins with your own ball; an infringement is committed while scoring valid points.

A version of the 5 pin is the ‘Goriziana 9 pin’, called ‘furlana’ in Veneto, which has the same rules, but the scores of the pins and the cue ball change; the points made with indirect shots (from the bank) are worth double. While maintaining the same game root, other diversifications with a regional vocation coexist, such as the ‘bazzica’ (Lombard and southern), the ‘carolina’, the ‘Bandiera’, the ‘poule’ and the ‘palito malo’ (“bad pin ”), a game imported by the Italians to Argentina. Often the billiards where these specialties are played still have holes.




When the game was born, in the 1920s, the bar managers relegated it to smaller tables, as well as more run down. The rules have undergone radical changes in recent years, suggested by the need to adapt to a show in tune with the new needs, especially television ones, which require fast and intense competitions.

For this reason the technical aspects do not differ from those of the 5 quilles: table without holes, layout of the castle, reduced scores and fast rhythms. In 1997 the first World Championship was held in Milan, attended by 16 nations, won by Juri Minoccheri from Rimini. Other similar games are the ‘boccettone alla veneta’, the ‘boccettone alla siciliana’ and the ‘parisian’ practiced in Umbria, with the rules of the Goriziana, but without the use of the stick.Rules and methods of play.

The billiard table on which the Boccette specialty is played has the internal dimensions of 2.84 x 1.42 m in the international type without holes and of 2.70 x 1.35 m with six holes in the Italian type. The specialty is played with eight balls, four red and four white, with a diameter from 57 to 59 mm, a blue ball of 54 mm, and five pins, one of which is red, located in the center of the billiard table and not exceeding the height. to 20 mm.

A center line divides the two quadrants of the playing surface; pellet and flasks are defined as ‘failable’ only when their entire circumference exceeds the centerline within the upper square. At the beginning of each game, the right to choose the color of the bottles and to grab the ball rests with the player who, by throwing a bottle against the high bank, provides without fail the best approach to the low bank. The players must score valid points by knocking down pins with the cue ball or with the opponent’s bottles or by putting their own bottles close to the cue ball, applying the rules of the game, until the established score is reached. The value of the five pins is 2 points for the whites and 4 for the red center; if the red pin is knocked down alone with the complete castle it is worth 5 points. Each bottle that falls into a hole yields 2 points.


it is a declared shot specialty of billiards, more specifically of the pool. The 15 balls with which to play differ from each other in 2 typesː broken or whole, 8 completely colored and 7 with a wide line of color in the center.

In addition to the chromatic difference, the balls are also recognized through the unique numbering present on them, the “full” balls from n ° 1 to n ° 7, the “half” balls from n ° 9 to n ° 15. The game equipment is completed by two other balls: the n ° 8, which is black and is considered neither “full” nor “half”, and the cue ball (with a white background) hit by the player through the billiard cue.

At the beginning of the game the colored and numbered balls are grouped in a triangle in the upper half of the game table in a fixed position and composition with the ball n ° 8 in the center, and it will be decided which of the two players will perform the “split” or break initial (i.e. scatter the balls with a sharp blow).

Once the break has been made, the game is called “open” and the category of “full” or “half” balls is assigned to the first player who “regularly” pockets a ball. For a pocket to be considered legal, the player must declare the ball he intends to pocket, the hole in which he intends to pocket it and must not commit any foul during the same round. It should be noted that no hole during an opening shot

can be considered regular, and consequently the game is always open after the opening shot, even if one or more balls fall into the hole. From the assignment of the category, the player has the obligation to hit one of his balls first and has the right to remain at the table as long as he continues to pocket his balls on a regular basis.

Once a player has pocketed all seven of his balls (“full” or “half”), he will be able to hit and pocket the 8 ball, but not in the same hole previously declared by the opponent, winning the victory. In the United States there is a special rule: victory is achieved by pocketing the n ° 8 ball during the initial break.

The 8 ball must be placed in the same hole where the last striped or striped ball was inserted and, if the wrong hole is missed, this implies defeat. The game is lost even if the player, while managing to pocket the black 8 ball in the hole declared, accidentally pocket the white ball. In some variants again, the ball must be pocketed as a “kick”, that is, by having your ball hit the edge before hitting the ball.


Russian Pyramid

The Russian Pyramid Billiard (in Russian Русский бильярд), known in Italian as the Russian pyramid, is a billiard specialty widespread especially in the countries of the former Soviet Union. It is played on a 284 x 142 cm pool table with narrow holes (reduced form of a snooker table) and uses 16 balls, of which 15 are white and numbered 1 to 15 and the remaining ball (used as a cue ball) it has a different color and is not numbered.

The fifteen balls are gathered in the shape of a triangle with the vertex pointed along the back line, and the cue ball is placed anywhere on the outer half of the quadrant opposite the other balls. You have to declare the ball to hit and where to pocket it.

Only at the moment of the break (split) this rule is not applied and if balls are pocketed, they will be put back into play and the player continues his turn without having committed a foul. The balls are worth according to their number, but the nº 1 ball is worth 11 points: since adding the score of each ball you get 130, to win a game you must total a score equal to or greater than 66 by hitting and pocketing as many balls regularly possible; when only the cue ball and a numbered white ball remain on the table, the latter is worth 10 points regardless of its number. In case of a tie (65-65) the game is drawn.

If balls other than the declared ball are pocketed, they will be repositioned on the table (possibly including the declared ball if it is also pocketed), and this action is not considered a penalty foul. The player continues until he rolls correctly. Another possibility is that the cue ball (worthless) can also be pocketed as a diversion to continue the turn in case of poor possibility of pocketing other balls, but only after having regularly hit the declared ball.

Pocketed, the cue ball must be put back into play at any point in the outer quadrant of the opposite half of the ball declared to be hit later.


La Goriziana (also called international nine-pin) is an Italian billiard game specialty. The table is 284 x 142 cm, regulation without holes, and the game is played with three balls, all of the same diameter in white, yellow and red.

The white and yellow are those used by the player, while the red one acts as a cue ball. Until the mid-1980s in Europe it was instead more common to use billiards equipped with 6 narrow holes (one for each corner and one placed in the middle of each long side) and the use of 2 large balls (up to the ’60 the balls were ivory, now in artificial resin) of a light white color, used by the players, and a third smaller one, but with the same color as a cue ball. Unlike the five pin game specialty arranged in a cross in the center of the table, the Goriziana specialty has nine.

The game is played by 2 teams of players (usually made up of 1 or 2 players per team) who, after placing the balls in the fixed starting position, proceed with the game shots, always alternating between the 2 teams. The aim of the game is to hit your own ball with the cue, which must touch the opposing ball (directly or on the side), which must knock down the castle. The cue ball can be touched by both your own and the opposing ball, but only after your own ball has hit the opposing ball.

Unlike in American billiards, if a player scores points he does not make another shot in a row, but the turn passes to the opponent. The game ends when the score set by the players at the start of the game (or by the game referee) is reached; the points are obtained by knocking down the pins or hitting the cue ball. The main difference with respect to the five-pin Italian specialty is the doubling of the points obtained or lost at each shot in the event that it is possible to hit the opposing ball with an indirect shot, by first hitting at least one side of the billiard table before validly hit the opponent’s ball.

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