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Free Ball

Postby rontherocket

Can anyone answer the following. It cropped up recently in a game and caused quite a bit of controversy:
All the reds have been potted and just the colours are left and a free ball to be taken. There is the yellow ball over a pocket and the green ball next to it. The green ball is nominated for the free ball. The green ball is hit and knocks the yellow ball in. Is this 2 points or a foul?

Re: Free Ball

Postby acesinc

Quick answer: fair stroke, 2 points, yellow stays in pocket, green is now the ball on.

If that is all you want/need, stop reading. If your interest is deeper, read on.

Free ball is possibly the least well understood Rule of Snooker, more so I believe than Foul and a Miss. Therefore, I will take this opportunity to pontificate on the subject. The Free Ball rule is simple enough in its most basic form, but there are subtle nuances to it (such as the example) which can easily become confusing. So to make every circumstance of Free Ball absolutely clear, it is easiest to write about it using a sort of a code language.

So from this point on, when referring to any ball on, I will refer to it in one of three possible ways (I will use red for example, but it might be any colour): first is red, meaning an actual red ball. Second is "red", meaning any free ball which is nominated in place of red. And third is RED, meaning the point value scored as a result of the pot of the red(s) and/or "red".

Confused? Hopefully, it will become clear...

So, if red is the ball on and a "red" is nominated, the striker MUST hit the free ball first. If for instance, a red and a possible "red" are very close together, the striker CANNOT nominate the "red" then just shoot in that direction figuring that it doesn't matter which ball is struck first. If the free ball is nominated, then the red is struck first, it is a foul. This is always the case. If you call a free ball, you must make contact with that free ball first as anything else is a foul.

If a "red" is nominated, legally struck first, then the "red" and/or another red fall into a pocket, then all RED points are scored. For instance, free ball, yellow is called as "red", it can be played as a plant into another red which is potted, 1 RED is scored. Perhaps the yellow "red" is potted and another red is also fluked on same stroke, score is 2 (for 2 REDS). However, this is ONLY true for reds, because in the usual course of play, it is possible to pot and score more than one red on a single stroke (three is the most that I have personally ever seen). This is not true with a colour.

On the other hand, if a "colour" is nominated for a free ball, the situation is similar BUT DIFFERENT. Using the OP's example, green is nominated as "yellow", and so must be struck first. There are three possible LEGAL strokes in which a ball or balls may be potted: 1) "yellow" is potted, score 2 (YELLOW), and the green is re-spotted, yellow is still the ball on, 2) "yellow" is planted (or white is cannoned) onto the yellow which is potted (OP's example), score 2 (YELLOW) and the yellow stays in pocket, green is now the ball on, and 3) "yellow" and yellow are both potted, score 2 (because only one YELLOW can possibly be scored in usual course of play), yellow remains in pocket, green is re-spotted and green is now the ball on.

1) above is how things normally happen. People tend to get confused when 2) or 3) happen.

Think of it this way....any colour may be legally potted one time and one time only (stays in pocket) in the final colour sequence (yellow-green-brown-blue-pink-black) but a "colour" can be potted and re-spotted any number of times when used as a free ball. Anytime a colour is legally potted in the final sequence, it stays off the table, whether it was potted directly, potted as a plant from a free ball, or potted in conjunction with the free ball, the only important factor being that it was potted in the course of a fair (non-foul) stroke.

Circumstance 3) above is most confusing because common sense says that if a red and a "red" score two points, then a yellow and a "yellow" should score four points. Right? But the difference is that in the usual course of play, it is possible to score multiple reds in a single stroke, but it is not possible to score multiple yellows in a single stroke, therefore multiple YELLOWS are not allowed even in the case of a free ball. I have also known a person or two to incorrectly believe that it is a foul to pot both the free ball and the natural ball (or, as the OP may be suggesting, to pot the natural ball after playing at the free ball). In the case of potting both, the free ball just acts as a dummy place holder...not a foul, but doesn't score any points either.

If you have made it this far, and if the above information makes sense to you, Congratulations! You are in the top one percent of the class! My referee's training instructor told me that it was not uncommon even for professional players to misinterpret this rule when faced with such a situation.

Re: Free Ball

Postby rontherocket

Many thanks Acesinc for the clarification. I certainly opened a can of worms! I have read your reply (and printed it off) several times and I think it is beginning to sink in. It has certainly opened my eyes on this aspect of the game!
Much obliged.
Ron

Re: Free Ball

Postby rudhran

Is it neccessary to play a free ball shot when a free ball situation is called by the refree?

Re: Free Ball

Postby acesinc

rudhran wrote:Is it neccessary to play a free ball shot when a free ball situation is called by the refree?


Absolutely NO. To explain in some depth...

Any time a foul of any kind occurs, the referee shall state "Foul!" At the time, the incoming striker has what are generally referred to as "the usual options" these being 1) He just plays his shot exactly as he would have anyway, i.e., if Red is Ball On, then he plays at Red, etc. 2) He has the option of putting the fouling player back in to play the table as it is, in other words, after the foul is declared if the incoming striker does not like the situation of the table (maybe because there are no pots available), then the incoming striker states, "Play again" and the fouling striker must then play the shot at hand whatever it is.

If instead the referee declares, "Foul! Free Ball." then the incoming striker still has the usual options as above, but now the incoming striker also has a third, special option whereby he can nominate a different colour as the Ball On for his stroke. This is ALWAYS an OPTION and whether the incoming striker chooses this option simply depends on the lie of the balls....he will play the Free Ball if he can see a good path to building a high scoring break. If there is a Red sitting in the jaws of a pocket, maybe he will ignore the Free Ball option and play the Red anyway. If there is no good scoring shot available, maybe he will put the opponent back in to play again (after all, he is snookered...that is why "Free Ball" was called in the first place. The incoming striker can choose any of these options at his discretion.
Last edited by acesinc on 10 Jan 2017, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Free Ball

Postby Dave66

If someone has just fouled and there's only the pink and black left on the table and it's a snooker, can you nominate the black and snooker behind it? This happened at our club last night and someone said that this is the only time it's allowed. Cheers.

Re: Free Ball

Postby acesinc

Dave66 wrote:If someone has just fouled and there's only the pink and black left on the table and it's a snooker, can you nominate the black and snooker behind it? This happened at our club last night and someone said that this is the only time it's allowed. Cheers.


Yes, this is a legal stroke, a specialty rule and the only time one is allowed to use the nominated Free Ball to snooker. The situation rarely crops up so it is a common source of confusion when it happens so for anyone who would like the evidence made clear, you can look up Section 3., Rule 12. (b) (ii).

Re: Free Ball

Postby Squasham

Evening,

Question - probably an easy answer for most...

Still got one red on the table, and a free ball is called. There is a yellow covering, but not fully covering the red. The player can see there is a chance of cutting in the remaining red to pot it but there is a chance they might hit the yellow.
Can they nominate the yellow ball to turn into a red and go for the last remaining red potting it? Will this be a foul as the nominate yellow “red” wasn’t struck first but a red was struck first?

Re: Free Ball

Postby acesinc

Squasham wrote:Evening,

Question - probably an easy answer for most...

Still got one red on the table, and a free ball is called. There is a yellow covering, but not fully covering the red. The player can see there is a chance of cutting in the remaining red to pot it but there is a chance they might hit the yellow.
Can they nominate the yellow ball to turn into a red and go for the last remaining red potting it? Will this be a foul as the nominate yellow “red” wasn’t struck first but a red was struck first?


As you described it, this would be a foul. When a Free Ball is nominated, then it MUST be the first ball struck. If any other ball is first to be struck (to include the "natural" ball for which the Free Ball is nominated), then a foul has occurred. The penalty will be four points or the value of the Ball On (whichever is higher). The penalty may also be higher if another higher value ball may have been involved in the foul stroke.

PS - You sound American. I am curious...there aren't many of us.

Re: Free Ball

Postby Joe k

Can someone answer this question please
With 1 red remaining in free ball situation the brown is nominated
It is then played onto the black which is potted
Is this a foul, I understood only the nominated ball became a red all others retained their value

Re: Free Ball

Postby acesinc

Joe k wrote:Can someone answer this question please
With 1 red remaining in free ball situation the brown is nominated
It is then played onto the black which is potted
Is this a foul, I understood only the nominated ball became a red all others retained their value


Merry Christmas, Joe!

The answer to your query should be obvious if you follow the common thread of logic that is the Rules of Snooker. When one nominates a "Free Ball" as determined by the table situation, that Free Ball effectively takes the place and value of whatever would be the natural "ball on". So in your case, the Brown is nominated in place of a Red. So think for a moment....what would happen if there were no Free Ball and one simply played a Red onto the Black which is then pocketed? Quite clearly, this is a foul, seven points away for pocketing a ball which is not on.

And so the rule is exactly the same for your Free Ball Brown situation. The Black ball is not on at the commencement of the stroke, therefore, if it is pocketed in the course of the stroke, it is a foul, seven points away.

As an aside, also take note then that in your scenario, the Black has not been "potted" as the stroke was foul. "Potted" is a term which is specifically defined as pocketing a ball in the course of a fair stroke. If a ball falls into a pocket illegally as in this case, the more proper term is "pocketed". If a ball has been properly "potted", then either the striker's turn will continue, or perhaps the frame has come to an end (as in potting the final Black to clear the table and stamping an end to the frame).

If I may say, it does sound like somebody fleeced you with incorrect information about this situation. I hope there was not a significant wager involved.

Re: Free Ball

Postby acesinc

Dan-cat wrote:Happy Christmas Acesinc, this place is a brighter for your knowledge and wonderful way of explaining the rules of our great game.


Thank you kindly, Dan. And this place is much happier for your wit and banter. Your posts always put a smile on my face. (My wife and I avoid using the common LOL when texting and instead invented our own IC which is "internal chuckle"....that content, happy feeling when something strikes us as pleasant.) I haven't been visiting the Island much lately as work is incredibly busy; a 180 degree turn from a year ago when I thought I might be going out of business. When I do pop in to SI now and again, my first clicks always go to Dan-Cat expecting to get my ICs.

If I interpreted one of your posts correctly, it sounds like you are in Spain visiting Mum for the Holidays. The Merriest of Christmases and Happiest of New Years to you and yours, Dan!

Re: Free Ball cheers and thanks for your answer

Postby Joe k

acesinc wrote:
Joe k wrote:Can someone answer this question please
With 1 red remaining in free ball situation the brown is nominated
It is then played onto the black which is potted
Is this a foul, I understood only the nominated ball became a red all others retained their value


Merry Christmas, Joe!

The answer to your query should be obvious if you follow the common thread of logic that is the Rules of Snooker. When one nominates a "Free Ball" as determined by the table situation, that Free Ball effectively takes the place and value of whatever would be the natural "ball on". So in your case, the Brown is nominated in place of a Red. So think for a moment....what would happen if there were no Free Ball and one simply played a Red onto the Black which is then pocketed? Quite clearly, this is a foul, seven points away for pocketing a ball which is not on.

And so the rule is exactly the same for your Free Ball Brown situation. The Black ball is not on at the commencement of the stroke, therefore, if it is pocketed in the course of the stroke, it is a foul, seven points away.

As an aside, also take note then that in your scenario, the Black has not been "potted" as the stroke was foul. "Potted" is a term which is specifically defined as pocketing a ball in the course of a fair stroke. If a ball falls into a pocket illegally as in this case, the more proper term is "pocketed". If a ball has been properly "potted", then either the striker's turn will continue, or perhaps the frame has come to an end (as in potting the final Black to clear the table and stamping an end to the frame).

If I may say, it does sound like somebody fleeced you with incorrect information about this situation. I hope there was not a significant wager involved.

Re: Free Ball

Postby studs

further to your discussion can anyone help me settle a dispute
if say just two reds are visible after a foul and neither can be fully seen (ie both sides) but the extreme left of one red can be hit and the extreme right of the other red can be hit ,,,,,,, is this a free ball ????
thanks

Re: Free Ball

Postby acesinc

studs wrote:further to your discussion can anyone help me settle a dispute
if say just two reds are visible after a foul and neither can be fully seen (ie both sides) but the extreme left of one red can be hit and the extreme right of the other red can be hit ,,,,,,, is this a free ball ????
thanks


Asked and answered in PM but for anyone else's curiosity, copy and pasted:

Hi Studs,

I don't check in to Snooker Island too often these days as I have just been too busy with other things. There is an absolute answer to your query. From the way that you wrote your statement, it sounds like you are incorrect. However, I do admit that it is possible that I am not understanding your situation precisely so I will go into a bit more detail.

I have been very familiar with the game for close to 35 years now. I have been very specifically engaged with thoroughly understanding the Rules of Snooker for about the last 8 years. Prior to that, I had had a "pretty good" knowledge of the rules, but more recently, I received proper referee training from a certified professional so I am much more confident in my knowledge of the modern game Rules. By these very facts, I am guessing that you are an older player of the game like myself...maybe 50 years old or more.

I say this because it does seem to me (though I am not absolutely certain) that "back in our day", the Rule for Free Ball was exactly as your state it....that is that if you can see one side of one Red and the other side of another Red, then it would not be a Free Ball. However, that is not the way that the Rule is CURRENTLY written so I believe it has changed from years past. The way this situation is covered by the Rules today is somewhat buried....you have to go to Section 2. Rule 17., the definition of "Snookered" to understand why it is the way that it is. To try to explain it as simply as possible:

The modern Rules make it very clear that in order to be SNOOKERED, then it must be impossible to see BOTH sides of an INDIVIDUAL ball that is on or could be on. To pile on top of that, it is not possible for a ball that COULD BE ON to snooker a different ball that could be on. Specifically, this means that it is not possible for a Red to snooker a different Red. So when faced with a situation such as you describe, what needs to be done is to select any ball which COULD BE ON (so in your case, consider each of the individual Reds independently) and PRETEND like no other Reds are even on the table. Kind of "make them disappear" in your mind. So when you look at the relationship of the cue ball to that ONE red ball (do not consider any other Reds at all), would the White ball be able to strike EITHER side of that ONE INDIVIDUAL Red? If yes, then no Free Ball. If no, then move on and consider the next Red removing all other Reds (in your mind). Can the White be played to EITHER SIDE of THAT Red? Again, if yes, then no Free Ball. Etc., etc., etc.

When you think about this way, there is a very simple example: Consider a foul on the break off shot. The White is struck and does not touch the triangle of Reds at all. The White rebounds off Black cushion and falls into the Yellow pocket so the incoming striker has Ball in Hand in the "D", the table still in its original set position. Is this a Free Ball situation? The answer is a definite NO because consider one of the corner Reds IF you (in your mind) remove the other fourteen Reds from the table. If you do that, then either one of the corner Reds would be available without a snooker from a position within the D. Remember, a Red cannot snooker another Red.

Getting back to your example, I will take a guess and just say the Pink is on its spot with two Reds close behind it, one on either side, a foul has been committed and the White is, say, on the Blue spot. So the White can see the left side of one Red or the White can see the right side of the other Red because of the Pink blocking the gap between the two. BUT, the White CANNOT see either side of either INDIVIDUAL Red. Therefore, Free Ball.
...................

And the OP did confirm that this was essentially his table situation so that no Free Ball should have been given.

Happy New Year to all!

Re: Free Ball

Postby Dan-cat

Dan-cat wrote:Happy Christmas Acesinc, this place is a brighter for your knowledge and wonderful way of explaining the rules of our great game.


Love this.

ICs! Plenty available on this site. The richly-humoured and love filled place that is Snooker Island.

Re: Free Ball

Postby Dan-cat

acesinc wrote:
Dan-cat wrote:Happy Christmas Acesinc, this place is a brighter for your knowledge and wonderful way of explaining the rules of our great game.


Thank you kindly, Dan. And this place is much happier for your wit and banter. Your posts always put a smile on my face. (My wife and I avoid using the common LOL when texting and instead invented our own IC which is "internal chuckle"....that content, happy feeling when something strikes us as pleasant.) I haven't been visiting the Island much lately as work is incredibly busy; a 180 degree turn from a year ago when I thought I might be going out of business. When I do pop in to SI now and again, my first clicks always go to Dan-Cat expecting to get my ICs.

If I interpreted one of your posts correctly, it sounds like you are in Spain visiting Mum for the Holidays. The Merriest of Christmases and Happiest of New Years to you and yours, Dan!


I meant to quote this one duh

Re: Free Ball

Postby mslscorpion

Question: Are these free ball scenarios after a foul?

There are two reds on the table:
1. First red’s one edge is available but other edge is hidden by other red. Second red’s other edge is available.
2. First red’s one edge is available but other edgeis hidden by other red. Second red’s other edge is hidden by a color ball.

3. Different scenario: only one red on the table. One edge is available but another edge is hidden by cushion as the red ball is close to cushion.

4. General question: To qualify for not a free ball, both edges of object ball should be touchable by cue ball or missable by cue ball?

Re: Free Ball

Postby acesinc

mslscorpion wrote:Question: Are these free ball scenarios after a foul?

There are two reds on the table:
1. First red’s one edge is available but other edge is hidden by other red. Second red’s other edge is available.
2. First red’s one edge is available but other edgeis hidden by other red. Second red’s other edge is hidden by a color ball.

3. Different scenario: only one red on the table. One edge is available but another edge is hidden by cushion as the red ball is close to cushion.

4. General question: To qualify for not a free ball, both edges of object ball should be touchable by cue ball or missable by cue ball?


1. No Free Ball. Red cannot snooker another Red.

2. No Free Ball. See 1.

3. Generally accepted answer is No Free Ball though there is some question as to the exact wording that is currently used in the Rules is not precise enough to adequately cover this scenario. For general informational purposes, I advise you to live your life under the premise that a cushion can never snooker a ball and therefore, a Free Ball is not given even if the White ball is hidden according to the old definition of the term, "angled". Only a ball not on can possibly snooker a Ball On; that is the reason that a Red cannot snooker a Red. Best to have your opponent Play Again if you don't like what you are facing.

4. At their very limits, these two things are exactly the same. If you are the absolute straightest cue-ball-striker in the world, you can make the White contact the object ball by a mere atomic diameter. But move your straight-White-ball-strike a mere atomic diameter away and you have not contacted the object ball. An atomic diameter is not quantifiable in the real world so these two things really just amount to the same thing. It is simply a matter of judgement by the Referee.

Re: Free Ball

Postby mslscorpion

Thank you Acesinc for the clear and precise answers, very helpful.

I am surprised that scenario 2 is not free ball. Anyways, rule is a rule :).

Thanks again.

Re: Free Ball

Postby Tim Dunkley

There is another way of looking at this. Look at each ball in isolation. Take one red away and see if the extreme edges of the remaining red can be directly contacted by the cue-ball. If the answer is 'yes', do the same with the other red.

Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)


   

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