The objective of snooker matches deals with potting colored balls into pockets. On the surface, snooker looks quite similar to other pool games. However, there are many distinct differences with how snooker and other games are played.
To start, snooker tables are a few feet larger than their billiards counterparts, measuring in at around 12 feet in length and six feet in width. A typical snooker match takes place using 15 red balls and seven other colored variants.
Interestingly, the name "snooker" derives from a type of foul a player can achieve in the game. A snooker occurs when a player, typically one who cannot complete a shot easily, intentionally blocks another player by striking the cue ball into a difficult position.
Two of the core components of snooker are striking and potting. Simply put, striking occurs when a player uses a cue to strike the cue ball, with the intent of hitting one of the other colored balls on the table. Potting occurs when the colored ball enters a pocket after it is struck by the cue ball.
These two components are essential for understanding the nuances of snooker's rule system.
In snooker, a player may score in a variety of ways. Potting colored balls offers the most amount of point value, with each color holding a different point value. Red balls are worth one point, yellow balls are worth two points, green are worth three, brown are worth four, blue are worth five, pink are worth six, and black are worth seven.
A player's opponent may also score on a foul. Fouls made by the turn player award the opposing player a value of four points or more, based on the color of the ball that was fouled on.
In order to score in snooker, the turn player must pot, or sink, colored balls. Each of the seven colors (red, yellow, brown, green, blue, black, and pink) holds a value corresponding to a number.
A player scores points by maneuvering around the table, lining up, and striking the cue ball into any of the colored balls on the table. However, a player must pot a red ball, which holds a value of one, before and after any other color. Most commonly, players will choose to strike and pot a red ball, followed by the black ball, then red, then black, and so on until all of the red have been potted.
Interestingly, a player can also score points if their opponent commits a foul.
Like many other competitive sports, snooker is won by outscoring your opponent. In order to win a frame, a player must pot balls and earn enough points to either beat their opponent, or make it (nearly) impossible for their opponent to achieve enough points to catch up and overtake them. The most points a player can score refers to what is known as the maximum, or a break of 147. This value describes the value of all of the snooker balls on the table combined.
If a player finds themselves in a defeated position during a frame, they may decide to attempt a handful of snookers, in an attempt to cause their opponent to foul. If a player fouls, their opponent earns four or more points, and can theoretically use these points to form a comeback run.
The rules of snooker are quite similar to other pool games, such as billiards. The objective of a snooker frame is to strike the cue ball into colored balls, in order to score enough points to outscore an opponent. A player must hit the red ball before potting a colored ball, until all of the red balls have been potted.
Players flip a coin to decide who starts the first frame of a match. If a player fails to pocket a ball, the turn is passed to the next player. If a player fouls, their opponent receives points and the turn is passed to the opponent. Once all of the snooker balls have been potted, the player with the most points wins the frame.
While you do NOT have to call every shot in snooker, you do need to pot balls in a particular order (i.e. red, color, red, color, and so on). If the reds and colors have been potted legally, then a player may proceed with play not needing to call their intended shots. Unlike in other pool games, such as the popular 8-Ball, snooker players do not need to call out any details of their intended shots.