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Is it a Free Ball? The Ultimate Snooker Rule

Is it a Free Ball? The Ultimate #1 Snooker Rule

Written by Anmol Pathak

One of the common questions people have is regarding the ‘Free Ball‘ situation. What is a free ball? When a player is snookered by a foul, then the player can nominate any object ball as a substitute for the ‘on’ ball, this substituted ball is regarded as the free ball. 

So what does it mean? Let’s understand this with an example

What is a Free Ball?

Let’s take an example of player A and player B. 

When player A commits a foul, and player B is snookered on the red ball by a black (or any coloured ball), i.e. he can not hit both sides of the red ball with a straight shot. Now, player B has an option to nominate the black as a ‘Free Ball‘. 

Before going further into discussing different free ball situations, let’s look at some basic rules related to this scenario.


Free Ball Rule

In the above situation, there are certain rules that the player has to follow in a free ball situation. 

  • The player commits a foul if he rolls up to the nominated black ball.
  • You can not snooker behind the nominated ball by accident or design i.e. If the player misses to pot the black after hitting it and the black comes back to snooker the opponent on the red ball, it is considered a foul. 
  • The player can snooker the opponent behind any other colour other than black if black is nominated as the free ball. It is not a foul, even if the black stops other coloured balls from hitting the red because snooker ball in this situation is not black.

Now, as we are clear with some basic rules, let’s answer a few questions regarding different situations with various examples?


Free Ball Situation In Snooker

Let’s say, a foul has been committed, and the player is snooked on the last red near the corner pocket. So, the player nominates the black as his free ball, as it is in front of the red ball. Now,

  • If the player pots the red by hitting the black. The player gets one point, but if both of the balls go in then, the player receives two points. The black ball is then respotted at its position.

What if there is a pink ball in between the nominated black and the last red ball?

  • The player can pot the red through pink, by hitting the black ball on to the pink ball. The player gets one point.
  • If the pink also goes along with the red ball. The player gets no point for the red or the pink ball. On the contradictory, the opponent is awarded a foul, and he gets four points. At this point, the pink is respotted, but the red ball stays in.

Taking another situation in which a foul has been committed. The red which is the ball ‘on’ and the cue ball is placed at the cushion. The cue ball is near the mid-pocket, here the mid-pocket is blocking the cue ball’s path to hit the red. 

  • In this scenario, you are angled but not snookered. So you can not have a free ball.
  • Also, if a pink ball is in between the cue and the red ball, still, the cushion is stopping you from hitting the red. So no free ball.
  • But if the pink is the first obstacle, not the cushion, then you get a free ball.

free ball snooker


Is It A Free Ball?

I am going to take a different case to explain this particular situation. 

Your opponent commits a foul, and now you can place the cue ball anywhere in the ‘D’. If you are trying to hit a red ball and the only thing stopping you from hitting both the extremities of the red is another red, i.e. another ‘ball on’. Then, it is not a free ball.

But if the ball stopping you is ‘not on’, then you get a free ball.      

In the end, I know it is not ideal to have a referee for every match. So, the person not at the table becomes the referee, which does solve many issues. 

So the next time, if there is an argument about a particular situation regarding the free ball, you have to get your issues sorted out before playing the next shot. Because when you play the next shot, Whatever the decision might be, you can not change it afterwards. 

For more Articles like this Check Out – Snooker box
For more information on this topic Check Out  – Barry Stark 

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