Palarong Pambansa Billiards Guidelines and Ground Rules

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A Note about Sportsmanship and Communication

Good sportsmanship lies at the heart of any endeavor involving competition. In many games of pocket billiards, players meet on the table in a contest that takes place in an environment that is unique in sports in one significant aspect – players are often required to tell each other exactly what is about to happen and what their intentions are before they act.

Any experienced referee or tournament director will tell you that many of the problems they have faced involving controversy between players could have been prevented if the players had been communicating effectively. Far too many disputes involve nothing more than whether or not a safety was declared or which pocket or ball was called.

The difficulty can often be traced to players who simply do not practice good and polite communication at the table. We designed the PALARONG PAMBANSA rules to reduce the number of disputes. However, it is impossible to control the issue completely with rules and referees. The solution lies with you – the players.

We encourage you to dedicate yourself to open, friendly and polite communication during the match. In fact, we would like to remind you of the following, to wit:

When you are at the table, pay attention as to how your shot appears. If you think there is a chance that your opponent might not understand your intentions, please call the shot.

When you do call shots, please do so clearly. It is preferable to face your opponent and make an eye contact. If you do call a shot by gesture, make a clear and definite motion indicating both ball and pocket.

When you are in the chair, you should pay attention to the game and to your opponent as well. Communication is a two way process! If your opponent is telling you what he/she intends to do, then listen carefully and when the intention or act is clearly and fully understood, you acknowledge it, otherwise ask for further clarification.

Do not let personality conflicts affect your efforts at communication. It does not matter how you feel about your opponent – you must always commit yourself to open and civil conversation and communication during the match.

2018 Palarong Pambansa Billiards Guidelines and Ground Rules

General Billiard Rule 1 – Racking The Balls

This regulation indicates that a triangle must be used when racking the balls, and that the apex ball is to be spotted on the foot spot. All balls are to be lined up behind the apex ball and be pushed together in such a way that they all have side to side contact with each other.

General Billiard Rule 2 – Shooting The Cue Ball

Regulation states that for a shot to be legal, the cue ball can only be struck with the cue tip. Contact via any other method results in a foul. An example of this could be a contact with a hand or with a mechanical bridge.

General Billiard Rule 3 – Calling Shots

Applying to games of call-shot, under this rule states that a player can shoot any ball they choose, but must “call” both the ball they are shooting at, and the pocket at which it will be shot. The player does not need to indicate details such as legal combinations, kisses, caroms or cushions. Any balls that are in addition to the called ball are counted in the shooter’s favor.

General Billiard Rule 4 – Failure To Pocket A Ball

A very simple rule which states that when a player fails to pocket any balls on a legal shot, the inning is over, and the opponent’s inning begins.

General Billiard Rule 5 – Lag For Break

This regulation specifies the procedure for the “lag” for opening break. This lag will determine who shoots the opening break. For the lag, each player should use billiard balls of equal size and weight. The Palarong Pambansa Billiard Sports preference is that cue balls be used, but when they are not available, non-striped object balls should be used. The two players stand behind the head string with the balls in hand, one player to the left of the head spot, and one to the right. The balls are shot by the players simultaneously to the foot cushion and back to the head end of the table. The player whose ball returns closest to the innermost edge of the head cushion wins the lag. The regulations specify that the lagged ball must contact the foot cushion at least once. Other cushion contacts are immaterial, except as prohibited below. A player automatically loss of the lag if their ball:

  • crosses into the opponent’s half of the table;
  • fails to contact the foot cushion;
  • drops into a pocket;
  • jumps off the table;
  • touches the long cushion;
  • rests within the corner pocket and past the nose of the head cushion, or;
  • contacts the foot rail more than once.

If both of the billiard players violate the automatic loss lag rules, or if the referee is unable to determine which player’s ball is closer to the head cushion, the lag is called as a tie and replayed.

General Billiard Rule 6 – Opening Break Shot

The opening break shot is to be determined by either lag or lot. For formal competition, the lag for break procedure is required. The player who wins the lag or lot then has the choice of performing the opening break shot or transferring it to the opposing player.

General Billiard Rule 7 – Opening Break – The Cue Ball

This rule outlines how the opening break shot is to be performed. It states that opening break shot is taken with cue ball in hand behind the head string. The object balls are positioned according to specific game rules. (General rules for pocket billiards specifications for arranging the object balls are found in regulation 3.1 above.) On the opening break, the billiard game is considered to have commenced once the cue ball has been struck by the shooter’s cue tip.

General Billiard Rule 8 – Opening Break – Deflecting The Cue Ball

On the opening break shot, stopping or deflecting the cue ball after it has crossed the head string and prior to hitting the racked balls is considered a foul and thus, a loss of turn. The opponent then has the option of receiving cue ball in hand behind the head string or passing option back to the offending player. (Note that an exception occurs in 9-Ball, rule 5.3, which states: The cue ball in hand can be played anywhere on the table… is allowed at this juncture. A warning must be given that a second violation during the billiard match will result in the loss of the match by forfeiture.

General Billiard Rule 9 – Cue Ball In Hand Behind The Head String

This regulation was written regarding the situation that applies to specific games whereby the opening break is administered or a player’s scratching is penalized by the incoming player having cue ball in hand behind the head string. The incoming player may place the cue ball anywhere behind the head string. The shooting player may shoot at any object ball as long as the base of the object ball is located on or below the head string.

The shooting player may only shoot at object balls that are above the head string (“uptable”) unless the cue ball is first shot to the foot rail, (or one of the side rails below the head string) causing it to bounce back above the head string and hit an object ball. Per the WPA; The base of the ball (the point of the ball touching the table) determines whether it is above or below the head string.

There is a specification where the incoming player inadvertently places the cue ball on or below the head string, the referee or the op-posing player must inform the shooting player of improper positioning of the cue ball before the shot is made. Additionally, if the opposing player does not so inform the shooting player before the shot is made, the shot is considered legal, and the billiard game continues. If the shooting player is informed of improper positioning, he or she must then reposition the cue ball. If a player positions the cue ball completely and obviously outside the kitchen and shoots the cue ball, they receive a foul. For full details on this regulation, c2 refer to regulation 2.21. When the cue ball is in hand behind the head string, it is considered “in hand” and not “in play” until the player strikes the cue ball with his or her cue tip. The shooting player is allowed to adjust the position of the cue ball with their hand, or cue, or any other object as long as it remains “in hand”. When the cue ball is back “in play”, it may not be impeded in any way by the player. In fact, to do is considered committing a foul. Additionally, if the shot fails to contact a legal object ball or fails to drive the cue ball over the head string, the shot is considered a foul and the opposing player has ball in hand according to the specific billiard game rules.

General Billiard Rule 10 – Balls

This is the rule stating that a ball is to be considered if, as the result of an otherwise legal shot, it drops off of the bed of the table into the pocket and remains there. However, a ball that drops from a table’s ball return system onto the floor is not to be construed as a ball that has not remained. One should note that a ball rebounding from a pocket back onto the table bed is not considered a pocketed ball.

General Billiard Rule 11 – Positioning of the Balls

This rule simply states that the position of a ball is judged by where its base, or center, actually touches the billiard table.

General Billiard Rule 12 – Contact With the Floor – Foot

This rule specifies that the shooting billiard player must have at least one foot in contact with the floor at the moment the cue tip contacts the cue ball. If this regulation is violated, the shot is a foul. Additionally, the player’s footwear must be of normal size, shape, and manner in which it is worn.

General Billiard Rule 13 – Shooting When Balls Are In Motion

The shooting player receives a foul if they shoot while any object ball, or the cue ball, is in motion. This rule applies to spinning balls as well.

General Billiard Rule 14 – Completing A Stroke

A stroke is not complete, and therefore is not counted, until all balls on the table have become motionless after the stroke. This rule includes balls that are spinning, as the World Pool Association considers spinning balls to be in motion.

General Billiard Rule 15 – Definition of the Head String

The area behind the head string does not include the head string. Thus, an object ball that is dead center on the head string is playable when specific game rules require that a player must shoot at a ball past the head string. Similarly, when the cue ball is put in play behind the head string as done with cue ball in hand behind the head string, it may not be placed directly on the head string. It must be behind the head string.

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