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Blackball Rules

This blog is something of a sequel to ‘Which Rules Do You Play?’ – during which I covered the basics of 2 of the most popular Pool Rule Sets; World Rules and Pub (EPA) Rules.  Whilst reading that article many of you may have been thinking “What about Blackball Rules?”.  No need to worry ’cause this one’s for you!

WHAT ARE BLACKBALL RULES?

World Rules were previously known as the most attacking 8-ball rule-set. Until the emergence of Blackball rules around 2004 when the WPA (World Pool & Billiards Association) aimed to become the standalone game in 8-ball.  Blackball Rules are yet to become the undisputed No.1 just yet but they have displaced World Rules as the “most attacking” game.

Blackball Rules are somewhat an amalgamation of Pub Rules (EPA) and World Rules (WEPF), with one huge revolutionary TWIST!

THE SIMILARITIES BETWEEN BLACKBALL AND PUB RULES:

  • If a player goes in-off on the break (pots the white ball) their opponent gets two visits, as opposed to just the one-visit in World Rules. However, these 2 visits don’t carry like in EPA. The first visit is for developing a bad ball, before continuing onto the 2nd visit. As a result, following a foul in Blackball the referee will declare: “One shot, One visit”.
  • After a foul shot, the recipient may have ball-in-hand and play their first shot from behind the baulk line.

WHAT DID BLACKBALL ADOPT FROM WORLD RULES?

  • Blackball adopted World Rules most evolutionary rule. Which was of course that any ball must hit a cushion on each shot – unless a ball is potted.

WHAT IS BLACKBALL’S REVOLUTIONARY TWIST?

Blackball’s Revolutionary twist is the Skill shot, also known as the combination shot.  The Skill shot is the ingredient that makes Blackball even more attacking than World Rules.  The rule enables a player to legally pot their opponents ball, providing they also pot one of their own in the same shot.  The order in which the balls are potted is irrelevant.

  • Example: Player “A” cuts his red into the centre pocket, the cue ball runs down the table and knocks in a yellow ball that was sitting over the pocket. 

This rule enables the player at the table to attack the game regardless of an opponent having control of particular pockets, because the pocket can be freed up without the need for 2 visits (Pub rules).  You can only play the skill shot on the black ball if you pot your penultimate ball (last red or yellow) on the same shot as the black.  Otherwise as usual potting the blackball prematurely will result in loss of frame.

IS BLACKBALL POOL NUMBER 1?

Blackball is certainly progress within the evolution of 8-Ball because it creates the conditions for a more attacking and fast-paced game. Which in my humble opinion should be the goal for both competitors and viewers alike.  In an era where everything is based around convenience and fast-living, Blackball rules certainly make the sport more exciting, engaging and accessible to the masses.

FURTHER 8 BALL POOL PROGRESS

The WPA have improved the game with their version of 8-Ball Pool.  They’ve taken some of the best rules from the previous sets as well as adding their own ingredients to make the game even more exciting.  On the other hand, there’s always room for improvement.  I can improve, you can improve and Blackball can improve.  

  • The rule of 2 shots (One shot, One visit) after an in-off on the break is harsh. Given that we are encouraging players to attack and play exciting pool.  This penalty means that any players of a high standard will automatically lose a large percentage of frames after potting the cue ball off the break.  World Rules are the preference in this instance – one visit, ball-in-hand.
  • Another aspect that can be frustrating in Blackball is in a situation whereby a player accidentally pots an opponents ball. It’s deemed a skill shot and is therefore legal.  There’s no skill involved in a fluke.
  • Everyone wants to play and watch fast-paced and thrilling 8 Ball pool. On the other hand, we want the game to remain skilful.  The “Skill shot” when executed with purpose and precision is undoubtedly a skill.  However, if executed accidentally the Skill shot can also reward a player’s mistake.

If the player at the table had to nominate a specific ball for their Skill shot, then this element of luck would be removed.  If the player in play pots a ball other than the one nominated, the shot should be deemed a foul shot.

SKILL SHOT NOMINATION

Controversially, there is also a case for a failed Skill shot to be called a foul. When a player pots their ball but fails to deliver their intent by potting the nominated ball also.  Whilst this would undoubtedly add a layer of risk to playing a Skill shot, it would also lead players to focus on perfecting the art of the skill shot.  The skillshot at present carries no risk and in some instances rewards mistakes.  The above proposal would reward nothing but perfect execution of an artistic shot. 🎨

WHY MAKE THE SKILL SHOT RISKY?

Picture a game of football… It’s the semi-finals of the World Cup and it’s a 0-0 stalemate. Nothing to choose between the two teams. The players are exhausted, collapsed on the turf with cramp, nothing left in the tank. Still, one of these teams has to make the final, there has to be a winner!  So we go to a Penalty Shootout… ⚽

After 10 penalties have been taken, the score is 3-3 and we move to sudden death.  At this point; the players, the coaches, the crowd and the viewers at home feel tense and nervous – win or lose on one kick of a ball!

The drama detailed above is an example of why people become so emotionally invested in sport.  To add a layer of risk/reward to the game of Blackball would add extra excitement and help progress the game to the next level!

I hope you enjoyed this introduction to Blackball and my thoughts on the future of the game.

Whether you’re for or against some of the points raised in this blog, I’d love to hear from you. So either get in touch or connect on social media.

Hope this helps to Raise Your Game until next time! 🎱

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