It’s a simple objective to win the game – pocket the nine ball at the break or any other legal shot.

But the execution varies greatly from the eight ball game which we focused on last week.

Nine-ball is arguably the most popular action-orientated game. It’s fast and exciting. It’s easy for spectators to follow and brings forth mercurial shot-making.

With the games origins dating back to the United States of America in the 1920’s, today it has become the most dominant tournament game in professional pool.

While usually it’s one-on-one competition to a set number of frames (best out of five games), multiple players can take part.

Firstly the balls are racked in a diamond rowed one, two, three, two and one. The one ball is positioned at the front, the nine ball is in the diamond’s centre with the other balls placed at random.

With the cue ball placed anywhere behind the baulk line, the opening break must be the lowest numbered ball on the table. The lowest numbered ball on the table at any stage of the game is commonly referred to as the object ball. With the one ball at the front, no guesses where you have to aim first up.

In nine-ball there is no D mark on the table, just a line that runs across the width of the table. This line which is a quarter of the way down the table is called the baulk line or the head string.

If you manage to sink the nine ball on the break – you win.

The beauty or the harshness of nine-ball is that whoever sinks the nine-ball wins even if you or your opponent(s) has pocketed all the previous balls.

However you can win at any stage of the game by pocketing the lowest ball on the table then the nine-ball.

In fitting with the game’s speed and excitement a number of rules apply to ensuring an attacking start.

On the break a minimum of four object balls must be sent to a rail or pocketed. If this fails to occur, the incoming player can place the cue ball anywhere on the table.  Placing the cue ball anywhere on the table is commonly referred to as “cue ball in hand.”

If a player misses the rack entirely, it is naturally a foul and the opponent has the options of placing the ball behind the baulk line or making the fouling player shoot again.

_MG_6616Apart from the break, all the following shots must be called to be legal.

So in other words if you’re aiming for the next lowest ball, the two ball, to pocket it in the right hand corner pocket you have to say, “Two ball, right corner pocket”.

It is not necessary to include cushions, banks, kisses etc when calling your shot.

However when a ball is pocketed in a designated pocket, additional balls sunk during the same shot count.

Other calls include a push or a safety where of course you are choosing a positional and tactical shot.

A push or push-out shot can only be called following the break. This shot does not require the cue ball to contact any object ball, but if it does, it doesn’t have to be the lowest number on the table.

If the nine-ball is pocketed from a push it is spotted.

After a push shot the incoming player has the option of forcing the push player to take the next shot.

In all the abovementioned scenarios, fouls are applied when no call is made, a ball is sunk when a safety is called or when the wrong ball is pocketed.

The penalty for fouls is a “cue ball in hand” for your opponent anywhere on the table or forcing the opponents to shoot again.

If you commit three successive fouls, you lose the game.

The nine-ball rules certainly bring forth the saying “a quick game is a good game” and is perfect for home tournaments between mates. Many households have taken this one step further and have bought perpetual trophies made for their quarterly or annual home tournaments.

It is exciting.

While you can naturally play nine-ball on any sized table the smaller sized tables do result in a faster game.

However strictly speaking, a nine-ball table is nine foot x four foot six inches and has wide straight cut pockets and uses a 2 ¼ inch ball.

In the USA this style of table is simply called a Billiard table but in Australia we refer to it as an American table.

We call it an American table so as not to confuse it with the traditional three ball game of Billiards.

For more information on nine-ball or getting a hold of an American nine-ball table or accessories Billiard Shop is more than happy to help out and of course to let the good times roll as we bring family and friends together.

York Hall during the 2012 Mosconi Cup

York Hall during the 2012 Mosconi Cup