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What is a foul all about?

A foul is a shot or action by the striker which is against the rules of the game. When a foul is made during a shot, the player’s turn ends and they receive no points for any balls potted on that shot. Common fouls are:[2]

Failing to hit any other ball with the cue ball.
First hitting a ball "not-on" with the cue ball.
Potting a ball "not-on".
Potting the cue ball (in-off).
Touching any object ball with anything but the cue ball.
Touching any ball before all balls have come to a complete stop.
Hitting the cue ball more than once on the same shot.
Making a ball land off the table.
Touching the cue ball with anything other than the tip of the cue. The exception is that while positioning the cue ball "in-hand"; it may be touched by anything except the tip of the cue.
Playing a "push shot" – a shot in which an object ball (whether "on" or not) in direct contact with the cue ball moves when the cue ball is hit.
Playing a "jump shot" – a shot where the cue ball leaves the bed of the table and jumps over a ball before first hitting another ball.
Playing a shot with both feet off the ground. The player may lean over the table, support a portion of their weight on it, and/or use a mechanical bridge as desired, but at least one foot must remain in contact with the ground.

When a player commits a foul and the cue ball remains on the table, the opponent may either play from the resulting position or, if they consider it to be disadvantageous, request that the offender play again. If the cue ball is potted or leaves the table, the opponent receives it "in-hand," allowing them to place it anywhere within the "D" for their next shot.

It is sometimes erroneously believed that potting two or more balls in one shot is an automatic foul. This is only true if one of the potted balls is not "on" (e.g. a red and a colour, or two different colours). When the reds are "on", two or more of them may be legally potted in the same shot and are worth one point each; however, the player may only nominate and attempt to pot one colour on their next shot. If a free ball has been granted (see below), a colour may be legally potted in the same shot as a red or another colour, depending on the circumstances.

Should a cue ball be touched with the tip while "in-hand", i.e. when breaking-off or playing from the "D" after being potted or knocked off the table, a foul is not committed as long as the referee is satisfied that the player was only positioning the ball, and not playing a shot or preparing to play one.

The following fouls award seven points to the opponent when committed:[1]

Touching an object ball with anything other than the cue ball
Playing at reds, or a free ball followed by a red, in successive strokes
Failing to declare which ball is "on" when requested to do so by the referee
After potting a red or free ball nominated as a red, committing a foul before nominating a colour
Using a ball off the table for any purpose
Using any object to measure gaps or distance
Any other foul awards points to the opponent equal to the value of the ball "on," the highest value of all balls involved in the foul, or four points, whichever is highest. If multiple fouls are committed in one shot, only the penalty for the highest-valued foul is scored. The penalty for a foul is thus no lower than four points and no higher than seven.

Not hitting the ball "on" first is the most common foul. A common defensive tactic is to play a shot that leaves the opponent unable to hit a ball "on" directly. This is most commonly called "snookering" one’s opponent, or alternatively "laying a snooker" or putting the other player "in a snooker".

Because players receive points for fouls by their opponents, repeatedly snookering one's opponent is a possible way of winning a frame when potting all the balls on the table would be insufficient to ensure a win or tie. This portion of the frame is known as the "snookers-required" stage.


Look out for more tips and advice.

Enjoy your game.

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