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What is a Foul and a miss

A foul and a miss will be called if a player does not hit the ball "on" first (a foul) and is deemed by the referee to have not made the best possible attempt (a miss). In this case, the opponent has the option to request that all balls on the table be returned to their position before the foul, and require the fouling player to take the shot again.

The rule was introduced to prevent players from playing professional fouls (i.e., deliberately fouling so as to leave the balls in a safe position, reducing the risk of giving a frame-winning chance to the opponent). Multiple misses often occur because players attempt to hit a shot very softly or thinly in situations where a fuller contact might leave their opponent an easy potting chance. This can lead to an apparently easy escape being attempted several times, as players feel that it is better to concede many points but leave a safe position, than concede none and leave a frame-winning chance.

In practice, the "best attempt" determination consists of three key elements that are easily applied objectively:

  • Whether the player’s choice of shot is the easiest to be achieved. If a player deliberately attempts a difficult shot with an easier escape available, intention to leave the opponent a bad position after a foul is presumed, and thus a miss will be called.
  • Whether the cue ball has been hit with sufficient strength to reach the ball "on". Undershooting almost always results in a miss, as intention to leave the opponent in a bad position after a foul is again presumed in this case.
  • Whether the player has tried to get the cue ball as close to the ball "on" as possible.


All three of these elements must be present in order for the referee to decide that a player has made their best attempt.

There are three situations in which a miss will not be called, even if the referee decides that a best attempt has not been made:

  1. If either player needs penalty points to win a frame, or if either player would need them after the current penalty is applied. This is to prevent the players from running up the score due to repeated misses in worst-case scenarios.
  2. If the score difference is equal to the number of points still on the table, either before or after the penalty is applied, and the referee believes that the foul was not intentional. This is to prevent the score difference from decreasing too much, at the referee’s discretion.
  3. If it is physically impossible to play a legal shot (the snooker is truly inescapable, as judged by the referee). The player must still put sufficient strength into the shot so that the cue ball would be able to reach its target if it were not obstructed, and attempt a shot that could succeed if the obstruction were not present.


If a player fouls and misses in a non-snookered scenario, and if the opponent request that they play the shot again from the original position, a second failure to make a best attempt is ruled a foul and a miss regardless of the score difference. The fouling player is issued a warning by the referee, and a third such failure forfeits the frame to the opponent. A foul after such a warning is very rare.

Here is an interesting video on the subject. Several players, Commentators etc discuss the miss rule.

Look out for more tips and advice.

Enjoy your game.

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