Now it's time to adjust some of your thinking a little from pool to a new kind of game. Not only are the tables bigger and the balls smaller, but the setup of the game is different, too. In the pool games you've learned so far, the setup and layout of the table are pretty much the same. Snooker, however, is a whole new world. Before you learn the rules, you should familiarize yourself with the layout of the table and the setup of the balls in the game.

The Table Layout

American rules and international rules use different terminology. You'll find this to be true in descriptions of the table layout. What you've come to know as the head string on a pool table is actually referred to as a balk line in snooker. On the American table the head string (or balk line) is 23fi inches from the head rail. On the international table (or standard English snooker table) the balk line is 29 inches from the head rail (obviously to accommodate for the additional playing surface on the larger table). In the middle of the balk line is the D-zone — which is actually an arc situated on the balk line. There are three spots on the balk line that form the “spine,” or straight line, of the D. The dots on the balk line are important to the placement of the balls in snooker.

To find the D-zone, look at the spots in the center of the balk line — and picture an arc (like that of a semicircle, or the “belly” of the capital letter D) dipping into the area of the kitchen. The radius of the D will reach 9⅛ inches. The D-zone is important because it is where you will be placing the balls at the start of the game.

The spots on the table are “color coded” because they represent where the color balls on the table are placed at the beginning of the game. For example, what you know as the foot spot is called the “black spot” in snooker because that's where you place the black ball on the table. The center spot is called the “blue spot” for the same reason.

Placement of the Balls

Just like in pool there is a way to set up the table before play begins. It's a little bit more involved than the standard pool setup. You still rack balls on the “foot spot” and you have to break just like you do in pool, but the similarities at the onset stop there.

Remember … the set of snooker balls is made up of red balls and color balls. The red balls are racked in a triangular-shaped rack with the apex placed on the foot spot.

Since the head string is called the balk line in snooker, what you know as the “kitchen” in pool is called the “balk area” in snooker.

The color balls are placed in different locations on the table — to understand this you have to imagine that you are looking down the table from the balk area to the foot rail:

  • The green ball is placed to the left of the center spot (similar to the head spot) on the balk line (one edge of the D).

  • The brown ball is placed on the spot at the midpoint of the straight side of the D.

  • The yellow ball is placed to the right of the head spot (the other edge of the D).

  • The blue ball is placed on the center spot (the spot in the center of the table — otherwise known as the “blue spot”).

  • The pink ball is placed in front of the apex ball of the rack (the center string of the table).

  • The black ball is placed a few inches behind the triangle (the edge opposite the apex of the triangle) on the “black spot.”

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