Introduction to Billiard & Snooker

The generic term "billiards" covers a family of indoor games played on a table with a stick, known as a cue, which is used to strike and move the cue ball around the table.

Cue sports include: billiards, carom, pool and snooker, all of which are featured in the 15th Asian Games.

Snooker and billiards are played on the largest table, eight and nine ball pool are played on a more compact table, while carom uses a table which has no pockets.



Although there are many theories about the origin of billiards, the earliest detailed account can be found in The Compleat Gamester by Charles Cotton, published in 1674.

It states that billiards was popular throughout Europe, especially in England. A diagram shows an oblong table with six pockets, similar to tables used today, although probably smaller in size.

The word "billiard" may have evolved from the French word "billart", meaning "mace", an implement, similar to a golf club, which was the forerunner to the modern cue.

In historic versions of the game, two balls were pushed along the table by a "mace" (also known as a "mast"). The main purpose of the game was to pocket the opponent's ball and keep your own out of the pockets, which became a "hazard".

In 1775, a game using the red ball, called "carambole", with the red being the "carom" surfaced. This was later changed to the modern term "cannon".

After World War II, snooker became more popular than billiards. Today, the the world championships, played at the Crucible in Sheffield, England every April, remains the unofficial world professional snooker championships.

The word "pool" comes from "poolrooms", where people gambled off-track on horse races. They were called poolrooms because money was "pooled" to determine the odds.



Billiards, carom, pool and snooker are all games played between two players on a special table covered in green baize. Players use a cue to strike the cue ball with the aim of hitting other balls or pocketing them.


A game of snooker consists of at least three frames and begins with 22 balls on the table: the cue ball, 15 red balls (1 point each), one yellow (2 points), one green (3 points), one brown (4 points), one blue (5 points), one pink (6 points) and one black (7 points).

Points are built up by pocketing - hitting a ball into a corner or side pocket on the table. Players must pocket a red ball first, followed by a coloured ball of choice.

When all 15 red balls have been cleared from the table, a player must pocket the coloured balls in order of value, starting with the lowest (yellow).

The winner of a frame is the player with the highest point total from pocketed balls and fouls once the table has been cleared. Unless a break begins with a free ball, the maximum any player can score from one visit to a table is 147, which is only possible if a player pockets a black after every red ball.


In a standard game of billiards, a player scores points by pocketing balls and may continue shooting until a shot, or pocket is missed.


The game of pool comes with many sets of rules. The 9-ball version of pool uses balls numbered one to nine, which must be pocketed in order. The largest 9-ball tournaments are the US Open and the World 9-Ball Championships for men and women, both professional events. The 8-ball version of the sport involves red and yellow balls with each player assigned a colour; it is a popular amateur game.


Carom uses a table with no pockets. The three-cushion billiards is the most difficult carom game to play. There are two cue balls (white and yellow) and a red object ball.

Each player shoots his own cue ball during a game. To score a point, a player's cue ball must contact both of the other two object balls and at least three cushions (rails). However, three cushions must be struck before the cue ball contacts the second ball. If a player scores a point, they may continue.