Snooker Etiquette



I was recently made aware of a list of rules to be posted in our club concerning the behaviour of some of our perhaps over enthusiastic younger players.

Most of these rules concerned noise and off the table conduct and behaviour but they did stimulate some discussion about negative “gamesmanship” that had been observed over the years by some of our more established and senior players.

This has prompted me to write down some thoughts to be considered by all players about their own behaviour around the Snooker/Billiard table in the hope of stimulating a debate on the subject.

  1. Do you ever stand by the pocket that your opponent is attempting to pot a ball into?
  2. Do you ever chalk your cue “loudly” as your opponent is taking their shot?
  3. Do you ever talk to your opponent in the hope that you can reduce the effectiveness of their concentration or their performance?
  4. Do you ever find yourself rushing around the table as your opponent is making a break and ending up accused of interfering with his line of sight?
  5. Do you continuously complain about your luck so that eventually your opponent reduces their concentration due to your ever readiness to complain about their good fortune or your bad?
  6. Do you ever talk to bystanders perhaps asking if a particular ball goes in order to disrupt an opponent’s concentration?
  7. Do you ever refuse to accept that you have committed a fowl, perhaps by lightly touching a ball and then not admitting it?
  8. Do you ever question the scoreboard or make inaccurate movements of the pointers to benefit your position?
  9. Do you ever make unnecessary fuss about re-spotting balls to distract your opponent?
  10. Do you ever deliberately miss-announce the score as your opponent is on a break in order to disrupt his concentration?

These are the top ten that the group of us could remember having seen over the years, in no particular order of frequency observed.

I have often seen people playing for money, that have made an art form of combining the above methods as part of their regular match strategy. They seem to adopt a different personality as soon as the session gets under way, perhaps this is due to the pressure and anxiety of the situation that they are in and their reaction to it?

I would like to make a plea that if you, as a player are not prepared to take your chances against any given opponent without resorting to the above tactics then perhaps you should refrain from gambling on your ability until you can. I have myself moaned about my luck during a session but am making a concerted effort to banish this kind of thing from my game.

Of course distractions sometimes occur strictly unintentionally and should not be confused with deliberate attempts to defeat an opponent by any means available. I would not encourage young players to gamble on their Snooker ability until they have at least completed a full season in the local league thus having learned how to behave well in both victory and defeat regardless of the money involved.

Most people when challenged about the above-mentioned behaviour either, deny it flat out or say that it is part of the game. I don’t agree with either statement and would argue that etiquette, is very much part of the game and greatly adds to the reputation of the game when applied correctly? What do you think?

I must say that these observations of negative gamesmanship are those that I have witnessed over a very long period of time and that none of them took place in professional matches. Some of the time I believe that players start this kind of behaviour as a joke, sadly some people seem to gain greater success from employing them so continue to incorporate them into their play.

I think that a good coach should always add a lesson on etiquette as part of their teachings as at the very least it may pre-warn the more serious player that they may at some point encounter these kind of tactics and allow them to devise an appropriate personal strategy for coping with them?

Having played many matches in the local league, I can honestly say that this kind of behaviour is extremely rare, so I don’t think that we need worry too much about the state of the game at grass roots level, but I would like to do my bit to keep things this way.

David Smith
Cues n Views