Tournament Rules and Regulations.

These rules concern the play, scoring, officiating, and responsibilities for tournament competition (benefit can gained by using these rules in any level of play though).

Each player is responsible for knowing the rules, regulations and schedules that apply during competition.   While it is customary for referees to notify players of things like "being on two fouls" it is, in the end, each player's responsibility to know their own situation.


  1. Tournament Administration
  2. Referee's Authority
  3. Phones and Audio Devices
  4. Player's Chair
  5. Rule Inquires
  6. Billiard Equipment
  7. Referee Duties
    1. Score Keeping
    2. Before the Match
    3. Racking
    4. Clearing Pockets
    5. Cleaning Balls
    6. Answering Player Questions
    7. Mandatory Warnings
    8. Fouls
  8. Restoring Disturbed Balls
    1. Outside Interference
    2. Player Interference
  9. Time Limit Warning
  10. No Outside Assistance
  11. Unsportsmanlike Conduct
  12. Forfeiting Claim to "Place" Position

Tournament Administration

Tournament management decides how a tournament will be run.   The Tournament Director will have final say on all decisions (other than referee judgement) at the tournament.

For consistency, any decision contrary, or in excess, of the rules used for the tournament will be recorded in case the situation reappears.

Wagering by tournament officials is prohibited.   Any official wagering will forfeit compensation and be dismissed.

Referee Authority

The referee's judgement can not be questioned.   Other tournament officials can only overrule a referee if his interpretation, or application, of a rule is in error and then only if the call is appealed.   Note that this does not restrict the referee from consulting with other tournament officials in order to arrive at a decision.   In fact, the referee may use any resource available, like asking spectators about what happened (if he couldn't see it) to make his determination.

The referee may ask any non-player who interferes with the players, or tournament setting, to leave.

Note that the authority of a referee will also apply to other tournament officials when required.

Phones and Audio Devices

Players must turn off their phones and other audio devices during their match.

Player's Chair

Each player will have a chair assigned to them for their match.   When it's not their turn at the table they will promptly return to their chair.   If a player wants to leave the playing area he must get permission from the referee.

Rule Inquiries

Requests about which rule governs a situation, or the interpretation of such rules, must be made immediate to the event which prompted (or may cause) application of the rule.   If a shot is taken after the event, before a ruling or interpretation can be had, the request can not be addressed.

Billiard Equipment

Before matches start each table will receive pencil markings of any lines or spots required by the rules of the game being played.

Items commonly marked on the cloth include (but are not limited to) the following.

  1. The "head", "center", and "foot" spots.
  2. Balk areas (e.g. the "kitchen" in pocket games; "anchor" areas in Balkline carom, the "D" in snooker).
  3. The long string.
  4. A line around the outer perimeter of the rack.

The use of equipment is limited to its intended function.   Bridges (a limit of two on a shot) can only be used to support a cue stick or another bridge.   Balls, or other equipment, may not be used to measure openings or gaps.

Once a match has begun players can no longer question the suitability of the equipment for tournament use with the sole exception that all involved parties agree with the complaint(s) and the solutions offered.

Any billiard equipment may be used for its intended purpose providing it doesn't adversely affect playing conditions or other players.   An example would be excessive use of talc where it gets on the table cloth and balls.

Referee Duties

The duties of a referee encompass more than just making judgement calls on shots and racking the balls.

Score Keeping

In matches without a score keeper the referee will see to score keeping, using an approved score sheet.

Before the Match

  1. The referee will clean the table and balls if necessary.
  2. He will ensure that chalk and mechanical bridges are available.
  3. He will ensure the table is marked (if it is not already, in pencil) as required.


The balls will be racked as tightly as possible.   Ideally each ball will be touching its neighbors.

NOTE:   If the balls won't stay touching then brush, or massage the cloth, in the racking area and try again.   Do not tap the balls into place.

Clearing Pockets

The referee will remove balls from pockets so shots aren't rejected due to an overfull pocket.   Note that the shooter is responsible for seeing that this is done (a shot returning to the table from an overfull pocket is a miss).

Cleaning Balls

A player can ask to have balls cleaned during play.   The position of the balls must be noted so they can be replaced exactly where they came from.

Answering Player Questions

The referee must answer questions about facts which a player needs to make a decision.   The referee is not to offer opinion about shots, equipment, or other factors that could affect play.

Mandatory Warnings

When an object ball is touching a rail the player must be told otherwise any contact with that ball is considered to have driven it to that rail.

It is a foul for a player to shoot a cue ball from the kitchen when it does not start from the kitchen. When a referee notices a player has placed the cue ball outside the kitchen, when about to shoot from the kitchen, he must issue a warning before a foul can be called.

A player who is about to commit a serious foul must be warned. The warning should be issued when the situation is recognized. If the player is not given sufficient warning (enough time to recognise and react to the warning) the foul is treated as a normal foul.   Examples of such fouls would be:

  1. three consecutive fouls,
  2. requesting coaching assistance, or
  3. failure to stop shooting after a foul has been called.

When playing the "three foul" rule the referee must warn a player who has two consecutive fouls, prior to his third foul, otherwise the player is considered to have been on just one foul.


Fouls will be called as soon as they are noticed.   The incoming player will be told if he has to play the cue ball where it came to rest.   If he can play it from elsewhere he will be told where he can put the ball in play from and then will be handed the cue ball.

Restoring Disturbed Balls

Outside Interference

When possible the referee will restore all moved balls (if it's not possible the game will be replayed).   If any of the moved balls interfered with the shot the shot will be replayed after the balls are restored to their position before the shot.   If the shot was not affected then the shot stands and the balls moved by the interference will be restored to their position before the shot.

Player Interference

If a player changes the position of the balls on a table, other than by a shot, his opponent has the option of taking the table as is or having the balls restored to their previous position.   To facilitate the opponent's decision he must be fully informed of the position each ball would be returned to (best not to move the balls from their new positions in case the decision is to take the table as is).

In a refereed match the referee will be the only one to restore the balls.   The referee's judgement of a ball's position is final.

Time Limit Warning

When necessary to keep matches moving and on schedule a time limit on strokes will be instituted.   When a player comes to the table he will have at most 45-seconds in which to execute his shot, failure to do so is a foul. Failure to execute subsequent strokes within 40-seconds of the previous stroke will result in a foul. (To avoid disrupting a player's train of thought no warning, such as "10-seconds left", will be issued.   If a player runs out of time for a shot he may ask for an extension without incurring a foul.)

During the course of a match each player will be allowed two extended periods of time.   Each extended period can be up to 2-minutes long.   If a stroke is not executed within that time the player will have fouled.

No Outside Assistance

During a match players may not communicate with people other than their opponent and tournament officials.   Any communication beyond this must pass through the referee.

Augmentation of a player's abilities (e.g. with a graphing calculator, or a computer) are prohibited.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Acts of unsportsmanlike conduct will result in penalty or disqualification from the tournament.   It is not necessary to issue a warning first.   The tournament director will review such decisions before they are made final.

Some examples of unsportsmanlike conduct follow.

  1. Intentionally moving, or interfering with the travel of, a ball in an illegal manner (like bumping the table, or blowing on the ball).
  2. Using balls, or other equipment, to check clearances for a shot.
  3. Failure to halt play for a referee (or other tournament official), or an opponent, to confer with tournament officials.
  4. Seeking, or accepting, outside assistance during a match.

Forfeiting Claim to "Place" Positions

A player competing for an award, or prize "place", in the tournament will (barring exceptional circumstances) forfeit the right to any award, or place, in the following cases:

  1. fail to show for a "place" contest,
  2. forfeit of a "place" contest,
  3. intentionally playing under speed in a "place" contest.

Any player this is applied to will be ejected from the tournament for Unsportsmanlike Conduct and the rankings of the remaining players will be recalculated.

Note that this does not restrict enforcement of other rules of play or competition.


These rules are used by Billy Aardd's Club, NMIMT, Socorro, NM.