Chapter 2: General Rules For Tournaments and Various Tournament Types.

The General Rules for Tournament Play:

For any tournament, in addition to the rules governing the actual game(s) to be played, there is a further set of rules governing the administration, running, and conduct of players during said tournament.   These are the General Rules for Tournament Play (GTR).   They are the best set of guidelines available for keeping things running smoothly and making sure that people behave themselves.   In the end, the enforcement of these rules, as with the other tournament rules, lies with the TD.

Among the rules expounded by the GTR are rules about referees, player conduct, acceptance of equipment, protests, and other things which are important to the running of a smooth tournament.   Of course you can always modify these general rules to fit any special conditions you might encounter in a tournament.

Types of Tournaments:

So you want to run a tournament ... what type do you wish to have?   There are so many different games related to billiards that it would seem easy to come up with one that works, but not all billiard games are popular or make good tournament games.   So here is a list of some of the more popular games played at Tech, along with very simplified rules for them:

  1. 8-Ball: the perennial pool-hall game.   8-ball uses a full rack: seven solid balls, seven striped balls, and the 8-Ball.   Can be played by two players, or two teams.   After the opening break, one person (team) is assigned the solids, the other the stripes.   The object is to sink all seven of your type of balls, and then pocket the eight ball; first one to do it wins.
  2. 9-Ball: the modern era hustler's game, played because it's fast and easy.   9-Ball uses the object balls numbered one through nine, racked as a diamond on the table.   The balls are pocketed in numbered order.   The object is simple: sink the nine-ball.   Whether you run all the balls, or sink it on some funky shot, the nine is the money ball.
  3. 7-Ball: If you think 9-Ball is fast, this game is even faster.   Invented for television, it's a chopped off version of 9-Ball, with the seven now the money ball, and the added twist that after the break, the non-breaker must choose which side of the table he/she is going to sink the seven on.   The rack is a kind of hexagon with the seven in the middle (other balls in clockwise numerical order around it - one-ball on the foot spot).
  4. 14.1 Continuous (Straight) Pool: Most people in B.A.C. play straight; the club owes its foundation to this game of gentleman pool players.   The Straight Ladder is an example of how good this game is as far as competition is concerned (as of this writing there are 28 ladder players, and at one point there were 35).   The game is really easy - as played by B.A.C., the game is to fifty points.   Each ball pocketed is worth one point.   Fouls and scratches are minus one point.   In our game, a handicapping system is used to try and equalize things between two players, so supposedly the competition is fair.   After an opening break, each player takes innings at the table, trying to sink as many balls as possible without missing or committing any fouls.   At the end of a rack, the last ball left on the table, known as the break ball, is left in place, and the rest of the balls are racked, with no ball on the head spot. This is done rack after rack until one player reaches or surpasses fifty and wins the game.   For a more detailed set of rules, see the rules posted in the Game room, or look in the house-rules section of the Billy Aardd's Club web page.
  5. One Pocket: a very interesting and fun game for two players (or teams).   The game uses a full rack; each player has one of the corner foot pockets as his/her goal.   The object is to sink eight balls (of the fifteen) in your pocket for the win.   Any kind of foul causes you to lose a ball from your total.   Balls may be pocketed in any manner, though defensive strategy and tight play usually causes an inordinate amount of banking to occur.
  6. Carom: played on the funny table with no pockets, the many variants can make for interesting tournament play.   Three balls are used, slightly larger than regular pocket billiard balls: a red object ball, and two white cue balls, one marked with a small spot to differentiate them. The object in simple carom billiards is to cause your cue ball to contact either one of the two other balls first, and then the remaining one, thus scoring one point.   A miss ends your inning at the table.   Play is to some predetermined amount of points.   There are variations such as: Three Cushion, Progressive Red Ball, and Balkline which can add to the challenge (or frustration) of the game.

While these are the more popular games around the Game Room, there are many others you might consider using, among which are: Snooker, Cut Throat, and Rotation.   Just about any game found in the Billiards Congress of America rule book can be used as a tournament game.

The Rules of the Game:

Once you've decided what tournament(s) you'd like to run, the next step should be analyzing the rules.   Most games have very straight-forward rules and regulations.   Before running tournament become familiar with all the intricacies of the game and be aware of any special regulations a particular game calls for. In addition to the specific rules for a game, you should also become familiar with the general rules that pertain (be it pocket or carom).   These rules govern the general play in any game, although some of them may be superseded by the rules of a particular game.

Knowing the rules is important, because despite even the best TD's plans, questions invariably arise during a tournament.   The TD has to be ready to interpret the rules and if necessary make judgment calls in certain situations.   As always, the TD's word is final.   In order to try and minimize problems, you should post the rules for the tournament and the game(s) involved in the Game Room as early as possible, so as to give the players time to familiarize themselves with them.

When a player signs up for a tournament, he/she is agreeing to the conditions of the tournament and the rules to be used.   Players should be made well aware of that beforehand, preferably when they come to sign up.   If they have any questions or objections, they should raise them before the tournament begins.

Tournament Control:

Nobody expects the TD to be there every minute of every match.   Sometimes that's just plain impossible, especially if you are using more than one table for a tournament.   That means there has to be some authority under the TD to help control the flow of a tournament and to ensure that things move along speedily.   That is where referees come in.   Referees are the direct tournament authority; it is their job to oversee individual matches and to make judgments as the need arises.   They are familiar with all the rules and regulations, and can often answer a player's questions.   This frees the TD up to sit back and keep an eye on the tournament as a whole.

Of course, just because you have referees doesn't mean everything will go smoothly.   Occasionally (although rarely), a player will question a call or judgment by a referee, and demand things be set right.   The proper course of action is for the referee to bring this to the attention of the TD, who can then make a final judgment on the matter.   It is important to remember that while your judgment is final, it is necessary to hear all sides of the story.   It may slow down things a bit, but it will help keep things under control and will ensure some impartiality on your part.   Be fair and stay within the guidelines of the tournament unless there is no other choice.

If you are going to use referees, you can cut corners by using inactive tournament players to referee while they are waiting for their next match, although this should not be your primary source.   You should try and recruit people who are not involved in the tournament, so as to ensure some integrity and make things fairer.   It's not always easy, but make every effort.   You may even offer referees incentives (food, discount on entry fees to other tournaments, etc.).

In addition to referees, you may need other personnel.   For example, in a game like Straight Pool, you may need a separate scorekeeper whose only ob is to keep track of the events that take place during a player's inning at the table.   Be aware of these things when planning a tournament and you'll find things run much smoother.

Billy Aardd.