Expand your U.K. IQ: Pointers on snooker
In the hierarchy of potentially yawn-inducing sports on English television — somewhere in the realm of amateur poker and equestrian events — is a game many Americans would describe as “kind of like pool.”
It’s snooker (pronounced “snew-ker”), and while it does involve a large green table and a couple of cue sticks, the rules are entirely different.
Unlike American-favored eight-ball billiards, snooker is won by sinking various balls to accrue points, not by shooting stripes or solids to get to the eight ball.
There are two types of balls on the table, a group of reds and a set of balls of various other colors. Players must first sink a red ball, then any one of the other colors, and continue alternating between them until they miss.
Sink a red (always worth one point) and you must then hit a color ball (worth anything from two to seven points, depending on the color) or face a penalty. Occasionally, however, when a player doesn’t think he is in a good position, he may place the cue ball so that his opponent does not have a direct shot at the next required ball — “snookering” his opponent by placing the cue behind other balls.
Played on a much larger table than a pool table — 140½ inches by 60 inches versus 100 inches by 50 inches — the game often is slow and methodical, with “frames” occasionally lasting upward of 45 minutes.
But games also can go quickly; the world record for a maximum 147 points is just 5 minutes, 20 seconds.
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