Jason Ferguson, the chairman of the WPBSA, has written to the players to ask their opinions on changing the miss rule.

At the recent Shootout event in Blackpool players had ball in hand (i.e. anywhere on the table) after every foul.

This meant there was no need for the miss rule and some players felt it made a refreshing change.

Ferguson has asked the players to consider the following:

1. Retain the miss rule as it is – YES / NO

2. Abolish the miss rule in place of the following:
For all fouls or failing to hit the ball on:
a. Ball in hand in the “D” Only
b. Ball in hand with a free table

3. Ball in hand with a free table after 3 misses have been called

4. I would be willing to trial amended rules for one ranking event.

5. Any other comments

The rule was introduced in its current form because players in years gone by were not making good enough attempts to make contact in escaping from snookers.

But the miss rule still sits uneasily with many. It was never intended to produce snookers that can be worth 30 or 40 points.

One of the main problems as I see it is that it is applied uniformly no matter what the position of the balls.

So the rule is the same if there is 15 reds on – where it is easier to make contact – just as when there is just one red on.

Make no mistake, though: laying snookers and getting out of them is one of the main skills in the game. To abandon that is to effectively negate a side of snooker that should be lauded.

For this reason, the ball in hand alternative seems a leap in the wrong direction but I would offer a couple of caveats to that.

Firstly, it would be far less draconian a rule than the current three misses and you lose the frame automatically. At least with ball in hand the opposing player would actually have to pot the balls they needed.

Second, ball in hand is no guarantee that the frame would be over. It would to a large degree depend on how many balls were left on the table (and where they were) but also on the ability of the player with ball in hand to clear up.

Given the option to put the cue ball where they like actually puts them under pressure: in their minds they’ll be thinking they really must make the most of this chance.

Having the cue ball in the D after a miss may not be any advantage at all. In fact, it may be a disincentive for the striker to make contact because cue ball in the D may not leave a pot on.

People say the referees should have more discretion when it comes to calling a miss but I’m not sure they want it.

At the moment they operate under the strict letter of the law. If they are given more wriggle room over what is a miss and what isn’t then they are laid open to much greater scrutiny – by players, TV commentators and the audience.

It could even lead to a situation as exists in football where referees are routinely accused of favouring one team over another.

Personally, I have no problem with the miss rule being scrapped for one tournament a year by way of giving that event a particular identity.

But should the miss rule be changed for all events?

It isn't perfect but at least right now everyone - players, referees and spectators - know where they stand and it protects a certain skillset required to play top level professional snooker.

So on balance, I would say that its current application is the worst possible solution.

Apart from all the others.


Anonymous said...

The best rules are the simplest ones. The rules of snooker should be just as easily applied down the local club as they are in the world championship final on TV. The rule as it stands is not easily applied down the club because a) there is not a referee b) there is no TV screen to be assist in repositioning the balls.

I say scrap the miss rule and have ball in hand. You will probably find that at pro level the players will make much fewer fouls and at club level the player with ball in hand will not score as many points as they could from repeated foul and a miss calls!

kildare cueman said...

Ball in hand is not the way to go. You are incentivising players to play negatively. Why take on a difficult pot/positional shot when you can play a snooker and get an easy opening.

Tactical players like Steve Davis and Mark Selby will thrive, as they outsnooker more attacking players like Wenbo, Allen and Day. Why take on a long pot? Stick him in a snooker and I'll get in.

Theres no doubt that the miss rule must go though. It wrecks the tempo of a match checking the monitors and waiting for up to 6 or 7 shots for the situation to be resolved, not to mention the inordinate amount of points gained or lost.

I suggested some time ago, to allow players to play a deliberate, or tactical foul. The incoming player would have the usual option of making the striker play again from where the cueball lies.

There would be no grey area. A referee would never have to judge on the integrity of the escape attempt, and the game would flow.

The only material difference is that a fluked snooker wouldn't cost somebody the frame, and you wouldn't have these ridiculous 5 minute breaks in play, where the ref has to reposition the balls.

It could also be applied to the amateur game without controversy.

Anonymous said...

Definitely ball in hand, free table...period.

ColinM said...

If the referees can't use more discretion or simply don't want the responsibility, how about setting up an expert panel who could vote on whether they deemed the particular attempt a valid one / close enough, given the difficulty? I am thinking of a third umpire concept per cricket, with voting lights that could be seen by the audience and the match referee. We would need at least 3 members on this panel - perhaps the two commentators and the World Snooker scoring official. I think this would ensure a fairer trial by 'jury'.

I am not for 'ball in hand', 'ball in D' as I agree that an important part of the game is the laying and escaping from snookers.

Mal said...

You could have a situation where if a player was a reasonable amount ahead after two misses, where all the balls are on, could then intentionally miss and knock a colour or even two colours safe to make the clearance very difficult.

Snookering is an art and getting out of snookers and leaving the balls safe also.

Deliberate fouls can help - such as Dott a couple of years ago and O'Sullivan last year - it can put the opposing player in a more difficult position than they would have been

Anonymous said...

Ball in hand would kill snooker. Couldn't be more against it if I wanted to be.

Andy Spark said...

If the D is too lenient and ball in hand anywhere on the table is too draconian how about a mid-point, say top half of table.

Urindragon said...

I like the miss rule but if it has to go they should play it like in the old days = 'foul stroke 4' and game goes on with the player having the option to put opponent back in

Anonymous said...

The miss rule should be scrapped immediately and the new rule be as follows:
A referee should assess the difficulty of the snooker gained by waving a flag.
An easy snooker with maybe a one cushion should be, say a yellow flag whereby any missed shot would automatically be awarded a free table.
A more difficult snooker should be greeted with a blue flag where the referee can award a free table should the player miss by 6 inches or more, using descretion.
A fiendishly difficult snooker would mean a referee waves a red flag which means that provided a blatently awful effort, the player should not be penalised other than the usual points.
Every player in a snooker would know where he stands before he makes the escape by the referee's flag system.
All misses should be an 8 point penalty and a player can only have one free table per frame.
I believe this would simplify the whole process.

Wolfgang said...

I like this one:

3. Ball in hand with a free table after 3 misses have been called

With that rule a player has 2 attempts for a perfect escape. In the 3. he has to decide if he risks ball in hand for his opponent or if he plays a less perfect escape leaving a more difficult pot on.

I mean normally the pros get their perfect escape in the first 3 attempts, so this rule would apply quite rarely anyway.

Anonymous said...

This rule should remain but referees should be given full power to implement it as they see fit. They know the degrees of difficulty of snookers and if someone has made a genuine attempt to hit them. It is irrelevant what anyone else thinks. They should be backed up by the governing body and any dissenting voices should be heavily penalised.

Croupier said...

Surely the bigger news is Barry Hearn taking his players on vacation to Las Vegas.

I love BH.

TazMania said...

Ball in hand is wrong becuase the point of scrapping the miss rule is to make it more fair so some one does not lose a frame from one snooker. If ball in hand does that then why change in the first place?

Referees should stand up more and call on foul if the white ball is 1cm or less closer to the target ball.

Anonymous said...

I believe the answer to the vagueries of the miss rule should result in changes.
A "miss" should still be called but the player has three options.
1) Play again from where the balls were at the time of the miss, in the usual fashion.
2) Balls replaced for a maximum of 5 attempts with the penalties spiralling ie 2 then 4 then 8 then 16 then 32. After the 32 point penalty no further miss can be called
3)An official warning can be administered by a referee or tournament director which if repeated can result in the awarding of a frame to the opponent.
The frame awarded would be the following frame or, if the final frame of the incriminating match, the first frame of the next match played by the offending player.
As things stand too many shrewd operators are gaining from penalties they make.

Betty Logan said...

Personally I'd try to make the rules more explicit for the refs. If the player fails to make contact with the object ball then a miss is always called. If a player only needs to come off one cushion then a miss should keep being called. If a player can only hit the ball by coming off at least two cushions then after the third miss, a miss should not be called.

Betty Logan said...

Another option would be in the case of two cushion escapes (through necessity rather than choice) is to not call a miss if the white is roughly within an inch. A player should always hit the object ball in one cushion escapes so a miss should always be called in those cases. Shotclocks, ball-in-hand, getting too much like pool for my tastes. I think the miss rule is fine, the criteria for applying it just has to be made a bit more explicit.

Anonymous said...

If a player fouls I always believe the best course of action would be to deduct points from his/her score rather than add to the other.
Three misses per frame would be acceptable but the 4th onwards on any given frame would lead to the opponent being able to take any high value from the table for a 3 minute period for tactical reasons.

Anonymous said...

Referee's judgement in shot difficulty can't become a factor. Much as I hate the ball in hand rule, using it only in the event of 3 consecutive misses seems the fairest option. That way it only comes into play with the miss rule and not any foul.

Anonymous said...

Another option is to make it 7 for all fouls, and after 3 misses the game continues as normal.

21 is ample reward for a snooker.

dzierzgul said...

I don't mind the miss rule. It has some merits (I, for one, have enjoyed some great escapes over the years) and it's not very common for players to make more than 3-4 attempts. Also, I agree that ball in hand would only be an incentive for more tactical players to avoid risky pots and go for snookers right away. It may be applied in one tournament, but I definitely wouldn't like to see it in WC, Masters or UK.

Anonymous said...

My reactions:

Dave, you call part of the Miss rule "draconian" (where a player can hit at least 1 ball on full face). As a referee I find this the most logical part. If you can see a ball full face and you decide to go a different/safer/more difficult route then failing to hit this ball 3x in a row SHOULD result in the frame being awarded to the opponent. Nothing draconian about it imho, pure common sense.

As far as I'm concerned the miss-rule should be kept as it is. Nowadays, rarely does a cost a player 30 or 40-odd points anymore.

Rather than arguing whether the miss-rule should be removed OR amended...why don't players choose the other option(s)? After all, a miss MAY be taken, yet there's no rule that says a player MUST accept/take the miss and have ball(s) replaced.

If player A finds the referee was unduly strict in calling a miss on his opponent, what's preventing player A from saying to himself...I'll play from here OR put his opponent in from where the balls have come to rest?

In my humble opinion...don't argue the case, or in this case the rule, but argue the decisions that players make.

Sidenote...someone mentioned that applying the miss-rule is impossible in clubs because there is no referee. Technically this is incorrect since the rules clearly state that if a qualified/formal referee isn't present then the opponent shall act as referee :)


Anonymous said...

I think it is important to clarify that the "three misses and out" rule only applies when the striker can hit the ball on (which is not apparent from the way you have written it).

It's not that draconian if seen in that light - a top class, professional player really should be able to hit a ball he is not snookered on by the third attempt.

As for the miss rule itself, I say keep it. It's a good rule. Yes there are occasions when somone racks up 30-40 points, but they are very rare and even then it is usually because a player is not attempting the easiest way out of the snooker. And I think that last point is key - the whole point of the miss rule, it appears to me, is to deter players from playing a harder escape if it leaves the balls safe.

Last week in the Welsh Open I think O'Sullivan gave away about 30 in misses and I think Terry Griffiths criticised the miss rule and said "this is not what snooker's about". However, about a minute before Griffiths had rightly pointed out that the 4 cushion escape O'Sullivan was attempting was not on. There was in fact a much easier one cush escape off the baulk cushion but it would have set his opponent up (irrelevant imo).

Alex P said...

"I suggested some time ago, to allow players to play a deliberate, or tactical foul. The incoming player would have the usual option of making the striker play again from where the cueball lies."

But this is just the type of nonsense shot that the miss rule was designed to eradicate. A player could be in an exceptionally tough, well-laid snooker and deliberately foul, knowing that when his opponent sends him in again he'll be in a far less tough snooker (or perhaps not even snookered at all). That is why there has to be a miss rule.

Betty Logan said...

If a player fouls I always believe the best course of action would be to deduct points from his/her score rather than add to the other.

The net effect isn't any different though.

David said...

What about if after a miss the player who has fouled has the option of either having another go or letting the opponent have ball in hand with the free table?

Alex P said...

"Another option is to make it 7 for all fouls, and after 3 misses the game continues as normal.

21 is ample reward for a snooker."

I disagree. The object of the miss rule is not to penalise players with penalty points (which are really a non-issue*), more it is to discourage players from gaining an advantage by playing a more difficult shot in order to leave the balls safe.

*It is worth remembering that, aside from 8-10 successive misses being relatively rare in itself, penalties of 30-40 rarely decide the outcome of a frame because, in this day and age, 30-40 points is simply not a lot of points.

Alex P said...

"What about if after a miss the player who has fouled has the option of either having another go or letting the opponent have ball in hand with the free table?"

How absurd - if he had set up his opponent he would keep retaking the shot.

You can't give the option to the person who has committed the foul!

It is interesting to note that there is very little talk about it from the players. I think this is because, although it may make them look fools on occasions, they accept that you need a miss rule to avoid just the situations the miss rule was brought in to stop.

There seems to be more talk about the miss rule's supposed inadequacies from the commentators and presenters who just want something to talk about it. Leave the rule there.

It will be interesting to see how the players respond to Ferguson's questions. My strong hunch is that they will go with the status quo, and even if they do something different for one tournament, they will quickly drop it.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is worth noting the actual miss rule:

"...shall to the best of his (or her of course) ability strive to hit a ball on".

NOwhere in the rules does it say "...and keep the balls safe".

Of course I understand that the object of the snookered player is to escape AND avoid leaving a pot on (i.e. leave the balls safe), however, as a previous poster pointed out...the miss rule was specifically intended to avoid one player from gaining a tactical advantage by playing a shot that, when put back in by his opponent, would be much easier.

In the final, John was once snookered behind the black and went for the "2-cushion clip escape". Eirian rightly called a miss on the first 2 (or was it 3) attempts. John's intention wasn't merely to HIT a ball on but to hit it AND keep everything safe.

On his last attempt he hit a ball on (red in this case) AND got it safe, proving (imho) that Eirian made a good call because it was indeed quite easy to hit any red ball in this case.


David said...

I meant after the incoming player has decided whether to play from where the balls lie. So to spell it out...
1. Foul/miss is comitted
2. Incoming player decides whether to play from where the balls are or not or put opponent back
3. Player who committed foul can have another go at escape (at risk of more penalty points) or just give opponent ball in hand.
Doesn't seem completely stupid...

Pigeon Slayer said...

If this questionnaire is about the miss rule then I don't know why Ferguson conflates it with the issue of normal fouls in question 2.

Aside from that, it is quite clear that there has to be some form of miss rule in top class snooker. I think it is an extremely difficult rule to get right - why should the player who laid a great snooker not be able to extract the harshest penalty from his opponent - but on the other hand - should one snooker be allowed to turn a frame on its head? My opinion is 'Yes - why not' - no one complains when a player pulls off a really difficult pot and goes on to clear up - everyone applauds the skill. So why not apply the same weighting to making an escape as difficult as possible - after all it is called 'SNOOKER'.

So, on balance, I say leave the rule as it is.

Anonymous said...

The miss rule isn't at all perfect, but it's better than the alternatives. Leave ball in hand for the Shootout and give the referees a bit more leeway in determining what is a miss and what isn't. Alan Chamberlain did this all the time.
Another suggestion I saw was for the players themselves to get involved and help the referee, I'm sure the player who laid the snooker can tell when a good effort has been made to get out of it.

Anonymous said...

The rule has to go. I reach for the remote when they start fannying about replacing balls and Im sure thousands of others do too.

Anonymous said...

It's taken years to get this far. All they need is an overhead camera to log the ball positions (in this day and age the technology is there) and then replacing balls after a miss will be super-accurate.

Like the reader above mentions the miss called against Higgins in the Welsh final was a case to keep it. He played for a clip off 2 cushions and got progressively closer until he hit it on the 4th attempt. He knew the risks, why shouldn't he be able to play the shot he wants until he hits the ball on if the referee deems it a foul and a miss?

Some of the comments in this section demonstrate how crazy it would be to drastically change what we have already - it will cause confusion and disagreements the world over. Who knows, in 10 years time we may have our own version of pool with its "local rules" which change depending on which area of the country you come from.

Anonymous said...

The trouble with the miss rule is the that the referees do not know how to impliment it. The rule has always been there but was never used by referees because they were scared of upseting certain players. The referees were told to implement it properly in the 1990's but still did not use their discretion on deciding whether the attempted escape was a 'fair attempt'.Accordingly because of this on occasions the game has been reduced to a farce. So maybe the best way is to get rid of it completely and introduce a new rule which requires no judgement from the referee.Call an automatic miss for three misses and have 'ball in hand' after three attempts seems good to me and make the penalty for any foul 7 points. However it's very dangerous to mess with the rules of snooker as past experiences have shown.You could try it for one season to see how it works.

Anonymous said...

"All they need is an overhead camera" ?

So what about the millions of snooker players around the world who don't have a referee when they play, let alone an overhead camera?

Why do people seem to think that the rules of snooker only affect the professionals? The professionals are a tiny (albeit important) minority.

Are people suggesting we have two sets of rules - one for the amateur game and one for the professionals?

There is no need for that. Just make the rules simple so that they can be applied at any level, even without a referee.

Get rid of the miss rule!

Anonymous said...

Quoting a previous poster for a second: "The trouble with the miss rule is the that the referees do not know how to impliment it."

I disagree strongly here. IMHO, all referees know exactly how/what they are doing. Perhaps you may not have noticed but there's hardly ever any arguments from players whether a miss was rightly called a miss.

Again, the Welsh Open provides a nice example. Maguire had potted a red and ended up at the back of the pack. There was a clear shot (tricky though it was since he'd need an extended rest/spider/whatever). Instead he chose to play for a baulk colour and lo and behold...didn't get close.

He then asked Jan whether he'd be warned should he miss his nominated colour again, to which I think (wasn't audible) Jan said yes.

He gets out the extended spider and correctly hits the black, problem solved. He never complained about it, never even looked askance or whatnot at Jan.

Replying to a suggestion by Betty: points deducted rather than added. As already posted...net value is the same PLUS it might mean someone ends on a score below 0?

In reply to...there's not been many reactions from players: I believe on prosnookerblog (or whatever the name exactly is) you'll find quite a few players have reacted. Guess what...overall reaction...keep it as it is.


Alex P said...

"Call an automatic miss for three misses and have 'ball in hand' after three attempts seems good to me and make the penalty for any foul 7 points."

Any attempt to impose some form of limit for the number of times a miss can be called is flawed.
This is because if the balls are safe and there would be no danger from allowing the opponent to play in hand (either in the D or a completely "free table") then the snookered person will just be happy to concede 3 fouls and let his opponent play from in hand after 3 shots.

There seems to be a misconception that the miss rule isn't working. It is. I have never heard a professional player call for it to be scrapped. They know the alternatives are far worse. Every player knows where they stand with it.

Someone above said that the miss rule has always been there. No it hasn't - it only came in the late 80s/early 90s. And the referees DO know how to implement it. They implement it on the presumption that a top class professional snooker player should be able to hit a ball that they are snookered on.

I have seen some people say that a miss should not be called if the cue ball passes within 1cm, or 2cm or whatever. This ignores the rule which says that the striker must play the object ball to the best of his ability. Most of the time a player who is snookered will try to clip the ball in an attempt to "put distance" between object and cue ball. This means that they cannot have made an attempt to the best of their ability - an attempt to the best of their ability would mean trying to hit it full ball.

Some of the comments on here are so ill-thought through that they amaze me.

Betty Logan said...

Replying to a suggestion by Betty: points deducted rather than added. As already posted...net value is the same PLUS it might mean someone ends on a score below 0?

Not my suggestion Sunshine, it was actually me who pointed out the net effect is the same.

Anonymous said...

I notice a couple of posters who seem very keen to criticise a particular post are very selective in their criticism. If they choose to disagree with another opion they should not be selective in their criticism.I see the post they question ends with the comment 'its very dangerous to mess with the rules of snooker'They make no comment about that.And for Alex P's information there is already a limit on the amount of times certain misses can be called. Its three.

Anonymous said...

@8.55pm: And for Alex P's information there is already a limit on the amount of times certain misses can be called. Its three.

You're wrong and badly informed there, I'm afraid.

The limit of 3x miss that can be called is ONLY when there is a clear path, in a direct line to any balls on such that full face, central ball contact is on.

This part of the rules assumes that a player MUST hit a ball on IF he can see it fully, hence the term "full face, central ball contact".

Don't criticize other people's opinions since they are theirs to give but please DO make sure to know what rule or part of a rule you're discussing.


Anonymous said...

'Youre wrong and badly informed there'

The clue is in the sentence which clearly states 'CERTAIN MISSES'which is what I believe is exactly what you are refferring to.

Please engage the brain before posting.

Alex P said...

"And for Alex P's information there is already a limit on the amount of times certain misses can be called."

Clearly irrelevant as the matter I was referring to was clearly a situation where a situation where a player repeatedly fails to escape from a snooker.

Anonymous said...

Not irrelevent as your wording was 'ANY attempt to impose a limit'.

adegiaco@cox.net said...

Whether snookered or not, player at table fouls (penalty accessed) (foul can even be scratch). Player coming to table has options. Accept table "as is" (if scratch inside D). Or force player to shoot again from the new position. If a second foul in a row (penalty accessed again) in-coming player now has "ball in hand" anywhere on table.

No respotting balls and reshooting over and over speeding up game. No referee bias possible. In-coming player after foul has control of what happens. Snooker penalties still benefit players. Player "in snooker" still has options. Universal whether there is a referee or no referee. Also rule is simpler to understand and invoke. This applies whether there is a snooker or not. Two fouls in a row is "ball in hand" anywhere on the table.

As one comment said "Simpler is always better". This allows for every case... no special exemptions.