Northern Quarter Pool League

A Contentious Issue – “Deliberate” Fouls

Following the chaotic descent of the AGM into something resembling one of those “peaceful” protests you see on TV, it was clear that no common agreement could be found on how to classify the “deliberate” foul.

Subsequently, I took some time to research the experiences of similar leagues; comparing various sets of rules and the differing modifications made by each. I also found a variety of opinions on discussion forums and various other sources such as league news items.

What I can say from this exercise is that there is NO single solution that will please everybody, in the official game/rules and in a large proportion of individual’s opinions this is an accepted component of the strategy of the game. As evidenced at the AGM, there is no agreement on what actually constitutes such a deliberate act.

The more recent iterations of the official pool rules, as published by the governing body, have used two methods to reduce the chance of a player choosing to employ this “tactic”; either by, increasing the effect of the penalty to make it less attractive to give away a foul, and/or adding ways to pot an opponent’s ball without incurring a foul.

This has been achieved variously by:

  • extending the single free shot provided in our rules to a free visit – commonly known as two shot carry,
  • allowing the white to be placed in a larger zone (behind the baulk/anywhere on table) and allowing this when foul snookered or even after any foul,
  • allowing an opponent’s ball to be played and/or potted in certain circumstances.

These rules are frequently the reasons that players mention when stating that they prefer “old” rules, claiming that these additions make the game “too easy” and the “old” rules require more skill.

A vote was taken at the AGM on the subject of changing the playing rules to a more recent edition. This was unsurprisingly overwhelmingly rejected as the majority (maybe even all) of our players enjoy the “old” rules.

The following Guidance, along with the published League Rules, should be considered the final position of the League on this subject, please review this information carefully.

Guidance for Players and Referees for the Northern Quarter Pool League

It is reminded to all players of this league that the first rule of pool states that all players shall play in a sportsmanlike manner. It also states that the Referee is the sole judge of fair and unfair play. Repeatedly disagreeing with the referee’s decisions during a game IS unsportsmanlike behaviour.

Opinions vary, the rules do not, by choosing to play the game you are accepting that the referee of your game will use his/her personal judgement and act in an impartial manner in order to apply the rules of the game fairly and accurately.

There are a few rules which cover fairly specific situations that may result in the end or restart of a frame;

  • 7 LOSS OF GAME including (d) clearly failing to make an attempt to play your own ball (IS THIS A DELIBERATE FOUL?)
  • 9 STALEMATE whereby a legal shot cannot be played at all, or the players are not allowing the game to progress (IN THE REFEREE’s OPINION!)

Potting an opponents ball is a foul as described in rule 5 (f). The penalty for a foul is described in rule 6.

Simply committing a foul would not ordinarily result in a loss of frame. The normal free shot penalty should be sufficient to deter a player from intentionally carrying out such fouls.

In the true spirit of the game, it is considered in the context of this pool league that players should take the utmost care to avoid committing fouls at all times without exception.

In some circumstances, of which there may be many possible permutations, some referees may consider a player committing a foul in an apparently deliberate manner, to be unsportsmanlike behaviour, especially when they appear to gain an unfair advantage from such an act.

It has been previously voted upon, by the League Captains at the meeting on the 4th July 2012, that the guidance should include notice that a player “deliberately potting an opponents ball in a manner designed to provide an unfair advantage” is indeed unsportsmanlike.

The example given in relation to this vote was described as – a player rolling their own ball up to a pocket blocked by an opposing ball and intentionally knocking the opponents ball into the pocket whilst leaving their own ball in a superior position now covering the pocket.

It is suggested that at least one factor that should be considered by the referee is to whether the player could have played a different shot, e.g. onto a different object ball or in a different manner, which was less likely to result in a foul penalty.

As noted earlier, rule 7(d) provides for an end of frame penalty if no attempt is made to play your own ball, therefore, falling drastically short of your ball could be considered LOSS OF GAME.

Rules, Referees and Disputes

The referee is not allowed to provide advice to the player, the referee may only answer questions about the rules. If in doubt about the potential outcome of a shot the player must make clear his intentions to the referee whereupon the referee will advise on his opinion based on the Official Northern Quarter Pool League Playing Rules and associated Guidance. All players should be familiar with the Playing Rules. ALL REFEREES MUST BE FULLY AWARE OF ALL THE RULES AND GUIDANCE.

In the event of a player dispute with any decision made by the referee, the Captains should be consulted in the first instance to provide to a ruling. If the Captain of the team is already a party in the disagreement (either Player or Referee) then the Vice Captain MUST take the place of the Captain in discussing the decision. Players should present their opinions only when asked, spectators should NOT provide their opinions.

If a decision cannot be reached then the match must be abandoned and referred to the League for further investigation – the match will be recorded as abandoned.

The Final Word

Players are reminded that the Northern Quarter Pool League has for a long time existed because of it’s mixture of skill levels and friendly atmosphere. The game is intended to be played in the spirit of true sportsmanship, players should strive to improve their own skills on the table and accept victory and defeat with equal grace.

Good Luck!
Yours Sincerely
League Secretary