Crud (game)

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Crud (also known as "Slosh) is a fast-paced game loosely based on billiards or pool, and originated in the Royal Canadian Air Force. It is played in units of the Canadian Forces, the Canadian Coast Guard, the United States Air Force, the United States Navy, the United States Marine Corps, and the Royal Australian Air Force.[1]

The game of slosh has been played in Australian Army Officer's Messes since the Vietnam era (the author of this addition played this game from 1983, generally after Dining-In Nights.

The game is played on a pool or snooker table (usually the latter, when available) using the cue ball (the shooter ball), and one object ball (most commonly a striped ball since it is easiest to determine if it is in motion). Only the corner pockets are used on non-snooker or smaller tables. On these, the side pockets (if there are any) are blocked off, traditionally by rolls of toilet paper.

Pool cues are not used; the shooter ball is launched across the table surface with the hand. A game of crud involves moving around the table and other players, trying to grab the shooter ball and either strike the object ball before it stops moving or sink it. This boisterous game is usually only played in a military mess as the management of most public establishments would not normally condone contact sports and tolerate the apparent abuse of their equipment.


Crud is a competitive, team sport. Each member of the two teams has three lives. The exception to this rule in some establishments is for "virgins", those who have never played the game before, who are given an additional life. A team's order of play is established at the beginning of a game and recorded on the scoreboard. A team must play in order, like baseball's batting order. Anyone caught playing out of turn loses a life.

Before play can begin, the Judge does a roll call to verify the presence of all players. Anyone not present at the time of a roll call has his/her name erased and may not play in the game. Once all persons have been verified, a lag is performed.

In the event of an uneven number of players wishing to be involved with a crud match, a ghost may be assigned to a team missing the required number of players. In the event of a ghost player, the second or third lives of the Ghost's" team players are assigned to the "Ghost" until 3 lives attrit the "Ghost". Once the ghost is gone, play resumes as normal.

There will be at least one Judge, usually known as the Crudmaster or Crudmeister, who is usually positioned centered on one of the long sides ( optional and must be holding a beverage in a cup). This beverage measures the Judge’s physical safety: if he/she is bumped/jostled in such a way as to spill the beverage, the offending player loses a life and must replace the beverage. Particularly hostile games or games where the referee's neutrality is questionable may also employ a Ass't Judge to assist the Judge and situated at opposite the Judge. (Optional-both are required to have beverages.) In addition, a scorekeeper is sometimes used to keep track of lives lost.

The Judges rulings are final Arguing with the referee is authorized; however, intelligence and sportsmanship may become suspect if it continues unabated. Continual quibbling may be penalized by the loss of a life. Above all else, crud is a gentleman's game.

The lag[edit]

The game opening event used to determine which team has choice. From the Shooter End, Team Captains simultaneously release their respective CRUD Ball so that it touches the opposite short side of the table. The ball that returns closest to the Shooter end without touching it or the side rails determines Choice.

On the signal of the Judge, both players will have five seconds to roll their lag shot. The use of both the object and shooter balls is authorized for this event. The lag shot consists of each player starting at a designated short side of the table and rolling one's ball to the opposite bumper of the table. Each ball must rebound and return to the lagging end of the table, but must not touch the side or near bumpers. The ball nearest the near bumper wins the lag and their team has the option of shooting or receiving. If neither player can keep the lag within the legal limits after 3 attempts. other players may try again or a coin will be flipped.

The serve[edit]

The opening event of each Round. With the Object Ball spotted on the center line 6 inches from the Receiver end of the table, the Shooter is given 3 attempts to hit the spotted Object Ball using any number of bumper bounces. Shooter Ball movement may only be stopped by the Judge or the Shooter. Any Service where the Shooter Ball goes beyond half the length of the Table will be counted as 1 attempt. If he/she does not manage to hit the object ball or the object ball does not travel six inches (152 mm) within 3 attempts, the shooter is assessed a life.

Neither the defender nor anything on his/her person (i.e. clothing) may touch the object ball once it is set or in motion nor the shooter ball until it has struck the object ball or play has been declared over. An infraction of this rule ends play and the player is assessed a life.

Once the shooter ball strikes the object ball, the defender becomes the shooter and the next player from team A becomes the defender. The previous shooter must vacate the playing area without affecting play in any way.


The shooter picks up the shooter ball and attempts to strike the object ball and sink it in one of the available pockets. There is no limit to the number of misses a player can make as long as the object ball remains in motion.

He/she may only make contact with the object ball by throwing the shooter ball from one of the short ends of the table, not from the sides with the blocked side pockets. The validity of a shot at the end of the table is determined by the location of the player's crotch with respect to an imaginary 45° line drawn (or extension of long side imaginary line -ACPA) from the corners of the table. Failing to be within the end of the table while shooting the shooter ball is a foul, called Balls (or Lips if female), and the offending player is assessed a life.

If the player is unable to hit the object ball with the shooter before the object ball stops moving (dead ball) he/she loses a life. If the object ball is sunk by team A in one of the pockets (a kill), a life may be assessed on either the previous shooter or the next shooter on team B, depending on who allowed the object ball to be killed; determination is solely within the discretion of the Judge, but is usually assessed against the player who last had an opportunity to strike the object ball with the shooter ball. The shooter ball is then passed to the next player (in this case the next shooter on team B) to serve.

“No Six” – The Defender must personally make this call to stop the Round before taking any shot. Whenever the Object Ball is hit, it must travel 6 inches, including bumper bounce, except in the cases of the “Double Kiss, Dead." The Judge will determine the distance of travel based on his judgment of where the Object Ball was last hit. If full travel is less than 6 inches, center-ball to center-ball, the Life is against the last Shooter. If it traveled 6 inches or more, the Life is a Dead Ball on the Ball-in-Hand Player. If the Shooter shoots the Shooter at the Object ball and misses, the Defender may not then call "No Six".

A player can stretch as far on to the playing surface as needed to retrieve the shot ball, but they can't let their feet touch the surface, otherwise they forfeit a life. Further, when attempting a shot, the Shooter must keep one foot on the floor at all times. If both feet end up off the floor, the Shooter forfeits a life.

While taunting an opponent is legal, fun, and generally encouraged, players may not physically interfere with each other. Interference calls may result in the referee warning the offender, or assessing the offending blocker a life. Stationary blocking is permitted provided that the player does not hold onto the table. Light body checks by the shooter in order to jockey for position are permitted. If the body check is excessive in the eyes of the referee, the shooter may be warned or assessed a life. The level of physical contact between team members may be waived to any level deemed appropriate by the referee in coordination and agreement of both teams involved in the match. The shooter must be given a reasonable opportunity to acquire the shooter ball.

ACPA Blocking Rules - “Blocking” – The Shooter has the primary right to the table. The Shooter has a right to get to the Shooter Ball without being blocked by the Defender. The Shooter has a right to make a shot. There will be no Blocking of the Shooter’s movement on the Runway along the long sides of the CRUD Table. In some cases, the Shooter will need to go around a Defender who is up against the side of the Table. Inadvertent or accidental long side Blocking, as determined by the Judge, will not be held against the Defender The Defender has blocking rights based on the following: -- The Defender may not touch either of the CRUD balls or the Shooter’s forearm or hand during a shot. -- The Defender may not hold onto any portion of the Table. -- Once established in a position to block the Shooter’s shot, the Defender may not move his feet to re-establish another position as the Shooter moves around the Defender. If the Shooter moves to the other end of the table, this rule then applies at that end. -- During Blocking, the Defender’s hands and arms must be constantly moving and closer to the Object Ball than the Shooter’s face, and the hands and arms may not go below the level of the bumpers. If the Defender’s hands are swept away by the Shooter, the Defender may readjust and try again. -- The Defender may offer resistance, but may not use holding techniques and must be “giving way” without “over-resistance” to the Shooter’s attempt to establish position for a shot. The Shooter is only entitled to “take” as much room as is reasonably required to make a shot. The use of hard pushing or hitting with the hands, elbows, shoulders or hips by either the Shooter or the Defender to establish or maintain their position is not allowed. -- The Player on Deck has no Blocking rights.

“F.O.D.” – Any Foreign Object Debris that falls or spills onto the playing surface. A piece of attached clothing will not constitute F.O.D. unless it touches one of the Balls during play. Whereas it may be necessary for a Shooter to transit the playing surface to retrieve or shoot the Shooter Ball, a player’s shoes or feet may not touch the playing surface or bumpers. The Defender may not be on or somehow resting on the playing surface when anticipating a Shooter’s play. is also known as walking the table.

Between play[edit]

The team that is assessed a life has the choice of defending or shooting on the subsequent serve.

Losing players[edit]

When a player loses all three lives, that player must withdraw from the match. Order of play is adjusted accordingly, with play still alternating between the two teams regardless of how many survivors are playing. IE: the last survivor could alternate between several opponent players. It is customary for the first player out to procure a beverage of choice for the referee as penalty for their lack of finesse in the game. It is also customary for the second player out to procure a beverage for the lineman/scorekeeper (as used in play). The third player should procure a beverage for the scorekeeper if a lineman is employed.

Single-man rules[edit]

Single-man rules apply only when one team has only one player remaining. If both teams are down to one player, then normal rules apply. For the sake of simplicity, the team with the single man is referred to as team A and the opposing team as team B.

  1. Team A has the choice to serve or defend on the serve.
  2. While defending, team B may not make any contact with the player on team A, but may visually obstruct, harass or otherwise distract team A.
  3. While defending, team A is permitted to make contact with team B in accordance with any applicable combat rules (see below).

(ACPA rules differ somewhat. )

Other rules[edit]

It is required that any participant, including the Judge and/or spectators, point only at anyone else with an elbow. Pointing with a finger costs the player a life, and, more importantly, will result in a copious amount of warranted public ridicule. One must point with the elbow because fighter pilots will not point at anything they do not intend to kill. This practice is enforced at all times, not simply when playing the game of Crud.

Only one member of each team is allowed within three feet of the crud table at a time. Anyone third player violating a rule is assessed a life.

“Ball off the Table” – When the Shooter Ball is shot so vigorously that it causes either ball to leave the playing surface and either ball touches anything that is not the CRUD Table, including the Next Shooter. This Life will be called over any other Life resulting from events in that Round, i.e., “Dead Ball,” “CRUD,” etc.

Under no circumstances shall anyone make contact with the Judge, Ass't Judge, or scorekeeper or spill their drinks. Anyone doing so will be assessed a life and/or be required to purchase the offended party a replacement drink at the bar.

Specific players may be restricted from play if they have not proven their skill and a pro-series is called. If a pro-series is called by any participate then only the proven top six players may be on the table. During a pro series Shane can not play.


When a team loses all of its players the match is over and the other team is declared the victor. The players of the losing team are required to buy their counterpart (i.e. the fourth player of the losing team buys the fourth player of the winning team) a beverage of their choice. If there is a member on the winning team with all three lives intact, said team member is also called a virgin and will receive double rounds due to one's prowess and ability to remain untouched throughout the match; this additional alcohol also assists in preventing the player from future virgin rounds.


There are many variants on these rules, including the degree to which contact is allowed (for example, full contact, no contact, or contact so long as the blocker is stationary). Check the rules posted on the wall at your establishment; however, reading the rules or mouthing the words while reading the rules may cost you a life (local rules vary).

Large 12-by-6-foot snooker tables may or may not have the side pockets blocked, a historical mix-up, but any smaller tables' side pockets must be blocked.

A dominant variation of crud is also played under many names. In this variation, the game is played on regular-sized pool tables, but every man is for himself/herself (no teams) and the object ball must be struck from the opposite end of the table. All six pockets are in play. This form of the game is played with great success by the Princeton University Band. The game has also spread throughout the University under the name "Balls" and may be played with two opponents (singles), three opponents in free-for-all (triples) or with two teams of two (doubles). If the game is played in doubles, the teams are diagonal players, who usually remain stationary. Games play up to 11 points (win by 2) assessed to an entire team instead of lives assessed to individual players. In singles or doubles, a team scores a point when the ball dies while in the possession of the other team (a sunk ball is dead). In doubles, either team member may strike during a team's possession. In triples, points are strikes assigned to the next player in the striking order (when any of the three players has at least 11 strikes and two more than either of the other players, they are eliminated and the game follows doubles rules). Service is always provided by the team who did not gain a point on the previous play, except in the case of an imminent loss (next point would be a loss). The striker ball leaving the table is not a foul, and the game remains in play.


Shuck utilizes the same two-ball system and many of the rules of crud, but does not employ a referee – it is geared towards casual home and bar play. Rules not mentioned below are generally acquired from crud.

Basic concept: Two teams of two players each. Unlike crud, there is no rotation of turns, instead all 4 players are involved in every point and either player on a team can grab the cue ball during the play of a point, but no player can ever reach over the center of the table to grab the cue ball; one team may shoot several times in a row. First team to 11 points wins, losing team takes a shot. The opening serve comes from either player on the serving team. The server gets only two attempts to hit "the object ball" otherwise the opposing team receives a point and control of the serve. The cue ball must be rolled (not thrown) and either it or the object ball must hit a wall or be on pace to hit a wall following the serve for it not to be called a fault. The team that scored a point on the prior play always takes the next serve.

Scoring: Once the object ball is moving it is like a "time-bomb" in the sense that when it stops moving the location of the cue ball on the table will (may) determine the winner of the point, i.e. if the cue ball is on your side of table when the object ball stops moving, you lose the point. The only variation to this is the "Gentleman's Rule" (see below).

Making the ball: You score a point by making the object ball in one of the two corner pockets on your opponent's (i.e., the opposite) side of the table or by banking the ball into a side pocket or back into one of your own pockets. If, upon striking the object ball, it goes either directly into a side pocket or the pockets on your own side of the table then you lose the point (note: toilet paper to block the side pockets is an acceptable variation). If the cue ball goes into ANY pocket on your throw, you lose the point—with one exception, the shuck, explained below.

Gentleman's rule: If the ball is coming to a stop and you throw (roll) the cue ball at it but miss and the ball stops, it does not matter what side of the table the cue ball is on, you still lose the point because you missed it (it's pretty obvious when it happens – no complaining allowed). Also part of the Gentleman's Rule is that you cannot just simply roll/push the cue ball onto your opponent's side when the ball is slowing to a stop. This rule is both as complicated as it is critical to the gameplay, and those attempting to play may not quite understand it at first but it will become obvious soon after playing a couple of rounds (think "I Know It When I See It" from Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's opinion in the landmark 1964 case involving what should or should not be considered obscene—you'll just know it).

Shuck: A rare and gutsy play for advanced players. If your opponent strikes the object ball and you believe it is going into your pocket (or banking into a side pocket or their own pocket), you can take the cue ball and "shuck" it at your opponent's corner pockets. If you sink the cue ball in their pocket before the object ball falls into a pocket, you have essentially stolen the point away from your opponent. Of course, if you attempt a shuck and sink the cue ball, but the object ball does not fall into a pocket then you lose the point. The Gentleman’s rule is also employed if the object ball stops just short of a pocket as your shuck with the cue ball misses (i.e., you would still lose the point).


A more simple, popular variation is called H-O-R-S-E (or horse pool) or P-I-G (or pig pool), building on the rules of Tim. Like the H-O-R-S-E variation of basketball, each player has five lives (represented by letters of H-O-R-S-E). Like Tim, it is played on a six-pocket pool table, as individuals, and is particularly challenging because all shots must be released from the table end opposite the object ball.

The defender of a served the ball is called the server. The server rolls the object ball horizontally from the shooter, from one side to the other. The server must roll the ball on the opposite end of the table between the first and third dot, from either the left or the right side of the shooter. A mis-serve is any ball rolled by the Server that goes out of the bounds of the first and third dot. Three mis-serves in a row results in a letter for the server.

The shooter has three tries to hit the ball. If the ball is not tapped, the shooter gets a letter. If the ball is released from the near side of the table to the object ball, the shooter gets a letter. If the ball goes in a pocket, the next person in order gets a letter.

Nobody gets a letter if the object ball goes in a pocket on a serve. This is called T-N-A. The Shooter may only T-N-A twice in a row; the third T-N-A results in a letter to the shooter.

There is not a no six rule in H-O-R-S-E; the player is allowed to stop the object ball dead, if it is possible, resulting in a letter for the next player. The double-kiss rule is replaced with a double-tap rule, which reverses the order of play. A shooter who performs a double-tap does not play again; the player who was in order before that player must now play. The new order persists after play stops. (A double-tap does nothing in a two-person game.)

Walking the table is never permitted, and the shooter must have at least one foot on the ground when shooting. There may or may not be a referee. The player who gains the last letter becomes the shooter, and the winner of a game becomes the shooter of the next game and may choose to start play in forward or in reverse order.

Combat crud[edit]

A contact version of crud called combat crud is sometimes played, which allows full body checking and blocking similar to what one finds in ice hockey. This is one of the few situations where junior-grade officers are allowed to knock over generals and not be marched up on charges for it, and is therefore quite popular among the "subbies".

Famous Crudders[citation needed][edit]

Crud was made mainstream when famous actor and star of hit shows such as Monk and Wings, Tony Shalhoub, hit the scene. In honor of Shalhoub's contributions to the expansion of the sport, a move was named after the actor in which the player causes the cue ball to be knocked into a pocket by the object ball in order to not only humiliate the opponent, but avoid unnecessary contact with any bacteria that may be present on the cue ball. He first successfully pulled of this move during the 1987 Crud Games Tournament hosted in the province of Nova Scotia when there was a three-way tie at CRU-. During his prime he was nicknamed "The Crudinator" for his mechanical like ability to put a 450 degree spin on the ball that made it stop instantly on contact. It is said Shalhoub still frequents the Crudding circuit of his hometown Green Bay, WI and is rumored to have bought drinks for anyone who successfully completes "The Tony Shalhoub". If Shalhoub hadn't injured his dominant hand during a Jai Alai tournament in Trinidad and Tobago, he could easily have had 7 consecutive Crud championship trophies. In a major crud upset, three-time downhill mountain bike world champion Greg Minnaar was defeated by a deft female adversary named Katie Zaffke. Though it was initially reported that this victory—referred to as the Juliana Takedown—was tainted by Zaffke's so-called, "karaoke offensive," those present that night have verified the win as legitimate.


  1. ^ Blister Townsley, President, American CRUD Players Association since 1988.

External links[edit]

"Official Rules"] of the American Crud Players Association (PDF) Bill "Blister" Townsley [ ] authored a booklet of the rules in 1988, and in 1992, traveled to Cold Lake Canadian Air Base to research the origins and rules of the game. Contact Blister if you'd like a copy of the history he compiled over time.