|Highest governing body||World Pool-Billiard Association|
|Team members||single competitors or doubles|
|Equipment||Cue sports equipment|
|Glossary||glossary of cue sports terms|
|Country or region||Worldwide|
Nine-ball (sometimes written 9-ball) is a cue sport and a type of pool. The game is traceable to origins in the 1920s in the United States. It is played on a rectangular billiard table with at each of the four corners and in the middle of each long side. Using a cue stick, players must strike the white cue ball to nine colored billiard balls in ascending numerical order. An individual game (or ) is won by the player pocketing the . Matches are usually played as a to a set number of racks, with the player who reaches the set number winning the match.
The game is currently governed by the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA), with multiple regional tours. The most prestigious nine-ball tournaments are the WPA World Nine-ball Championship, and the U.S. Open Nine-ball Championships. Notable players in the game include Efren Reyes, Francisco Bustamante, Thorsten Hohmann, Earl Strickland, and Shane Van Boening. The game is often associated with hustling and gambling, with tournaments often having a "buy-in" amount to become a participant. The sport has featured in popular culture, notably in the 1961 film The Hustler and its 1986 sequel The Color of Money.
Nine-ball has been played with varied rules, with games such as ten-ball, seven-ball and three-ball being derived from the game. While usually a singles sport, the game can be played in doubles, with players completing alternate shots. Examples of tournaments featuring doubles include the World Cup of Pool, World Team Championship and the Mosconi Cup.
The game was established in America by 1920, although the exact origins are unknown. Nine-ball is played with the same equipment as eight-ball, which was designed by Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company in the early 1900s.:24
The game of nine-ball is played on a billiard table with six pockets and with ten balls. The , which is usually a solid shade of white (but may be spotted in some tournaments), is struck to hit the other balls on the table. The remaining balls are numbered 1 through 9, each a distinct color, with the 9-ball being striped yellow and white. The aim of the game is to hit the lowest numbered ball on the table (often referred to as the ) and balls in succession to eventually pocket the nine-ball. As long as the lowest numbered ball on the table is hit first, the player may continue to shoot as long as any ball is pocketed in any of the 6 pockets. A shot where the player hits the object ball and pockets any other ball is sometimes called a . The winner is the player who pockets the nine-ball, even if doing so by a combination shot.
Each rack begins with the object balls placed in a rack and one player playing a . The object balls are placed in a diamond-shaped configuration, with the 1-ball positioned at the front on the , and the 9-ball placed in the center. The rack used to position the balls may be either triangle-shaped, as is used for eight-ball and other pool games, or a specific diamond-shaped rack that holds only nine balls may be used. Racks are usually made of wood or plastic. This templates that lay on the table during the break have also come into use.
The break consists of hitting the 1-ball, with the attempt to pocket any ball. If the nine-ball is successfully potted, the player automatically wins the rack. This is sometimes known as a . Additional rules in some tournaments exist, such as a number of balls having to reach the , and players can be chosen to break alternatively or whoever won the preceding rack. The break is often the most crucial shot in nine-ball, as it is possible to win a rack without the opponent having a single shot. This is often called a , or running the rack. Earl Strickland holds the record for break and runs, after he successfully ran 11 consecutive racks in a tournament in 1996. The first break of a match is sometimes decided by a flip of a coin, but often by playing a , with both players playing a cue ball down the table, the closest to the top rail winning the initial break.
Push out and fouls
After the break, if no balls were pocketed, the opponent has the option to continue the rack as usual, or to play a . The rules on a push out are different to those of a regular shot, as the shot does not need to hit a rail or ball. Any balls pocketed are returned to the table, including the nine-ball. After the push out, the breaking player has the option to play the shot that has been left, or to force the opponent to play on from that location. In early versions of nine-ball the push out could be called at any time during the game, but is now only for the shot after the break. The ideal position to leave the balls in after a push out is to leave a shot that the player believes they can pocket, but that their opponent would struggle with.
If a player misses potting a ball on a shot, or commits a foul shot, then their opponent plays the next shot. A foul shot can involve not making first contact with the lowest numbered ball, pocketing the cue ball, or not making contact with a with the object ball. A foul shot for any reason offers the opponent , where they can place the cue ball at any location on the table. A player making three successive fouls (for any reason) awards that rack to the opponent. Unlike some other cue sports, such as snooker, players are allowed to jump the cue ball over other balls. However, if any ball leaves the cloth at the end of a shot, it is counted as a foul. Jumping is common in nine-ball, that players often have a dedicated jump cue.
As of the 2000s, the rules have been somewhat in flux in certain contexts, especially in Europe. The European Pocket Billiard Federation (EPBF), the WPA-affiliate in Europe, has instituted a requirement on the Euro Tour is that the break shot be taken from a "" a rectangular box smaller than the regular nine-ball breaking area. While making the money ball on breaks are still possible, they are much more difficult with the break box. This was later used on the annual international Mosconi Cup tournaments. Another Mosconi Cup rule change in 2007 called for racking such that the 9-ball rather than the 1-ball is on the , which further stops overpowered break-off shots.
The general rules of the game are fairly consistent and usually do not stray too far from the earliest format set by the Billiard Congress of America (BCA). These later formed the basis of the standardized WPA rules, which the BCA follows as a member, although amateur league play may be governed by similar but slightly different rules promulgated by the American Poolplayers Association (APA) and other organizations.
Nine-ball events worldwide are run at the highest level by the WPA. The WPA World Nine-ball Championship has events for men, women and junior players. Events are generally open to any player who can pay the entry fee, however, some events are based on qualification. The WPA hosts a world ranking schedule based on WPA events, with other ranking systems also operated by the APA and the EPBF. Other major events held by the WPA include the U.S. Open Nine-ball Championship, China Open and Turning Stone Classic. In addition, Matchroom Sport runs major events such as the Mosconi Cup, World Cup of Pool and World Pool Masters.
Several games have been derived from nine-ball. Six-ball is essentially identical to nine-ball but with three fewer balls, which are racked in a three-row triangle, with the money ball, placed in the center of the back row. According to Rudolph Wanderone Jr., the game arose in early 20th century billiard halls; halls charged for matches by the 15 ball rack rather than by table, so players of nine-ball had six balls leftover. For this reason, the game is often played with the balls numbered between 10 and 15, with the 15-ball as the money ball.
Seven-ball is also similar, though it differs in two key ways: the game uses only seven object balls, which are racked in a hexagon, and players are restricted to pockets on their designated side the table. William D. Clayton is credited with the game's invention in the early 1980s. While not a common game, it was featured on television broadcaster ESPN's Sudden Death Seven-ball which aired in the early 2000s.
The most common derivative game is the game of Ten-ball. The game is a more stringent variant, using ten balls in which all pocketed balls must be . Unlike in nine-ball, the money ball cannot be pocketed on the break for an instant win. Due to its more challenging nature, and the fact that there is no publicly known technique for reliably pocketing specific object balls on the break shot, there have been suggestions among the professional circuit that ten-ball should replace nine-ball as the pro game of choice, especially since the rise of the nine-ball soft break, which is still legal in most international and non-European competition. Ten-ball has its own world championship known as the WPA World Ten-ball Championship.
The sport has featured in popular culture, most notably in the 1956 novel The Hustler and its 1961 film adaptation, and the 1984 novel sequel The Color of Money and 1986 film The Color of Money.
- "The History of Billiards". cuecare.com. Archived from the original on February 9, 2007. Retrieved November 10, 2006.
- Hikock, Ralph. "Sports history – Billiards". hickorysports.com. Archived from the original on February 23, 2002.
- Billiards: The Official Rules and Records Book (50th Anniversary Commemorative ed.). Coralville, IA: Billiard Congress of America (BCA). 1998. p. 26.
- Hickok, Ralph (2001). "Sports History: Pocket Billiards". hickorysports.com. Archived from the original on December 5, 2006. Retrieved December 13, 2006.
- Shamos, Mike (1999). The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Billiards. New York: Lyons Press. pp. 89–90. ISBN 1-55821-797-5.
- Jewett, Bob (February 2002). "8-Ball Rules: The Many Different Versions of One of Today's Most Common Games". Billiards Digest Magazine: 22–23.
- "Billiard Congress of America". bca-pool.com. Archived from the original on November 23, 2004. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
- "9 – Ball Rules". vnea.com. Archived from the original on May 18, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
- "Billiards Racks Dimensions & Drawings | Dimensions.Guide". dimensions.guide. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
- "Golden Break". billiardsforum.com. Archived from the original on March 1, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
- "Break and Run". billiardsforum.com. Archived from the original on July 2, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
- "Billiards Digest – Pool's Top Source for News, Views, Tips & More". billiardsdigest.com. Archived from the original on January 18, 2017. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
- "Starting Strong: How to Win the Lag | Pool Cues and Billiards Supplies at PoolDawg.com". pooldawg.com. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
- "Rules of Play". WPA Pool. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
- Jewett, Bob (February 2008). "Killing Me Softly?: The Outbreak of the Soft Break Threatens the Game of 9-ball". Billiards Digest. 30 (3). Chicago: Luby Publishing. pp. 34–35. ISSN 0164-761X.
- "How To Massé and Jump the Cue Ball | Pool Cues and Billiards Supplies at PoolDawg.com". pooldawg.com. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
- Panozzo, Mike (February 2008). "Long Live the Cup!". Billiards Digest. 30 (3). Chicago: Luby Publishing. pp. 34–35. ISSN 0164-761X.
- "Break rules set to change". kozoom.com. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
- "BCA World Standardized Rules for Nine Ball". BCA pool. Archived from the original on November 23, 2004.
- "European Pool Rankings" (PDF). europeanpocketbilliardfederation.com. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
- "WPA Ranking". WPA Pool. Archived from the original on September 23, 2012. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
- Barry Behrman (July 7, 2011). "Statement From Barry Behrman and Shannon Berhman Paschall-Exclusive to AZB". AzBilliards.com. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
- "Pool". Matchroom Sport. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
- "Diamond Pool Tour". azbilliards.com. Archived from the original on June 10, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
- "Womens Eurotour". europeanpocketbilliardfederation.com. Archived from the original on June 22, 2019. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
- Metcalfe, Nick (March 2010). The Pool Bible. Chartwell books. ISBN 9780785826026. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
- Shamos, Michael Ian (1993). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Billiards. New York, NY: Lyons & Burford. pp. 206. ISBN 1-55821-219-1.
- "Predator World 10-Ball Championship – Las Vegas (2019-07-22)". WPA Pool. Archived from the original on June 28, 2019. Retrieved January 6, 2020.
- Rossen, Robert (1972). Three Screenplays: All the Kings Men, The Hustler, and Lilith. New York, Anchor Doubleday Books. LCCN 70-175418.
- "Review: Hustler, The". preview.reelviews.net. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
- "'The Color of Money': Three Men and a Sequel". The New York Times. Retrieved January 7, 2020.