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American snooker is a cue sport played almost exclusively in the United States, and strictly on a recreational, amateur basis. Diverging from the original snooker game, rules for American snooker date back to at least 1925, and have been promulgated by the Billiard Congress of America (BCA) since the mid-20th century. The game is in decline, as the Internet and television increase awareness and popularity of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (World Snooker) and International Billiards and Snooker Federation (IBSF) global standardized rules.
The game is essentially the same, but the American version has a simpler ruleset, and is usually played on smaller tables. Depending upon equipment availability, the balls and pockets may be larger than standard, even up to the size of "American style" (i.e., world-standardized) pool balls.
The United States Snooker Association is in no way connected with the game of American snooker, being the IBSF-recognized US governing body of standard-rules snooker. The American game is also not that played in the Pan-American Snooker Championship, launched in 2013 by IBSF and World Snooker.
American snooker made its first known in-print appearance in the 1925 edition of Brunswick–Balke–Collender Co.'s Rules Governing the Royal Game of Billiards, a rulebook given away by the company (with illustrations of their tables) as a promotional item. The previous edition, published in 1914, included snooker, but it was a summary of the original British version, as defined then by the Billiard Association of Great Britain and Ireland, whom the Brunswick booklet credited. The 1925 American version had a longer ruleset, opposite the situation today. Since at least as early as 1946, the Billiard Association of America (BAA), later the Billiard Congress of America (BCA) has published rules for American snooker in every edition of its near-annual rule book. The BCA describes the game as "a cousin of snooker as it is played broadly around the world, the regulations giving it a distinctive direction toward the configuration of many American pocket billiard games". Various rules are more in tune with pool-player expectations, such as no requirement to shoot away from an object ball that is frozen to the cue ball.
No organized championship has been held in decades, and the game is principally of historical interest. The rules are sometimes used with American snooker balls on American pool tables (with their more generous pockets), as a loose approximation of snooker.
American snooker often uses 54 mm (2 1⁄8 inch) snooker balls, but may use standard 52.5 mm (approx. 2 1⁄16 in)}} balls. It is typically played (in a billiard hall) on a 10 by 5 feet (3.0 by 1.5 m) snooker table (and in private homes, often on even smaller tables), as full-size regulation 12 by 6 feet (3.7 by 1.8 m) British-style tables are rare in the United States, although they are legal for American snooker. Most serious players obtain proper snooker cues, though novices may settle for a thick-tipped pool cue. The game can easily be adapted informally to standard, large-pocketed 9 by 4.5 feet (2.7 by 1.4 m) pool tables, with snooker ball sets the same size as regular American pool balls (to compensate for the larger pool pockets); Saluc, for example, manufactures such a 57 mm (2 1⁄4 inch) set, under their Aramith brand name. American snooker sets often come with color balls that are numbered with their point values.
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[summarize from BCA rulebook]
- "Rules Governing the Royal Game of Billiards". Chicago, IL: Brunswick–Balke–Collender. 1925. pp. 40–48.
- "Rules Governing the Royal Game of Billiards" (PDF). Chicago, IL: Brunswick–Balke–Collender. April 1914. pp. 45–48. Retrieved November 20, 2009.
- Empty citation (help)
- "Snooker Games". Billiards: The Official Rules and Records Book. Colorado Springs, CO, US: Billiard Congress of America. 2008. "American Snooker" entry, pp. 118–121. ISBN 978-187849-318-7.
- Archived example from a retailer, January 18, 2005.
- Archived copy of an example dating to May 13, 2008.