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Rulebook - Nine-Ball

National Veterans Golden Age Games

Event 11: Nine-Ball Ambulatory

Event 11-A: Nine-Ball Wheelchair

Age Groups

Men and Women Compete Together

  • 55-59
  • 60-64
  • 65-69
  • 70-74
  • 75-79
  • 80-84
  • 85-up


The National Veterans Golden Age Games host will provide pool tables, pool balls (nine numbered and one cue ball), diamond shaped ball racks, cues, and cue chalk. Competitors may use their own pool cues after inspection and approval by the event official.

Oth­er Equipment: drinking water, coin or other device to determine the break, scoring sheets, first aid kit and stop watches.


Any appropriate area designated for the event by the National Veterans Golden Age Games host. Adequate lighting should be a consider­ation, as should adequate area around the pool tables for easy movement of wheelchairs. The host will provide a minimum of 16 and maximum of 20 billiard tables for this competition. If possible, two tables, separate from the competition, should be set aside for photographs.


The competition will be set up in a single elimination tour­nament format. Whenever possible competitors from the same medical center will not be matched against each other in first round matches. All matches will be best two out of three games. Third place game will match the two losers of the two semi-final games against each other.

9-Ball is a rotation game, meaning the balls are shot in numerical order. The shooter must strike the lowest numbered ball on the table first. The game is over when the 9-ball is legally pocketed. A player retains his/her turn at the table as long as he/she strikes the lowest numbered ball first and legally pockets a ball. He/she need not pocket the lowest numbered ball to continue shooting. He/she may, for example, shoot the 1-ball into the 4-ball thus pocketing the 4. He/she will continue shooting but must, once again, strike the 1-ball first. If the shooter shoots the 1-ball into the 9-ball and the 9 is pocketed, the game is over.

Competitors in the wheelchair division must remain seated while shooting. No alterations may be made to wheelchairs to alter the height of the seat.

Racking - Nine balls are used and are racked in a diamond shape. The 1-ball is at the front of the rack and on the foot spot. The 9-ball is in the center and the rest of the object balls can be placed in any numerical order. All balls should touch as tightly as possible and the breaking player may request and receive a re-rack. However, if the balls cannot be totally frozen, the game must proceed at the discretion of the event judge.

Competitor's games in the Ambulatory Division must be completed within ten minutes.

Competitor's games in the Wheelchair Division must be completed within fifteen minutes.

Note: Delay of game penalty may be called at the official's discretion if a player appears to be stalling. Delay of game will cost the player his/her turn at the table.


Rule 1:00 Determining Break

Break will be determined by flip of coin with the winner of the toss having choice of break, then the turn’s alternate for the second and third games.

Rule 2:00 Breaking

The winner of the coin toss has the option of breaking. To execute a legal break, the breaker must place the cue ball completely behind the head-string and strike the 1-ball first and must either (1) pocket an object ball, or (2) drive at least four balls to the rail. If the shooter fails to make a legal break, the incoming player has the option of (1) accepting the table "as is" and shooting with ball-in-hand or (2) having the balls re-racked and shooting the opening break his or herself. If upon trying to break, a player misses hitting the rack entirely, the opponent has the option to break. If a legal break is executed and a ball is made on the break, the player may continue to shoot at the lowest numbered ball. Breaking "safe" or "soft" is not allowed. The event official may make judgments and issue penalties to a player who is not breaking hard. Breaking just hard enough to comply with this rule is not a guarantee against penalties. Players must break as hard as they can with control.

Rule 3:00 After the Break

Various circumstances can occur upon completion of the break. They are:

  1. A foul on the break will result in ball-in-hand anywhere on the table for the breaker's opponent. Pocketed balls if any stay down (are not spotted), except the 9-ball. (Ball-in-hand means you are allowed to place the cue ball anywhere on the table and shoot the lowest numbered ball on the table).
  2. No balls are pocketed and it is the other player's turn.
  3. The 9-ball is made. This is a winner unless the player scratches or the object ball is knocked onto the floor in which case the 9-ball and only the 9-Ball is spotted. This is a foul and the turn passes to the opponent with the 9-ball-in-hand.
  4. One ball or a number of balls are made. It is still the breaker’s turn and he/she shoots at the lowest numbered ball on the table.
  5. The table official will remind players of the "ball to shoot" or correct order of play at the beginning of each turn.
  6. Players will call and keep track of their opponent’s fouls.

Rule 4:00 Combination Shots

Combination shots are legal and extremely common in 9-Ball. The lowest numbered ball on the table must be hit first.

Rule 5:00 Balls on Floor

An unpocketed ball is considered to be driven off the table if it comes to rest other than on the bed of the table. It is a foul to drive an object ball or the cue ball off the table. The jumped object ball(s) is not spotted (exception: if the object ball is the 9-ball, it is spotted) and the turn passes to the opponent with ball-in-hand.

Rule 6:00 Pocketed Balls

Balls must remain in a pocket to be legal. If a ball goes in a pocket but bounces back onto the playing surface, it is not considered pocketed.

Rule 7:00 Spotting Balls

Other than the circumstances described in "Balls on Floor" the only ball that will ever be spotted will be the 9-ball when the shooter has pocketed the 9-ball and scratched or otherwise fouled. If the shooter makes the 9-ball on the break and fouls or scratches, the 9-ball and only the 9-ball is spotted. If the shooter is shooting at the object ball and plays it into the 9-ball and pockets the 9-ball, but scratches or otherwise fouls in the process, the 9-ball is spotted. The incoming player has ball-in-hand and will be shooting at the lowest numbered ball on the table.

Note 1
If a ball which has been hanging in a pocket for more than a few seconds suddenly falls in, it is to be placed back on the table where it was originally.
Note 2
It occasionally happens on tables with small pockets that two balls become jammed in a pocket and are leaning over the edge of the slate to some degree. They are off the playing surface and are pocketed. Drop them in and resume playing the game unless the pocketing ends the game.

Rule 8:00 Fouls

If any of the following fouls are committed, the penalty is ball-in-hand for the incoming player. Make certain you have ball-in-hand before you touch the cue ball by confirming with the table official. Ball-in-hand means you are allowed to place the cue ball anywhere on the table and shoot the lowest numbered ball on the table. Even after having addressed the cue ball, a player may, if not satisfied with the placement, make further adjustments with the hand, (New for 2012) cue stick shaft (cannot use the tip of cue) or any other reasonable piece of equipment. A foul may be called only if the player fouls while actually striking the cue ball, meaning a double hit of the cue ball (sometimes called double clutching). The ball-in-hand rule penalizes a player for an error. Without this rule, a player could benefit by accidentally or purposely scratching or fouling. Three consecutive fouls result in loss of game. (A warning must be given between the second and third fouls).

Only the player may call his/her opponent’s foul. Following are the only fouls resulting in ball-in-hand:

  1. Anytime the cue ball goes in a pocket.
  2. Failure to hit the correct ball first. (The correct ball is always the lowest numbered ball on the table). The table official will determine "good or bad" hits.
  3. Failure to hit a rail after contact. Any ball (including the cue ball) must go to a rail after legal contact. A pocketed ball counts as a rail.
  4. The object ball is frozen to a rail and the player is contemplating playing a "safety." In order for the "frozen ball" rule to be in effect, the table official must declare the ball frozen and the player should verify. Once it is agreed the ball is frozen the player must drive the object ball to another rail (it could hit another ball, which in turn hits a rail) or drive the cue ball to a rail after it touches the object ball. If the latter method of safety is chosen the player should be sure to obviously strike the object ball first. If the cue ball strikes the rail first or appears to hit both the rail and ball simultaneously, it is a foul unless either the cue ball or object ball went to some other rail.
  5. It is a foul to jump a cue ball over another ball by purposely miscuing it up in the air. Accidental miscuing is not a foul unless other rules in this section are violated.
  6. Anytime the cue ball goes on the floor, or otherwise leaves the playing surface.
  7. Receiving illegal aid (coaching from another person) during your turn at the table.
  8. Causing movement of the cue ball, even accidentally, is a foul. It is not a foul to accidentally move any other balls unless, while shooting, a player moves a ball and it in turn strikes the cue ball. Even dropping the chalk on the cue ball is a foul. Any balls moved accidentally during a shot must be replaced by the table official after the shot is over and all balls have stopped rolling. If it occurs before the shot, it must be replaced before the shot is taken.
  9. If, during the course of a shot, the cue ball does not touch anything.
  10. Only the player may place the cue ball in a ball-in-hand situation.
  11. Use caution when placing the cue ball on the table. The cue ball is always alive and if it, or the hand holding it, touches another ball, it is a cue ball foul and your opponent has ball-in-hand. Be especially careful when placing the cue ball in a tight spot.

Rule 9:00 End of Game

A game starts as soon as the cue ball crosses over the head-string on the opening break. The 1-ball must be legally contacted on the break. Players are not required to call shots.

The game ends at the end of a legal shot which pockets the 9-ball, or when a player forfeits the game as the result of a foul, or after the 10-minute time limit. If after the 10-minute time limit a winner has not been determined, a "shoot-out" will determine the winner. The following "shoot-out" rules will apply to determine the winner of the game:

  1. The timer will announce when the time limit has been reached. If a player is taking his/her turn, the timer will wait until the player’s turn (not his/her shot) is over before announcing the time limit has been reached.
  2. When the time limit has been reached, each player will be given an equal number of turns (except as stated in rule 4) to determine the winner.
  3. The winner will be the player who legally makes the most number of balls during his/her turn.
  4. If the 9-ball is legally made at any time during the overtime period by either player the game is over and the player legally making the 9-ball is the winner.


  1. If player A is first to play in the overtime and he/she legally makes the 9-ball during his/her turn, player A wins and the game is over.
  2. If player A legally makes 3 balls during his/her turn and player B makes only the 9-ball during his/her turn, player B wins.
  3. If player A legally makes 2 balls during his/her turn and player B makes 1 ball, player A is the winner even if no one legally has made the 9-ball.

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