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Do Players Have to Declare their Own Fouls, or is it the Opponent's Responsibility?

Do Players Have to Declare their Own Fouls, or is it the Opponent's Responsibility?

We're playing BCA rules at a tournament at my local bar.

Here is the scenario:

I accidentally tipped the cue ball slightly with my stick while setting up to get ready to shoot. I immediately restored the cue ball back to its original position. I looked around to see whether or not my opponent wanted to declare a foul, but he was nowhere to be seen. I finally located him in the corner of the bar chatting with some friends. I decided that (a) my accident had not affected the table and (b) in this context, it was his responsibility to declare a foul, not mine. I resumed shooting. Twenty minutes later, he informed me that someone had told him what I had done.

Think this one over carefully. I don't think the answer is as obvious as one might suppose.

My take is as follows:

In tournament play, absent a referee, there is no foul unless the player's opponent declares one. For example, suppose that a player believes that he may have inadvertently hit his opponent's ball first. Do the rules require that he announce his opinion to his opponent? I say, no. In the absence of a referee, I submit that each player has the duty to monitor their opponent's play, and to immediately declare a foul if they think that their opponent has committed one. The accused player should immediately concede if they agree with their opponent's call—but they have no duty to impose, or even try to impose, a judgement, or otherwise take on a responsibility that rightfully lies only with their opponent.

What do you think?

This question relates to the following billiard rules:

Do Players Have to Declare their Own Fouls, or is it the Opponent's Responsibility?

Replies & Comments

  1. twathlebilliardsforum on 9/7/2022 3:32:23 PM

    This is a great question!

    First thing - BCA rules are written in such a way that assumes a referee is present (or at least an "area referee"). So your question isn't explicitly addressed by the regulations, but there are tidbits which insinuate the non-shooting player shall act as the referee in cases where a referee isn't present.

    In the 2021 BCA Rules and Regulations book, section #5—Playing with an "Area" Referee—notes that in cases where a referee doesn't see the shot, the non shooting player will perform the duties of the referee (see first bolded section).

    5. Playing with an "Area" Referee

    It may be that a tournament is being played with "area" referees who are each responsible for several tables and there is no referee constantly at each table.

    In this case, the players are still expected to observe all the rules of the game. The recommended way to conduct play in this situation is as follows:

    • The non-shooting player will perform all of the duties of the referee.
    • If, prior to a particular shot, the shooting player feels that his opponent will not be able to properly judge the shot, he should ask the area referee to watch the shot.
    • The non-shooting player may also ask for such attention if he feels that he is unable or is unwilling to rule on the shot.
    • Either player has the power to suspend play until he is satisfied with the way the match is being refereed.

    If a dispute arises between two players in an un-refereed match, and the area referee is asked to make a decision without having seen the cause of the dispute, he should be careful to understand the situation as completely as possible. This might include asking trusted witnesses, reviewing video tapes, or reenacting the shot. If the area referee is asked to determine whether a foul occurred and there is no evidence of the foul except the claim of one player while the other player claims that there was no foul, then it is assumed that no foul occurred.

    BUT - regardless of the above, we can note that in the World Pool-Billiard Association rules (from which BCA rules are derived), in section #6—Fouls—the opening paragraph states the following (emphasis ours):

    The following actions are fouls at pool when included in the specific rules of the game being played. If several fouls occur on one shot, only the most serious one is enforced. If a foul is not called before the next shot begins, the foul is assumed not to have happened*.

    So, even if we agree that the non-shooting player is the referee when one isn't present, your opponent was pre-occupied in the corner (as you stated) and thus, didn't call the foul in a timely manner.

    Hope this helps.

  2. twathletwathle on 9/8/2022 8:28:18 PM

    I couldn't find any online BCA rules that addressed this issue. But you did. Great job! Thank you.

    I have since learned that our bar adheres to the "Official Rules of CueSports International (CSI) as used by the BCA Pool League & USA Pool League". These rules proved to be quite extensive—even rambling—in scope. But they clearly mirror not only the spirit of the BCA's section #5 rule, but even the very wording from the section #6 rules.

    Subsection 2 of section 1-41 of CSI's rules (on Coaching) adds the following:

    It is a foul if you receive unsolicited assistance from a spectator associated with you (e.g., spouse/partner, relative, teammate). "Assistance" includes being alerted to an opponent's foul."

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Do Players Have to Declare their Own Fouls, or is it the Opponent's Responsibility?

  • Title: Do Players Have to Declare their Own Fouls, or is it the Opponent's Responsibility?
  • Author:
  • Published: 9/3/2022 3:44:01 PM
  • Last Updated: 9/7/2022 3:47:31 PM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum (Billiards Forum)