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Official Carom Billiards Rules

Carom Billiards is a type of billiard game played on a billiard table with no pockets. It is an extremely technical and precise game that requires much skill.

BCA Carom Billiards Rules

Except when clearly contradicted by rules specific to a given game, general rules of carom billiards apply to all Carom Billiard games.

Rules of Carom Billiards - Equipment

The table should be either 4 feet by 8 feet, 4 1/2 feet by 9 feet, 5 feet by 10 feet, or 6 feet by 12 feet without pockets. Markings include spots in the center of the head string, foot string, and center string. There should be two additional spots on the head string six inches on either side of the head spot.

Three balls are used (except in Four Ball where a second, darker, red ball is also used) - one red bell, one white ball without spots and one yellow (or white ball with two diametrically opposed spots). The balls are roughly 2-3/8" diameter (metric equivalents range from 61mm to 65.5mm depending on the set; four ball sets are usually the largest).

Rules of Carom Billiards - Opening Break

The opening break is to be determined by lagging with the winning player having the option of shooting the break shot himself or allowing his opponent to shoot the break shot. For the break shot, place the red ball on the foot spot, the opponent's cue ball on the head spot, and the shooter's cue ball on the head string within six inches of the center spot. For the break to be legal, the cue ball must contact the red ball first.

Rules of Carom Billiards - Choice of Cue Ball

The winner of the lag has choice of cue ball. Once cue balls are assigned each player must shoot with only his cue ball (using the other player's cue ball is a foul). (In games with an odd number of people incoming player is assigned the cue ball which was not assigned to the player who's inning just ended -- alternate which cue ball is used.)

Rules of Carom Billiards - Spotting Jumped Balls

The preferred order for spotting the cue balls is: head spot, foot spot, then center spot. The latter spots come into play if the previous ones are ocuupied by another ball.

If the shooter's cue ball and his opponent's cue ball have both jumped the table then the shooter's cue ball spots first.

The preferred order for the red ball is: foot spot, head spot, then center spot.

If both object balls have jumped the table then they are spotted as above beginning with whichever can occupy it's primary spot.

Rules of Carom Billiards - Safety Play

Playing a safety leaves the player playing from safety when he begins his next inning.

There is a limit on safety play in Carom billiard rules. A player may not play safe in consecutive innings. If a player does play safe in consecutive innings it is a foul and does not relieve the consecutive inning limitation on safety play (his next turn at the table is then also considered to be playing from safety).

A legal safety requires a ball, cue or object, to contact a cushion after the player's cue ball has contacted an object ball. Failure to meet this requirement is a foul.

Rules of Carom Billiards - Fouls

The following are fouls for which the penalty is loss of turn and no count if a valid count would otherwise have been made

  • Playing out of turn.
  • Playing safe while playing from safety.
  • Accidental contact with any of the balls.
  • Striking the cue ball twice or with anything other than the cue tip (i.e. cue on the same stroke, shaft, hand, chalk, bridge, etc.).
  • Push shots. (A shot is considered a push shot if the cue tip is in contact with the cue ball for more than the time necessary for a normal legal stroke.)
  • Making a shot while one of the balls is still in motion.
  • Shooting wrong cue ball.
  • Not having at least one foot on the floor while shooting.
  • If the shooter's cue ball jumps off (comes to rest off of) the table.
  • Illegally jumping the cue ball (intentionally causing the cue ball to jump by contacting it below the horizontal plane through the center of the cue ball).

All fouls carry a deduction of one point from offender's score as a penalty. (Note: International competition does not have the point penalty on fouls unless they're deemed intentional.)

The following are fouls for which the penalties are described under unsportsmanlike conduct

  • Intentional interference with the path of the the balls.
  • Intentional interference with the play of your opponent.

This version of the general carom billiard rules was at one time published by the BCA, however today, they no longer sanction this game. For the current version, see the world standardized rules of carom billiards by Union Mondiale de Billard. (coming soon).

Official Carom Billiards Rules

If you have any questions about Official Carom Billiards Rules, please post them in the pool rules forum.

...or view existing Official Carom Billiards Rules questions in the forum.

Official Carom Billiards Rules History

Carom billiards dates back to the 1700s. During the 1700s, the French invented the game of Carambole. It was documented in many forms, and in its various incarnations, balkline was the predominate carom discipline from 1883 to the 1930s. In the early versions (1700s-early 1800s) the objective was to hit both of the opponents white ball and also a third red ball with the cue ball at a single stroke. Over its history Carom Billiards has been documented in an insane amount of variations. By 1810, tables without pockets at all were being made by the French. This trend quicly emerged as the norm across all of Europe (except for the British Isles). This is illustrated in "The Billiard World" published by American Dudley Kavanagh in 1869, which noted: "Here and in Spain billiards tables have four pockets, in England six and in France and the rest of Continental Europe none". The variants include 8.2, 10.2, 12.2, 13.2, 12½.2, 14.1, 14.2, 18.1, 18.2, 28.2, 38.2, 39.2, 42.2, 45.1, 45.2, 47.1, 47.2, 57.2 and 71.2 balkline. It declined in the early 1900s when it was surpassed in popularity by three-cushion billiards and in North America, pocket billiards. Balkline is still not very common in the United States, however it continues to enjoy popularity in Europe and the Far East.

The official Official Carom Billiards Rules are predominently observed in North America..

The official governing body for Official Carom Billiards Rules is the Union Mondiale de Billard.

How to Play Official Carom Billiards

Pool tournaments using Official Carom Billiards Rules (or similar):

Questions about Official Carom Billiards Rules:

  • Title: Official Carom Billiards Rules
  • Author: (Billiards Forum)
  • Published: 4/13/2009 8:00:00 AM
  • Last Updated: 9/21/2016 10:10:08 AM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum
  • Source: Internet

Official Carom Billiards Rules

The Official Carom Billiards Rules article belongs to the Carom Billiard Rules category. Carom billiards is a class of cue sport games played on a pocketless carom billiard table.

Official Carom Billiards Rules Comments

  1. comedorcomedor from Goiânia, Goiás on 6/23/2010 11:07:20 AM

    I don't understand shit about this game. I would really like to learn.

  2. Jorge Armando Diaz HerediaJorge Armando Diaz Heredia from Jalisco, Mexico on 3/14/2011 7:13:00 AM

    I am trying to find a Spanish language version of the official carom billiards rules. Does anyone know where I can find a set of carom billiard rules in Spanish?

    I am interested in more details on what to do when we have "glued" balls.

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