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Russian Billiards Rules

You have reached the North American version of Russian Billiard rules. If you are looking for the Russian version of Russian pyramid rules, please visit the Russian Pyramid Rules.

These are the rules for a unique pool game called Russian Billiards. This game is also known as pyramid and this document can be considered the rules for this game as well. Russian Billiards rules have developed immensely over time from the game's supposed beginnings at Queens University at Kingston in the University Club. The game is played on a very unique table with pocket openings which are very small and only a few millimeters bigger than the oversize balls used for Russian Billiards. It is a game that can be played by any number of players who may come and go at will. Russian Billiards has a clear beginning procedure, but it has no objective and no clearly defined end.

The Russian Billiards rules are not official and there is no governing body at this time. Therefore the rules are open and subject to regular modification and review. As with all billiard rules and regulations, be sure to confirm any ambiguities before play begins.

Rules of Russian Billiards

There are numerous versions of the game, and previous forms will be introduced where confusion may arise. Here is a short summary of notable introduction of various Russian Billiard rules.

  • Version 5.41 introduces and incorporates "progressive taxation" which takes from the rich while maintaining their power to harm other players.
  • Superseding Version 5.40, the "Brown Ball Rule" was incorporated to govern the placement of multiple black balls.
  • Superseding Version 5.39, the "Five Cannon Rule" was incorporated to codify the "Three off the Spot Rule" and to keep the Russian Billiards players awake.
  • Superseding Version 5.38, the "Black Ball Rule" was incorporated to mitigate the ease of performing and completing a "Star" under the "Pink Ball Rule."
  • Superseding Version 5.37, the "Pink Ball Rule" was incorporated to recognize the rapidly changing political climate and international boundaries within the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
  • Superseding Version 5.36, reference to the pink ball removed, and the distinction between "Chicken Stars" and "Real Stars" was incorporated.

Should any rule be violated, the action is considered a scratch. This is regardless of the true intent of the shooting player.

In Russian Billiards rules, six or more colored balls and one white ball may exist on the russian billiard table. The colored balls include red, pink, yellow, black, green, and blue. All of these balls must be present at the start of each shot, except as noted in the list below. Each of the Russian Billiard balls are associated with [a] particular pocket[s] and a spotting location. The layout is explained in detail in the list below, as viewed from above looking directly down at the table.

  • Red Ball - (1 Point) - The red ball is spotted on the first central spot, and is associated with both of the bottom pockets.
  • White Ball - (N/A) - The white ball is spotted within the half circle (D) at the discretion of the shooting player and is not associated with any of the pockets.
  • Black Ball - (N/A) - One of the black balls may be spotted on the top center spot for each of the players who have posted a score greater than 90 points. The black balls have no point value, but it does have special characteristics as described below.
  • Pink Ball - (Depends) - The pink ball is spotted on the second central spot and has special associative characteristics as described in the section on declaration. The point value is contingent upon the declaration.
  • Blue Ball - (9 Points) - The blue ball is spotted on the middle spot and is associated with both of the side pockets.
  • Yellow Ball - (6 Points) - The yellow ball is spotted on the top left spot and is associated with the top left pocket.
  • Green Ball - (3 Points) - The green ball is spotted on the top right spot and is associated with the top right pocket.

When spotting a ball in its assigned location is not possible, it will be spotted as directed by the incoming player, or by the other player in the case where there are only two players.

Play commences with all balls spotted on their respective associated spots as referenced above. The game begins when the first player strikes the white ball. After the first shot, either the white ball or the pink ball may be declared to be the cue ball. See the section on declaration for more information. A shot in Russian Billiards rules consists of striking the cue ball with a cue in such a way as to initiate movement. The shot continues until all of the balls on the table have come to rest.

Each turn, or inning, is comprised of one or more shots by the same player. The shooting player may continue to shoot indefinitely until a shot either yeilds him or her zero points or a scratch. When this happens, play rotates and the next player in the sequence (the incoming player) begins.

If a ball is either first placed on the table, or is returned to the table after leaving the playing surface (not able to return to play on its own) it shall be placed on its associated spot. If the associated spot is blocked, the ball is to be placed on any vacant spot, at the sole discretion of the player whose turn precedes the current player's.

If, at the end of a shot, the cue ball is in direct contact with another ball, the contacting ball is considered to be the first ball contacted by the cue ball on the next shot. This is true regardless of the direction of the shot.

When the white ball is returned to the table and used as the cue ball, the next shot must direct it in such a manner that it does not strike a ball that rests on the D line, or on the same side of the D line as the cue ball, before the cue ball has struck a ball or cushion on the opposite side of the D line.

Russian Billiard rules specify that players may exit or enter the rotation of players at any vacant position. A player's score remains active until either the player dies, the Russian billiards game becomes discontinued, or the rotation has gone one full cycle after the player declares withdrawal from the game. A player may declare withdrawal silently by simply returning their cue to the cue storage rack

The scoring of a single Russian Billiards shot is cumulative, and is treated as being without order of accumulation. A player is to keep a running tally of all points scored during their Russian Billiards inning. These points are applied to the player's overall score when the inning is complete, or when a star or planetary body is scored. Should the player scratch, all points scored and tallied during that inning are lost, and the appropriate penalties, if any, are applied to the player's overall score. View the list below for more scoring rules and regulations for Russian Billiards.

  • Players who do not have any stars accumulate points in two sets, one above, and one below a horizontal line. All newly scored points are added to the tally above the line. Should the player scratch, the tally above the line is halved and the remaining points are rounded down and added to the tally below the line. Should the player scratch and have no points above the line, his or her score below the line is halved and rounded down.
  • Players having one star will accumulate points in one set only. Should the player scratch, his or her score is halved and rounded down.
  • Players having two stars will accumulate points in one set only. Should the player scratch, his or her score is set to zero.
  • Players having three stars will accumulate points in one set only. Should the player scratch, his or her score is set to negative. (This means that it shall be multiplied by negative one.) If the player's score is already negative, it shall be doubled. (This means that a score of -11 shall become -22.)
  • Players having greater than three stars shall have more severe penalties. Such severe penalties are to be declared at the by the player's opponent(s).
  • Players scratching in the same turn in which that player took another player's score, must return the full value of the penalty to the aggrieved player.
  • If a player has over 90 points and scratches while the black ball is still on the table, the penalty points shall be divided between all other players. The distribution is determined at the discretion of the offending player.
  • For instances where the cue ball is potted in a pocket associated with the first ball it had contacted, the points are scored in conjunction with the value of that ball.
  • When any colored ball is potted in the associated pocket, the points associated with that color of ball are awarded. The exception is that no ball may be pocketed directly off it's spot on more than three successive shots.

In Russian Billiard rules, the term "Cannon" refers to contacting more than one object ball with the cue ball. When this happens, two points are given to the shooting player for each successive color of ball contacted. That color must not have been previously contacted by the cue ball during that same shot. Hitting the same ball more than one time will not accrue points, nor will contacting two different balls which are declared to be the same color.

Any violation of any rule by any player results in the immediate assessment of a scratch. The active player is assessed a scratch when:

  • any cue ball does not contact any other ball
  • any ball leaves the table completely, without being pocketed, and fails to return to the playing surface on its own accord
  • a ball is potted in to a pocket with which it is not associated
  • the cue ball is potted in a pocket with which the first ball contacted is not associated
  • a black ball is contacted or set in motion during a stroke or shot made by a player with a score of over 90 points.
  • a player's accumulated score, including all points not yet posted, exceeds 100 points, or reaches 100 points as the result of a single shot yielding more than one point.
  • a player shoots while a required ball is missing from the table.
  • a player incorrectly spots a ball.
  • a player may not make more than five cannons in any sequence of shots without including another scoring play.

Although previous versions of the rules of Russian Billiards have permitted Chicken Stars and Stars With Honor, there is a move to a market economy and thus, these are not necessary. In this current version, all stars are for display purposes only. Once the stars are awarded, they lose all intrinsic value, and retain only symbolic value.

A "Real Star" is scored when a player reaches a total score of exactly 100 points via the attainment of a single point on his or her final shot leading to the star. At this juncture, the player must claim and post to his or her own score the accumulated points of any other player, and a red ball star. He or she then continues their inning at the table. Any single point shot is valid for obtaining a Real Star, regardless of whether the red ball is involved.

In the Russian Billiards rules and regulations, there are strict notes about declarations. When a player's inning commences, that player may choose to declare the pink ball to have another color. For example, the player may say "Pink is Blue" and thus, the declaration then associates the pink ball with the same pockets as the blue ball and gives it the same point value as the blue. If no declaration is made, the pink ball remains pink, and is not associated with any pocket. Once the player has made their first shot, or a declaration, the color of the pink ball remains fixed for the rest of the players inning.

All declarations must be explicit and as clear as possible. When the pink ball has been declared to be white, the shooting player may shoot either the white ball or the pink ball as the cue ball, and may use either one in subsequent shots in that inning. If the pink ball is deemed to be the cue ball, the white ball becomes the black ball. If the white ball is deemed to be the cue ball, the pink ball becomes the black ball.

In Russian Billiards, the black ball is not spotted to the table unless all condition for ball placement as noted above are met. If there are fewer black balls on the table than are permitted by the conditions, any player may spot a black ball to the table. If the conditions do not allow the spotting of the current number of black balls present, any black ball may be removed from the table by any player before any shot. If multiple black balls are not available, then other balls such as the blue ball can be substituted for the second, and any additional black balls. Each of the black balls are considered to be indistinguishable from one another.

Russian Billiard Rules Version history in descending order, is as follows, and is current as of 4/18/1996:

  • 5.41 - April 18, 2006 - Rules revised and digitized during the AGM.
  • 5.40 - April 24, 2005 - Rules revised during the AGM.
  • 0.00 - April 18, 1996 - Minor revisions made by Rick Sellens, but no new version released.
  • 5.39 - September 07, 1994 - Rules recorded on paper.
  • 5.38 - November 09, 1993 - Revisions made by player base.
  • 5.37 - April 04, 1993 - Rough draft created by Ryk.

There are currently no references available for these rules.

Russian Billiards Rules

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

...or view existing Russian Billiards Rules questions in the forum.

Russian Billiards Rules History

Russian billiards has it's supposed beginnings at Queens University at Kingston in the University Club, and the rules appear to have been formalized and documented by Rick Sellens, P.Eng. (me.queensu.ca/people/sellens/)

The official Russian Billiards Rules are predominently observed in North America, Canada.

How to Play Russian Billiards

Questions about Russian Billiards Rules:

  • Title: Russian Billiards Rules
  • Author: (Billiards Forum)
  • Published: 4/4/2007 11:33:38 PM
  • Last Updated: 2/10/2008 6:24:00 PM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum
  • Source: Rick Sellens Queens University page, which is no longer online.

Russian Billiards Rules

The Russian Billiards Rules article belongs to the Snooker Rules category. Snooker is a type of cue sport game that is played on a snooker table.

Russian Billiards Rules Comments

  1. mprescottmprescott from Victoria, BC on 3/3/2009 10:59:34 PM

    The game of Russian Billiards is played in Toronto, ON and Victoria, BC, Canada.

    Here is a description of how Russian Billiards is played in Canada.

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