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Is it a Stalemate if Only the 8 Ball and Opponent's Last Ball Remain and Block Each Other at the Edge of a Pocket?


Is it a Stalemate if Only the 8 Ball and Opponent's Last Ball Remain and Block Each Other at the Edge of a Pocket?

Would it be a stalemate if neither player can make a legal shot without either fouling or losing the game?

For example, when only two balls are left (8 ball and an opponent's object ball) and they are blocking each other in the edge of a pocket, is that a stalemate situation?

Imagine this scenario in 8 ball pool:

  • I am shooting at the 8 ball, which is sitting on the edge of a pocket opening.
  • My opponent has two object balls left, which are both immediately in front of and blocking my 8 ball.
  • It is my shot next.

Since my 8 ball is at the edge of a corner pocket, it is blocking my opponent's shots on his object balls. Since my opponent's two object balls are immediately in front of my 8 ball, I am blocked completely from making a legal shot too.

So at square one, I shoot, and I can ONLY hit one of my opponent's balls first. This is a "standard foul" if it doesn't knock my 8 ball into the pocket, or a loss of game if it does knock my 8 ball into the pocket (since I fouled due to contacting the wrong ball first).

If I manage to only hit my opponent's ball (and not inadvertently sink my 8 ball), play passes to my opponent with ball-in-hand anywhere on the table. In order for my opponent to make a shot that doesn't pocket my 8 ball incidentally and lose him the game, he would fail to drive a ball to a rail, thus passing play back to me with ball-in-hand anywhere on the table.

Now we're back to square one, where we repeat the shots and go again back to square one.

I think a referee would call a stalemate in this scenario, but what do you do if you're just playing with friends in a bar?

This question relates to the following billiard rules:

Is it a Stalemate if Only the 8 Ball and Opponent's Last Ball Remain and Block Each Other at the Edge of a Pocket?

Replies & Comments

  1. Ben from Calibilliardsforum on 1/28/2008 6:52:08 PM

    If there's no referee, it's up to the players to agree to a stalemate. There are two options:

    1. Both agree that it's a possible stalemate, in which case you each play 3 more shots. If no progress is made, a stalemate is reached and the game is to be replayed with the original breaker of the rack breaking again. If this is the option you decide upon, you should note:
      • If any progress is made (object balls moving, players fouling, balls pocketed, etc), the game would continue as normal.
      • If during those three innings any player fouls, those fouls would be assessed according the applicable rules (which could result in one player losing/winning the game).
    2. Both agree that it's a certain stalemate, in which case the game is to be replayed with the original breaker of the rack breaking again.

    But, without seeing a photo or diagram of exactly how the balls are resting, it's very hard to tell if there is any plausible chance for progress or not.

    Are you 100% sure that the opponent (shooting at the two object balls blocking the 8 ball) would have no chance of tapping one of their balls loose (e.g. from the side)? You have to think about it like this—could a very skilled player do it legally? If so, that player should shoot, and depending on whether the 8 ball falls into the pocket or not, either lose the game, take a foul (if no balls touch a rail), etc.


    Here are the World Pool-Billiard Association's "Stalemate" definition from the "General Rules" section (which is not specific to any particular game):

    It tells us that in general, a referee would allow each player to have three more turns at the table and would only declare a stalemate if there is still no progress (or if both players agree, they can skip the "3 turns at the table" and go directly to a stalemate outcome.

    1.12 - Stalemate

    If the referee observes that no progress is being made towards a conclusion, he will announce his decision, and each player will have three more turns at the table. Then, if the referee determines that there is still no progress, he will declare a stalemate. If both players agree, they may accept the stalemate without taking their three additional turns. The procedure for a stalemate is specified under the rules for each game.

    Then, the WPA 8 Ball rules further specify what happens in the case of an eight ball stalemate in section #3.11 - "Stalemate". It tells us that, in the event of a stalemate in 8 ball pool, the original breaker of the rack will break again in the rematch.

    3.11 - Stalemate

    If a stalemate occurs (see 1.12 Stalemate), the original breaker of the rack will break again.

    So, when players believe they may be in a stalemate situation in 8 ball, they should either:

    1. agree to stalemate and replay the game, or
    2. each take three more attempts (where either one player will win or lose, or no progress is made and an automatic stalemate is applied and the game replayed).

    But again, without seeing a photo or diagram of exactly how the balls are resting, it's very hard to tell if there is any plausible chance for progress or not.

    Since bar room rules vary from place to place, players might decide on a re-spotting of the object balls (or at least the eight ball), to a neutral area. It might also depend on whether you are playing on a coin-op table for the bar question as many of the rules relating to the 8 ball get "adjusted" when playing in a bar on a coin-op pool table.

    It will be interesting to hear what has to be said on this one. It's a good question though. It is a real thinker, and does not come up very often.

  2. Ben from CaliFenwick on 1/28/2008 9:33:11 PM

    Let me try and dissect this question as I'm not sure I understand it but it is fascinating.

    • It's my shot and I have to shoot at the 8 ball, correct? I shoot and miss because your balls are blocking me.
    • I think "what is the house rule?" is the true question here.
    • Are we playing ball-in-hand or do I lose the game because I failed to hit my intended ball (the 8 ball)?
    • Would it be considered a foul equal to a scratch? Yes or no?
    • What is the penalty for fouling on the 8 ball in a bar? If it is the same as a scratch then I guess I would lose.

    The bar rules here are established before every game but it always seems something like this comes up and I will have to add it to my list of questions before the next match.

    When you say fouling the 8 do you mean sinking it?

    Now you either:

    • (a) won the game (because I did not hit my 8 ball) or
    • (b) have ball-in-hand depending on the house rules.

    If you have ball-in-hand, this group of balls must be touching. Thus, if you shoot and hit either of your balls you would pocket the 8 ball and lose. But if that is the case when I shot, I must have made the 8 ball on a illegal shot and I lost or hit nothing.

    The referee could call the game except there is none in any of the bars I play in.

    The only answer that makes sense (but I doubt is allowed) is that I "push" then you "push" until we have agreed to the game being a draw like in Chess. I have no problem with the push but it doesn't fly in the bars around here. It's considered dirty pool. So I would have to go for the shot and lose the game (and you win)!

    Look up straight pool and see how the record was set and why it is no longer played in the old 1800s way—push, push.

    I have to complement you on this mind twister. The BCA's rule book is 102 pages long and now will have to go to a 103rd page! On page 46, section 2.8 says if you foul and do not pocket the 8 ball it is not a loss of game, but rather, it is ball-in-hand.

    So now we have come full circle to where we do have a stalemate and must replay the game. However, the person who reaches 3 fouls in a row is declared the loser! That would be me if I was on the 8 ball and there was no stalemate.

    Did I get it right?

  3. Ben from CaliBen from Cali on 1/29/2008 12:09:28 AM

    Thanks @Fenwick,

    Right, you're shooting the 8 ball but it's obviously impossible to hit. Any attempt would hit an opponent's ball first and sink the 8 ball, which would be an automatic loss of game.

    Our rules:

    • You always plays it as it lies, unless there is a cue ball scratch or jump (which results in ball-in-hand from the kitchen).
    • When shooting the 8 ball, any of the following results in a loss of game:
      • scratching or jumping the cue ball (whether or not the 8 goes in),
      • sinking an opponent's ball,
      • sinking the 8 ball in a pocket you don't call, or,
      • hitting the opponent's ball first when you sink the 8 ball

    Some of these rules might vary a little depending on who you're playing. That's the beauty of "bar rules".

    Thanks for bringing up pushes! That's a vital point I left out. It's a little ambiguous where I play. Basically, you "have to try", which is a ridiculous rule because now you get to argue about someone's intentions! Any of the random jerks I play with would probably demand that I "try" to conjure the physical impossibility (which results in my loss) or forfeit (which results in my loss). Then you're likely to be in for a fight (where you lose even if you win). No matter what, you lose! I guess that kinda answers my question, thanks! LOL.

    I asked because a situation similar to this came up in a game between friends. One ball wasn't touching, so after I set her up with a push she was able to wedge it through, knocking the others clear. The "dirty" push set her up for a plausible win, so it seemed fair. Got me to thinking though!

    Yeah, bar rules. Where the opponent can scratch and make you shoot a long kick from the kitchen at the 8 ball (which is frozen to the short rail in the kitchen). But he didn't INTEND that. Or did he?

  4. Ben from CaliFenwick on 1/29/2008 6:25:37 AM

    @Ben from Cali,

    I have no problem with the push shot but it doesn't fly in the bars around here. It's considered "dirty pool".

    I don't make the bar rules, but if I want to play in the bar then I have to live with them. You are right, this is a lose-lose situation.

    Yeah, bar rules. Where the opponent can scratch and make you shoot a long kick from the kitchen at the 8 ball (which is frozen to the short rail in the kitchen). But he didn't INTEND that. Or did he?

    Of course he intended it. They do that here too, and it's part of the reason I don't like bar rules or playing with drunks. They can play "dirty pool" as they call it, but you can't do it back to them? That's another lose-lose situation.

    And yes, as you know, "random jerks" are everywhere.

    Here are the BCA rules for a stalemate:

    2.10 - Stalemate

    If the table is in a position such that a referee has determined that any attempt to pocket or move a ball will result in loss of game, and each player has had three innings without significantly changing the position, the referee will declare a stalemate and the game will be replayed with the player who broke the game breaking again.

  5. Ben from Calicademfjohnson on 4/14/2008 4:07:56 AM

    In this situation, I'd just take a jump shot.

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Is it a Stalemate if Only the 8 Ball and Opponent's Last Ball Remain and Block Each Other at the Edge of a Pocket?

  • Title: Is it a Stalemate if Only the 8 Ball and Opponent's Last Ball Remain and Block Each Other at the Edge of a Pocket?
  • Author:
  • Published: 1/28/2008 2:33:53 PM
  • Last Updated: 12/14/2022 6:27:17 AM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum (Billiards Forum)