There is a “foul and a miss” in snooker when a player a player fails to hit the ball on. For example, let’s say a player is on the blue but they foul, failing to hit the blue. In this case, “foul and a miss” is (almost always) called.
This rule is known as the “miss rule” since it basically applies whenever a player misses a ball. But there are some exceptions when foul and a miss isn’t called even though the player missed the ball.
That’s where the miss rule can get a little confusing. We’ll go over that in this article, as well as why the rule exists, when it came into existance, and the controversy surrounding it.
The miss rule bassically gives a player another option when their opponent fouls, failing to hit the ball on.
As with any foul, the player still has the same 2 options:
But with the miss rule, the player has a 3rd option. If they wish to, they can have the balls replaced and make the opponent take the shot again.
So when the miss is called, the player’s 3 options are as follows:
When the player takes the 3rd option, any ball that moved during the foul is replaced as close as possible to its original position. In the professional game, they often make use of the television cameras in order to replace the balls as accurately as possible.
It is also worth mentioning that the miss is still called if the fouling player hits the wrong ball. They have still “missed” the ball on and the miss rule still applies.
Note that the fouling player doesn’t have to be in a snooker for the miss to be called. The rule applies even if the player is able to comfortably hit the ball on.
The miss rule still applies when a player is in a snooker. For example, let’s say we have snookered our opponent on all reds. They try to escape the snooker but fail to hit a red. A miss is called, so we can have the balls replaced and force them to take the shot again, if we wish to.
There is no limit to the amount of times that the balls can be replaced. As long as the miss rule applies (ie the player has missed the ball on), the fouling player can be made to retake the snooker.
The same applies for when the fouling player is not in a snooker. But it is more common for the balls to be replaced when a player is in a snooker, since it may be difficult to escape.
Essentially, each shot is taken into account on its own merit. The fact that a player has already missed several times doesn’t make it less likely for the miss rule to apply (in general).
So far, the miss rule may seem fairly straight forward. But there are some cases where there are exceptions to the rule, and this can start to get a bit confusing.
The most common situation (by far) in which a miss is not called, is when one of the players requires 1 or more snookers to win. A miss is never called in this instance.
This is one of the reasons why winning a frame of snooker is incredibly difficult when you need more than 1 snooker. You cannot simply replace the balls if your opponent misses, you must try to get another snooker.
In the case where a snooker is impossible to escape from, the miss rule doesn’t apply. The problem is that how can the referee be sure that a snooker is impossible to escape from?
For this reason, the referee will generally keep calling a miss until they’re satisfied that the player has made their best possible attempt at escaping the snooker.
In fact, it is an incredibly rare situation in which a referee doesn’t call a miss. It is almost impossible for a referee to know that a shot is not possible.
The rules actually state that a player must make their best attempt at escaping from the snooker for the miss to not be called.
However, when snookered, a player often doesn’t take the easiest escape route. They will often take a more difficult path which offers better safety. In this case, the referee has to call the miss because the player has not made their best attempt to escape the snooker.
It is also worth taking into account the pressure that is on the referees to make the correct decision. It would be highly controversial for them to not call the miss and be wrong. That could be another reason why they almost always call the miss.
The miss rule was developed to reduce the amount of “deliberate fouls” in the game. Before the rule was introduced, the penalty for missing a ball wasn’t high enough.
Players in snookers were deliberately missing in order to leave the white ball in a safe position. And doing this would only cost them in the foul points they gave away, which would only be 4-7 points. There wasn’t enough instentive to play a genuine shot.
The snooker miss rule was introduced in 1995, with most players and fans welcoming the new rule. The miss rule would almost certainly put an end to the all too common deliberate fouls.
The 3 miss rule in snooker applies when the fouling player is not in a snooker. To be more precise, the 3 miss rule only applies if the player can hit the ball on “full ball” (or straight at it in other words).
When the rule applies, it means that if a player misses the ball on 3 times in a row (when they’re not snookered), the result is loss of frame (regardless of the score). This may seem quite extreme but the rule is designed to further reduce deliberate fouls (or professional fouls as they’re often known).
The most common situation for the 3 miss rule to occur is when a player is trying to escape from a good safety shot (but they’re not snookered), especially when there is a lot of distance between the balls.
In this case, the player will often try to hit the ball on as thinly as possible in order to play safe. This may result in the player missing the ball. They can miss the ball twice and then they will be warned that if they miss a third time, they will forfeit the frame.
Usually on the third attempt the player will attempt a completely different shot to ensure they don’t give away the frame.
For example, let’s say our opponent has played a good safety shot and left us in trouble. We are snookered on all reds except 1 and we are at the far end of the table (in baulk). The 1 red that we can hit, we can hit full ball (full in the face), which means the 3 miss rule applies.
If we roll up to the red slowly or hit it thick, there’s a high probability that we will leave our opponent with a good chance to score a lot of points. So we decide to try to hit the red as thin as possible, in order to get the white back up the table (hopefully back to baulk).
The advantage of this shot is that even if we miss the red, we don’t leave our opponent on, since the white travells back up the table. So we attempt the shot and miss. Our opponent takes advantage of the miss rule and has the balls replaced, forcing us to replay the shot.
On the second attempt, we miss again. Our opponent has the balls replaced again and we miss for a second time. On the third attempt, once the balls are replaced, we are warned by the referee that missing again will result in loss of frame.
So on our third attempt we play a completely different shot. We decide to roll up to the red slowly, ensuring that we hit it. Of course this time there’s much more chance of leaving our opponent on but we can’t afford to miss as we’d lose the frame instantly.
The 3 miss rule in snooker is designed to reduce deliberate fouls (or “professional fouls”). In reality, semi-deliberate would be a more accurate description. But either way, without the rule, a player could keep “attempting” to hit the ball without any real intention to hit it first time.
They could keep playing the shot over and over until they hit it exactly how they wanted. Of course they would still be giving away foul points each time. But they may feel that it’s worth it to play the shot correctly.
With the 3 miss rule, even if a player is playing a “deliberate foul”, they can only do it twice otherwise they will lose the frame.
I think it’s fair to say that the miss rule has changed snooker. In my opinion, it has both good and bad points to it.
Firstly, it has certainly helped to reduce the amount of deliberate fouls, which has to be a good thing. I don’t think there would be too many people arguing against that.
However, even though snooker is named after, well, snookers, the game as we know it is really about potting. And that’s what’s made the game what it is today. But when the miss rule came into effect in 1995, it made it easier for players to gain a lot of points from snookers.
It’s actually now possible to win a frame of snooker with points from just 1 snooker, since you can keep having it replaced.
Some people like the fact that it makes snookers more powerful and some people enjoy watching players try to escape snookers. But whatever your opinion, I think it’s fair to say that it’s changed the game.
Another issue is the replacing of the balls. In instances where several balls need replacing, it can be almost impossible to achieve an accurate result. Even with the help of television cameras it’s not always accurate. And bear in mind that players on non-TV tables don’t have that luxury either. The replacing of balls can also take quite a while, slowing the game down.
The biggest problem with the rule for me, is from a spectator’s point of view. I think most spectators want to watch the profesisonals potting balls and making breaks, not escaping from snookers. And I certainly don’t think they want to see referees trying their best to replace balls. So from that point of view, I can see why many people are against the miss rule.
It’s also worth noting that the miss rule is very difficult to enforce in matches without a referee. In these matches, the player not at the table generally becomes the referee so there’s a conflict of interest when making decisions about the miss, such as replacing the balls, for example. For that reason, many amateurs choose not to play with the miss rule at all.
Since many people are opposed to the miss rule in snooker, there has been many other suggestions made. One of the best alternatives that I’ve heard is that a free ball could be called on every miss. Feel free to check out my article on the freeball here if you haven’t already.
A freeball instead of the miss could open up many more potting and break building opportunities. And even if there weren’t any pots available, it would allow the player to play a good safety shot or try to lay another snooker. And I think it would still prevent most deliberate fouls since the freeball is so powerful.
But in my view, this rule change would work in many ways:
Overall, I think that replacing the miss rule with a freeball would keep the game flowing better and lead to more exciting frames. Of course, that’s just my view and it’s only one suggestion. If you have any ideas, feel free to leave a comment below and we can all check it out.
Hopefully this article helped to clear some things up for you. I haven’t gone into every single little detail of the rule but I think I’ve covered pretty much everything you need to know and are ever likely to encounter.
If you think I’ve missed something important out, please feel free to let me know in the comment section below.
Time to go and pot some balls now. Over and out!
My name is Tom Rothwell and I’m a bit obsessed with cuesports! I’ve been playing pool and snooker since I was about 8 years old. I find American pool and English pool to be the most enjoyable with friends but I also enjoy the challenge of playing snooker.
As well as playing many different cuesports, I also enjoy watching the professionals. With this blog, I’m sharing as much of my knowledge as I can. Hopefully I can help some people out and maybe introduce some new players into the incredible games that are cuesports.