Norwich Bar Billiards

How to Play Bar Billards

Norwich 4-Pin Bar Billiards League Rules


Downloadable Rules (inc a One-Page How to Play guide)

Downloadable Score Sheet

4-pin Bar Billiards Table Layout

The layout of a 4 pin Bar Billiards table
Note: For consistency between venues, the alternative baulk lines (drawn across the baize) are ignored for the purpose of this league.

4-pin Bar Billiards Table Layout Full Size Image

The object of the game is to win by being the player (or players in the case of a doubles game) to have scored the highest amount of points once the game clock has expired and all playable shots have been exhausted.
A coin toss is used to determine who breaks first. The winner of the coin toss has the option of performing the opening break shot or assigning it to the opponent.
When there are no balls on the table, a break-off shot will be played. The red ball is to be placed on the spot and a white ball is to be placed in the centre of the “D”. The break-off shot is initiated by striking the white ball into the red ball.
  1. The break will be deemed a legal break if the white ball makes contact with the red ball, regardless of whether a foul occurs after the cue ball is struck.
  2. The break is not a legal break if:
    1. – The white ball is not played from the centre of the “D”; or
    2. – The white ball does not make contact with the red ball (the white ball is deemed to have been played into space);
    3. – The red and white balls are racked and played the wrong way round. All three of these constitute a foul break. Play passes to the fouling player’s opponent who will have the option of replacing the white ball and red ball and performing a break-off shot or leaving the balls where they lie and playing on as normal.
  3. Where both balls are potted from the break-off shot, the player will play a second and subsequent break-off shot and will continue to play break-off shots for as long as both balls are potted, subject to Rule 2b (d) below.
  4. The same break-off shot can only be played a maximum of three times in a row, at which point the player must change their break-off shot to such an extent that it is materially different to the break-off shot played previously. For example, if from a break-off shot a player directs the cue ball to the right of the table and the object ball to the left, they should reverse the shot to play the cue ball to the left and the object ball to the right. The player can then revert to their previous break-off shot as long as the three in-a-row rule is observed.
  1. If a ball(s) is potted and no foul is committed, this entitles the player to one additional shot and this continues until the player fails to make a pot or until the player commits a foul.
  2. In order to carry on play, the player will draw a ball from the trough and place it anywhere in the “D” (only a break-off and endgame shot are required to be played from the centre of the “D”).
  3. If the red ball is available in the trough, it must be retrieved and played prior to any white ball being retrieved. If no ball is available in the trough, the ball nearest to the baulk line is retrieved (unless two or more balls are deemed the same distance from the baulk line in which case the ball closet to the centre of the “D” is returned).
  4. A player’s visit continues until a non-scoring shot is played, at which point play passes to the opposing player.
It is a foul if a ball leaves the playing surface and does not return by its own means (other than being potted).  
“By its own means”
  1. It is not a foul if the ball leaves the playing surface, runs along the top off a cushion and drops back to the playing surface. It is not a foul if the ball leaves the playing surface, makes contact with the backboard/scoreboard and drops back to the playing surface.
  2. It is a foul if the ball leaves the playing surface, comes into contact with a person or objects that are not part of the table and then returns to the playing surface.
Any ball that leaves the playing surface and fails to return by its own means is returned to the trough.
If any balls and/or pins are moved during a frame:
  1. By a person other than the players taking part in the frame; or
  2. As a direct result of one of the players being bumped; or
  3. Due to any other event deemed outside the player’s control.
No penalty will be incurred for the above situations, and balls and/or pins will be returned as close as possible to their starting positions.
Ball on edge of hole:
  1. If a stationary ball falls into a hole without being hit by another ball, a pin or the cue, it shall be replaced and play shall continue. The replaced ball will score no points and, if applicable, any other balls potted legitimately during the shot will score as normal.
  2. If a ball that has been caused to move as a result of a play stops momentarily on the edge of a hole (after having come into contact with a ball, pin or cue) and then falls in within 5 seconds, it will count as in the hole and not be replaced (whether potted legally or as a result of a foul). If potted legally the ball will score as normal. If the fall the is outside of 5 seconds, the ball will be considered to be stationary and Rule 2f (a) will apply.
White balls score the value of the hole whilst the red ball is worth double. A player’s cumulative score will be added up during their break after each shot has been played, and the scoreboard will only be updated once a player has banked their break.
There will be no change to scoring once the bar drops: white balls will still score the value of the hole and the red ball will continue to score double.
If a pin is knocked over during a player’s shot, it will constitute a foul and the applicable penalty will be incurred. If a pin and a ball are wedged in the same hole, the pin is removed first and the ball is allowed to drop.
If a pin is knocked from its correct position during a shot and remains standing, it shall not be reset for the remainder of that player’s visit.
Resetting pins
Pins that have been moved from their starting positions are reset only once the player’s visit is completed.
  1. If the pin’s starting position is occupied or obscured by a ball to extent where the pin could not be replaced without disturbing the ball, the ball will be considered to be out of play and will be returned to the trough allowing the pin to be reset to its starting position.
  2. If a pin is touching a ball but the pin’s starting position is not occupied or obscured, the ball will be considered to be in play and will remain on the table.
Note: The only exception to the rules concerning disturbing pins is if they have been moved as a result of interference, in which case Rule 2e applies.
The frame will end once all balls are potted (and no balls are available in the trough). The player to have banked the most points will be declared the winner. Should points be tied, the frame will be shared. If there is only one ball remaining in play and no other balls available, endgame rules will apply if the difference between the two players scores is 200 points or less (400 points or less if the last remaining ball is the red). If the difference in points is greater than these cut-offs, the remaining ball is ignored and the frame is considered over (though the wining player has the right to invoke endgame play if they wish).
The following rules will apply:
  1. The scoreboard will be folded down to cover the back holes, and the two 50 pins will be placed in the 50 holes. Pins for the 100 and 200 holes will be placed on their starting positions.
  2. The player whose current visit it is takes the first shot, to be considered a continuation of their break (if the last ball is correctly played but not holed, the player retains the score of that break).
  3. The ball must be placed in the centre of the “D”.
  4. The ball must be played off a cushion with the intention to rebound (double) the ball into either the 100 or 200 holes (the player does not have to nominate which hole is being played). The ball may be rebounded off more than one cushion (cross-double).
  5. The ball cannot be played straight toward a hole in the attempt to use the weight of the ball or bend of the table to pot it – it must have made contact with a cushion for it to be considered a legal shot.
  6. A shot will be deemed illegal if the ball makes contact with the edge of the scoreboard. A shot will be deemed illegal if the ball leaves the table, regardless of whether it returns by its own means or not.
  7. Legally potting the ball in either the 100 or 200 holes ends the frame, even if the ball has made contact with a pin.
  8. If a pin is knocked down, a foul has been committed and the penalty for that pin applies as normal.
Playing a foul causes the fouling player’s visit to end and will result in either the loss of points for that break only (if any have been scored) or the loss of all points accumulated up to that point in the match (including all points that have been banked).
Pins are reset to their starting positions. Any balls coming to rest in baulk will be returned to the trough. If a combination of fouls occurs, the foul incurring the highest penalty will apply.
On all shots, the player must attempt to play a ball that is in play, or in the case of an endgame attempt to pot the ball. Purposely cueing a ball into space or purposely targeting a pin would constitute an illegal shot and would be a deliberate foul.
  1. Causing the black pin to fall over.
  2. Potting the final ball during endgame play without first striking a cushion.
  3. Committing a deliberate foul (when a player deliberately and intentionally plays a foul, or clearly and intentionally fails to attempt a legal shot).
  4. Not playing in the true spirit of the game or in a sporting manner, e.g. purposely time wasting, forfeiting the frame prior to the frame coming to a complete end (Rule 2i), etc.
  1. Causing any pin other than the black to fall over.
  2. Playing a foul break (Rule 2b (b)).
  3. Cueing a ball outside of the “D”.
  4. The cue ball fails to strike another ball (a “miss”).
  5. The player fails to cue the red ball when it is available.
  6. Any ball returns to the “D” or to baulk. A ball may overhang the edge of the “D” or hang over the baulk line. This is considered to be in play (no foul) unless that ball makes contact with either the “D” or baulk (i.e. a ball is touching the edge of “D”/baulk or touched the edge but rolled back).
  7. The player causes any ball or pin in play to move other than from a shot cued correctly from the “D”, except in the case of interference (Rule 2e).
  8. The ball leaves the table and does not return by its own means (Rule 2d).
  9. The same break-off shot is played more than three times in succession.
  10. A break-off cue ball or endgame cue ball is not played from the centre of the “D”.
  11. Intentionally jumping the cue ball.
  12. Playing a push shot (when the tip of the cue remains in contact with the cue ball once it has commenced its forwards motion).
  13. Striking the cue ball with anything other than the tip of the cue.
  14. Playing a shot before all balls have come to rest from the previous shot.
  15. Playing a shot before balls due to be returned or pins due to be rest have been.
  16. Playing out of turn.
  17. Double hitting the cue ball (causing the tip of the cue to come into contact with the cue ball more than once in the same shot).


The game to be played will be 4-pin bar billiards. It is intended that players and teams should play bar billiards in the true spirit of the game and in a sporting and respectful manner. It is expected that players and teams adhere to the rules of the venue in which they are playing. The referee will be the sole judge that the game is played in accordance with the rules laid out here in sections 1 to 8. The referee’s decision is final.
The game will be played on a 4-pin or converted 3-pin table. The game clock should be between 14 and 18 minutes. The following equipment should be provided by participating venues:
  1. One red and seven white balls. Matches can be played if only six white balls are available.
  2. Four pins, one of which should be black.
  3. At least two cues.
  4. Cue chalk.
Players are entitled to bring and use their own cues and chalk. The home venue or home team will be responsible for paying for the frames within a match.
Note: Alternative baulk lines are ignored for the benefit of consistency.
A standard league or cup match will consist of six frames of singles followed by three frames of doubles, with all players to be drawn randomly at the start of the match. No player may play more than one singles frame and one doubles frame in the same match (except where Rule 8 applies).
The home team is responsible for providing a referee for the first frame. The provision of a referee should then alternate between away and home teams for each subsequent frame. A player should referee no more than one frame per match.
Matches are to be played in the order they are drawn except if both captains agree otherwise.
Note: Players may swap the positions of the black and red pins, i.e. they can opt to have the back guard the 100 hole and the red guard the 200 hole, but they may only do so at the start of a frame (not mid-way through) and only if the home player for that frame is happy to do so. The penalties for the 100 and 200 pins apply regardless of pin colour.
The referee is the sole judge that the game is played in accordance with the rules.
Responsibilities of a referee during a frame are as follows:
  1. To accurately keep score on behalf of the player, and to audibly announce the cumulative break score after each of the players shots.
  2. To call all fouls that are committed.
  3. To record banked scores on the scoreboard, and to adjust scores for penalties arising from fouls.
  4. To return balls and reset pins as applicable.
  5. To ensure that the final score for the frame is recorded on the match scorecard.
The referee is permitted to advise the player of potential situations which may result in a foul (e.g. the red ball not being played when available, or the three-in-a-row maximum break-off rule), and should attempt to announce when the bar has dropped, though the referee should not be held accountable should either of these not occur.
A player may consult the referee at any time to clarify the score or difference in points between players. The referee should not advise a player on the type of shot to play and should not exhibit bias towards one team. Note: Only the referee should handle balls (e.g. returning to trough) and pins (e.g. resetting) during play. It is a foul for the player to do so (Rule 3b (g)).
Ideally a match should comprise of at least six players on each team, however a match must have a minimum of five players on each team in order to proceed. If a team does not have at least five players, then the match should not go ahead (unless agreed with the opposing team in advance of the match). A team can temporarily draft in players to make up numbers as long as the player(s) that is drafted has not or will not play for any other team that season.
Playing with five players If a team cannot temporarily draft a sixth player, they will play the match with five and the following rules will apply:
  1. Names are drawn randomly for six singles frames and three doubles frames as usual, with the team who is missing a sixth player only putting the name of five players into the “hat”.
  2. For the sixth singles frame which will have had only one player drawn for it in total, the team with five players returns the names of those players to the “hat” and one is randomly selected by the opposing team.
  3. For the third doubles frame which will have had only three players drawn for it in total, the team with five players removes the name of the player who played twice in the singles and returns the remaining names to the “hat” from where one is randomly selected by the opposing team.

The easiest way to submit your match scorecards is to post them on the Norwich Bar Billiards Facebook page