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The game of 3 Cushion-Billiards is played with three balls on a pocketless heated 5 X 10 feet table. The balls are colored yellow, white and red and are a little bigger and heavier than pool balls. The yellow and white are cue balls and each one is used by a different player. Even though the red is used as a cue ball in some countries, generally the red is always an object ball.

To score a point the cue ball must hit the other two balls, but before the cue ball makes contact with the second object ball (the other player's designated cue ball and the red), it must hit three or more cushions. That is the reason why the game is called 3-Cushion Billiards.

Every game starts with a lag and the player that comes closest to the head rail wins the right to the opening shot.

A complete game of Three Cushion Billiard can be played to any amount of points. Usually the number of points for the match are established by the players before shooting the lag. Worldcup events are played to fifteen points. Most 3-Cushion games are usually played to twenty, thirty, forty and even fifty points. World Championship tournaments are usually played in sets of fifteen points.

Every time a player shoots it is called "an inning". As long as the shooter scores, he can keep on shooting until he misses. You can score many points in one inning as long as you score you can keep on shooting. When several billiards are scored in an inning, it is called "a run".


1. Three-Cushion Billiard tournaments shall be governed by the following rules. Any exception must be stated in the tournament notice, or discussed and approved by a majority of the players present before the start of the tournament.

2. A three-cushion billiard is valid and is a count of one in any of the following cases: (1) the cue ball strikes the first object ball and then strikes three or more cushions before striking the second object ball; (2) the cue ball strikes three or more cushions and then strikes the two object balls; (3) the cue ball strikes a cushion, then strikes the first object ball, and then strikes two or more cushions before striking the second object ball; (4) the cue ball strikes two cushions, then strikes the first object ball, and then strikes one or more cushions before striking the second object ball.

3. A three-cushion count means three impacts. These impacts need not necessarily be on three different cushions to be considered a valid count. A valid count may be executed on one cushion or on two cushions if it is the result of the spin on the ball.

4. Lagging for the Break Position. (1) Each player selects a cue ball, which is placed on the table within the head string and the head rail, and then strokes the ball to the foot rail hard enough for it to return to the head rail. The balls in lagging may touch the side rails, though it is not required. If the two balls touch while being lagged, the player whose ball strayed across the center of the table will loose the lag. If a player's ball hits the red ball, or if the player's ball jumps the table, he will loose the lag. (2) The player whose ball comes to rest nearer to the head rail wins the lag. (3) The winner of the lag has the right to the break shot or to assign the break shot to the opponent. (4) The winner of the lag has the choice of cue balls, which is then used for the duration of the game.

5. Break Shot. (1) The opponent's ball is placed on the head spot. The player's cue ball is placed on a spot six inches (15.2 centimeters) to the right or left of the head spot. The red ball is placed on the foot spot. (2) The player executes the break shot by stroking his cue ball intending to contact the red ball first. Failure to contact the red ball first is a foul and the player's inning ends. (3) On subsequent shots either the red ball or the opponent's ball may be used as the first object ball.

6. Fouls That End a Player's Turn. (1) Jumped balls (Rule 11). (2) Starting play while balls are in motion. (3) Touching any of the balls with hand, with part of clothing, with cue or with any other object such as chalk or pen. The balls shall remain in position to which they were thus moved. (4) Push (shove) shot (Rule 14). (5) Double Stroke (Rule 14). (6) When, at moment of shooting, neither foot is touching the floor. (7) Wrong ball (Rule 8). (8) Touching ball with cue during warm-up (Rule 17). (9) Player interference (Rule 19).

7. Any foul caused by outside interference is not to be charged as a penalty to the player with shot in progress. If the balls are displaced by the disturbance, they will be restored to their original position as precisely as possible, and the player will continue shooting.

8. Wrong Ball. (1) Shooting with the wrong ball is a foul and ends the player's inning. (2) The opponent or the referee may call this foul; opponent may call before or after the shot, while referee may call it only after the shot is completed. (3) Such a foul can be called any time during a run, but the player shall be entitled to all points made before the stroke in which the foul was detected. (4) The incoming player shall play the balls as they lie after the foul was called.

9. Frozen Balls. (1) If during an inning, the player's ball comes to rest in contact with the opponent's ball, or comes to rest in contact with the red ball, the player has the option of playing away from the ball with which he is in contact, or electing to have the balls in contact spotted. (2) If an inning ends with the player's ball in contact with the next player's ball, or the red ball in contact with the next player's ball, the incoming player has the option of playing away from the ball in contact, or may elect to have the two balls that are in contact spotted. The loose or unfrozen ball is not to be touched. (3) The red ball is spotted on the foot spot, the player's cue ball on the head spot, and the opponent's cue ball on the center spot. (4) If the spot reserved for the ball to be spotted is hidden by another ball, the ball to be spotted is placed on the spot usually reserved for the hiding ball. (5) The same rules apply when a ball or balls jump the table.

10. When a cue ball is frozen to a cushion, a player may shoot into (play against) that cushion, but the first contact shall not count as a cushion impacted. Subsequent contacts with the same cushion are valid.

11. When a player's cue ball, the opponent's ball, or the red ball jumps the table, it is a foul and the player's inning ends. Spot balls by Rule 9 (3, 4).

12. When the cue ball bounces and rides the cushion of the rail and returns to the playing surface, the ball is in play. It shall count as one cushion contacted (impacted), regardless of the number of impacts contacted on that cushion. If the cue ball rides two or more rails, each rail will count as one cushion contacted. If the cue ball comes to rest on top of the cushion of the rail, it is considered a jumped ball, which is a foul, and the player's inning ends. If the cue ball or either of the other two balls touch the FRAME of the rail it is a foul and the player's inning ends. If the opponent's ball or the red ball bounces and rides the cushion of the rail without touching the frame of the rail these balls are also in play.

13. No shot shall be started while the balls are in motion, or are spinning. If a player disregards this rule, it is a foul and the player's inning ends.

14. If a player pushes (shoves) the cue ball, or if a player double strokes the cue ball with his cue, it is a foul and player's inning ends. (A push shot is one in which the cue tip remains in contact with the cue ball after cue ball strikes an object ball, or when cue tip again contacts the cue ball after cue ball strikes the object ball. Double stroke is similar and occurs when player's tip or cue shaft hits cue ball twice.) If a billiard is made, it shall not count, and the player's inning ends.

15. All kiss shots are fair, whether they deprive a player of an imminent score, or whether they help in a score.

16. Miscues shall not necessarily be considered a foul, unless it is construed that the player's ferrule or shaft touched the cue ball during the execution of the stroke, which is a foul, and the player's inning ends. Not all miscues are fouls, and if a billiard is scored because of a miscued stroke, it shall be counted and turn continues.

17. If a player during the "warm-up" stroking should touch the cue ball, it is a foul and the player's inning ends.

18. A game is official when a player scores the number of points designated as constituting a game, although the opponent has had one less turn at the table. If a referee and scorekeeper are used, the game becomes official after the score sheet is signed by the referee, the scorekeeper, and the players. The referee and the scorekeeper should also sign the sheet. Once the losing player signs the score sheet, no protest will be considered.

19. If a player at the table is responsible for interference in any manner, it is a foul, and the inning ends. The incoming player must accept the balls in position. A player not at the table must not distract the opponent with undue motions or noise. The referee or tournament official may issue a warning or disqualify the player for unsportsmanlike conduct.

20. If, for reasons beyond his control, a player cannot start a game as scheduled, the game may be postponed if the tournament director so decides. If a player is unable to finish a game, he forfeits the game, unless the opponent waives the forfeiture and agrees to finish the game at a time convenient to the tournament management. If a player is unable to return to the tournament, all his games are nullified.

21. If a player is disqualified while playing a game, he loses that game and gets no points. The opponent is credited with a game won and is given the number of points he would have scored had he won the game. If a player is disqualified from a tournament, all of his games are nullified (that is, the games played and the games remaining to be played). The tournament continues as though one less player started when tournament opened.

22. If, for reasons beyond his control, a player cannot start a game, he must notify the tournament manager in time to allow for a substitute player, or for another pair of players. All tournament contestants are subject to immediate call if a substitute is necessary.

23. If a referee is officiating and considers a player to be taking an abnormal amount of time between strokes with the intention of upsetting his opponent, the referee shall warn the player that he runs the risk of disqualification if he pursues these tactics. Continued disregard of the warning shall be proper grounds to disqualify the player. If no referee is officiating, the tournament manager shall have the right to invoke this rule.

24. Deliberate intentional safeties are not allowed, If played, it is a foul, and the player's inning ends. The incoming player may accept the balls as they lie, or set up the balls for a break shot.

25. At any tournament, usually the tournament director plus another member of the local federation or organizers who is not playing in the tournament shall constitute a grievance committee to whom unsportsmanlike conduct during the tournament may be reported. Before commencement of the tournament, the players shall designate two of the players to serve on such a committee to protect the interests of the players. The two persons representing the USBA and the two persons representing the players shall jointly consider any evidence or reports of unsportsmanlike conduct. If this grievance committee is unable to resolve the complaint, the representatives shall submit a written report to the organizing federation for consideration by the Board of Directors. The two player representatives may also submit their views to the Board of Directors. At the next regular meeting or special meeting of the Board of Directors, these reports shall be considered and the action recommended by a majority shall be binding on the accused player.

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