Using a Ball Marker
Blue Ball Marker
The blue ball marker along its length is exactly the same dimension as the diameter of a snooker ball and along its width exactly the same dimension as its radius. With this knowledge it can be turned from a simple tool for marking the position of balls that need cleaning into a precision measuring device to judge free balls or whether or not a ball can be spotted without touching another ball.
When cleaning a ball, the edge of the hand should be placed on the table beside the ball to be lifted with the thumb holding the ball, or the heel of the hand on the table and a finger or fingers used to hold the ball. In other words, use the table as a firm and steadying platform, don’t hover over the ball with the hand in mid-air, this will always result in a failure to complete the process successfully. The marker should then be laid flat on the table with the indented side uppermost and moved under the ball, taking every care not to move that ball in the slightest. The marker should then be held firmly whilst the ball is lifted from the table. When replacing the ball, all the same actions should be used, in reverse order naturally.
Any request by a striker to have the ball cleaned must be agreed to by the referee and if, in that referee’s opinion the striker is trying to gain an unfair advantage, or the ball to be cleaned is in too awkward a position to be able to lift it from the table accurately, the referee is free to refuse the request. Great care must be taken if this situation arises as the striker may genuinely need the ball to be cleaned with no ulterior motive.
As stated, this style of ball marker is a precision measuring device and one of the measurements that could need to be taken during the course of a frame is if a colour has to be spotted and there is a ball that is, or might be restricting that action. With the ball marker held in the upright position so that the 26.25mm edge is on the table it can be slid directly over the spot towards the adjacent ball until the marker is as close as possible without touching. If at least half the spot is visible, then the ball will spot. Remember that for a ball to be correctly spotted it cannot be left touching another ball and if it does, the spot is then deemed to be occupied.
The diagram on the top right shows a spot that will take a ball and at the bottom, one that won’t.
To judge free balls, use the ball marker on its long 52.5mm edge placed as close as possible to the ball concerned with its end facing the ball but without it touching. This should be done on the same side as any ball that may be causing the snooker. A line of sight should then be taken from behind the cue ball with the marker left in position to see if the striker is able to hit the marker fully. In other words, is the whole of the marker visible past the possible snookering ball or balls. If it is then it is not a free ball. This action should only be used when the decision is hard to judge or if a decision is disputed, when it obviously is, or is obviously not a free ball, then using the marker in this way is just time wasting by the referee and should be avoided.
If this ball marker has a notch in the centre of the ball indent it can also be used to determine if a ball is in or out of baulk and would mainly be used during Billiards matches. Mark the ball and remove it, being very careful not to move the marker even slightly, as when completing the cleaning process. It will then be very easy to see if the ball is in or out.
This one was just out as can be plainly seen and may be played at from in hand.