Besides The Rules

A number of things that are not in the rule book but are nevertheless very important to the art of refereeing can be grouped together under the heading of ‘other things to know’.

The first and probably the most important, is where to stand.

The golden rule is to follow the cue ball. The optimum position for a referee to enable adjudication of any stroke, is behind and slightly to the blind side of the striker. This will allow the referee to see when the tip of the cue contacts the cue ball, whether the striker has touched any ball with any part of the body or clothing, or contacted the ball whilst feathering, (not possible from the opposite end of the table if the cue ball does not move) or if an object ball has been contacted with the cue. If the striker is stretching over any object balls to reach the cue ball, either with the cue arm or bridge hand or with the body, being behind and on the blind side of the striker will enable the referee to judge whether or not a foul has been made without getting into the line of sight, or upsetting the concentration of the striker, especially if the referee needs to crouch to get a good view. It is also the only certain position to be in to see that at least some part of one foot is touching the floor. If the cue ball is in hand it will also be easy to see if it is placed correctly in the ‘D’ from this position, which is not possible from a position near the top of the table if the ball is being placed close to a line.

Being in this correct position is not always possible, especially with very fast players and every effort should be made to avoid upsetting the concentration of the striker by standing still whilst the stroke is being played. Remember also that if the referee is in the line of sight of the player, white gloves will be visible unless hands are held behind the back. If the referee needs to adjust position because cueing for the striker is awkward and the risk of fouling is increased, movement to the preferred place should be done as quickly and unobtrusively as possible.

Next in order of importance is how the score is called.

It is a given in snooker and understood by all aficionados of the sport that when the referee calls the score after a colour has been potted, the striker is then at liberty to play another stroke. It is in the interest of fair play because of this, that the referee must not call any such score whilst a colour is yet to be spotted. Many experienced players will not even watch the referee perform this action but be in position and in readiness to play the next stroke as soon as the call is made. It would be unfair in the extreme in those circumstances if a referee did not adhere to this custom.

Calling the score totals for each player during the frame is also part of the duties of the referee. Caution here is advised as the rules state that no indication of the difference in the scores can be imparted to the players. So the score of the striker should be called first then the score of the non-striker. If the striker should query the score in the middle of a break it is the custom for the referee to first state the score of the opponent then the score of the striker then additionally the total of the break to that point, without giving any indication of the combined total.

Calling fouls.

This should be done in a firm voice and stated precisely, do not leave the player in any doubt as to the call or the penalty.

When calling a foul and a miss remember they are two separate things. The correct call is ‘Foul and a Miss’ not ‘Foul, Miss’ or ‘Foul and Miss’. Additionally, when calling a miss, make up your mind whether to call it or not before you speak then state your decision in a firm and clear manner, not hesitantly.

How can the striker be sure whether the cue ball is in hand or in play?

It can sometimes happen that the incoming striker has been distracted and is unsure of the state of play except that the other player is now the non-striker.

It is a custom that is understood by all but the most inexperienced players that when the cue ball is in hand and not in the possession of the referee it is hard up to the Baulk cushion, on the bed of the table (not on the rail or cushion) and on the centre longitudinal line. The referee should almost always place the cue ball in this position when not handing it directly to the incoming striker. The exception to this is if it is obvious that the striker will play the stroke towards the Baulk cushion when the cue ball may be given on the side cushion. Always retrieve the cue ball, and perform any duties necessary before placing it in position or handing it to the player, do not allow the cue ball to be touched until you are ready for play to start or start again and always take every opportunity to clean it.

The position and condition of any provided equipment is also the bailiwick of the referee.

The correct place for any rest or other equipment is in a position that will not hamper either the player or the referee. Having the half butt on its hooks and facing in the opposite direction to the long rest on the same set of hooks can only lead to disaster or wasted time. Make sure that rest heads are not loose enough to fall off when handled, make sure that other items of equipment such as spider and goose neck rests are at hand and in good order. If a player asks for any of the rests always place them fully on the table without any ends resting on, or overhanging the cushions. That way there is no danger of them being accidentally knocked causing them to destroy the lay of the balls.

Are the stick on spots that mark the position of the colours in good order? Make sure that the balls sit on them centrally. If they don’t, inform the Tournament Director, or inform the players of any anomaly and explain that the balls will be positioned where they sit until a proper solution can be found.

These and any other such duties should be completed before the players approach the table and is one of the reasons that a good referee will be in attendance well before the scheduled starting time of any match.

Managing the scoreboard.

Most times when refereeing, it is done without the assistance of a marker. If this is the case the referee must not only look after the scores and the score board but the scoresheet too. After it has been decided which player is to break first it is a good idea to then put a mark in the space provided to indicate which player is to break in each frame. The player who broke in the first should then have a mark on the scoresheet that that player is to break for all the odd numbered frames. Try not to look all at sea when calling the players to start the next frame not knowing which one has the honour.

It is also unnecessary, if name tags are being used, to swap rollers for each subsequent frame so as to have the scores for the breaking player on the top roller. The accepted practice is to assign the top roller to the player on the left hand side of the scoresheet for the duration of the match.

After the match.

Minor table maintenance between the end of one match and the start of the next is, in many cases, the accepted duty of the referee in charge of the match that has just been completed. Using a specialised table brush to clean the table bed and cushions of chalk marks and any dust that may have settled can be done effectively by brushing the table in short straight lines going from Baulk towards the top of the table. The balls should be back in their box while this is being done as leaving them in the pockets will only result in the dust from the table being transferred to the balls, especially if they are in the top pockets.

Ironing the table is not practical in between matches but the nap must still be laid back down for the incoming protagonists. This is done with a block of wood covered with velvet as a preference, or some left over baize and should be done in straight continuous overlapping lines for the whole length of the table, again starting at the Baulk end of the table.

Finally, remember that not one spectator apart from immediate family maybe, is there to watch the referee. The duty of the referee is to adjudicate on the match, ensuring fair play and gentlemanly conduct but also to facilitate the players, thus speeding up the proceedings and enhancing the enjoyment of all concerned.

Check list.

1. Ensure that your dress and personal equipment is in order before leaving for the venue.

2. Arrive at the venue in good time.

3. Make the tournament director and the director of referees aware that you have arrived.

4. Ascertain which match and table you have been assigned to.

5. Collect the scoresheet and scoreboard name tags and anything else relevant.

6. Ensure that the table is in good order including the condition of the spots, paying particular attention to the Spot, the Pyramid Spot and Centre Spot. That it is brushed and ironed or padded and that the pockets do not have any tears in them.

7. Check the rests, long rests and half butts, ensuring that the black plastic toes are in place and tight, that spiders and goose neck rests are available and if long rests and half butts are on hooks at the side of the table that they are facing the same way.

8. Rack the balls ensuring that they are clean and free from chips, particularly the cue ball.

9. Complete the coin toss as soon as possible after the players have arrived at the table and add any relevant details to the scoresheet.

10. Attach the name tags and frame number cards to the scoreboard and adjust it to zero on each roller.

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