Same rules for all?

Yes, indeed! But the interpretation of Section 3. Rule 14 a. may not be the same for all if the different skill levels of the players is taken into consideration, as it should be.

In a frame I once refereed a very raw beginner who had some basic potting skills but little else, played the stroke shown here. I called a Foul naturally, but not a Miss. I was immediately reminded by his superior skilled opponent, that I must call a Miss because it was only a one cushion escape. I did agree that the escape route might seem simple but on reflection a few difficulties might also present themselves. I also agreed with him in discussions later, that in most cases a Miss should be called here. I also pointed out that calling a ‘Miss’ is not obligatory from snookered situations and if, in the opinion of the referee, the player has made a genuine and reasonable attempt to strike a ball on according to their known or observed skill, the referee is obligated to NOT call a Miss.

Yes, he had misjudged the angle of escape but it is obvious that the stroke is hampered both by the Pink and by the awkwardness of playing from under the cushion, and maybe he could have used a little running side spin to overcome the problem or passed the other side of the Pink with checked side, also taking into consideration that either of those strokes are made that much more difficult, even if the skill to play them was possessed, with only the top of the cue-ball to work with. He could even have used the top cushion and opposite side cushion if he could have visualised the rectangle. But with only one Red left it is surely obvious that I had had enough time to assess the skill of both players and it was also obvious to me that the striker wouldn’t have a clue about side spin, running or otherwise. He had used enough force in the stroke to cross the table two and a half times, he had gotten as close to the Pink as was possible without contacting it and had come within a ball’s width of the Red, so maybe he did, to the best of his very limited ability, make an attempt that could be considered genuine and reasonable and certainly not one that would lead me to believe it was a deliberate ploy to avoid disturbing the Red and so leave an easy pot for his opponent, as I’m confident the thought wouldn’t even have entered his head.

This also goes to illustrate that a call of ‘Miss’ can be made on a stroke by one player with no obligation to call it on one by another, even in the same match if their skills are not compatible because I would have certainly called it on his opponent, with the exact wording of the rule being - ‘The striker shall, to the best of their ability, endeavour to hit the ball on’. The word ‘endeavour’ meaning to try, not meaning that it must be hit. If it isn’t it will obviously be a foul but it may not be a miss as long as the try was genuine and reasonable. The word ‘their’ is used to avoid being gender specific and refers to the ability held by the striker alone and not to any collective of the word ‘their’, whether referring to a team or the two protagonists of one frame or the group of players in a tournament or grade and while referees must always have this condition in mind it is especially relevant in tournaments with a round robin stage where players in the same group may have vastly different skills. The first paragraph of the rule then goes on to say that ‘if the referee considers the rule infringed’, which means it is only a question of whether, in the opinion of the referee, a genuine and reasonable attempt has been made or not that is necessary for the for the rule to be invoked or dismissed, certainly not the opinion of an opponent or any other witnesses to the stroke.

The other question that arises from this blog is, what is the difference between ‘genuine’ and ‘reasonable’?

An example of the first would be the striker trying ‘genuinely’ to play a stroke to contact a ball on but miscues in doing so. If the cue ball then comes nowhere near a ball on that would not be a reasonable stroke even though the actions of the striker were genuine in relation to trying to play a legitimate stroke.

An example of reasonable but not genuine would be the striker taking no preparation or consideration of an escape route and just throwing a cue at the cue ball, so to speak. This could end up with the cue ball coming by chance within a ‘reasonable’ distance of a ball on which in other circumstances might be considered by the referee as a stroke where a ‘Miss’ should not be called. Perhaps this striker has the skills that with a little care and better preparation could have come even closer or in fact completed an escape. This scenario then illustrates how a stroke could be reasonable but not genuine and could still be subject to a call of ‘Miss’ from a vigilant referee.

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