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Pool/Billiards/General rules - 8 ball and 14.1


Hi Bill,
Thank you for your swift reply to my questions I do appreciate it.

1. From my previous post, you said all breaking fouls in 14.1 is a loss of 2 points. Does this count towards the 3 foul rule of minus 15 points?

2. What if I make a legal 14.1 break of 2 balls hitting a rail including the cue ball and then the cue ball scratches. Would this be the only exception where a foul on the break would be -1 counting towards the 3 foul rule?

3. Bad play behind the headstring rule... Say I am playing 8 ball and my opponent standard fouls scratching the cue ball during play way after the break shot. I decide to take the cue ball in hand and place it behind the headstring. Would I be allowed to play any object ball in these circumstances which are also behind the headstring without first playing down the table? I ask this because technically you are not limited to only playing the cue ball behind the headstring if you dont want to.

From how I see it, if there is a legal break and the player scratches, the shot immediately after, the opponent can only place cue ball in hand behind the headstring for this one time. Would bad play behind the headstring apply in these circumstances because he is only allowed to place the cue ball in hand behind the headstring?

4. I take it that straight pool bad play behind the headstring would always apply because when cue ball is in hand, it can only be places behind the headstring, am I right?

Thank you :)

Hey Andrew,

Okay, this could get a little messy because we're talking about two different games. Here goes...

1. In 14.1 "Breaking Fouls" are NOT counted towards the 3 foul penalty. After a breaking foul the breaker's "consecutive foul count" remains at zero. Even if the player commits several breaking fouls in a row, each one is just -2. It is true to say that a "Standard Foul" cannot be made until after a legal break.

2. In 14.1, a cue ball scratch on the break IS a breaking foul. Penalty is -2 and the scratch does not count toward the 3 foul penalty.

3. In 8 ball, "behind the head string" only comes up on the shot immediately following a break in which the breaker scratches. So, if a player scratches on the opening break, the incoming player has ball in hand behind the head string. Only in this instance could "bad play behind the head string" come into effect. In 8 ball any other time a player scratches the penalty is ball in hand for their opponent, anywhere on the table, and all balls of the incoming player's suit are eligible targets. Effectively, if there is a legal break shot in 8 ball the head string will not be used for anything afterward.

4. Yes, in 14.1 the requirements of playing from behind the head string come up anytime the cue ball scratches.

Play well and enjoy,



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Bill Newsted


I can answer questions related to shot-making, aiming, position play, strategies, practice, mental preparation and the psychology of the game. Also, rules as they vary from venue to venue and how to become a winning player. I have experience recovering and maintaining tables and will also answer questions related to cues and billiard equipment. However, I prefer not to make brand recommendations. I do not offer information identifying old tables and equipment or estimating their values.


I have played over forty years in every state in the US (except Alaska). My experience is largely in pool rooms but I have also played extensively on bar tables and in league organizations. I have directed numerous tournaments up to the professional level and have played several world champion players. I am a former Billiard Congress of America instructor.


B.S. in Visual Communication M.A. in Education: Career and Technology Education

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