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If you are a snooker/billiards enthusiast, most likely, you want to know everything about the game as well as the equipment used. More so, if you own a snooker table at home, you may not be comfortable buying accessories anyhow without much detail about them. Thus, you will inquire to know more about the cue sticks, balls, and other snooker table accessories.
So, how are snooker balls made? Technically, snooker balls are made by molding and hardening phenolic resin, which is a synthetic compound. The resin is heated and poured into a colored mold; once it cools and solidifies, it is polished to form a snooker ball.
This article will look at the evolution of snooker balls, the making process, and other related questions. Keep reading for a deeper insight.
What Is a Snooker Ball?
Simply put, it a colored ball used in the game of snooker.
The Evolution of Snooker Balls
Historically, the snooker balls were carved out of wood. However, this was long ago even before snooker became an official invention.
As you can guess, wood was not up to bar, as it could not withstand the impact of hitting balls in any cue sport.
When inventors realized that wood (clay was used sometimes) was becoming inefficient, they had to look for an alternative material. This is where ivory comes in. the toughness of ivory can be compared to the tooth enamel.
However, as you can already guess, this could soon be problematic because an elephant had to die to pave way for the manufacture of snooker balls. Apart from the problem of elephants becoming extinct, the balls were not efficient. Their density and weights were inconsistent, thus the gameplay could not flow smoothly.
Additionally, ivory made the material change shape as the game progresses. What’s more is that replicating the cue balls as it is today was almost impossible.
In a bid to solve this, an inventor John Wesley Hyatt discovered a synthetic plastic (Celluloid). This material was tougher and it offered some flexibility.
However, this too could not last long as it flammable elements. Occasionally, the balls could explode on impact.
Inventors kept trying with different types of plastic, and in the 1950s phenolic Resin became the official snooker ball producing material. This material does not chip or scratch, and this makes it ideal to serve this purpose.
The Process of Making Snooker Balls
Below is a systematic process showing how the snooker balls are made.
- First, the phenolic resin is heated then poured into latex compound molds. At times, the hot latex can be forcibly injected, and this gets rid of any bubbles, thus producing a high-quality casted product.
- Once done with casting, the molds are then taken apart; they can even be peeled removed off he balls.
- The snooker ball has two parts, that is the bigger portion and the smaller portion. These two portions are interlocked together right at the surface of the smaller portion.
- To achieve the above pattern accurately, the two surfaces are created pointing the opposite directions but with the surfaces facing each other. The ball is the taken out of the mold, and after cooling, the bigger portion reduces in size and the connection is completely filled.
- The balls must have a smooth surface. This is made possible by a lathe machine.
- In most cases, resin items are usually varnished and colored after being molded. However, the case is different for snooker balls. The resin is pre-colored before molding so that abrasions won’t show up on the balls later given they beating they will be getting once they are in play.
- The next step is weighing these balls because even after making them under the same conditions, minor weight variations can occur.
- The balls are then put in groups in accordance with their respective weights, and then they are sent for the final stage of packaging. Of course, before packagi9ng, all the balls must be examined thoroughly to ensure they meet certain criteria. This includes density, diameter tolerance, color precision, brilliance, balance, roundness, and surface polish.
It is clear that care is taken in all stages to achieve accuracy and consistence. Technology has simplified the process, and now we have rapid production.
The Basics of Playing Snooker
Below are simplified rules of playing snooker for beginners.
As already mentioned, the snooker uses 21 balls plus the cue ball, which is white in color. There are 15 red balls, each of which has the value of one. The others are as follows: black-7, pink-6, blue-5, brown-4, green-3, yellow-2, and red-1.
Using the cue stick, you hit the cue ball, which in turns hit the ball on and hopefully pots it. On your first turn, your aim is to hit the red ball first and pot it to score one point. You can then choose any of the other colors and specify first before pocketing it. Your score will be the value of the color potted. So you will be alternating between the reds and the colors until you fail to pot, then your opponent takes turn. The reds remain in the pocket while the colored ones take back their position each time.
Once all the reds have been pocketed, the colored balls will be pocketed in order, starting yellow, which has the smallest value to black, which has the highest value.
The game ends when all balls have been pocketed. The winner is the one with more points when the game is over. A winner can also be declared if the balls left on the table do not have enough points to beat the leading opponent.
Fouls include the following:
- Failure of the cue ball to hit the ball on first- if you hit any other ball first, the penalty is the value of the ball hit or 4 points
- Touching any ball on the table-you are fined 4 points or the value of the touched ball if it is greater than four
- Potting any other ball other than the ball- your opponent is awarded the value on the ball pocketed
- Failure to hit anything at all- the opponent takes turn
Is snooker the same as pool?
Although snooker and pool are both cue sports, they are different. For instance, pool tables are smaller than snooker tables. However, pool table pockets are larger than those on a snooker table. Pool can be played with 9-15 balls plus the cue ball. Snooker, on the other hand, uses 21 balls plus an additional cue ball. Other differences can be seen in how the games are played and their rules.
Which is more difficult between snooker and pool?
The level of difficulty in these two games is relative depending on the player. For instance, one may be proficient in pool, and regard snooker as difficult. The vice versa is also true. However, for beginners, you could say that snooker is a little difficult to master because the table is bigger but the pockets are smaller compared to pool. Additionally, snooker rules are more strict than pool rules.
How many balls should be present on a snooker table?
In general, there are 22 balls: the cue ball, 15 red balls, and 1 yellow, green, brown, blue, pink, and black ball.