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In the game of 8-ball: suppose my opponent plays his/her shot without a foul, and the cue ball ends in a touching-ball situation (that is, the white ball stops right next to a ball, declared to be touching upon a close inspection). So now it is my turn to play, having been handed a touching ball situation, I see two scenarios:

  1. The cue ball is in a touching situation with one of my own balls (say I had called stripes at the start of the game). Then I can call the touching ball to be my next shot, and it suffices to shoot the cue ball away from it, and it would count as if I had hit the called ball.

  2. The cue ball is in a touching situation with one of my opponent's balls (solid color). Then by the same token, no matter what shot I call, shooting away would appear as if I had first hit my opponent's ball, because the cue ball was in touching with an opponent's ball. But that wouldn't make any sense, because I would then simply have no legal shots, and any play would be foul before me making any shot.

To remedy the 2nd scenario, I've been reading the rules again, and there's no bit that directly addresses this situation, namely, a touching situation where the two balls are the cue ball and one of opponent's ball. In one case, the rules say the following:

5.9 Touching Balls

If the cue ball is touching an object ball, the shooter must not play the cue ball in the direction of that ball. He is considered to have hit the touching ball when he shoots away from it if the ball is on for the shot.

But it does not specify, what if the touching ball is an opponent's ball, it seems to assume the touching ball is one of my own balls, hence the remark at the end "...if the ball is on for the shot." It can only be on for a shot if it is one of my own balls (stripes).

Another source suggests something somewhat orthogonal:

3.18 FAILURE TO CONTACT OBJECT BALL

It is a foul if on a stroke the cue ball fails to make contact with any legal object ball first. Playing away from a touching ball does not constitute having hit that ball.

Question:

How are such touching ball situations resolved? What legal shots do I have in case of 1. and 2.? Specially in case of 2., can I hit away from the touching ball even if the cue ball had been in touching/frozen situation with one of opponent's balls? It would be incredibly useful if you could also include a link to the rules with which you answer the question.

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The rules for these cases are deliberately exceptional, to avoid players seeking to create touching ball scenarios instead of shooting their own object balls, i.e. playing pool.

Scenario 2 would indeed make no sense if it was a guaranteed foul, so touching ball on the opponent's ball is never considered a foul.

It is treated for all intents and purposes as if the cue ball can't be legally played in that direction, but it is perfectly fine to play away, with the usual restrictions that the shooter's own object ball must be contacted and must be contacted first.

Scenario 1 is much the same, though for a different reason. When the cue strikes the cue ball, the cue ball is immediately in contact with the object ball, while the cue remains in contact with the cue ball. This would normally be a push shot and a foul, again making no sense.

Thus, the rules consider this to be an object ball already struck by the cue ball. They then require the cue ball to be played away freely, as this avoids further nonsense such as merely tapping the cue on the cue ball and leaving it in exactly the same place, and putting the opponent in Scenario 2.

  • Thanks for the clarifications. So in a nutshell, in either scenario, one is to play away the cue ball, and may or may not call the object ball in contact as the considered shot (of course only in scenario 1), otherwise, in scenario 2, we play away [+] and have to hit a certain called object ball (of our own). [+]: hitting away is a bit vague, e.g. in scenario 2, does it mean that the object ball of opponent being in touching with the cue ball, shouldn't even move at all (not even shake on its spot) when we hit away the cue ball? In case shaken or slightly moved, is that a foul? – Phonon Jan 14 at 0:40
  • Finally, is there a specific source that you recommend for looking up such rules? – Phonon Jan 14 at 0:42
  • Correct, playing away from the touching ball should not ever move it - this is usually the defining point of whether a foul occurred. Correct, the only difference between the situations is whether the shooter has "officially" played their own ball yet. No particular source is a favourite, though I haven't seen any disagreement on whether touching object ball counts as played, and never seen or heard of a foul called for touching opponent ball. – Nij Jan 14 at 0:46
  • Although I would make exception for a table with unusually poor felt or surface, on calling foul for moving a touching ball, e.g. if there is a dip causing the ball to move because it was being held back by the cue ball, even though the cue ball is played away cleanly. – Nij Jan 14 at 0:53
  • Excellent, thanks a lot. – Phonon Jan 14 at 1:00

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