Written by Polo Sho
Finally! After what felt like forever, tomorrow restrictions are lifted on bars and restaurants! What better way to celebrate the return to having a social life than with a new bar game, specifically a new billiards game! Not to mention it was created by a fellow Calgarian!
A little back story:
In the summer of 2016, I was living in Edmonton working door to door sales, not a fun job, and rooming with a good friend of mine who went to the U of A. The place we were staying at was a hostel with a lot of amenities, which included a pretty well-maintained bar pool table. So, every day when I got back from work, or I wasn’t working, I would play pool. Mainly because I didn’t know anyone else in the city. I was from Calgary but living in Edmonton because I was still searching for something (I hadn’t decided to pursue rap full time yet). Anyways, I would play pool (8-ball specifically) every day, every opportunity I got. I got so into the game I even started watching professional pool tournaments on YouTube. I watched all the different variations of cue sports: eight-ball, blackball, nine-ball, ten-ball, seven-ball, straight pool, one-pocket, and bank pool. From there I expanded my skills from just playing standard bar 8-ball to playing 9-ball, straight pool and snooker, which were my favorite. It’s safe to say billiards became a bit of an obsession, although friends who know me close would say my obsession started long before this.
Spending so much time in a city I wasn’t from, gave me focus and the time to really hone my skills in the game. And so, the few friends that I did have in the city, like my roommate and his friends, would always play pool with me and almost always lose. I’m not even trying to front, I’m better now but I was really good then as well. So, there were only a couple people who I’d play regularly who could take me. This meant a lot of friends just didn’t want to play me. I’d be like “let’s go to the pool hall and chill” and they’d be like “that’s not chill, you just want to f*ck me up, let’s play some chess or something” (I suck at chess). But when I introduced this game of Yellow Ball I discovered that a lot of friends found it a lot easier to play the game. Possibly because there’s less balls to sink, positioning yourself for the next shot is a lot easier in the game (which will be explained in the rules) and overall it’s just a lot more fun to play. You don’t need to be a highly skilled billiard player like for 8-ball or 9-ball to really get into the game and dominate. And so, I continued noticing that friends who would normally be reluctant to play 8-ball with me were more enthusiastic about Yellow Ball. We’d play one round and whether they won or lost they would say “let’s play another one because that was fun”! And that was definitely not their reaction if they lost a game of 8-ball.
So, when I got back to Calgary in the fall of 2016, I was a full-time student at the U of C and only played pool once a week in a local bar league, but it was just standard 8-ball. I played Yellow Ball with my brother who really enjoyed it. And yet again another great example because he isn’t someone who enjoys 8-ball or billiard games for that matter. I played the game with another good friend, Jay, and he liked the game as well. I wouldn’t call him a pool enthusiast but he’s definitely someone who likes to play 8-ball and he said he’d rather play Yellow Ball with me moving forward. At that point I realized that this game of mine actually has real value and before I go about sharing it with the rest of the world, I need to figure out a way to protect my intellectual property. I didn’t want to end up like the Fidget Spinner inventor. Who famously didn’t make a dime off the huge profits her invention generated simply because she didn’t get a patent for her idea. So, I sought out to get a patent for this new game I had invented and long story short I found that to hire a patent lawyer and file the patent would have cost me upwards of $5,000 which I could not afford at the time as a full-time student. In addition to that, once a patent is filed it goes into “patent pending” which means the patent has been filed but not granted. Patent applications get rejected for all sorts of reasons, mainly because the invention is not the first of its kind. Although I did not invent the game of pool, I had invented a new process/way of playing the game and because this idea was abstract there was a chance it could be rejected by the patent office (although the Canadian Patent Office has given a patent to a new pool game before so it was possible). I decided that until I could protect my idea, I won’t share it with the world. Since then the game has stayed a secret and not been played.
The game popped back into my head at the start of this year and so I decided to call up a Canadian Patent Agent to discuss some of my options. I found an agent who offered me a 30-minute free consultation to assess if my idea was even patentable. Within 20 minutes of the phone call she had made it very clear that in the present day it is very unlikely that I will get a patent for my idea because it falls under a “method for performing a mental act”. Simply put, patents are only granted to the physical embodiment of an idea. The game of pool/billiards already exists and my idea, although it is original, is considered a different “mental approach” to the same game. If my game was to introduce some new kind of equipment required to play it, then I could likely get a patent for it. With that she let me know that if I was to publish the rules of my game then I would have some protection under copyright law. So here we are!
How I made the game?
The idea of making my own game began when I went to bars to play. I would pay $1.25 for the rack of 15 balls and only use 9 of them to play 9-ball. So instead of pocketing the remaining 6 balls in a random form, as I usually did, I developed another game so I could get 2 games out of one rack. As the game developed, this was no longer the case because the final version of Yellow Ball uses 7 balls. Yellow Ball was inspired by my favourite aspects from my top 3 pool games: 8-ball, 9-ball and snooker. So, without further ado…
YB. YELLOW BALL
Yellow ball is played with the cue ball and seven object balls; the one ball, the ten ball, the eleven ball, the twelve ball, the thirteen ball, the fourteen ball and the fifteen ball. Played between two opposing shooters. The shooter’s group of three striped balls (evens; ten, twelve and fourteen or odds; eleven, thirteen and fifteen) must all be pocketed in ascending or descending numerical order before finally pocketing the one (1) ball to win the rack. The one (1) ball must be pocketed and placed on either the foot spot or the head spot of the table before every shot at a striped ball. Only the one (1) ball shots are called.
YB. 1 Determining the Break
The player who wins the lag chooses who will break the first rack.
YB. 2 Yellow Ball Rack
The seven object balls are racked as tightly as possible with the six striped balls (arranged without purposeful or intentional pattern) forming a triangle. The apex of this triangle points towards the foot rail. The one (1) ball goes on the foot spot and the center ball at the base of the triangle is frozen directly below.
YB. 3 Break Shot
The following rules apply to the break shot:
- The cue ball begins in hand behind the head string.
- The cue ball must hit the one (1) ball first.
- No ball is called.
- If the breaker pockets a ball and does not foul, he/she continues at the table, and the table remains open.
- If no ball is pocketed, at least three object balls must be driven to one or more rails, or the shot results in an illegal break, and the incoming player has the option of
- Accepting the table in position, or
- Re-racking and breaking.
- If any ball is driven off the table on a break shot this results in re-racking and the break goes to the opponent.
- If the breaker fouls in any manner not listed above, the following player has the option of
- Accepting the table in position, or
- Re-racking and breaking.
YB. 4 The Standard Rules
The rules for standard play of Yellow Ball are as follows:
- Yellow Ball must be played with cue sticks on a pool table with six pockets. A bridge is allowed when balls are awkwardly placed, to help players keep their feet on the ground.
- Every one (1) ball shot is called.
- Striped ball shots are not called.
- A shooter is either one of two groups (evens; ten, twelve and fourteen or odds; eleven, thirteen and fifteen).
- The one (1) ball must be pocketed before every striped ball shot. There are no consecutive one (1) ball shots and no consecutive striped ball shots.
- Every time a player returns to the table he/she must pocket the one ball.
- Every time the one (1) ball is pocketed it must be placed on either the foot spot or the head spot of the table before attempting to pocket a striped ball. The one (1) ball is not placed after the winning shot.
- A player’s group of striped balls must be pocketed in ascending or descending numerical order. For example, if the eleven ball is pocketed first, the player must pocket the thirteen next and finally the fifteen or if the first ball pocketed within the group is the fifteen, the player will pocket the thirteen next and then the eleven.
- Combo shots are allowed, meaning a player’s assigned numeric ball can be used to pocket another ball within his/her group and not vice versa.
- Combos where the one (1) ball pockets a striped ball or a striped ball pockets the one (1) ball, are considered fouls.
- The shooter’s group of three striped balls must all be off the table before he/she attempts to pocket the one (1) ball (a final time) to win the rack.
- Pocketing the one (1) ball in an uncalled pocket (if not final shot), pocketing the cue ball as well as the one (1) ball (if not final shot) or shooting a strip ball without first placing the one (1) ball is considered a foul. In these cases the opponent has “ball-in-hand” and places the one (1) ball.
- When placing the one (1) ball, if there is another ball covering the spot (foot spot or head spot), the one (1) ball can be placed 5.715cm (distance of a ball in between) away from the spot. However, if the ball covering the spot is the cue ball then the one (1) ball cannot be placed on that side of the table.
- Driving an object ball off the table is considered a foul. In addition to “ball-in-hand”, the opponent gets to place the fallen ball/balls anywhere on the table unless this ball is the one (1) ball (which can only be placed on the foot spot or the head spot).
- All pocketed striped balls stay down.
YB. 5 Open Table/Choosing Groups
The table is always “open” after a break. If a striped ball is pocketed on the break, the breaker must pocket the one (1) ball and place it before attempting a striped ball. If the one (1) ball is pocketed on the break, the breaker must place the one (1) ball before attempting a striped ball. The table is “open” until the first striped ball (either the lowest or highest ball of its group on the table) is legally pocketed after the break. If the shooter does this successfully the corresponding group becomes his/hers, and his/her opponent is assigned the other group.
YB. 6 Continuing Play
The shooter remains at the table as long as he/she continues to legally pocket all his/her balls, or he/she wins the rack.
YB. 7 Shots Required to Be Called
Every one (1) ball shot is called. A shooter may call safety in which case play passes to the opponent at the end of the shot and any object ball pocketed on the safety remains pocketed.
YB. 8 Losing the Rack
The shooter loses if he:
- Fouls on the final one (1) ball shot.
- Pockets the one (1) ball in an uncalled pocket on the final shot.
YB. 9 Standard Fouls
If the shooter commits a foul, play passes to his/her opponent. The cue ball is in hand, and the incoming player may place it anywhere between the foot string and head string of the table.
The following are standard fouls in Yellow Ball:
- Cue ball scratch or off the table
- Wrong ball first
- No rail after contact
- No foot on floor
- Object ball driven off the table
- Touched ball
- Double hit/Frozen balls
- Push shot
- Balls still moving
- Bad cue ball placement
- Cue stick on table
- Playing out of turn
- Slow play
YB. 10 Stalemate
If a stalemate occurs, the original breaker of the rack will break again.
So there you have it! Yellow Ball! I know these rules might seem abstract so expect some videos of myself and friends playing the game soon! Please if you have any friends who are pool enthusiasts or bar enthusiasts please share! Even if you don’t have an interest in billiards, I would still urge you to try out the game because it is a lot of fun! In my dream world, this game becomes the new standard pool game played at bars all over the world. For now I will settle for a couple people trying it out with their friends!
If you vibe with this please share/comment! Follow us on socials to suggest post ideas and keep up to date with the latest in YYC Hip-hop! Thanks for the read – Polo!