Black Belt Billiards
A Book of Shots, Drills, Patterns, Opinions, Kata’s and Koan’s To Improve Your Game

9-Ball Q-Skill

Nine-Ball Q-Skill rules have been copyrighted by Steven Campana, author of Black Belt Billiards; however, he has placed no restrictions on their use provided appropriate acknowledgement is given to the author.

How To Play: Nine-Ball Q-Skill is a lot like regular 9-Ball, but you must spot the nine ball if you pocket it, and you get two innings to run out the rack, starting with ball in hand each inning:

9-Ball Q-Skill is played with a regular 9-Ball rack. Rack a regular nine-ball rack with the one ball on the foot spot and the nine ball in the middle.

Break the balls from any cue ball location behind the head string. All balls pocketed on the break stay down except for the nine ball, which is respotted on the foot spot.

Begin your first inning with ball in hand anywhere on the table, shooting at the lowest numbered ball on the table and running the balls out in rotation. Your first inning continues until you run out, miss, foul or scratch.

After your first miss, foul or scratch, the second inning of the rack begins. Start the second inning with ball in hand, shooting at the lowest numbered ball on the table and running the remainder of the rack out in rotation. The second inning continues until you run out, miss, foul or scratch.

The nine ball may be pocketed at any time during an inning by executing a legal shot. However, if the nine ball is pocketed before it is the last ball on the table, it counts towards bonus points only. The nine ball is respotted on the foot spot, then the inning continues from where the cue ball came to rest.

At the conclusion of the second inning, your turn at that rack is over and should be scored.


  • (+2) All balls pocketed on the break and during the first inning count two points.
  • (+1) All balls pocketed during the second inning count one point.

    Bonus points:

  • (+2) Making the nine ball on the break or at anytime during the first inning is a bonus of two points.
  • (+1) Making the nine ball at any time during the second inning is a bonus of one point.

    *Bonus points are only awarded for one nine ball pocketed per rack. That is, if you make the nine ball on the break, re-spot it on the foot spot and then run out, your total bonus points are still two.

    Scoring Penalties:

  • (-2) If the cue ball leaves the table on the break, or at any time during the game, deduct two points.
  • (-1) On the break, if you miscue or miss the cue ball or rack completely, it is a foul, and results in deducting one point from your score. You have the option to re-rack and break the balls again, or play the rack out.
  • (-1) If you otherwise scratch on the break, deduct one point.
  • (-1) All scratches and fouls result in a one point deduction. Balls pocketed on a scratch or foul are re-spotted on the foot spot and do not count towards that inning’s score.

    The most you can score in one rack is twenty points, by running nine balls from the break in your first inning (9 x 2 = 18, + 2 for the nine ball = 20).

    Another example: If you made a ball on the break and then ran 6 balls in the first inning and the remaining three balls in the second inning, your score would be 6 x 2 = 12 + 3 x 1 = 3 + 1 for the nine ball in the second inning = 16).

    After scoring the rack, begin again with a full nine ball rack with the one on the foot spot.

    Ten racks comprise a session. In one session, you can score a maximum of 200 points.

    The score from ten sessions (100 racks) determines your rating. The highest possible rating is a perfect score of 2,000 points.

    Because the scoring is similar to the Allen Hopkins system (the maximum points that can be scored each rack is twenty), the Q-Skill levels of play guidelines may still be appropriate and should be used for Nine-Ball Q-Skill.

    Allen Hopkins scoring guidelines for your level of play are:
    0 - 300 -
    301-600 -
    601-900 -
    901-1200 -
    1201-1600 -
    1601-1800 -
    1801-2000 -
    - Recreational player
    - Intermediate player
    - Advanced player
    - Developing Pro
    - Semi-pro
    - Professional
    - Touring professional

    For an Excel Nine-Ball Q-Skill score sheet, click here, or simply right mouse click on the link and select "Save As" to save it to your hard drive for printing.

    Nine-Ball Q-Skill is modeled after Allen Hopkins Q-Skill Test but has been modified specifically for nine-ball. Information on Allen’s Q-Skill Test is available at either

    If you have any suggestions or comments on these guidelines, please email me at

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