Many different kinds of pool games currently exist. The most popular of these games are NINE-BALL, EIGHT-
BALL, STRAIGHT POOL, and ONE-POCKET. With so many existing games why is there a need for another type
of pool game? The short answer is - TV. A successful television production requires that the viewers be kept
interested in the event to the extent that they demand more. This has not been the case thus far.
In games like NINE-BALL and STRAIGHT POOL spectating becomes boring because, with highly skilled players,
one player usually shoots for a long period of time and then (after a mistake) the other player does likewise.
There is very little interaction between the players therefore the game is more like an exhibition then a contest.
The game of ONE-POCKET offers much more interaction but is too defensively oriented for most viewers.
NINE-BALL is now the standard game for most local and professional tournaments. However, professional pool
has failed to proliferate and this failure could be, at least in part, due to the nature of the game itself. In the past,
NINE-BALL has occasionally been changed to make it a little more suitable for both the players and spectators.
For example, the game has been modified by changing it to TEN-BALL or to SEVEN-BALL. The rack position has
been changed and the cue ball break position has been changed. Even after all this tweaking the game still
leaves much to be desired.
What this world needs is a brand new pool game. The prime objective of this new game should be to popularize
pool. To meet this objective the new game must be challenging for the players but even more importantly, it must
be interesting for the spectators. Without an interested viewing audience pool will never come close to realizing
its great potential. Once a viewing audience is lured to pool good things will happen automatically. Viewers will
demand to have it on TV, TV will bring capital into the game and the players, promoters, and manufactures will all
be happy ever after.
Before attempting to design a new game, specific objectives must be spelled out. Here is my attempt at listing
those specific objectives:
Skill requirement - The new game must be suitable to all players regardless of skill level. The rules must be easy
for new players to learn and the shots must be easy to execute. And, at the same time, the game must be
challenging for professional players.
Offence-Defense - The game must require a balance of both offence and defense. Without both the game
becomes one dimensional. A one dimensional game isn’t very interesting to watch.
Skill sensitive - The winner of the game should reflect the player that consistently executed the most skillful shots.
Both players should have an equal chance at utilizing their skills.
Break shot - In NINE-BALL the biggest point of contention between the players is the rack and the break. Every
time there is a public argument the game looses some of its respectability. Devaluating the break shot will remove
some of the discontention. Also, devaluing the break shot will remove the advantage (or disadvantage) of the
physical stature of the players. Man or women, young or old, large or small; all could more fairly compete with
Handicapping - The new game must be easily handicapped so that players of differing abilities can play
compatibly against each other.
Time requirement - At most tournaments there are some matches that are played so slowly that it throws all the
succeeding matches off schedule (bad for live TV). Having a way to speed up the slow matches, without being
unfair to either of the participants, is desirable.
Legal encumbrances - The game must be free from all legal encumbrances. Now days all new thoughts, ideas,
publications, inventions, etc. are covered by assorted patent and copyright laws. More recently, IP (intellectual
property) rulings have added yet one more layer of legal complications. These legal ownership tools serve a
useful purpose in most cases. However, an unfortunate side effect of these legal ownership rules has been to
stifle innovation (for fear of law suits).
DESCRIPTION OF THE NEW GAME CALLED KANSAS
KANSAS is played with six object balls and a cue ball. The numbers on the object balls are of no significance
except that the solid colored balls are usually used for the sake of consistency. To start the game, six object balls
are racked in a triangular shape with the head ball on the foot spot. The game begins with the cue ball-in-hand
behind the head string. The breaker must drive at least three object balls to a rail. The next shooter is required to
shoot from where the cue ball lies. Any balls made on the break shot are spotted and are not counted as a point
for the breaker.
From that point on the players alternate shots. The second player, when shooting the second shot of the game,
can shoot a safety or try to pocket any ball on the table. If a ball is pocketed it is spotted and no score is
recorded. Note: no points can be scored by either player’s first shot. This gets the game started without the
break shot being a big factor. From that point on the shooter gets one point for each ball pocketed on any
individual shot. (Players are not required to call any shots.) When an object ball is pocketed it is spotted on the
foot spot before the next player shoots (there will always be six object balls on the table). The first player to score
nine points is the winner of the game.
After each shot the incoming player must shoot from the position left by the previous player. Obviously it is
desirable to pocket a ball(s) and leave the cue ball in a position where your opponent can’t make a ball.
When the game begins a coin for each player is positioned under the cushion at the center of the head rail. Each
time a point is scored the coin is advanced one diamond (pockets don’t count) around the perimeter of the table
(each player advances in a different direction). The first person to reach the center of the foot cushion (9 points)
is the winner of the game.
Fouls are judged similar to that in NINE-BALL. However, committing three fouls at any time during the game (they
need not be consecutive) is a loss of game. When a foul is committed the incoming player must shoot from where
the cue ball lies. If the cue ball has left the table surface or has been pocketed, the cue ball must be shot from
inside the kitchen at a ball that is outside the kitchen. One point is deducted from the players score for a foul.
(Note: If the player has no points then no points are deducted. This eliminates the complexity of having and
recording a negative score.)
DOES KANSAS MEET THE SPECIFIED OBJECTIVES?
Skill requirement – The game of KANSAS is conducive to all skill levels because it has a built in self-leveling
aspect. Unskilled players will leave easy shots for each other therefore making it an easy game for the unskilled.
Expert players will leave extremely difficult shots for each other therefore making the game much more
challenging for them. Most of the NINE-BALL shots shown on TV are easy (mostly due to extremely good
positioning skills) therefore, the viewer never gets to see the true capabilities of the pro players. The game of
KANSAS will challenge them to shoot great looking offence and defense shots.
Offence-Defense – Most people consider the game of NINE-BALL a little too offence oriented (especially at the
pro level). And the game of ONE-POCKET is generally considered to be too defensively oriented (especially for
the spectators). The game of KANSAS strikes a happy medium because there is both an offence and defense
aspect to every shot. Players that have the best all-around skills will be the most consistent winners when playing
Skill sensitive - In NINE-BALL one of the players can pocket eight balls and sill lose the game. Does the score
accurately reflect the superior player’s skill? Not necessarily. The longer the match (more games in a match) the
better chance that the score will reflect skill. This is because the chance for each player to shoot is more likely to
balance out with a long match. In the game of KANSAS each player gets about the same number of shots.
Therefore, the score of a single game will better reflect the most skillful shooter.
Break shot – In KANSAS the value of the break is much less than it is in NINE-BALL (because no points can be
scored on the break shot). This allows the game to get underway without either player having a big advantage.
Handicapping – Handicapping in KANSAS is easily done by giving the less skilled player a ball, or balls, on the
wire (given credit for balls made before the game starts).
Time requirement – If it is necessary to speed up a match, both players can be given points on the wire before
the game starts.
Legal encumbrances – As the originator of KANSAS, I hereby declare absolutely no copyright, patent, or
intellectual property rights to the game. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to play the game, talk about it,
organize tournaments, etc with legal impunity.
The game of KANSAS involves continuous interaction between the contestants. Every single shot a player makes
has an influence on what the other player will or can do. Each player gets an equal number of shots therefore
each player has an equal chance of applying his or her pool skills. The interest of the spectators is maintained
because each and every shot has its own unique nuances.
|The following article was written by Jack Koehler and published in the May
2002 issue of POOL AND BILLIARD MAGAZINE
|A NEW POOL GAME CALLED