Expert Self-Count9 Advice: Elevate Your Billiards Skills with Hijikata Pro’s Tips


Billiards has always been a game of precision, strategy, and skill. It’s a sport that requires players to not only pocket balls but also understand the dynamics of the game. Hayato Hijikata, a JPBA professional, introduced a unique game known as “Self Count 9” to help players quantify their 9-ball prowess. This game offers a distinctive approach to assessing your skills objectively while enjoying the thrill of the actual game. In this article, we will delve into the details of Self Count 9, its rules, and how it can benefit billiards enthusiasts of all levels.

The Basic Rules of Self Count 9

Ball Selection

To play Self Count 9, you will need nine target balls, numbered from 1 to 9, and a cue ball.

Rack Setup

Place the Number 1 ball at the top of the rack, considering the side from which you’ll make the break shot. Position the Number 9 ball in the center of the third row behind it. Other balls can be placed in any position.

Gameplay Objective

The goal of the game is to play 10 frames and aim for a high score.

Basic Rule Points

When taking a shot, you must first hit the lowest-numbered target ball remaining on the table with your cue ball.

How the Game Flows

Self Count 9 is a practice game where you play 9-ball by yourself, with a focus on minimizing mistakes from the break until you pocket the 9-ball. Here’s how the game flows:

  • If you make a successful break and a ball goes in, you start from that spot.
  • In case of a break with no ball pocketed, start from a free ball.
  • Every mistake resets the game to the free ball stage.

Scoring in Self Count 9

In Self Count 9, scoring is as follows:

  • Maswari: 10 points
  • 1st mistake: 9 points
  • 2nd mistake: 8 points
  • 3rd mistake: 7 points

For each subsequent mistake, 10 points will be deducted. If you make 10 mistakes, you’ll receive zero points, marking your lowest score. After completing 10 frames, your total score determines your skill level. Achieving a perfect score of 100 points with 10 consecutive Maswari is the ultimate goal. If you’re short on time, you can play just 5 frames, with your total score doubled. However, it’s advisable to aim for 10 games, ideally around 50 games, to get an accurate average score.

Additional Rule Points

Self Count 9 has some unique additional rules:

  • There are no penalties for fouls. Intentional fouls are allowed and treated the same as regular mistakes.
  • Break no-in is considered a mistake and starts with a free ball. Hitting ① or miscuing results in penalties.
  • If any ball falls during a foul, return it to the foot spot, or the head spot if blocked, and the center spot if both spots are obstructed.
  • The “3P rule” applies. If the total score exceeds 80 points, one point will be deducted for each illegal break.

Common Fouls in Pocket Billiards

It’s essential to be aware of common fouls that can occur during pocket billiards. These include:

  • Scratch Shot: When the cue ball falls into the pocket, directly or after hitting a target ball, it leads to various consequences depending on the game rules.
  • Touching the Ball: You can only touch the cue ball with the leather tip attached to the cue. Touching any other part or the target ball results in a foul.
  • Outside the Ballpark: If the cue ball or target ball goes off the table due to a shot, it’s considered a foul.
  • Double Hit: The cue tip can only touch the cue ball once during a single shot. Multiple touches lead to a foul.
  • Both Feet Leave the Floor: At the moment of the shot, at least one foot must be touching the ground, even if it’s just the toes.
  • Adding a Landmark: Placing any kind of landmark while taking a shot is considered a foul.

Advice from Hijikata Pro

Hayato Hijikata emphasizes the importance of keeping score during Self Count 9. It allows you to track your progress and see how many balls you can drop from free balls, indicating your skill level. It’s recommended to aim for finishing each game within 60 to 80 minutes. While Self Count 9 doesn’t prescribe specific rack setups or break techniques, practicing with a standard nine-ball break in mind can be helpful.


Self Count 9 is more than just a billiards game; it’s a valuable tool for self-improvement in the sport. By objectively measuring your performance and consistently playing the game, you can enhance your skills and maintain your motivation. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned player, Self Count 9 offers a unique approach to hone your billiards abilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can I play Self Count 9 with friends, or is it strictly a solo game? Self Count 9 is primarily designed as a solo practice game. However, you can adapt it for friendly competition by taking turns and comparing scores.
  2. Is there a specific order to pocket the balls during Self Count 9? In Self Count 9, you must start by hitting the lowest-numbered target ball remaining on the table with your cue ball. The order in which you pocket the balls can vary.
  3. Are there official tournaments or leagues for Self Count 9? While Self Count 9 is a popular practice game among billiards enthusiasts, it’s not commonly featured in official tournaments or leagues. It’s primarily a tool for self-improvement.
  4. What equipment do I need to play Self Count 9? You’ll need a standard billiards table, a set of 9-ball billiards balls, and a cue ball to play Self Count 9.
  5. Where can I learn more about advanced billiards techniques and strategies? To delve deeper into advanced billiards techniques and strategies, consider joining a billiards club, seeking guidance from experienced players, or exploring online resources and tutorials.

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