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

What kind of game?

“Self Count 9 was invented by JPBA professional Hayato Hijikata and allows you to quantify your 9-ball play, allowing you to understand your own play level in objective numbers while playing in a way that matches the actual game. The rules are easy to understand, and by regularly incorporating the game into practice and keeping good records, it is a game that will not only improve your own level but also help maintain motivation.

The basic rules of the game

■Ball used

Nine target balls from balls 1 to 9 and a cue ball.

■How to assemble a rack

Place the No. 1 ball at the top of the rack as seen from the side that will make the break shot, and the No. 9 ball in the center of the third row behind it. Other balls can be placed in any position (Figure 1)

■Game purpose

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.

Game flow

This is a practice where you play 9-ball by yourself and see how many mistakes you can make from the break to losing ⑨. If there is a break and the ball goes in, start from the spot, and if it is a no-in, start from the free ball. Every time you make a mistake, you start with a free ball.

How to score

Maswari = 10 points, 1st mistake = 9 points, 2nd mistake = 8 points, 3rd mistake = 7 points, etc. For each mistake, 10 points will be subtracted. If you make 10 mistakes, you will get 0 points and the frame will end. This will be your lowest point. Do this for 10 frames and use the total score to determine your class. Perfect is 100 points with 10 consecutive Maswari!!! If you don’t have time, 5 frames is OK. In that case, the total score will be doubled. However, I recommend playing 10 games as much as possible (it’s best to play around 50 games to get your average).

Rule points and details

●There is no penalty for fouls, so intentional fouls are OK and will be treated the same as regular mistakes. However, intentional fouls other than hitting the cue ball with the cue are prohibited.

●A break no-in is treated as a mistake, so after a break no-in, the ball starts with a free ball, and if you take it from there, you will get 9 points. If you miscue at the break or don’t hit ①, you will be minus 1 point and will have to start over from the normal break position.
●As long as it is not a foul, even if you fall due to a flock, it will not be a mistake and you can continue.
●Even if ⑨ falls in the middle, do not return ⑨ to the foot spot, and continue one frame with ⑨ falling until all the balls have been dropped.
●The 3P rule is also counted, and if the total score exceeds 80 points, one point will be subtracted from the total score for each illegal break.

Foul1: If you foul

Any ball that enters during a foul will be returned to the footpot. If the foot spot is blocked, return to the head spot, and if the head spot is also blocked, return to the center spot.
Similar to nine-ball, if a player commits a foul, they can place the cue ball anywhere on the table and resume play from there. In Japan, this is called “free ball” or “free cue ball” (Figure 6).

Advice from Hijikata Pro!

When you do Self Count9, you can see the average number of balls you can drop from free balls and your level up, so please keep score while doing it. Try to finish each game within 60 to 80 minutes. There are no rules regarding how to line up the balls in the rack or how to break during a break, but it will be helpful to practice by keeping in mind the break during a normal nine-ball.

Common fouls in pocket billiards

  1. A foul where the cue ball from a scratch
    shot falls into the pocket, either directly or after hitting some target ball. The subsequent processing will vary depending on the type of game.
  2. Touching the Ball
    The only thing you can touch the cue ball with when shooting is the leather tap attached to the cue tip. Touching any other part will result in a foul. It is also a foul if you touch the target ball.
  3. Outside the Ballpark
    If the cue ball is shot and goes off the table, or if the target ball goes off the table as a result of a shot, it is a foul.
  4. Double Hit
    The tap may only touch the cue ball once during a single shot. If you hit the cue ball more than once after it has been shot, it will be a foul.
  5. Both Feet Leave the Floor
    At the moment of the shot, one foot must be touching the ground, even just the toes. For example, if you sit on a table and shoot with your feet in the air, it will be a foul.
  6. Adding a landmark
    When taking a shot, it is a foul if you place any kind of landmark to help you identify where you want to aim.

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