What is Agility Snooker?

First handlers were Gambling and now they are playing billiards? Not exactly… while the agility version of Snooker was derived from the billiards game, it is actually much different - and more fun in our opinion!

Snooker game rules differ slightly between organizations, however the concept stays the same. Here are some key features about Snooker:

There are two parts to your run: The Opening and The Closing

Each course will have a set amount of time in which you need to complete the opening and the closing of your run. In the opening of Snooker, you create your own course based on the rules below. The closing sequence is a set course determined by the judge. Unlike Gamblers, the opening and the closing are not timed as two separate parts.

The Opening

There are two ‘types’ of obstacles in Snooker: Red and Coloured obstacles. Some people also call coloured obstacles ‘point’ obstacles.

The Red (1 point) obstacles are almost always jumps, however some organizations allow other obstacles to be Reds. Reds are never combinations of obstacles; a Red will be a clearly marked single jump in most cases. There are usually three or four Reds on a course.

The other coloured obstacles can be either one obstacle valued at that amount of points or a combination of obstacles labelled a-b-c. For example, you may see a combination of jump-tunnel-jump labelled 5a-5b-5c. Coloured Obstacles may be bi-directional or multi-directional, this will be determined by the judge for each course. You could see any obstacles on a Snooker course depending on the organization. The value of the Coloured Obstacles (or combinations) is determined by the judge, not by the piece of equipment.

The basic premise of the game is to create your own course following this pattern:

Red > Obstacle of choice > Different Red > Obstacle of choice > Different Red > Obstacle of Choice > {Optional Different Red > Obstacle of choice} > Closing sequence

  • You must attempt at least 3 Reds on the course
  • Each Red can only be taken once. If you fault a Red (knock a bar) you must successfully complete another Red that has not already been performed before doing a Coloured Obstacle.
  • You must go directly from Red to a Coloured Obstacle. Doing two Reds back to back will result in the judge whistling you off and you must leave the course.
  • In the opening, doing two successful Coloured Obstacles (or coloured combinations) back to back will also result in the judge whistling you off and you must leave the course.
  • You can do the same Coloured Obstacle multiple times for points. For example, you could do this: Red > 5 a-b-c > Different Red > 5 a-b-c > Different Red > 5 a-b-c
  • You will not be awarded points for coloured obstacles that are faulted. In most organizations you must successfully complete an unused Red before attempting another Coloured Obstacle.
  • Depending on the organization you are competing with and your level, refusals may or may not count as faulting
  • Completing a fourth Red on course is optional, but it will get you more points!

The Closing

  • After successful completion of the opening (at least three Red attempts) you may move to the closing.
  • The closing must be taken as labelled by the judge in this order 2 > 3 > 4 > 5 > 6 > 7
  • You may not take Reds in the closing, doing so will result in being whistled off the course
  • Faulting an obstacle in the closing will result in being whistled off.

Important points to note!

  • When you are whistled off you still maintain the points accumulated up the that point, it does not result in elimination or zero points
  • You MUST stop the time by crossing the designated finish line upon completion of the course OR being whistled off. In some organizations failing to stop the time will cause you to lose all your points.
  • Try not to get too stressed out about rules! This is a fun game - as long as you haven’t hear the whistle, keep playing!

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Jane Bowmanlast year

How do you win? Is it time or points or both? Any strategies that help? Thank you!

Cornelia Kluck or Connielast year

Jane you win with the highest point score! If two (or more) dogs have the same point score than the fastest time decides, who is the winner. The strategy of the game is to negotiate the highest scoring obstacles - regardless of benchmark. Except they may not easy to get to or create too long a path that you may not be able to negotiate in course time. It is important to know your dog’s rate of travel in completion and your dog’s handler focus versus obstacle focus - as s/he may have to run past obstacles without taking them. If you look at the map of an example game above and you wanted your dog to take the dog walk to score 7 points (highest score), but your dog ran into the tunnel 6a, you could still save the run by completing 6b and 6c for a score of 6 points, before attempting the next red hurdle. Except two tunnels and a jump cover much longer distance than the dog walk, therefore you may lose time that you don’t have. Or it may put you in a difficult position to get to either the next red hurdle or the losing sequence (depending what you are st), which starts with obstacle 2. The strategy I would start with may sound ridiculous to you: but Ivwould roll out a tape of 20m on the ground. Then I would walk the 20m and count my steps. It takes me 25 steps to walk 20m, which means my length of step is 0.8m (80cm). I need ten steps to walk 8m. My dog has a rate of travel of 4.5 meters per second. The above course time for the game is 60 secs. In my walk through, I walk the closing sequence first of all - as that is the part of the game I must negotiate in set order. As I walk I count my steps including the length of the obstacles (curved tunnels I walk on the outside). If it took 92.5 steps, I multiply with 0.8 (length of my step) to now the length of the closing sequence in meters, which would be 74m. My dog’s rate of travel is 4.5 meters per second. 74 divided by 4.5 is 16.4. Therefore my dog should be able to run the closing sequence in 16.4 seconds. He has stopped contacts therefore I may round this to 20 seconds. This gives me 40 seconds to play with in the opening sequence. He is a large dog and his benchmark in above game would be 37 points for a qualifying run. This is actually a very easy bench mark with a generous course time (I am used to IFCS rules!). 27 points are my closing sequence and I only need 10 points more to qualify. But if I want to win the game I probably need to look at all the points I can get, and how easy it is to get to the highe scoring obstacles - plus where they are positioned considering I need to successfully complete a red hurdle (and a different on each time) to be able to attempt any of the “colours” on course. I know I have 40 seconds to play with and 180m. The combination obstacles 5 and 6 have two tunnels in them each, therefore are close to or over 20m (#6) long, the dog walk is about 12m, but I need to work out the distance between the reds and the colours as well as add them accordingly. I may also look at the off-course options that would cost me the game. A lot of it comes together with experience in this game. But knowing the length of your step and your dog’s rate of travel certainly helps in planning a successful run! If your competitors get higher scores than you were planning for your run, you may decide to change your game to beat them? Don’t forget that taking chances can cost you the game!😄

Cornelia Kluck or Connielast year

I apologize for the typing errors, but my mobile phone would not let me proof read the post. It kept freezing the reply box! “Losing” is meant to be “closing”, “st” is “at”, “Ivwould” is “I would”, “highe” is “higher”, and finally I meant to write “your fellow competitors” instead of “your competitors”! Sorry 😐!

alex ceaserlast year

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Hannah Eskowlast year

Thank you very much! I wrote this article and I appreciate that very nice compliment on the writing!! 😊

Cornelia Kluck or Connielast year

Also once any colour is faulted, eg in the course map above missing the up or down colour of the dog walk, faulting the weave poles or knocking a bar in any of the combinations, under IFCS rules that means also end of game. You keep all points excluding the faulted colour obstacle, and you clock the dog off for best possible time! Again in National Kennel Club competition you are allowed to attempt another red and colour and just cut your loss in points. In the higher classes you are unlikely to achieve the benchmark of that class, but you may still place or even win depending on the performance of the others in your class!

Hannah Eskowlast year

Thank you, Connie! This game has quite a few variations of rules depending on the organization, but the general overview posted is for rules across the board in all organizations 😊

Cornelia Kluck or Connielast year

Yes, Hannah! It covers it all really well! I was more or less thinking with IFCS World Agility Championship coming up in Italy next week! I am sure a lot of people are going to watch the live stream, if not competing in it! ❤️🐼

Cornelia Kluck or Connielast year

Actually according to IFCS rules, if you knock a bar on a red hurdle, this is also end of game. You cannot attempt a second red hurdle! But this game is played as written above under National Kennel Club rules. Also in IFCS the games are run as open events and not in classes. ❤️🐼

Cornelia Kluck or Connielast year

I love this game!❤️🐼

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