The game is best when there are more than four players. It is particularly suitable as an alternative to snooker when, for example, there are a number of people waiting to play snooker but only one table is available (as three or four handed snooker is not much fun). With three lives, it is a case of the more the merrier.
1 The Game
Each player chooses a snooker ball which must be uniquely identifiable and marks 3 Xs on a slate or board against his colour; these are his “three lives”. Thus yellow, green, brown, blue, pink, black, white, one red, spot white (from billiards) are possible depending on the number of players. In practice, the number of unique balls fixes the upper limit on the number of players. In my example it is nine. Additional reds may be used provided they are identifiable, for example, by using a felt tipped pen to mark them somehow.
Yellow starts off from baulk followed by green, brown, blue, pink, black, white, red and spot white. The object is to pot the colour of the preceding player in a round robin order. Thus green tries to pot yellow, brown:green, blue:brown etc…… and yellow:spot white.
If a colour is potted, the owner loses a “life” and pays one monetary unit to the player who potted him and one monetary unit to the kitty (pound, dollar etc. whatever is agreed upon). The potted ball remains off the table until his turn to play comes around when he play from baulk. After losing three lives he and his ball are out of the game.
After potting the ‘on’ ball (and this is what makes the game great fun) the player may then attempt to pot the nearest ball to his cue ball and if he succedes takes the next nearest etc. until he misses, or only his ball remains on the table. He thus earns money and destroys lives.
The winner is the one whose ball remains on the table after all other players have lost all their lives. This player takes the kitty.
The rules of snooker broadly apply to fouls. Thus missing the object ball, hitting the ball not ‘on’, going in-off loses a life. The owners of balls potted after a foul stroke do not lose a life. After a foul, all balls are left where they came to rest. Balls potted by foul strokes are replaced on their correct spots according to their colour apart from the player whose turn it is to play. He of course plays from baulk. Extra balls like white, red, spot-white which do not have spots are placed on the top cushion as near as possible to the black spot.
The great thing about this game are the arguments that ensure as to “which is the nearest ball” and the accusations that occur when “nearest balls” get potted as a result of bad safety play by the owner of the original ball on. “Three Lives” is an excellent way of developing good safety play in snooker and losing two lives quickly does not mean that one cannot win because the “nearest ball” rule ensures a degree of random.
This post is also available in: German