The scoring system in snooker can sometimes take a little while to master for newcomers to the sport but is actually quite straightforward. The aim, of course, is to pot balls and points are awarded for this. The number of points that is awarded varies depending on the colour of ball that the player pots and the points allocation is as follows:
Red Balls - There are 15 red balls on the snooker table, and each is worth one point. However you can only take a shot at another colored ball by first potting a red, so although they are not high-scoring balls they are crucial to winning the game. The reds start the game arranged in a triangle at the far end of the table, and the game starts when a player breaks this "pack" apart.
Colored Balls - Aside from the reds, there are six colored balls on the table, each a different color and worth a different number of points. The yellow, green and brown balls start the game at the top of the table and are worth two, three and four points respectively. The blue ball sits right in the middle of the table and is worth five points. The pink sits just in front of the pack of reds and is worth six points, while the black sits behind them and is worth seven.
Runs of Points - When you pot a red ball, it stays potted. If a color is potted before all of the reds are gone, the player gets the points but the colored ball is put back on the spot where it started the game. Once the reds are gone, you need to pot the colors in order of points. You put together runs of points by potting a red and leaving the cue ball in a good spot to pot a color. Then you pot the color while putting the cue ball in a good place to score another red, and so on.
The Black Ball - The black is the highest scoring ball in snooker, worth seven points. A lot of the strategy in snooker is in managing to pot red balls while setting up an angle to then pot the black. The only way to score maximum points in a frame is to pot all 15 reds followed every time by the black and then clear up all six remaining balls without missing once. This adds to 147 points, but it rarely happens -- if a player scores a 147 in the World Championships, he wins £147,000.
Fouls - If you commit a foul in snooker, it awards four points to your opponent. Potting the white ball, hitting a color without first potting a red, failing to hit anything with the cue ball and hitting balls off the table are all fouls that would award your opponent four points. A player who needs to make up points to catch his opponent can try to hide the cue ball behind colored balls, so that his opponent is likely to miss the reds and foul. This is known as a "snooker."
When a player finds themselves in a position where they can't directly hit the desired object ball, then this is called being snookered. Players will attempt to either swerve the ball or use the table's angles to navigate the cue ball to the target ball. However, if they fail to get out of the snooker, the referee has it within his or her discretion to make a call of "foul and a miss". In that instance, points are awarded but additionally the referee will put the cue ball back to its original position. The snookered player will then have to make another attempt to get out of the snooker. In some cases, a large number of penalty points can get racked up, as the victim of the snooker tries to successfully find a way out of it.
That's covered the main ways that points can be scored in snooker but the best way to make sense of it is to watch a few matches and listen to the commentary. My grandmother used to quite like snooker during the early Eighties and pinned a note up beside her chair with the value of the colours as an aide memoir, so that may be a useful approach. One other good thing about snooker is that it's good for your mental arithmatic, as you will find youself working out the player's score and how many potential points are left on the table. The main reason for watching snooker, though, is that it really does make for compelling viewing, even if the bow ties and waistcoats do perhaps convey a rather old fashioned image.