A pool variant
, wherein two players compete to be the first to sink
Bumper pool tables are generally much smaller than standard pool tables. Usually, they're rectangular in shape, though I've seen and played on an octagonal one. There are only two pockets, smaller than standard pool pockets so that they just accommodate the balls, which more often than not do a satisfying spin around the lip of the pocket as they screw their ways in. The pockets are set in the center of the two shorter sides of the table, each flanked by two of the bumpers from which the game gets its name.
The bumpers are small cylinders, about as high as the balls, with rubber rings around their tops to deflect ill-aimed shots erratically. In addition to the pair at either pocket, there is also a cross formation of eight bumpers in the center of the table, arranged so:
o o o o
Their function is to prevent straight shots from one side of the table to the other. The balls cannot fit between any two bumpers in the cross, though it's possible, and frustratingly common, to get one stuck in the center of the cross.
Each player has five balls, one player red and the other white. Four balls are plain and solid, but the fifth, the lead ball, has a dot of the opposite color on it. The lead ball must be sunk first.
Each player sets up on his side of the table, placing the four solid balls along the back edge of the table, two on either side of the pocket and bumpers in the center. The lead ball is placed in front of the pocket.
The object of the game is to be the first to sink all five balls, starting with the lead ball and moving onto the others in no particular order. Both players shoot their lead balls simultaneously to begin play--they must shoot in opposite directions to avoid collision. Naturally the hope is to bank the ball perfectly off the long edge of the table, avoiding the bumper cross in the center, and sink it in the opposing pocket without contacting the treacherous pocket bumpers.
Should one player sink his ball, he's entitled to shoot another as in regular pool, until he fails to make a shot. Should neither sink a lead ball on the first shot, the player whose ball is closer to the pocket may shoot again. Should both sink their lead balls on the first shot, play is again simultaneous; otherwise it alternates as in regular pool.