Five-pins (Italian "cinque birilli"), [ "Sezione Stecca: Organigramma della Sezione - Attività agonistica - Calendari - Regolamento Tecnico Sportivo, 2004-2005"] It, Federazione Italiana Biliardo Sportivo, 2004, Italy.] also known as "stecca" (in Italian), five-pin billiards, 5-pins, "cinco quillas" (in spanish), Italian billiards (Italian "biliardo all'italiana"), [ "Biliardo all'italiana"] manual at Wikibooks, accessed February 1, 2007. It] and simply "Italiana" (in Italian and Spanish), with a variant known as nine-pins, 9-pins, nine-pin billiards or "goriziana" (in Italian), is a usually carom but sometimes pocket form of cue sport, popular especially in Italy and Argentina but also in some other parts of Latin America and Europe, with international, televised professional tournaments.


Until the late 1980s, the game (with some rules differences) was a form of pocket billiards, known in English as Italian skittle pool,cite book | last = Shamos | first = Michael Ian | year = 1993 | title = The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Billiards | publisher = Lyons & Burford | location = New York, NY | pages = Pages 124, 215 | isbn = 1-55821-219-1] and was principally played in pubs, with an object ball that was smaller than the two cue balls. Professional and regulated amateur play today exclusively uses pocketless tables and equal-sized balls. Professional competition began in 1965, and play is centered in billiard parlors, with players competing in provincial, regional and national federations. The pocket version is still favored by some in amateur play.

Equipment and setup

The game is played on a Cuegloss|Pocket|pocketless [ "World Rules of 5-pin Billiard"] (English language version), Chapter II ("Equipment"), Article 11 ("Article 11 - Billiard table, cushion, cloth"), Section 3; Union Mondiale de Billard, Sint-Martens-Latem, Belgium, 1997 (official online PDF scan, accessed 11 March 2007).] normal 5 ft by 10 ft (1.52 by 3.05 m) carom billiards table, with standardized playing surface dimensions of 1.42 by 2.84 m (approximately 4-2/3 by 9-1/3 ft), plus/minus 5 mm (approx. 0.2 in), from Cuegloss|Cushion|cushion to cushion. [ "World Rules of 5-pin Billiard"] (English language version), Chapter II ("Equipment"), Article 11 ("Article 11 - Billiard table, cushion, cloth"), Section 4; "op. cit."] The slate Cuegloss|Bed|bed of the table must be heated to about 5 degrees C (9 degrees F) above room temperature, which helps to keep moisture out of the cloth to aid the balls rolling and rebounding in a consistent manner, and generally makes the table play "faster". [ "World Rules of 5-pin Billiard"] , Chapter II ("Equipment"), Article 11 ("Article 11 - Billiard table, cushion, cloth"), Section 9; "op. cit."] In informal play, an unheated table is often used.

Like most other carom games, five-pins requires three standard [ "World Rules of Carom Billiard"] (English language version), Chapter II ("Equipment"), Article 12 ("Balls, Chalk"), Section 2; Union Mondiale de Billard, Sint-Martens-Latem, Belgium, 1 January 1989 (official online PDF scan, accessed 5 March 2007). While UMB, the International Olympic Committee-recognized world carom billiards authority, permits balls as small as 61.0 mm, no major manufacturer produces such balls any longer, and the "de facto" standard is 61.5 mm. Amusingly, the cited document has a "cm" for "mm" typographical error, which would result in beachball sizes.] carom billiard balls of equal diameter: a red Cuegloss|Object ball|object ball, a Cuegloss|Cue ball|cue ball for the first player or team, and another cue ball for the second player or team. Ball sets vary by manufacturer, but typically are white for first and yellow for second (they may be plain or spotted), or plain white for first and white with a spot for second. The balls are 61.5 mm (2-3/8 2.4 in) in diameter and weigh between 205 and 220 g (7.23 – 7.75 oz; 7.5 is average). [ "World Rules of 5-pin Billiard"] , Chapter II ("Equipment"), Article 12 ("Balls, Pins, Chalk"), Section 1; "op. cit." The cited document repeats the "cm" for "mm" typographical error of the parent general carom billiards rules. Note: The English-language version of this document confusingly refers to the opponent's cue ball as the object ball, and the red object ball as simply the red ball. As this usage does not conform with standard billiards terminology in English, it has been abandoned in this article, which when referring to "the object ball" means the red ball.] The white (or plain white) cue ball is given to the starting player, who may place it anywhere on the head side of the table (without disturbing the pins) — i.e., anywhere unobstructed between the Cuegloss|Head rail|head rail and the Cuegloss|Center string|center string. The red object ball is placed at the center of the Cuegloss|Foot spot|foot spot (i.e., the intersection of the Cuegloss|foot string|foot string and the Cuegloss|Long string|long string. The yellow (or spotted white) cue ball of the opponent is placed on the long string, in a position that can be labelled the "foot rail spot", 10 cm (approx. 4 in) from the Cuegloss|Foot rail|foot rail. [ "World Rules of 5-pin Billiard"] , Chapter III ("Goal of the Game, the Match"), Article 25 ("Starting position, cue-ball"), Section 1; "op. cit." The translated Italian name for this spot is the "top spot", but this name makes no sense in English, as the metaphoric "head" or "top" of the table in Italian is the reverse of the usage in English. Also, the Appendix referred to in this document is absent; however the next-cited source, a different version of the rules document, in Italian, provides the missing diagrams.] [ "Regolamento di Gioco Specialità' '5 Birilli' - '9 Birilli Goriziana e Tutti Doppi'"] It, Federazione Italiana Biliardo Sportivo, October 2003, Italy. An [ HTML version] It is also available, from a FIBiS affiliate.]

As the name implies, the game makes use of five upright pins called "skittles" in English (so-called since at least 1634), "birilli" (singular "birillo") in Italian and "quillas" in Spanish, which look like miniature bowling pins, 25 mm (1 in) tall, and with 7 mm (0.28 in.) round, flat-bottomed bases. [ "World Rules of 5-pin Billiard"] , Chapter II ("Equipment"), Article 12 ("Balls, Pins, Chalk"), Section 2; "op. cit."] Footnote label|Obstacle_comment|a|a There are traditionally four white pins, and one red. The red pin is placed on the Cuegloss|Center spot|center spot (the exact middle of the table both lengthwise and widthwise), and the four white pins are placed equidistant from the red in a square diamond pattern around it. Two whites are aligned along the center string with the Cuegloss|Head spot|head and Cuegloss|Foot spot|foot spots, as well as the rail diamonds in the center of the head and foot rails, and with the red object ball, and red pin. Meanwhile the other two whites are placed on the Cuegloss|Center string|center string, aligned with the diamonds in the center of the long rails, and again with the red pin. The whites are spaced just far enough away from the red that a cue ball can pass between the pins without touching any of them.Fact|date=February 2007 The final pattern looks like a "+" (plus sign), as shown in the diagram to the right. This arrangement of pins on the table is referred to as the "castle". Tables have the precise castle positions for the pins, and for the starting positions of the balls, permanently marked, as they must be placed back into position before every shot if any have been knocked over or moved. [ "World Rules of 5-pin Billiard"] , Chapter II ("Equipment"), Article 13 ("Marking of the spots and position lines"); "op. cit."]

Each player uses a cue stick to shoot the appropriate cue ball; average cue length is 140 cm (about 55 in.) A Cuegloss|Mechanical bridge|bridge stick (Cuegloss|Rest|rest) may be used to reach long shots. [ "World Rules of 5-pin Billiard"] , Chapter II ("Equipment"), Article 14 ("Billiard cue, rake"), Section 2; "op. cit."]


Though there are variants in Central and South America, the "Italian five-pins" rules are the best codified. Because the Italian-rules championships organized by the Italian Federation of Billiard Sport (FIBiS) are international, televised events, and often hosted outside of Italy, the FIBiS rules are the global "de facto" standard, and have been incorporated into the rules promulgated by the Union Mondiale de Billard and thus are likely to be the eventual Olympic rules.


The goal of the game is to earn a required number of points, before one's opponent does, by using one's cue ball to cause the opponent's cue ball to knock over pins (and to "not" do so with one's own cue ball), and by contacting the red object ball with either cue ball, after one's own cue ball has contacted that of the opponent, and/or by causing the object ball to knock over pins, again after one's own cue ball has contacted that of the opponent. [ "World Rules of 5-pin Billiard"] , Chapter III ("Goal of the Game, the Match"), Article 21 ("Goal of the game"), Section 2; "op. cit."]


The game is played by two players or by two teams (a pair of doubles partners most commonly, but also larger teams). Determining who goes first can be done by any means (Cuegloss|Lag|lag usually, but also coin toss, tournament stipulations about player order, etc.). Each player or team is assigned one of the two cue balls; this is the only cue ball they may hit with the cue stick. The first player or team always uses the (plain) white cue ball, the opponent the other ball. Unlike in many games, shots are "always" taken in rotation – the same player or team never shoots twice in a row even if they have scored (other than if the opponent fouled before actually shooting when their turn came up, such as by moving one of the balls accidentally). Play continues until one player or team wins by being the first to achieve or exceed a specific number of points (usually 50 or 60), either agreed upon beforehand by the players, or set by tournament organizers. In informal play, the number is often lower, such as 25.

In order to score, the incoming player or team must Cuegloss|Stroke|stroke the assigned cue ball (sometimes called the "battente" or "clapper") to Cuegloss|Carom|carom off the opponent's cue ball (sometimes called the "receiver") — usually directly, but off a cushion is permitted and very common — with the goal of secondarily having the "opponent's" cue ball, directly or by way of rebounding off a cushion, next hit the pins and/or the red object ball (sometimes called the "pallino" ("bullet") or "jack", terms common to several other games, such as bocce).

Unlike in the major carom games balkline, straight rail and three-cushion billiards, there is no requirement to hit one or more cushions at any time.


Knocking over pins, by any of the acceptable prescribed manners, earns cumulative points as follows: [ "World Rules of 5-pin Billiard"] , Chapter III ("Goal of the Game, the Match"), Article 22 ("Allocation of the points"), Section 1; "op. cit."]
* Each white pin is worth 2 points.
* The red pin is worth 4 points, if white pins were also knocked over.
* The red pin is worth 8 points, if it is the only pin knocked down (by the ball going between the set of pins and narrowly missing all of the whites).
* "Knocking over pins with the object ball without hitting the opponent's cue ball first, or with one's own cue ball, does not earn the shooter any points, and in the latter case is a foul that awards points to the opponent."The acceptable means of knocking over pins include any that result from hitting the opponent's object ball first with one's own, and not hitting the pins with one's own cue ball. For example, one can simply send the opponent's cue ball into the pins, send the opponent's cue ball into the red object ball and have the object ball hit the pins, or hit the opponent's cue ball and then the object ball with one's own cue ball and send the object ball into the pins. [ "World Rules of 5-pin Billiard"] , Chapter III ("Goal of the Game, the Match"), Article 21 ("Goal of the game"), Section 4; "op. cit." The English-language version is poorly worded in this section with regard to pin scoring, though it is clarified in Section 6.] [ "World Rules of 5-pin Billiard"] , Chapter III ("Goal of the Game, the Match"), Article 21 ("Goal of the game"), Section 6; "op. cit." The rather lacking English translation of these rules seems to contradict itself with regard to the striking-pins-with-own-cue-ball foul; in particular III-21-4 does not agree with III-21-6, but this appears to be a typographical error, as the various copies of Italian-language rules from UMB and FIBiS do not share this inconsistency.]

The object ball itself is also worth points: [ "World Rules of 5-pin Billiard"] , Chapter III ("Goal of the Game, the Match"), Article 22 ("Allocation of the points"), Section 2; "op. cit."]
* If struck by the opponent's cue ball (after the shooter strikes the opponent's cue ball with his/her own), it is worth 3 points (this is known as a "casin" or in broader terminology a combination shot).
* If struck by the shooter's cue ball (after the shooter strikes the opponent's cue ball with his/her own), it is worth 4 points (this is considered a true Cuegloss|Billiard|billiard/Cuegloss|Carom|carom or "carambola" in this game's nomenclature).
* If both a "casin" and a "carambola" are achieved in the same shot, only the earliest of the two to occur earns points; they are not combined, though either may still combine with points scored from pins.


The game has some Cuegloss|Foul|fouls unique to its ruleset, as well as the usual fouls of billiards games. All fouls nullify any points the shooter would have earned on the foul shot, and award the opponent free points (which vary depending on the type of foul).
*Knocking over pins with the shooter's own cue ball, after having hit the opponent's cue ball — this foul awards the point values of those pins to the opponent. (In player jargon this is referred to as "drinking" one's points, as they are lost like the contents of an empty glass); opponent does "not" receive Cuegloss|Ball-in-hand|ball-in-hand. (Note: Knocking over pins with the red object ball on an otherwise legal shot is not a foul, and has no effect on the scoreClarifyme|date=August 2008 (i.e., provided that the opponent's cue ball was struck first by one's own cue ball, either cue ball can be used to drive the object ball into the pins, provided that both cue balls make initial contact with each other.)
*Failure to hit the opponent's cue ball at all with the shooter's own — opponent receives ball-in-hand plus 2 points.
*Hitting the pins directly with the shooter's cue ball before any contact with the opponent's cue ball; opponent receives ball-in-hand plus 2 points (the erstwhile value of the knocked-over pins is not calculated at all).Clarifyme|date=August 2008
*Hitting the object ball directly with the shooter's cue ball before any contact with the opponent's cue ball; opponent receives ball-in-hand plus 2 points.
*Knocking any ball off the table; opponent receives ball-in-hand plus 2 points (the ball is spotted in its starting position, or as close to this position as possible, unless it was the now-incoming opponent's cue ball, which as noted is in-hand).
*Cuegloss|Jump shot|Jumping the cue ball entirely or partially over an interfering ball; opponent receives ball-in-hand plus 2 points.Fact|date=February 2007
*Standard billiards-wide fouls also apply and yield ball-in-hand plus 2 points (moving balls accidentally, Cuegloss|Double hit|double-hitting the cue ball, Cuegloss|Push shot|push shots, etc.

Because of the particularity of the first-listed foul above , players watch the game carefully, and tournaments have referees.Any points earned by the shooter on a foul shot are awarded to the opponent (except when, as noted above, pin value is not calculated). An "extra" 2 points go to the opponent if the object ball was correctly hit on an otherwise foul stroke (in addition to being awarded the 3 or 4 points the object ball was worth).Fact|date=February 2007 Ball-in-hand on fouls is not entirely free; the incoming shooter after a ball-in-hand foul can only place his/her cue ball on the opposite half of the table from the other cue ball, and must shoot from the end (short part) not side of the table. The cue ball does not have to be placed in the Cuegloss|Kitchen|kitchen (behind the head string), just within the proper half of the table.Fact|date=February 2007


Five-pins integrates some of the target-shooting aspects of pool, snooker, etc. (perhaps via the influence of English billiards) into carom billiards, which is otherwise oriented at scoring carom points.

Cuegloss|Safety|Safety play and Cuegloss|Position|cue ball control are essential when attempting to score, with the goal of leaving the balls in such a position that the incoming opponent is Cuegloss|Hook|hooked (Cuegloss|Snooker|snookered) and will have a difficult Cuegloss|Bank shot|bank, Cuegloss|Kick shot|kick, or Cuegloss|Massé|massé shot to perform.

Because kicks and banks are so common, players must be more skilled at these shots than they would need to be for most forms of pool (other than one-pocket and bank pool) and carom billiards. The game also requires a good understanding of Cuegloss|Carom|carom angles and the effects of "Cuegloss|English|english" (sidespin) on the cue ball.

World Five-pins Championship

Organized by the [ Italian Federation of Billiard Sport (FIBiS)] , and inaugurated in 1965, the World Five-pins Championship ("Campionato del Mondo "5 Birilli") is an international event, hosted to date in various places in Italy, Argentina, Switzerland and Spain. It is semi-annual; many years since its inception have not featured such a tournament. As of early 2008, there have been twenty such tournaments. There are various divisions, including youth, women, men, teams, and a one-on-one open championship.

World Open Champions

:"Note: In several years, events were not held."

Five-pins Pro World Cup

Also organized by FIBiS, the Five-pins Pro World Cup ("World Cup Pro "5 Birilli"), was a semi-annual event begun in 1993, and discontinued after 1997. In only one year (1993) were both the Pro World Cup and the World Championships held. The event was a one-on-one invitational championship, without other divisions.

Pro World Cup Champions

:"Note: In 1995, the event was not held."

In popular culture

Five-pins is a major plot point of the Italian-produced, English-language drama/romance film "Bye Bye Baby", which stars Brigitte Nielsen as a professional player. The movie does not focus on five-pins, but does demonstrate the game clearly in a few sequences.



*Note label|Obstacle_comment|a|a Due to this use of extraneous objects, five-pins could be said to "vestigially" be a form of obstacle billiards, as well as a carom billiards game.

External links

* ["Federazione Italiana Biliardo Sportivo" (FIBiS)] — the Italian Federation of Billiard Sport; provides rules and organizes events. It
* - tv schedule

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