Russian pyramid game setup, with the object balls in a triangle rack at the foot of the table, and the cue ball in front of (up-table of) the head string (baulk line).

Russian pyramid, also known as Russian billiards (Russian: ру́сский билья́рд, russky bilyard), is a form of billiards played on a large billiard table with narrow pockets. It is played across Russia and several former Soviet/Eastern Bloc countries. In the West, the game is known as pyramid billiards, or simply pyramid.


Rule variations

Russian pyramid ball near the corner pocket. The relative sizes of the ball and pocket make the game very challenging.

There are several rule variations of Russian pyramid. All games begin with fifteen numbered white balls racked in a pyramid pack, as in straight pool, eight-ball, and blackball. Players may pocket any object balls on the table regardless of number, and the first player to pocket eight or more balls wins the frame. In addition, shots do not have to be called. Depending on the game variant, some specific balls may have to be in specific positions within the rack. The first player firmly breaks the rack with the cue ball from just in front of the baulk line. The most common varieties are the following, each of which has slight local variations on the rules:[1]

Any ball may be used as the cue ball. Players can pocket the ball they struck if it hits another ball first, with the goal being to carom the struck ball off one or more other balls into a pocket. Should the struck ball be pocketed without striking any other balls, the shot is a foul, and that ball is spotted behind the baulk line.[2]
Only one ball is the cue ball. Players can pocket the cue ball with a carom shot off another ball and then the scorer must choose an object ball to be taken off the table. The player then has ball-in-hand and may place it anywhere on the table but may not pocket it until the next stroke; otherwise, it is a foul.
The rules are the same as in dynamic pyramid, except that, after the cue ball is pocketed, the cue ball is spotted between the head rail (bottom cushion) and head or baulk, but not on top of that line; from here until the next stroke, balls can be only pocketed in the side and far-corner pockets. In pool, this part of the table is called the kitchen and the Russian equivalent is дом (dom), 'house'.
The rules are similar to fifteen-ball pool. The object is to score at least 71 points. For each correctly pocketed object ball, the player wins the number of points on the ball (except for the 1-ball, which scores 11 points). The last remaining ball on the table, regardless of its number, is worth 10 points. The total number of points is 130.[3]
The rules are very similar to free pyramid, except that a frame continues until 14 balls are pocketed, similar to straight pool; these 14 balls are then re-spotted into an incomplete pyramid.[4] The objective is to score at least a given number of points.
Similar to free pyramid, but pocketing object balls before the cue ball is a foul; therefore, the player must pocket the cue ball after hitting object balls. Other balls can be pocketed as long as the cue ball is potted first.[5]

In popular culture

Versions of the game have featured prominently in notable Russian films such as The Meeting Place Cannot Be Changed (1979) and The New Adventures of the Elusive Avengers (1968). An episode of the popular animated television series Kikoriki has two characters playing the game. The main characters of Dead Man's Bluff, or Zhmurki (Russian: Жмурки) play Russian pool in the bar scene.

A Russian pool configuration can be seen in “Tulsa King” starring Sylvester Stallone in Season 1, episode 5, while making a phone call, he walks around a pool table with all-white balls racked, and a white cue ball.

Russian pyramid has been adapted into video games, both in stand-alone form and as a play mode in multi-cue-sports video games. Many recent releases have been mobile games for Android and iOS.[citation needed]

"Russian pool"

Comparison of the 68 mm (2+1116 in) Russian and the 57 mm (2+14 in) common-style pool ball.

Colored numbered balls for playing eight-ball, nine-ball, and other pool games on Russian billiards tables are also produced. The balls are 68 mm (2+1116 in) in diameter, like the standard ones for Russian pyramid, and thus much larger than the American-style balls they are patterned after (as illustrated in the comparison image).

WPA World Pyramid Championship

Sanctioned by the World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA).

Year Winner
2019 Russia Semyon Zaitsev
2018 Moldova Serghei Krîjanovski
2017 Russia Iosif Abramov
2016 Kazakhstan Alikhan Karaneyev
2015 Russia Vladislav Osminin
2006 Russia Pavel Mekhovov
2005 Russia Yury Paschinsky
2003 Ukraine Yaroslav Vynokur
2002 Russia Ilya Kirichkov
2001 Kazakhstan Kanybek Sagyndykov
2000 Russia Evgeny Stalev (2)
1999 Russia Evgeny Stalev


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 November 2016. Retrieved 13 January 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Free Pyramid rules - East European Billiard Council". Retrieved 2020-02-23.
  3. ^ "Classical pyramid". Archived from the original on 2018-05-22.
  4. ^ "Свободная пирамида с продолжением ЛЛБ". Retrieved 2022-08-20.
  5. ^ "Scratch Pyramid". Retrieved 2022-08-22.