Bowling is a great way to spend your Friday or Saturday nights, but are you aware that there is more to the game than just ten pin bowling? Bowling has rich roots dating back to 300 A.D. in Germany so it only makes sense that the game would have evolved over the years. In 2019, there are five different universally accepted variations of the game, which vary by size, number of pins, and the shape of the pins. Some even use different sized balls to affect the difficulty of hitting that perfect strike.
The most popular variation of bowling in Europe, nine-pin has the most variation on traditional ten-pin. Once outlawed in the U.S.during the 1930's for fear of employees skipping work to play, the resurgence of this variation is just gaining popularity again today. With human pinsetters and ball return, this variation is straight out of the 1950s. The pins are set up by spacing out eight pins to create a diamond (1-2-3-2-1) at the end of the lane with enough space in the middle for the ninth pin. The ninth pin is traditionally painted red to differentiate it from the rest of the white pins in play and is often called the 12 pin.
Teams usually consist of six people with a team captain responsible for choosing the order for the frame. When a round begins each bowler is given two turns to knock over the diamond and the red pin. If the bowler knocks down all the pins on their first roll they receive a nine ringer which is worth zero points. If they knock down all the pins and leave the 12 pin standing it's called a 12 ringer and worth 12 points. When the pins are not all successfully knocked down in one turn the next player resumes with the same pin setup. If the next bowler knocks down the remaining white pins in their turn they receive a score of 12 for the team. If the next bowler knocks down all the pins left including the 12 pin then they receive 9 points. When it gets to last bowler's turn in the round the white pins knocked down in their turn are added to the team score.
The most common form of bowling in the United States, ten-pin is an American tradition. The ten pin layout is created by laying out a pyramid at the end of the lane (4-3-2-1). In ten-pin, players compete individually or on teams of up to six, each competing to reach the highest possible number of pins knocked down. Similar to the other variations, players receive two turns per frame to knock out all ten pins.
Scoring in ten-pin is fairly simple with each frame either resulting in a strike, spare, or number of pins knocked. A strike in ten pin bowling can only occur when all ten pins are knocked down on the first turn of the frame. Strikes can compound as well, meaning after you hit a strike the pins knocked down on your next frame count twice as they are added onto the strike as a bonus. So by scoring a strike and then five and one on your next consecutive turn, your score will be 22 rather than 16. This can keep compounding until you hit three strikes in a row which is called a turkey, at this point if you hit a strike it is only counted as ten. If you don't knock all ten pins over on your first turn, a spare can be completed on your second turn by knocking over the remaining pins. However, if you don't knock over all ten pins then the downed pins will be added to your score regardless.
Five-pin bowling is most commonly associated with Canada, as it was created there in 1909 by Thomas F. Ryan. Five-pin can be played by all ages, yet is tailored to children as it is seen as a way to introduce kids to ten-pin bowling. It was created to take less effort than ten-pin because the ball used is rubber and fits in your hand. To compensate for the ball size, the pins were cut down to 75% of there original height. In five-pin bowling, the pins are set up in a V formation, because this formation is more difficult, each player receives three turns per frame.
Five-pin bowling is usually played individually, but teams are not uncommon. Scoring in five-pin is based on the location of the pin. The innermost pin is worth five points, the outermost pins are worth two points, and the middle pins are worth three points. All the pins add up to 15 points which is how many points you receive when all the pins are knocked down. In the event of a strike, the score will be compounded similarly to ten pin bowling. If a strike is hit on the first turn then the next two turns are added onto the strike. If a spare is hit on the second turn than the last turn's score is compounded as well to the spare. A perfect score in five-pin bowling is a 450.
Duckpin bowling is primarily played on the east coast of the U.S. and is immensely popular with children similarly to five-pin. Duckpin bowling is played with ten pins similarly to traditional ten-pin, set in pyramid order (4-3-2-1). However, in duckpin bowling, the pins are shaped very differently with a four-inch width and a height of nine inches. Due to the unique cone size, the balls are limited to five inches in diameter and a maximum weight of six pounds to keep the game competitive.
Scoring in duckpin bowling is exactly the same as traditional ten pin. With 10 pins counting as a strike and clearing all the pins on the second turn being counted as a spare. The only difference in duckpin bowling is that if there are still pins standing after the second turn then the bowler is given a third turn to knock down as many of the remaining pins as possible. Then on the third try the pins that have fallen on that roll only are added to the scoreboard for the round. After ten rounds, the player with the highest score has won the game.
Candlepin bowling is known for its popularity in New England and in regions of Canada but was invented in Massachusetts by Justin White. Candlepin bowling has the most variation to it compared to ten-pin bowling. During each round, each player gets three turns rather than two which makes it less difficult to knock over all the pins. However, in candlepin bowling, the pins are taller, skinnier, and identical at each end making them harder to hit yet easier to knock down. Candlepin bowling also uses smaller balls than traditional ten-pin bowling with a diameter of fewer than five inches and under three pounds, causing the bowler to roll with much more precision than regular. Another norm of candlepin bowling is that the pins are not cleared until all three turns have been taken unless there is a strike. This can create blockages in the lane which increase the difficulty of knocking down the pins after each turn.
Candlepin bowling is set up similarly to ten-pin bowling, yet has a thinner lane with a lowered deck at the end for the pins to stand on. There are then three different lines on the lane which signify the foul line, the lob line, and the dead wood line. The bowler cannot cross the foul line and cannot throw the ball in the air past the lob line. The dead wood line is in place to keep the knocked pins within space of the standing pins. There is also different terminology for the game. A full game is called a string and each round is referred to as a box. The rules to candlepin are also the same as ten-pin bowling besides the dead wood rule. This means that knocking out all the pins in one roll constitutes a strike and strikes compound by adding the score of the next roll twice. Knocking all the pins out by the second roll is counted as a spare and knocking over all the pins by the third roll is simply counted as the number of pins knocked over.