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Definition: tenpin bowling from Dictionary of Sports and Games Terminology

(sport) an indoor game for individuals and teams similar to skittles, in which the aim is to knock down as many pins as possible by rolling a heavy ball down a lane at them

Summary Article: tenpin bowling
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Indoor sport popular in North America and Britain. As in skittles, the object is to bowl a ball down an alley at pins (ten as opposed to nine). The game is usually between two players or teams. A game of tenpins is made up of ten ‘frames’. The frame is the bowler's turn to play and in each frame he or she may bowl twice. One point is scored for each pin knocked down, with bonus points for knocking all ten pins down with either one ball or two. The player or team making the greater score wins.

Each of the bottle-shaped maple pins is 38 cm/15 in high, at least 13.34 cm/5.25 in in circumference at the neck, and at most 38 cm/15 in in circumference at the widest part. Pins are arranged in a triangular pattern at the end of a wooden lane 18.3 m/60 ft long from the headpin to the foul line. A bowler makes an approach toward the foul line, which may not be crossed, bringing the ball into a backswing and then swinging it forward for release. The ball travels down the lane, the object being to ‘bowl over’ as many pins as possible. If all ten pins go down on a first roll, it is called a ‘strike’ and counts as ten points plus the number of pins knocked down by the bowler's next two rolls. When all ten pins are toppled by two rolls, it is a ‘spare’ and counts as ten points plus the number of pins knocked down by the bowler's first roll of the next frame. A perfect game is 12 consecutive strikes, for a score of 300.

The balls used in tenpin bowling are sometimes plastic but more commonly hard rubber, and weigh up to 16 lb/7.25 kg. Finger holes are drilled into each ball. Methods of gripping differ from bowler to bowler but most common is the underhand three-finger grip (thumb, middle finger, and ring finger).

History Bowling in its most rudimentary form can be traced to ancient Egypt. Bowling-type equipment was found in the tomb of an Egyptian boy who died about 5200 BC. Other ancient cultures enjoyed their own variations of the sport, but what is considered the precursor of modern bowling generally is dated to medieval Europe, where kegels (the pins) were knocked down by thrown or rolled rocks.

Ninepins, a Dutch version of bowling, was introduced to the Americas in the 17th century. By the 1800s it not only had become very popular in New England but had evolved into a major gambling activity. When Connecticut put a ban on ‘bowling at nine pins’ in 1841, enterprising bowlers overstepped the law by adding a pin to the game – hence tenpin bowling.

In 1895 the American Bowling Congress was organized, and under its authority the rules and equipment specifications of bowling in the USA became standardized. In 1916 the Women's International Bowling Congress was founded; today it is the largest women's sports organization in the world. Professional bowling is a lucrative occupation for top contenders. The Professional Bowlers Association and the Ladies Pro Bowlers Tour sponsor high-stake tournaments throughout the USA and in several other countries as well (Canada, Japan, and Latin America have shown particular interest in the game). The game has become popular in Britain since the 1960s.


British Tenpin Bowling Association

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

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