Years ago when you went to the lanes to bowl, practice, or be in a league, they just gave you a paper with lines and a pencil to keep score. Now they have computers that do it for you automatically. All you need to do is type in your name and once you start bowling, the computer will keep track of the score. I am sure by now, you have a basic understanding of how the scoring is done. If you don't, it's still important to learn how to score to be able to spot check and make sure the computer score is correct. Sometimes pins may fall from the machine and you will have to know how to make that correction in the computer.
There are TEN FRAMES to each game. When you knock all ten pins down on the first ball that counts as a “STRIKE” and is marked by the letter X. Two strikes in a row is called a “DOUBLE”. Three strikes in a row is called a “TURKEY” or “TRIPLE”. The name is believed to have come from years ago when someone got 3 strikes in a row in a tournament ,they gave out turkeys as prizes. Four strikes in a row is called a four timer or four bagger, Five strikes in a row is called a five bagger, six in a row a six bagger, etc.
The most strikes you can get in a single game is 12 which is a PERFECT GAME with a score of “300”. It is also sometimes referred to as a “Dinosaur” or “Dirty Dozen”. The person on record for the most 300 games bowled is “Ferro Williams” having bowled 135 of them!! The person who holds the record for getting the most strikes in a row is Tommy Gollick with 47! If you get a strike on the incorrect side (1-2 for Righty’s or 1-3 pocket for Lefty’s), it’s called a BROOKLYN STRIKE. If you throw what looked like a perfect strike but left a 7 or 10 pin, then you were “ROBBED”!
When you get a strike, you add those 10 pins to whatever you get down on the next TWO balls. Use the scoring sample below to follow how to score. In your first frame you get a strike and then you get another strike in the second frame. Then in your third frame you get 8 pins down. You would add the ten for the first strike, ten for the second strike, and the eight and you’d have a score of 28 in the first frame. Now you get eight pins down and you picked up those last two remaining pins on the second shot. That would be considered a “SPARE” which is designated by a slash /. On a spare you add the ten pins you got down with whatever you get down on the NEXT ball. Then you get 9 pins down on the next ball after your spare, so you would add the 28 from the first box with the ten you got for the spare and then 9 more to that for the spare. That would give you 47 in the second frame. The “F” in the 5th frame indicates a FOUL and means you stepped over the foul line. If you knock down any pins, they will NOT be counted. If you were to “Strike Out” means you got 3 strikes in the last Frame.
Always try to get a good first ball, so you’ll have only one or two pins to knock down (or pick up as we say in the bowling jargon) and you’ll always get a good pin count for that double or spare. If you get less than 5 pins on a spare, you’ll leave yourself a more difficult spare to pick up, and you could possibly chop or miss it completely. Before I got much better at bowling, I got a lot of 6’s and 7’s on my spares. If I had gotten 8’s or 9’s instead, my score would have been much higher and we might have won more games that were very close.
If you don’t get all ten pins down after two tries, it’s considered a miss and is marked by a dash - and you will have an OPEN FRAME. If at any time you should throw the ball in the channel, it’s considered a GUTTERBALL. If the ball goes into the gutter first but pops out and hits any pins, they will not be counted in the score.
If after you throw your first ball and you’re left with a spare that has a space between the pins and the head pin (1 pin) is NOT there, it is called a“SPLIT” and is marked the number of pins you got with a circle around it.
When you get to the tenth frame of the game (last frame), if you should get a strike, you get to throw two extra shots as a BONUS. If you get a spare in the tenth frame, you get to throw one extra bonus shot. When bowling first started, you were allowed three tries to knock down all ten pins, but many people were able to do this very easily, so to make it more
challenging, they shortened it to only two tries.
In league play, always try your best to get the most pin count on your spares. Let’s say for example that your team and the opposing team are tied up in the tenth frame. The anchor man (the team member who goes last) gets a split with 3 remaining pins, but tries to make the split for a sure win but only gets one of them instead of trying to get the two easier ones, and the guy on the other team also gets a split in the tenth frame but picks up his two pins. Your team will lose that game by one pin, so it’s always best to try and get the most pin count if the game is close, rather than trying to show off and end up losing a game by a pin or two!
A “DUTCH 200” GAME is when you get a strike, then a spare, then a strike, spare, etc. alternating through the entire game. Or you could start with a spare, then get a strike and alternate that way. If you get all spares and 6’s on the spares, that will equal a game of 160. If you get all spares and 7’s, that equals a 170 game, all spares and 8’s a 180, and all spares and 9’s will be a score of 190.
If you miss a spare and have an open frame, then you must throw a Double (two strikes in a row) to make up for that open frame.
To bowl a 200 game, you need to get all your marks plus a double, and to get a 210 you need all your MARKS (strikes and spares) plus a triple (three strikes in a row). If you can’t get a triple but you get two doubles in your game, that will be equal to a triple. To get a score of 220 you need to get all your marks plus a four bagger (four strikes in a row), and so on.
If you get all your marks and have no open frames, it is considered a “CLEAN” GAME.
At the end of a league bowling session, each game will count for 1 or 2 points depending on what your league votes on. The team that knocks down the most pins for the three games, will get an extra POINT or two for TAKING WOOD.
The score that is the most rare to get in bowling is a 292. It’s not likely that you would only get 2 pins after throwing the first eleven strikes in a row.
Here a scoring sample, see if you can follow it from the above instructions.
Join me here next week when I’ll be discussing " What is Lift and Turn"?
Good Luck and high scoring!!
Hello!! I'm not a professional bowler, but I have loved the sport for more than 45 years, averaged over 200 for several seasons, and learned quite a bit with research and experience.