BOWLING (Lat. bulla, a globe, through O. Fr. boule, ball), an indoor game played upon an alley with wooden balls and nine or ten wooden pins. It has been played for centuries in Germany and the Low Countries, where it is still in high favour, but attains its greatest popularity in the United States, whence it was introduced in colonial times from Holland. The Dutch inhabitants of New Amsterdam, now New York, were much addicted to it, and up to the year 1840 it was played on the green, the principal resort of the bowlers being the square just north of the Battery still called Bowling Green. The first covered alleys were made of hardened clay or of slate, but those in vogue at present are built up of alternate strips of pine and maple wood, about 1 3 in. in size, set on edge, and fastened together and to the bed of the alley with the nicest art of the cabinet-maker. The width of the alley is 4l in., and its whole length about 80 ft. From the head, or apex, pin to the foul-line, over which the player may not step in delivering the ball, the distance is 60 ft. On each side of the alley is a 9-in. "gutter" to catch any balls that are bowled wide. Originally nine pins, set up in the diamond form, were used, but during the first part of the 19th century the game of "nine-pins" was prohibited by law, on account of the excessive betting connected with it. This ordinance, however, was soon evaded by the addition of a tenth pin, resulting in the game of "ten-pins," the pastime in vogue to-day. The ten pins are set up at the end of the alley in the form of a right-angled triangle in four rows, four pins at the back, then three, then two and one as head pin. The back row is placed 3 in. from the alley's edge, back of which is the pin-pit, 10 in. deep and about 3 ft. wide. The back wall is heavily padded (often with a heavy, swinging cushion), and there are safety corners for the pin-boys, who set up the pins, call the scores and place the balls in the sloping "railway" which returns them to the players' end of the alley. The pins are made of hard maple and are 15 in. high, 2 in. in diameter at their base and 15 in. in circumference at the thickest point. The balls, which are made of some very hard wood, usually lignum vitae, may be of any size not exceeding 27 in. in circumference and 16 lb in weight. They are provided with holes for the thumb and middle finger. As many may play on a side as please, five being the number for championship teams, though this sometimes varies. Each player rolls three balls, called a frame, and ten frames constitute a game, unless otherwise agreed upon. In first-class matches two balls only are rolled. If all ten pins are knocked down by the first ball the player makes a strike, which counts him 10 plus whatever he may make with the first two balls of his next frame. If, however, he should then make another strike, 10 more are added to his score, making 20, to which are added the pins he may knock down with his first ball of the third frame. This may also score a strike, making 30 as the score of the first frame, and, should the player keep up this high average, he will score the maximum, 300, in his ten frames. If all the pins are knocked down with two balls it is called a spare, and the player may add the pins made by the first ball of his second frame. This seemingly complicated mode of scoring is comparatively simple when properly lined score-boards are used. Of course, if all three balls are used no strike or spare is scored, but the number of pins overturned is recorded. The tens of thousands of bowling clubs in the United States and Canada are under the jurisdiction of the American Bowling Congress, which meets once a year to revise the rules and hold contests for the national championships.
Several minor varieties of bowling are popular in America, the most in vogue being "Cocked Hat," which is played with three pins, one in the head-pin position and the others on either corner of the back row. The pins are usually a little larger than those used in the regular game, and smaller balls are used. The maximum score is 90, and all balls, even those going into the gutter, are in play. "Cocked hat and Feather" is similar, except that a fourth pin is added, placed in the centre. Other variations of bowling are "Quintet," in which five pins, set up like an arrow pointed towards the bowler, are used; the "Battle Game," in which 12 can be scored by knocking down all but the centre, or king, pin; "Head Pin and Four Back," in which five pins are used, one in the head-pin position and the rest on the back line; "Four Back"; "Five Back"; "Duck Pin"; "Head Pin," with nine pins set up in the old-fashioned way, and "Candle Pin," in which thin pins tapering towards the top and bottom are used, the other rules being similar to those of the regular game.
The American bowling game is played to a slight extent in Great Britain and Germany. In the latter country, however, the old-fashioned game of nine-pins (Kegelspiel) with solid balls and the pins set up diamond-fashion, obtains universally. The alleys are made with less care than the American, being of cement, asphalt, slate or marble.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)