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Candlepin Bowling (Everything You Need to Know)


Candlepin Bowling

Candlepin bowling is a popular kind of bowling in Canada’s Maritime regions, New England and other small regions of the USA. The game is named after the apparatus used to play, including a tiny ball and small, narrow pins shaped like candles.

Continue reading to discover everything you need to know about candlepin bowling, including rules and how to keep score.

What is Candlepin Bowling?

Candlepin bowling has historically been a New England sport but did, however, gain increasing popularity in the Canadian Maritimes.

This game is played using little balls held in the palm of one’s hand and candle-like pins that will appear the same when placed upside down or right-side-up.

In this form of bowling, bowlers throw or roll two frames, typically called boxes, with three balls per box.

Candlepin bowling is chock-full of grief, poetry, and good fortune. The pins juggle and avoid each other. They have a habit of falling over when you least expect it, and they can be tenacious at times.

Is Candlepin Bowling Still Around?

Candlepin bowling has been one of the most popular activities in areas like new England and the Canadian Maritimes since the 19th century. However, this sport has also recently gained increasing popularity throughout other parts of the world.

This form of bowling hasn’t evolved much over the years, with the dimensions of the lane, pins, and bowling balls remaining relatively the same since the early 1880s.

Is Candlepin Bowling Hard?

Candlepin bowling is said to be more difficult than traditional tenpin bowling. Finger holes are missing from bowling balls when playing candlepin bowling. Other bowling balls include perforations that enable improved grip and aim of the heavier ball. In candlepin bowling, establishing your ball’s exact toss and speed is more difficult without these holes.

Candlepins are also thinner, looking like candlesticks. As a result, knocking down the pins in a single roll becomes more difficult.

Furthermore, candlepin bowling is a type of bowling that has been around for a long time. Fallen pins or “deadwood” are not removed during a frame between rolls. Bowlers must continue their frames with the remaining, littered pins in the field of play.

As a result of this annoyance, scoring points is considered complicated and harder than tenpin bowling.

How Are the Balls Different in Candlepin Bowling?

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Candlepin bowling balls are made with plastic, wood, rubber, and synthetic materials. A perfect, finished bowling ball should be rolled down the bowling alley to strike the pins at the finish. That is one feature that is consistent across all bowling varieties.

Candlepin bowling balls are similarly smaller and lighter, with a weight of roughly 2.5 pounds and a diameter of 4.5 inches that comfortably fits in the bowler’s hand.

To check the current price and availability of Candlepin bowling balls, click here to view the selection on Amazon.

What are the Rules of Candlepin Bowling?

The goal of candlepin bowling is to knock over as many pins as possible in your ten frames. The bowler must toss the bowling ball as close to the candlepins as possible.

A game consists of ten frames, each of which represents one turn. The bowler is permitted three shots in each frame. This change in frame play makes the game more complicated than tenpin bowling.

If the bowler throws their ball from over the foul line, their turn will not be scored, resulting in a zero for that throw. It will also be called a foul if the bowler’s ball rolls off the lane and into the gutter. Furthermore, fallen pins cannot be removed from the lane for the duration of the frame once a throw has occurred.

Players must maneuver and utilize the deadwood pins to knock over the other standing pins. This adds a complexion of strategy and intensity to the game.

For instance, if you score a spare and then a strike on the next ball, your frame score will be 20. Only the most proficient and professional players are capable of doing so.

How Many Balls are in Candlepin Bowling?

Each player utilizes three balls for each frame. These balls are smaller than typical bowling balls and lack finger holes. This is repeated ten times.

How Many Pins in Candlepin Bowling?

When playing candlepin bowling, ten pins await your ball at the end of the alley. Each player must roll a little ball down a wooden lane to knock over the set of 10 slim pins. These are arranged in a pyramid form, with one pin in the closest row and four in the farthest row.

How to Keep Score in Candlepin Bowling

What is an Open Frame in Candlepin Bowling?

When one fails to completely knock over all the pins in the first two or all three shots, this results in a single point for each candlepin knocked down in that frame.

Another example of an open frame is when you cannot score a single point, and all your shots go into the gutters. In this situation, your overall score for the frame will be 0.

What is a Strike in Candlepin Bowling?

You’ll obtain a strike if all ten candlepins can be knocked out in the first shot. If you can achieve this, your score for that frame will equal ten, plus the additional score from your following two rolls.

What is a Spare in Candlepin Bowling?

If you don’t knock out all the pins in your first roll, but then knock out all the pins left in your lane, in your second roll, you receive a spare. When this occurs the score for that frame is 10 plus the score for your one remaining shot in the frame.

Do I Need a Scoresheet When Candlepin Bowling?

Candlepin scoring sheets look much different from tenpins and duckpins scoresheets. Candlepin scoresheets are typically positioned vertically. They have two columns of squares in a two-square-wide, ten-square-tall layout to score all 10 sets for one player.

The left-hand column details the score per box, with the cumulative total recorded down the sheet as each box is rolled in the right-hand column of squares, in a top-down sequence from the first to the tenth box.

Spares and strikes are also specifically indicated in candlepins. Spares are recorded in a box by colouring in the top left corner of the relevant left-hand square with a triangle shape.

If a strike is recorded, the opposing corners of the left-hand square are similarly coloured in, leaving enough space between the “filled-in” opposing corners to record the score from the “fill” total of the two consecutive balls for the strike.

A widespread technique is to shade in the remaining two corners of the initial strike to signal a strike on a strike’s bonus ball, resulting in a double strike.

How Does One Calculate Score in Candlepin Bowling?

Correctly calculating bonus points can be difficult, especially when strikes and spares appear in consecutive boxes. However, computerized scoring methods have surmounted this in current times. 

When a scoring system is “automatic,” the bowler needs to do nothing except bowl. It maintains track of the score and resets the pinsetter once three balls are thrown, or all ten pins are knocked down. 

The bowler must enter the score when using a semi-automated scoring system, but the computer records it. To acquire a new “rack” of pins, the bowler must click a button at the end of the ball return.

What is the Purpose and Length of a Candlepin Bowling Lane?

The lane’s function is to glide the ball down to hit the pins at its end.

The candlepin bowling lane dimensions are consistent with other bowling lanes, recording at 60ft from the foul line to the first pin. It then measures 15ft from the approach dots and 15ft from the foul line to the aiming arrows. 

The size of the gutters is what makes the difference. Due to the smaller size of the balls used in candlepin bowling, the candlepin bowling lane gutters are comparable to duckpin bowling gutters and tenpin gutters.

What is Considered a High Score in Candlepin Bowling?

A perfect game of candlepin requires a score of 300. This has yet to be achieved on a professional level. You would require a strike every ball to reach this impossible score of 300.

Candlepin Bowling Records

Candlepin bowling is an extremely tough sport, which is why many individuals have attempted to carve their names in history by setting world records for this traditional form of bowling. 

What is the Highest Recorded Score of a 3-Game Set Mark in Candlepin Bowling?

Mark Ricci of Somerville, Massachusetts, holds the record for the highest 3-game set mark. He recorded this in 2011 by completing 3 consecutive games scoring 160, 157, and 202.  A total of 519 points was achieved.

What is the Highest Candlepin Bowling Score Ever Recorded?

In 1984, a professional player named Ralph Semb from Erving, MA, achieved the highest recorded candlepin score in one game. Ralph recorded a score of 245 for that game. This is impressive given how tough it is to achieve such a high score in sanctioned competitions.

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