Sorting Out Strikes and Spares - Scoring a Bowling Game

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 29th, 2010

Believe it or not, the average recreational bowler, though capable of performing well on the bowling alley, may be at a total loss when it comes to being able to keeping score.

Many bowling alleys now have an automatic scoring system that does all the figuring of the scores for them. While it isn't exactly a skill that can contribute to an improved game, fully understanding bowling includes knowing how to score a game.

Below is an easy way (hopefully) to follow walk-through of how the fallen pins convert to points on the board:

1. As you may already know, each game is divided into 10 frames. That number corresponds with the number of boxes lined up in a row next to a players name on the scoreboard. Each box has a smaller box inside at the top left corner.

2. In the smaller box, you should write down the number of pins that fell on the player's first try of the frame.

3. In the box next to the smaller one where you recorded the first attempt, write down the number of pins that fell on the second try.

4. Add the two numbers together and place the result (total) in the larger space at the bottom of the box.

5. If a strike was made on the first attempt, mark it with an 'X' in the small box. Add 10 points (for the strike) to the total number of pins that was recorded in the previous box and write it down in the totals area of that particular frame.

6. If a second strike followed the first one, add 10 points for the first strike, another 10 for the second, but before closing the tally for this particular frame, record the number of pins that fell on the next frame's first attempt. Add this number to the 20 points from the previous frame.

7. In the event of a spare, indicate a slash (/) in the small box after all the pins have been knocked down on the second attempt. Then wait for the number of pins to fall on the next frame's first attempt and add this to the 10 points from the spare. Write this number in the totals area of the frame where the spare was made.

The tediousness of the process is overshadowed by the convenience of computers doing it, but it is part of knowing what bowling is about. For one to fully appreciate the game in all of its aspects, taking the time to practice it won't hurt.

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Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
Joined: April 29th, 2015
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