Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Fake Canadian bowling

Or rather, a common form of bowling unfamiliar to me, and thus dubbed fake.

Where I grew up, the only kind of bowling anyone did was 10-pin bowling. The kind with big huge heavy black balls with three holes drilled in them. The kind that little kids can't do well because the ball is so big and heavy. The kind that dilettantes like me end up dislocating shoulders or elbows trying to play. The only kind you used to see on American television. The kind with leagues.

Well, in addition to lawn bowling and bocce ball and related pastimes, there is another kind of bowling. 5-pin bowling. Since coming to Canada, I have seen this kind of bowling on TV, usually with pins that are on strings for some reason, but I don't know how widespread it is generally. It seems to be practically the only kind of bowling people in Winnipeg have ever heard of, let alone done more than once in their lives. It seems to be common enough up here, by which I mean in Canada generally, although I'm told is typical also in Vermont or someplace like that.

The ball is about 2 pounds, and the size of a softball--just big and heavy enough to not quite hold easily in one hand while swinging the arm, but easily tossed and bowled and whatnot. The lane is a little shorter, and possibly a little narrower.

There are only five pins, arranged in a chevron, i.e. a triangle with a head pin (the 1, in 10 pin), and two side pins going back on either side, (i.e the 2, and 3 pins, and the 4 and 7 pins, in 10-pin). They're a little smaller than 10-pin pins, and have these funny rings or something around their 'belts'. Still there's room in between them that you could roll the ball between them at the right angle. It makes hitting them a little odd, and the spacing makes it, well, not more difficult, but a different proposition to knock them all down at once. It's exceptionally difficult, for instance, to handle a 'split', since there isn't enough force to bounce pins from one side all the way to tthe other side.

Scoring is different too. The head pin is worth five. The two 'middle' pins are worth 3 each, and the two 'side' pins are worth 2, for a max of 15 points available per frame, which involves three throws, or bowls, or whatever you call them. A strike is getting them all down on the first bowl. A spare is getting them all down in the first two (whether that's any combination or 0-5). If it takes all three bowls to get all five, it's just 15.

Last night, I went Bingo Bowling with the Fringe Team Leader Group (more on that another time). Bingo Bowling is different from regular bowling in that instead of keeping score in the conventional manner (so I"m not sure how conventional 5-pin scoring of strikes and spares works), you work against another (team(s)) to fill out a 'card' of possible combinations. SO many 5s, so many 10s, strikes, spares, 2s, and odder combinations like 'the headpin', which is just the headpin, on the first bowl, a frame score of 13, which means leaving only a 2, or almost impossible combinations like 12, which means leaving only a 3, or 8, which means taking out only the headpin and a 3. YOu fill out your card and you win.

So there's the race aspect--you want to fill out your card before your opponents, and there's the strategy aspect--if you knock over a 2 on your first bowl, do you take the 2 on the card, or try for the 4/7/10? Do we need a spare or a 15? And so on.

It was a lot of fun. More fun than I expected. And I was a little better at it than I expected. I threw my share of gutter balls, true, but also made my share of strikes and spares, and other combinations. I did not dislocate anything, although my left quad muscles are very sore today. It did not take me long to realize that the long run-up, like in 10-pin, is not necessary, nor even desirable, and it's easier to stand there and just take one step forward and bowl the ball. Even though I heard my father's voice screaming at me to 'follow through' and so forth, I managed to figure out how to make minor adjustments that allowed me a degree of actual control of the ball.

So I wouldn't mind going again sometime. Maybe I've discovered a new activity. Just saying.


Sky Onosson said...

I guess you need to go glow bowling now! (I've never been, but I hear it's fun...)

Rob Hagiwara said...

Shall we? Name a day.

Actually, Bingo Bowling was done under blacklight. Much fun was made of people who were wearing shoes without dayglow laces and stitching. And I was wearing my new Mickey t-shirt with large swaths of green day-glow ink. Ah.

Sky Onosson said...

I'm game... no idea when. Maybe one day when I actually set aside time for working on my thesis!

Ha! Srsly, that sounds like fun. And July is not too crazy busy for me. Maybe I'll bring Shoki, she's never been bowling.


Sky Onosson said...

Whoops, meant to "preview" not "publish"... anyways, next week is a bit busy, but after that... anytime after Canada Day pretty much. How about a 4th of July celebration, since you're American and I'm 1/2. That would make my kids 1/4, wonder if that would get them a green card?