Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

# Five-pin bowling

Five-pin bowling is a variation on ten-pin bowling which is popular in Canada, where most bowling alleys offer it, either alone or in combination with tenpin bowling. It was devised in the early twentieth century to offer bowlers the chance to play a game during a half-hour lunch break. This goal was achieved by using smaller balls which travel faster than tenpin balls and which can be thrown in rapid succession.

The balls in five-pin are small enough to fit in the hand and therefore have no fingerholes. There are, naturally, five pins, arranged in a V. In size they are midway between duckpins and tenpins, and they have a heavy rubber band around their middles to make them move farther when struck. The centre pin is worth five points if knocked down, those either side, three each, and the outermost pins, two each, giving a total of fifteen for the lot.

In each frame, each player gets three attempts to knock all five pins over. Knocking all five pins down with the first ball is a strike, which means the score achieved by the player's first two balls of the next frame or frames are added to his or her score for the strike. They are also, of course, counted in their own frames, so in effect they count double. A player who takes two balls to knock all the pins down gets a spare, which means the first ball of the next frame counts double. As in ten-pin, if either of these happen in the last frame, the player gets to take one or two shots at a re-racked set of pins immediately. A perfect score is 450, which is probably attained less frequently than perfect tenpin scores are.

Until 1967, the bowler was required to knock down the left corner ("counter") pin to score any points. The values of the pins were changed in the same year to the current values.

Some believe that the hockey term "five hole" (the space between the goaltender's legs) is taken from five-pin bowling. Knocking out the headpin (worth 5 points) by itself leaves a large hole through which it is easy to put the next one or two balls without hitting anything.