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Bowling (five pin)

Five-pin bowling is a bowling variant which is popular in Canada, where many bowling alleys offer it, either alone or in combination with ten-pin 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 ten-pin balls and which can be thrown in rapid succession. Five-pin bowling was invented in 1909 by Thomas F. Ryan in Toronto, Ontario.

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 ten-pins, 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, because of the greater opportunity in five-pin for splits (arrangements of the remaining pins in which there are spaces large enough for a ball to pass through without touching a pin).

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

Five-pin bowlers use a number of terms to denote the results of a throw:

"punch" - hitting only one pin when two or more pins are remaining
"headpin" - punching the headpin on the first ball. The most dreaded result on the first ball as a "headpin-spare" is extremely difficult to achieve.
"chop" or "chop-off" - hitting the headpin and the 3 and 2 pins on one side, leaving the other 3 and 2 pins on the other side.
"split" - taking out the headpin and one of the three-pins, scoring 8 on the first ball. Difficult to obtain a spare on the second ball but if accomplished, this is known as a "split-spare". Many bowling associations will offer a special pin for this achievement.
"aces" - taking out the headpin and both three pins but leaving the two corner pins.
"10 the hard way" - after the third ball, having a frame score of 10 resulting from hitting the 5 pin and one 3 pin and one 2 pin on opposite sides of the headpin.


All modern bowling centres use automated pin-setting machines (first used in 1957) to reset the pins after each ball is thrown. In five-pin, two types of machines are used:

"string" - each pin has a string attached to the head. The most commonly used type due to lower cost.
"free standing" - the same as ten-pin


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.


Source: Wikipedia


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