Bowls - Variations of Play

Variations of Play

Particularly in team competition there can be a large number of bowls on the green towards the conclusion of the end, and this gives rise to complex tactics. Teams "holding shot" with the closest bowl will often make their subsequent shots not with the goal of placing the bowl near the jack, but in positions to make it difficult for opponents to get their bowls into the head, or to places where the jack might be deflected to if the opponent attempts to disturb the head.

There are many different ways to set up the game. Crown Green Bowling utilises the entire green. A player can send the jack anywhere on the green in this game and the green itself is more akin to a golf green, with lots of undulation. It is only played with two bowls each, the Jack also has a bias and is only slightly smaller than the Bowls. Crown Green Bowls is very popular mostly in the North of England but also in Wales, West Midlands and Shropshire. The game is played usually to 21-up in Singles and Doubles format with some competitions playing to 31-up. The Panel (Professional Crown Green Bowls) is played at the Red Lion, Westhoughton daily and is played to 41-up with greenside betting throughout play. The game of Crown Green Bowls is looking to grow with the introduction of the Portuguese Masters in October and recent interest from Sky TV to re-televise the sport.

Singles, triples and fours and Australian pairs are some ways the game can be played. In singles, two people play against each other and the first to win to either 21, 25 or 31 shots (how many bowls of ones are closest to the jack or kitty are shots). The controlling body sets the game to either 21, 25 or 31. An additional scoring method is set play. This comprises two sets over nine ends, an end being the completion of both players delivering all their bowls. Should a player win a set each, they then play a further 3 ends that will decide the winner.

Pairs allows both people on a team to play Skip and Lead. The lead throws two bowls, the skip delivers two, then the lead delivers his remaining two, the skip then delivers his remaining two bowls. Each end, the leads and skips switch positions. This is played over 21 ends or sets play. Triples is with three players while Fours is with four players in each team and is played over 21 ends.

Another pairs variation, popular in New Zealand, is 242 pairs. In the first end of the game the A players lead off with 2 bowls each, then the B players play 4 bowls each, before the A players complete the end with their final 2 bowls. The A players act as lead and skip in the same end. In the second end the roles are reversed with the A players being in the middle. This alternating pattern continues through the game which is typically over 15 ends.

Short Mat Bowls is an all-year sport unaffected by weather conditions and it does not require a permanent location as the rink mats can be rolled up and stowed away. This makes it particularly appropriate for small communities as it can be played in village halls, schools, sports and social clubs, hotels and so on. where space is restricted and is also required for other purposes: it is even played on North Sea oil rigs where space is really at a premium.

Bowls are played by the blind and paraplegic. Blind bowlers are extremely skilful. A string is run out down the centre of the lane & wherever the jack lands it is moved across to the string and the length is called out by a sighted marker, when the woods are sent the distance from the jack is called out, in yards, feet and inches-the position in relation to the jack is given using the clock,12.00 is behind the jack. The world's best are a match for the best club level sighted bowlers.

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