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Small-Pin Bowling

Updated on May 5, 2010

Pins and Balls

The official small pin, or duckpin, is about 9 3/8 inches high and 4 1/8 inches in diameter at its widest part. It weighs no more than 1 pound 8 1/2 ounces. The rubberband duck-pin has a rubber band set into a 1-inch groove around its middle to give the pins additional action when hit by the ball. The candlepin is about 15 inches high. It is tapered at both ends and can stand on either end. The pin for five-pins is 12 1/2 inches high. This pin has a rubber band set into a groove about 2 inches from the base.

The standard small-pin ball has no finger holes. The maximum diameter is 5 inches. For duckpins and candlepins the maximum weight is 3 pounds 12 ounces; for rubberband duckpins and fivepins, 3 pounds 8 ounces.

Basic Rules

Rules for these games are similar to those for tenpins, the main difference being that a bowler is permitted three balls in a frame if he does not make a strike or a spare. Because of the third ball, the duckpin or candle-pin bowler can score 10 points in one frame without rolling a strike or a spare.

In fivepins, the pins are positioned in triangular fashion, with the head pin designated as No. 5, flanked by two No. 3 pins. The back-corner pins are No. 2's, with the left-hand corner pin called the counting pin.

Each pin in fivepins takes its value from its position number. A strike counts 15 plus the total value of all pins knocked down on the next two balls rolled. Thus three straight strikes would total 45 points in one frame. A spare counts 15, plus the total value of the pins toppled on the next ball. To score in any frame, the bowler must knock down the counting pin.

Unlike other games, the pins toppled in candlepins are not cleared away after each roll.


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