Short Mat Bowls
Short mat bowling is wonderful
Find out about what a great recreation short mat bowling is and that it is suitable for all ages and particularly favourited by the senior citizen. I don't know if it has reached America yet but if not you are missing out on a great game. It appears to be slow but actually involves a lot of exercise. It is also great for forgetting all your worries while your brain is too busy working out the complicated maths which most players don't realize they are working with. It's all angles and probabilities and the probable outcome changes with each bowl sent down the mat. And it is addictive.
In this picture both lead players have bowled a wood(bowl) one after the other
Let's get right into looking at an end of bowls
A popular version of the game involves six people, three in each team. You have a lead player a second and a skip. but first let's look at how things look when the bowls arrive at the end of the mat. The purpose is to be the team with one or more bowls nearest to the jack. The jack is that small yellow ball in the picture. One lead player has expertly bowled along the 45 foot mat and reached the jack. The other one has also made quite a reasonable shot. This is a game which is good for introducing new players as it means you have more possibilities of what may happen, good or not so good.
You can also see from this picture that there is another mat in the hall. Actually there are three mats altogether. That means that you can have eigthteen people playing at the same time. Actually you can also have teams of four so you can have twenty four people all playing at once. This is a small village hall. In bigger halls you can have far more mats, but it is a game ideally suited to small halls. In fact it was invented for this purpose.
Another wood has arrived
Now there are three
The first player now has two woods near the jack. The second lead player must now try to get nearer the jack. Each player in this version of the game has two woods to bowl before the second players bowl their's one at a time, taking turns.
Books on the subject - And One For Outdoors too, On Kindle
There is another book on Short Mat Bowling, by Ron Collingridge but it does not appear to be listed by Amazon.
Now you can see it in action
I live in Devon and play at least twice a week. Great exercise and also social contact.
And now a fourth wood
Short mat bowls is full of possibilities
The fourth wood to arrive has made no difference, the first lead player still has two woods nearest the jack. How dull this sounds in cold print but it is really fascinating as each player makes their contribution. The situation could change dramatically. If a new player were to bowl a wood so that it was some way behind the jack, on his subsequent bowl he could aim for the bowl on the jack, hit it and the jack would be pushed back to his own wood and he could win the end. There are almost endless possibilities.
Let's look at some ways a wood can be lost from play. If a wood rolls off the side of the mat, it is placed behind the fender and not counted in the score. If the wood hits the block in the middle of the mat, it is removed from play. See the fender on the picture above; it is best seen on the far mat. Also if the wood crosses the line near the fender the ditch line it is also removed, UNLESS it has touched the jack in which case it is called a "toucher" and marked with chalk. Although it is in the "ditch" it still counts and the jack may be knocked back to it. So a great deal of precision is needed to avoid these pitfalls.
Safely past the block
One more wood to come in this end
In the picture above I have said there is one more wood to come to the head. How do I know this? Well you can count seven woods on the mat, then there are four behind the fender. Twelve woods are played by three players on each team, so there we have it, one more to come. The ones behind the fender have either gone off the side, or hit the block, the piece of wood in the centre of the mat, or they have gone right through into the ditch, that's the section behind the white line by the fender. You can see the block in the previous picture. Let's look at all those white lines and see what they are for. We have just mentioned the ditch line near the fender. If your wood goes past this it is taken off. Well that is, except when you touch the jack with the wood on the way past. then it is a "toucher" and although it is in the ditch it stays on and counts in the play. If someone knocks the jack back to this wood it will be said to be "holding" and so could win the end.
The two white lines in the ditch at right angles to the ditch line are to mark the spot where you put the mat. You can see the mat in the next picture. You have to keep one foot on this mat when you bowl the wood. It must not go over the edge of the mat. It is best to crouch down as low as possible to bowl the wood. your other foot must stay within the remaining white lines. You may wish to bowl to the right of the block, forehand if you are right-handed, or to the left of the block, back-hand. The wood has a bias, which pulls the wood in one direction, so you have to get used to how this works, but when you are used to it you can use it to advantage. Holding the wood you gently swing your arm back and then forward like a pendulum and then release the wood. I have received this excellent desciption of the bias on the wood from Roy Wiggins, whose book is mentioned above.
"The bias is determined by the profile of the running contours of the bowl. If you hold a bowl up and look at it - end on. ie. along the running surface - you will see that it is not an even curve- that's the bias; All the time the bowl is running fast it will stay upright and hardly deviate at all. But as soon as the bowl starts to slow down the centrifugal forces, which held it upright, start to dissipate and the bowl starts to tilt and begins to turn. It is the contours of the running surface which determine how much bias is present. If a bowl is delivered so that it wobbles this tends to delay the bias taking effect."
English Short Mat Bowling Association
Take a look at this web site if you want to know more about the rules and also the possibility of starting a club. <a href = "http://www.esmba.co.uk" >English Shortmat Bowling Association.</a>
The mat with two woods waiting to play
See below for great gifts for the bowler in your family. Brought to you only by Liz Mackay and Zazzle.
A bowling poem
Let's all play bowls
It will be fun.
You go first,
Let that wood run.
Now my turn,
Oh no, I hear a click,
It's hit the block.
Doesn't it make you sick.
Take it off quick.
I've been playing ten years,
You would think I could get it right.
Your turn again,
Look you've touched the jack.
I can see you're
Going to put up a good fight.
Now me again
I send it back-hand.
I've taken the jack,
Did you see me land?
We were the leads,
Our turns for this end are over.
Let's watch the seconds.
That's right off the side,
A right little rover.
The next is a good back wood,
Waiting to see,
If someone can knock the jack right back.
Who will it be?
The next wood is too heavy
And lands in the ditch.
The next hits the wood on the jack
and flicks it
Right to the one at the back
Now it's the turn of the skips
So we change ends.
These two are so clever,
They can make their woods go around bends.
But they aren't too scintillating,
Nothing changes much.
One even hit the block,
A disappointing touch.
Now that's the end finished
My side has won.
Just nine more ends
And we will have done.
It's fun to play
With luck and skill.
These two combined
For good or ill.
The social side
Short mat bowls clubs are full of interesting people
Short mat bowls is great fun to play, can be played by beginners, but also requires great skill to play it well. However there is a social side to it. Much older people might only want two or three games in an evening, then they can sit out and enjoy a good natter. Also clubs will organize a tournament where players from other clubs will come in for a day's play. There will be too many teams to play all at once so again we can get on with the good work of making friends. Another good thing happens on these days. Each team pays to enter and the money raised from that and from selling food, and draw tickets, goes to a charity. So we all have a good time, play some bowls and make some money for charity. What could be better.
You always meet nice people at bowls because it is a game where sometimes you can't get anything right, so you have to be prepared to make a fool of yourself. Only nice people can cope with that.
It is also fantastically cheap. Our club charges 1 GBP for an evening's play !! There are special clothes to wear for competitions but you don't need these at first. Also a set of four woods new will be around 100GBP but the club loans woods out to beginners. Then when you want some you can often pick them up second hand for about 50 GBP. They will last you a lifetime.
This wood has hit the block and will be removed from play
This wood is a toucher and stays where it is even though it is over the ditch line - It has touched the jack and been marked with chalk
Some more rules about touchers
If the toucher is straddling the ditch line as in the picture above, it can be moved by any wood. However if the toucher is completely in the ditch it can only be moved by another toucher. This is why we put a chalk mark around the toucher and the jack when they are completely in the ditch, so that we can replace them correctly if they are moved by a non toucher. Many of these rules are best learnt while playing the game. If the jack is in the ditch it is said to be dead. If the jack is straddling the ditch line you can still hit it and move it with your wood. That wood will than be a toucher. If the jack is still live and a wood just passes it but rolls back onto it it is also a toucher. Because of this the wood should not be removed until it has come to rest. Similarly a wood should not be removed as it goes over the ditch line as the bias may make it roll back away from the ditch line keeping it in play. When the jack is in the ditch you need to see if you have any touchers which you can knock up to be near the jack in the ditch. As I said earlier the rules of short mat bowls are best learnt by playing the game with someone more experienced than yourself.
Toucher or Not ?
I was involved in an interesting situation recently. The jack was live but partly over the ditch line. My partner bowled. The wood came up, crossed the ditch line, but then curved over and rested on the jack. I had come across this situation before and believed that the wood was indeed a toucher and therefore the holding wood. The umpire didn't seem to know this situation. Also going against protocal the players sitting out were shouting that it was out. It wasn't an important match so I backed down. Later I checked the rule book and found that I had been right. I could say we lost anyway so it didn't matter, but no one can tell how the game would have proceeded if we had gained that point. After all bowls is often a very psychological game.
The bowler is standing correctly with one foot on the mat - He is bowling back hand to the left of the block
Holding the wood with fingers underneath and thumb on top
Foot faulting. The foot is over the line - If the foot stays here the wood will not be allowed
Foot faulting. The foot is not completely on the mat
In the above pictures you can see that a wood has a large circle on one side and a small one on the other. The small circle is where the bias is and the wood will pull in this direction partway down the mat. This means that to stay on the mat it must be bowled with the large circle facing the edge of the mat, otherwise it will pull off the mat, and everyone will shout "wrong bias" as bowlers love to tease each other. Some woods pull over more than others. If you want to bowl the other side of the mat, back hand, you have to turn the wood around.
Shoes and bowls
For indoor bowling on a mat you need perfectly flat, smooth shoes. Nothing else will do or the mat will get damaged. You van find shoes and bowls at this site Bond bowls You have to have the right gear. Bowls come in different sizes and weights so it would be good to join a club and try some out before laying out a lot of money. At first you will probably only need two woods and it is possible to get a second-hand set. a set of four new woods can cost anything from Â£160 upwards. I bought my set of second-hand ones for Â£30, but that was ten years ago so Â£50-Â£80 would be more like it now.
Mats vary, some are fast and some slow. This all adds variety. On a slow mat you have to use more weight in order to arrive at the head. You have to be very careful not to use too much weight on a fast mat.
Some mats are very tricky because they swing over instead of playing straight. This is not really the mat doing this but the floor underneath. Our club has a wooden floor and it is the uneveness in this which makes it swing. Again this adds variety.
The game of short mat bowls was invented so that it could be used in small village halls. Once you have bought your bowls and mats there is little expense after that. You need storage space and the mats need to be rolled up on a special frame to keep them safe and tidy till needed.
If you are seriously interested in the game and it is not known in your part of the world the English short mat bowling association would be glad to help. I have given their website above.
So many sports to choose from
What is your favourite sport?
It's fun to have competitions
Throughout the year in our bowling club we have all sorts of competitions. Then at the end of the year we present trophies to the winners and runners up. We have a singles competition where one person plays against one person using four woods. We have pairs competitions, men's pairs, ladies pairs and mixed pairs. We also have seeded pairs where an experienced players has a less experienced partner. Some competitions are played on our usual club night and some at other times when the hall is available. It is all great fun and encourages the players to be a little more competitive. We have a special competition which can result in a fairly inexperienced player winning. In this competition we play triples. the teams are chosen at random. Each players name is written down and whatever their team scored in shots during the game is written beside their name. The next week another game is played, again choosing the teams at random. The scores are written down in the same way. This happens for four weeks and then each player's three highest scores is taken and the one with the highest score overall is the winner. An inexperienced player who has had the luck to be chosen with experienced players has a good chance of winning. Take a look at the following pictures to see some winners and their trophies.
A Score Card
How To Use a Score Card
Let's work our way down the score card from the top. First we see that it is for bowling. There are two teams, as indeed there always are in bowls. One team I have called green and the other blue, but usually there would be the name of each club, usually a location name such as a village or town. The rink or mat number comes next and across from that the date. This mythical game takes place in 2020.
Next come the names of the players in each team. This is a game of triples and so there are three players on each team. Bill and Fred are playing lead on opposite teams. Gwen and Tom are second and Mary and Glenys are skip, as three is always skip in triples.
Now we get to the game. When the first end is over blue team have two woods closer to the jack than the green team, so 2 is put in for shots under their names and 2 for total. Green have no shots and a total of nil. In the second end green team have one shot, so 1 is put under shots and 1 under total. Blue team have no shots but are still one ahead. In the third end green team have 3 shots, making a total of 4. Blue are still on 2 . I'm sure you have got the picture now. After a good fight the blue team win the game 9-7. This was a game of eight ends. This is a popular length as is ten ends. The length of game is decided by the time you have to play and the chance to get several games played in a particular time span.
What a lovely lot of trophies
Dolly receives the singles trophy from the President of the club
Didn't they do well? Joyce and Dolly
There are bowling holidays for the beginner and holidays for the experts too. Here is one place you can find bowling holidays Langstone Hotel in Devon.
A Happy Bowls Club
The bowls club I attend is a very happy one. We meet for two-and-a-half hours on a Monday morning and two-and-a-half hours on a Thursday afternoon. We have three mats so are able to cater for 24 players, playing fours, or triples if not so many turn up. We have a tea break halfway through the session and then change mats to give us chance to get to know all the mats in time. We try to combine a happy social time with also a competitive spirit which requires concentration. We compete in a local league and last year one of our teams was moved up a division. We are very pleased with our progress as the club has only been in existence for five years. Each year just after Christmas we have a meal out together.
Friendlies and tournaments
It is good to mix with people from other clubs. You can have friendlies where you go to another club to play, or they come to you. This adds to the sense of competition and encourages you to be a bit more competitive. Usually the home team will also provide refreshments, which adds to the sense of occasion. You learn from the different way other people play and pick up all sorts of tips. A score will be kept and at the end of the evening you will find out who has won.
Tournaments are also great fun and again increase your sense of competition. We manage to squeeze four mats into our hall on these occasions. Sixteen teams of four can play in this tournament. There will be eight teams on the mats at the the same time, one set of eight plays first and then the other set. The teams resting will have cups of tea and food. Everyone pays an entry fee and when costs are met, such as the hire of the hall, the remaining money will be given to a local charity. Recently it has gone to the Air ambulance and a cancer charity.
Lots of fun is had by all and at the end of the day there is a winning team and runners up who receive trophies to take home. We have to remember that the losing teams are the ones that make it all possible. Most losers are gracious. There is also a draw to raise more money. Numbered tickets are sold and prizes provided by the home club are numbered at random. If you have a winning number you gain the prize.
There is a great sense of cameraderie and much teasing about how the play has gone. Here again you learn much more than you would if you just played on club nights. If you do well you have to give house room to lots of trophies.
Today ( 9.02.13, if you're American that is 02.09.13) I went to a tournament, so I thought I would tell you all about it. There were 12 teams altogether and I will give you all of their quaint British names.
1. Beer Mariners.
2. Motley Crew
They were all in Group A
Here are Group B.
8. Bishops Nympton.
9. The Owls.
10. West Hill.
Each team played four other teams.. Group A started at 9.30 a.m. I was skip for Hemyock and first we played Broadclyst. We won by 9 - 2 shots. That was an encouraging game for us as we are not a very experienced team. At 10.30 Group B teams played one another whilst the rest of us enjoyed a cup of coffee and a chat. We played again at 11.30, 13.30 and 3.30. To score you are given 2 points for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a lose. We lost our other three games but it was fun doing it. Out of the twelve teams only one could win and one be runner up. But for a tournament to take place you need all the other players.
At lunch there was a ploughman's lunch with either cheese or ham and a sweet. You pay to enter and pay for the lunch but all the proceeds go to a charity. The charity today was Force, which is a cancer charity in our area.
I'm sure you will be interested to learn that Motley Crew one the tournament.