How Many Pins in Bowling?

How Many Pins in Bowling

It is common in a game of bowling to find ten pins to play. However, there are different numbers of pins that you can also play, which adds to the excitement of bowling matches. Along with the different number of bowling pins you can play games with, you can also play with different size balls called candlepins.


So, what is ten-pin bowling? What are nine pins and five-pin bowling? What’s duckpin bowling, and what exactly is candlepin bowling? Has anyone ever recorded a perfect game in duckpin or candlepin bowling?


Here is the breakdown of the number of pins in bowling and more.


Ten-Pin Bowling

Ten-Pin Bowling

As the name suggests, this game has ten bowling pins players must pursue knocking over. It was the most common type of bowling in the mid-twentieth century, but as time has passed, bowling alleys have looked to diversify the kind of games they offer customers. However, groups like the United States Bowling Congress, the PBA tour, and the AMF use the ten-pin bowling style.


The ball used in this type of game is also the biggest in any variation of bowling and comes with two or three-finger holes. This game has ten frames; you have two tries per frame unless you score a strike on the first try.


Nine-Pin Bowling

Nine-Pin Bowling

You will find the nine-pin bowling game mostly in European nations. With this setup, players will use a smaller bowl to toss at the pins and operate in teams instead of individually. There are nine pins arranged in a diamond shape instead of a triangular formation, with one pin in the center red, commonly known as the red pin, compared to the other white pins.


The game structures with teams work as such; the first player will throw the first ball and attempt to knock down as many pins as possible; if there are any remaining pins, then the next bowler will come with the second ball and try to knock down the remaining pins. This process continues until all pins get taken down, and only when all pins get taken down are they reset by the pinsetter. In this game, you have six frames with two attempts per frame. The only difference from the 10-pin bowling version is that you only have two attempts, even if you score a strike on the first shot.


Regarding the scoring system, if a player can knock down all pins, they receive nine points. However, if they knock down all pins except the red pin, they get 12 points. This nine-pin format was the most popular form of bowling in the U.S. until the early 20th century.


Five-Pin Bowling

Five-Pin Bowling

Five-pin is the most popular bowling format in Canada. The game was first designed in Canada in 1909. The balls used in this game are also generally small and do not have finger holes.


This game has ten frames, but you have three attempts per frame, unlike two in regular ten-pin bowling. The games aim for you to hit the center pin, considered the headpin, for five points and then get all the other pins to fall as a result of hitting the first pin to earn 15 points. Opposite to the typical triangular formation, the pins in this game get positioned in a V shape.


Typically you would use this game for children to get them into the sport. It is simpler and allows for room to grow to the next level, but also adults can find bowling alleys that offer 5-pin bowling, and it can be just as fun for them as the kids.


Duckpin Bowling

Duckpin Bowling

Duckpin bowling involves the most miniature pins of any game but retains a similar shape to those in 10-pin bowling games. It uses the same bowling ball found in candlepin as far as ball weight is concerned and has ten frames with three tries per frame. Duckpin, on the surface, comes off as a more accessible game to score a strike and a perfect game.


However, one interesting note about duckpin bowling is there is no official record of a perfect game.


Candlepin Bowling

Candlepin Bowling

Candlepin bowling is a popular form of bowling in the northeast of America. Like duckpin bowling, you will be using the smallest bowling ball of any of the games, and the pins will be shaped like cylinders and are known to be tough to bring down. Like in nine-pin bowling, fallen pins are not removed before the next frame, which adds a certain level of difficulty to the game.


Also, a perfect game has never been recorded during a candlepin match. This game has ten frames (typically called boxes), and you have three turns per frame.


Conclusion: How Many Pins in Bowling

Where you live will determine which version of bowling you will play the most. For example, most bowling centers, tournaments, and professional bowlers in America will have ten-pin bowling. However, if you go to Europe or Canada, you may be exposed to five, or nine-pin bowling more often.


Each game presents there own layer of difficulty, but no matter the number of pins, the game is always fun. The main difference is the number of pins, size, bowling balls, and bowling score. Interestingly, there has never been an official perfect game in Duckpin or Candlepin bowling.


Even with a game of ten-pin being the most common, you can still have equal fun with the other games. Bowling is about strategy and fun, and each of these games offers a degree of that. Be sure to try each version to see what works best for you!


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