The Objective of the Game
The object of the game is to deliver bowls closer to the jack (the small white ball) than your opponent to earn the right to score points. The player or team with the closest bowl to the jack earns one point, or “shot,” for each bowl closer to the jack than the nearest opponent bowl.
There are three game formats:
SHOTS – In this format, a game point is predetermined. In the Singles championship play it’s 21 points. As scoring bowls are called “shots,” the first player to attain 21 shots is the winner of the game.
ENDS – In this format, a game is comprised of a predetermined number of ends, ranging from 15 to 21. The team with the most points after playing the predetermined number of ends is the winner of the game.
TIME – In this format, a game is played for a predetermined period of time. The team with the most points at the end of this time period is the winner of the game.
Singles, Teams and Sides
Bowls are played between opponents in various arrangements, including Singles, Teams and Sides.
SINGLES – This is a game between two players, each playing two, three or four bowls singly and alternately. In championship matches, the first player to earn 21 points is the winner.
TEAMS – Teams may be comprised of two, three or four players.
Pairs – This is a game between two teams comprised of two players each. In championship matches, a Pairs game is 21 ends, four bowls per player, played alternately.
Triples – This is a game between two teams comprised of three players each. In championship matches, a Triples game is 18 ends, three bowls per player, played alternately.
Fours – This is a game between two teams comprised of four players each: Lead, Second, Third and Skip. In championship matches, a Fours game is 21 ends, two bowls per player, played alternately. Fours Play is the basis of the game of bowls.
SIDES – This is a match between any agreed number of teams and/or singles players, whose combined scores determine the results of the match.
The green is the rectangular playing surface bounded by a ditch and divided into playing areas called rinks.
A rink is comprised of several features:
A rink is terminated at each end by a ditch. The front ditch is at the far end, and the rear ditch is behind the mat. Both ditches are within the boundaries of the rink. A bowl falling into the front ditch is considered “dead” unless it first touches the jack before falling into the ditch — in which case it’s called a “toucher” and remains in play.
A defined area beyond the ditch is called the bank. The face of the bank rises higher than the level of the green and facilitates markers that indicate the centre and sidelines of each rink.
Sidelines are not marked on the rink but are indicated by markers on the face of the bank. Bowls that travel beyond the sideline but curve back in are still in play.
The mat is placed on the centre line of the rink by the lead bowler of each end. One foot of the bowler must be on the mat when delivering the bowl or jack. A second mat is used at the other end of the rink for the return end.
The jack, the small white ball, is delivered first, to establish the target.
A coin is flipped to determine which player/team delivers the jack to start the game. The winner of the previous end delivers the jack to start the next end.
Once in play, the jack may be knocked by a bowl to a new position.
Okay, let’s have some fun! Simply click on the underlined words to see the animations on our virtual rink . . .
Delivering the Jack
First, the jack must be properly delivered.
Then it must be centred at that distance.
If it’s a long delivery — within 2m of the front ditch — the jack must be spotted on the centre line at a point 2m from the ditch.
Spot the jack.
Improper Delivery of the Jack
If the jack is not properly delivered it must be returned and given to the opposing team to deliver. Following are examples of a jack improperly delivered:
When the jack is delivered less than 23m from the mat
When the jack is delivered too long and falls into the front ditch
When the jack is delivered outside the side boundary of the rink
If both teams fail to deliver the jack properly, it’s spotted on the centre line at a point 2m from the front ditch.
Regardless of who delivers the jack, the winner of the previous end remains the lead bowler.
Which Bowls to use?