(also known as Lawn Bowls or Bowls) is a precision sport where the goal is to roll slightly radially asymmetrical ‘bowls’ closer to a smaller white ball (the “jack”) than one’s opponent is able to do. This game is most popular in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and other UK territories.
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The game is usually played on a large, rectangular, precisely leveled and manicured grass or synthetic surface known as a bowling green, but an indoor variation on carpet is also played. In the simplest competition, singles, one of the two opponents begins a segment of the competition (in bowling parlance, an “end”), by placing the mat and rolling the jack to the other end of the green as a target. Once it has come to rest, the players take turns rolling their bowls from the mat towards the jack and thereby building the “head”. Bowls reaching the ditch are dead and removed from play, except in the event when one has “touched” the jack on its way. “Touchers” are marked with chalk and remain alive in play even though they are in the ditch. Similarly if the jack is knocked into the ditch it is still alive unless it is out of bounds to the side resulting in a “dead” end which is replayed. After each competitor has delivered all of their bowls (four each in singles), the distance of the closest bowls to the jack is determined and points are awarded for each bowl which a competitor has that is closer than the opponent’s nearest to the jack. For instance, if a competitor has bowled two bowls closer to the jack than their competitor’s nearest, they are awarded two points. The exercise is then repeated for the next end.
Scoring systems vary from competition to competition, with some being the first to a specified number of points, say 21, or the highest scorer after say, 21 ends. Some competitions use a “set” scoring system, with the first to seven points awarded a set in a best-of-five set match. As well as singles competition, there can be pairs, triples and four-player teams. In these, teams take turns to bowl, with each player within a team bowling all their bowls, then handing over to the next player. The team captain or “skipper” always plays last and is instrumental in directing his team’s shots and tactics.