Monday, September 17, 2007

Bowling Point Systems - Who's Winning?

Another thing that differs from league to league is how they handle wins and losses. You might hear that a league uses an "eight point system" or "seven point system" or a "match point system". You'll DEFINTELY hear people asking each other "How many polints did you take tonight?"

The 7 and 8 point systems are the easiest. For each game, whichever team has the highest total handicap score for their players gets two points. Why two? Because it's easier to deal with in the case of a tie - then each team gets one point. So, three games times two possible points equals six. The last one or two points comes from whichever team has the highest total handicap score for the night. Rankings in the leagues are based upon cumulative points over the season.

That might be easy to calculate but it can be insanely frustrating when one of your bowlers has just had one of their best games ever, or even an entire night of bowling WAY over average to discover that the team took few or even NO points! In 100% handicap leagues this can happen if one team is "giving pins" to the other because of a handicap inbalance (all low average bowlers on one team versus higher-average bowlers on the other). If the low average team has an "OK-to-good" night they could collectively swamp higher-average bowlers who are bowling at or just above average, even if one team member has a great game. Hmmmmm.

The other system - match points - is a LOT more complicated but really makes things more competitive and rewarding. In this case the line-up of bowlers on each team is more important because now you're both playing as part of a team and are also competing against someone on the opposing team directly: player one vs. player one, two vs. two and so on.

For each game, a point is awarded to each team member who beats the person "across" from him/her in the roster. Usually the rosters are ordered in increasing average, though some leagues let team captains adjust the order themselves. Like the 7 and 8 point systems, points are also awarded to the team as a whole for each game. At the end of the night, individual totals are compared as well as team totals. The number of total points varies from league to league depending on how many points are assigned for each of these things, but usually it's one point for each player vs. player for each game, one for player vs. player overall, two points for team game, and two or three points for team overall.

So, for a three-person team that would be 3 people x 3 games + 3 people overall + 2 points x 3 team games + (say) 3 team overall = 9 + 3 + 6 + 3 = 21 points for the night. Similarly a 4-person team would have 12 + 4 + 6 + 3 = 25 points for the night. The effect of this more-complicated system is that it's MUCH more difficult for one team to walk away with all of the points on a night. So, while the newbie team vs. the old timers might go 8-0 for the newbies if they have a good night, in a match point system good individual games will tend to "win back" points making that 8-0 win into a 16-5 or 14-7 win. This also has the effect of making the rankings TIGHTER - so that the teams up at the top of the rankings are so far away that no one can catch them.

This past summer I was in a PBA Experience league, and at the end of the season was in 4th place. In the last week, we played the position round against the 3rd place team, captained by my coach. It was a match point league, and as it ended up, I was playing against my own coach! We had a great night (well, my team did), I beat my coach 4-0 for individual points, and we ended up jumping over third place to 2nd to finish the league! In a more conventional point system we could've found ourselves locked out of 2nd place or even 3rd.

So once you have your bowling "feet wet" and might be shopping for a league, make sure to find out what point system they use. The more complicated ones might sound scary and confusing, but they'll also give you more opportunities to score some memorable victories!

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