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How To Bowl A 200 Game, Originally Posted: 5/2/2012; Updated: 7/30/2023

If you wish to learn how to bowl a 200 game, then start by understanding a couple of key scoring system details. To follow the pattern by which most 200 game scores are recorded, you first must understand how bowling strikes and spares affect scoring. Next, understanding how to bowl a 200 game entails how many spares and strikes are needed to achieve the goal of a 200 game score so you can more easily visualize yourself attaining that goal.

In the day of automatic scorers recording open bowling scores, league scores, and tournament or special event scoring, it is surprising how many bowlers, including newcomers to the game, do not understand the principles of scoring. Let's examine the keys of the global bowling scoring system, strikes and spares:

Strike - A strike is when you knock down all ten pins on your first delivery of a given frame. A strike earns 10 points plus the sum of your next two deliveries.

Spare - A spare is when you knock down all ten pins on two deliveries in a given frame. A spare earns 10 points plus the sum of your next one delivery.

Open Frame - If you fail to knock down all ten pins using both deliveries as a maximum allocated per frame (9 pins or fewer), you have an open frame. An open frame earns only the number of pins knocked down in a given frame for the two deliveries. A "split" refers to a combination of pins left standing wider apart then the diameter of a bowling ball. A "split" occurs on the first ball delivery of any given frame which may or may not be converted as a spare and therefore becomes an open frame.

The 10th Frame - If you roll a strike on the first delivery of the 10th frame, you receive two more deliveries. If you roll a spare on the first two deliveries of the 10th frame, you receive one more delivery. If you leave the 10th frame open after two deliveries, the game is completed and no additional deliveries are awarded. The score for the 10th frame is the total number of pins knocked down in the 10th frame.

Scoring Bullets - A strike followed by a spare equals 20 points in a frame. A spare followed by a strike equals 20 points in a frame. The maximum score in one frame is 30 points and is achieved by delivering three consecutive strikes.

Remember, when you arrive at the 10th frame, the score is the total number of pins knocked down. If you get a strike and a spare in the 10th frame as yet another example, you add a total of 20 points to the score recorded in the 9th frame and that will be your final game score.

A 200 game score may be accomplished by bowling only two strikes during an entire game. If a bowler gets all nine pin counts followed by converting the spares with one "double" in the first eleven frames (two consecutive strikes), then the score would be equal to or greater than 200. This is a guaranteed way of rolling a 200 plus score.

Another way of bowling a 200 score is to cover any open frame with a combination of two doubles or one "triple" (three consecutive strikes during the first eleven frames) and by getting mostly nine pin counts with the spare conversions in non-strike frames.

As a rule of thumb, for every open frame recorded, you must get a minimum of a double to cover-up the loss in scoring from the open frame.

Maintaining good pin count on the first bowling ball delivery when not rolling a strike is also essential to attaining a 200 game score.

If too many smaller pin counts on first ball deliveries, such as 6 or 7 pins, are recorded, you may need to record an additional double if no open frames are recorded.

The old term of "Dutch 200" refers to a 200 game score where no doubles or triples (or higher strings of strikes) are recorded. The "Dutch 200" game consists of alternating spares and strikes in consecutive frames, including in the tenth and eleventh frames. The score adds up each advancing frame by exactly 20 pins per frame for the ten frames of recorded scoring yielding the 200 game score.

No games higher than 200 even score may be attained unless strikes are strung together in multiples of two or greater and based upon filling each frame with spares and good first-ball pin counts.

It certainly is a major help to understand the scoring system in bowling so you can monitor each game you bowl frame-by-frame and know precisely how many strikes and/or spares are needed to achieve the goal of a 200 game or better.

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