Perfect game (bowling)
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A perfect game is the highest score possible in a game of bowling, achieved by rolling a strike during every frame. In bowling games that use 10 pins, such as ten-pin bowling, candlepin bowling, and duckpin bowling, the highest possible score is 300, achieved by bowling 12 strikes in a row in a single game: one strike in each of the first nine frames, and three more in the tenth frame. Because a strike counts as ten pins plus any pinfall in the next two balls, 30 points are possible in a given frame.
In five-pin bowling, the highest possible score is 450, as a strike is worth 15 pins. It is rare to bowl or witness one. The Canadian Five Pin Bowlers Association approves from 10 to 40 perfect games per year.
||The examples and perspective in this section deal primarily with USA and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (June 2013)|
Before a 300 game is recognized by the certifying body of the league or tournament, a series of tests are conducted by the local or regional bowling association. First, the bowler and league (or tournament) must be in good standing with the organization. In earlier years, the bowling ball(s) used in the scoring was taken for testing (hardness, weighting, and other aspects that would otherwise break the organization's regulations). Also, the lanes used in the scoring were shut down after the last game of the day was completed. The official then used a tape reader to test the oil condition, to make sure it met the organization's regulations. The data was then sent to the certifying body, and the score received final certification or not a few days to a few weeks later.
There are cases where the tests do not meet regulation, and therefore the score is not recognized by the organization. However, the score still counts towards the league or tournament statistics. Modern recognition is much easier; lanes are no longer shut down, balls are no longer taken and inspected. The lanes are inspected once a year, and the ball's make and serial number (USBC only requires that the ball have an engraved serial number, they do not need the actual number) are taken by a league/tournament official and reported to the certifying organization.
In league or tournament play, a certified 300 game is usually commemorated with a ring. Subsequent league 300s are denoted by setting "chips" or precious stones into the ring, so that skilled bowlers don't have to wear several rings. The United States Bowling Congress (USBC) offers a "multiple" 300 ring for an additional fee that features the number of approved 300 games for that bowler surrounded by stones. The ring can be returned to have the number changed as the bowler rolls additional perfect games.
In casual or "open" play, a 300 game is not recognized officially by any certifying, professional, or other organization, but may be honored by other means within the bowling center, such as a "300 game" plaque, trophy or other prize.
Televised 300 games
A handful of 300 games have been broadcast on live TV. Grazio Castellano of Brooklyn, New York was the first to roll a 300 game on live television. This occurred on October 4, 1953 during an Eastern All-Star league session at Newark, New Jersey. (Castellano is a member of the United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame.) A more recent example of this came in October 2006, when England's Paul Moor became the first man to register a score of 300 in the Weber Cup (the first 300 on live British television), the annual Europe versus America team challenge event. Australian bowler Jason Belmonte became the first player to ever roll a 300 game in the televised finals of the World Tenpin Masters, defeating Moor in the 2007 event. Tommy Jones had shot a perfect game in each Weber Cup from 2007 to 2009.
Through February 2015, there have been 25 televised 300 games in title events on the PBA Tour, and two more on the Senior PBA Tour. The first 300 game in a televised PBA event was rolled by Jack Biondolillo in the opening match of the 1967 Firestone Tournament of Champions finals (broadcast by ABC). This was also the first nationally televised broadcast of a perfect game. The most recent in a U.S. telecast of a PBA Tour event was accomplished by Sean Rash in the second match of the 2015 Barbasol Tournament of Champions live finals (February 15, 2015 on ESPN). It was the PBA's 25th televised 300 game in an official PBA Tour event. Rash also rolled the PBA's 23rd 300 game, and is to date the only player with multiple televised perfect games in PBA Tour stops. Mika Koivuniemi narrowly missed joining this exclusive club. Having rolled the PBA's 16th televised perfect game in 2004, Mika shot a 299 game in the semifinals of the 2011 PBA Tournament of Champions.
Two other players have shot multiple 300 games on U.S. television, though one or both games was not rolled in an official PBA title event. In 2009, Wes Malott rolled two 300 games in an ESPN broadcast of the King of Bowling series. Though this event featured PBA players, it was not an official PBA Tour stop. Ryan Shafer, who earlier in his career tossed the PBA's 18th televised 300 in a PBA Tour event, threw his second televised 300 game in a singles match at the Geico PBA Team Shootout, a made-for-TV event broadcast on ESPN, July 2, 2011.
Female bowlers have also achieved perfection in front of a television audience. Ritsuko Nakayama of the Japan Professional Bowling Association became the first female to score a perfect game in front of a national television audience, doing so in Japan on August 21, 1970. Michelle Feldman of the Professional Women's Bowling Association (PWBA) became the first female to score a 300 on American national television, when she accomplished the feat in a 1997 Prime Sports broadcast. Cara Honeychurch and Liz Johnson bowled the second and third 300 games on American TV – both in PWBA events. Urara Himeji, Wendy Macpherson and Takiko Naganawa have rolled 300 games on Japanese national television – all during JPBA events.
Hannah Diem of Seminole, Florida, became the youngest bowler to achieve a perfect 300 game in a certified event on November 17, 2013 at the age of 9 years, 6 months and 19 days. The game was bowled as part of a 730 series (204, 226, 300) in the Youth/Adult League at Liberty Lanes Largo, Florida. The record has been approved by the United States Bowling Congress. The prior record was held by Chaz Dennis, 10 years, 3 months, 16 days, back in 2006. The prior female record holder was set back by Brandie Reamy at the age of 12 years, 4 months, 11 days, also back in 2006.
Andy Varipapa 300
Andy Varipapa, a standout bowler from the 1930s and 1940s, joked about a 300 game being twelve strikes in a row spanning two games. Hence, the very result is named after the veteran bowler.
A 900 series, a three-game set with scores adding to 900, is a more difficult feat to achieve than bowling a single perfect game because it requires more consistency and careful attention to the subtle changes in the lane conditions from game to game. The first six 900 series reported, starting with PBA Hall of Famer Glenn Allison's in 1982, were all rejected by the USBC for various reasons – mostly due to improper lane conditions. Finally, in 1997, an officially certified 900 series was bowled by collegiate bowler Jeremy Sonnenfeld, rolled at Sun Valley Lanes in Lincoln, Nebraska. It was the first 900 series approved by the USBC. Twelve perfect series were bowled in the ten-year period 1997-2008, and six were bowled in the two years 2009-2010. As of February 20, 2015, the USBC lists a total of 27 officially certified 900 series by 26 different bowlers.
The concept of a perfect bowling game has been regularly used in fiction for either suspenseful or comedic effect. For example:
- In a fourth season episode of Married... with Children, "Peggy Turns 300," Peggy bowls a perfect game immediately after Al breaks the record at their local alley.
- In one episode of The Flintstones, an invisible Barney helps Fred bowl a "perfect game" by knocking/kicking aside all the pins whenever Fred bowls the ball.
- In one episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Hal almost bowls a perfect game, but Malcolm accidentally gets caught in the pinsetter and is dropped onto the pins on the 12th roll. Although the computer claims that Hal bowled a perfect game (since Malcolm did knock all the pins over), the game is dismissed by the gathered crowd.
- In an episode of Hill Street Blues, the roll call sergeant had bowled a 300 game. After the bowling alley burned down, the sergeant was an arson suspect because his 300 was not league certified.
- In the 1998 movie The Big Lebowski, the character of Jesus Quintana (John Turturro) is seen wearing three perfect game rings.
- In The Simpsons episode "Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder", Homer bowls a perfect game in a parody of The Natural. Later, the baby Maggie also apparently bowls one.
- An episode of The Andy Griffith Show titled "Howard the Bowler" features a bowling match between Mayberry and neighboring Mt. Pilot. Howard is one strike away from a perfect game, only to have the lights go out due to a power overload. He has a day to think about it before he tries for the final strike. They make bets on him bowling a perfect game, and when he returns he gets two practice frames before making his final attempt. Both are gutter balls, so Andy gets the guys to relinquish the bets. With the pressure relieved, Howard makes the final strike for a perfect game.
- In a similar 2001 episode of the series According to Jim, Jim (James Belushi) bowls the first 11 strikes of a game when the power goes out at the bowling center. It is the day before Thanksgiving, and the proprietor tells Jim he cannot get credit for a 300 game (nor a photo on the center's "wall of fame") if he leaves and returns. Jim spends the night, and his wife, Cheryl (Courtney Thorne-Smith), surprises him by bringing Thanksgiving dinner to the bowling center while he waits for the power to return. Cheryl and Jim's family light the lane by placing candles in the gutters, and Jim rolls the final strike to complete the 300 game.
- In the episode "Bowling for Votes" of the series Parks and Recreation, Ron Swanson bowls a perfect game by rolling the ball with two hands from between his legs.
- Elliot John Crosby - UK's youngest 300 shooter
- Hannah Diem - US's youngest 300 shooter
- Golden Set in tennis
- Maximum break in snooker
- Nine dart finish in darts
- Perfect game in baseball
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- Thomas, Jason. "Geico PBA Team Shootout Provides Plenty of Fireworks." Article at www.pba.com on July 4, 2011.
- Ritsuko Nakayama on YouTube
- Feldman, Michelle. "Paying the price for ill-timed perfection...The Match I'll Never Forget." Bowling Digest, April, 2003.
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- Massachusetts bowler rolls 900 series
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