Crown green bowls
|Highest governing body||British Crown Green Bowling Association (BCGBA)|
|Nicknames||Crown green, Crown|
|First played||1888 (first governing body)|
|Team members||Single competitors or pairs.|
|Equipment||Players use two woods each, a jack, and a portable mat.|
|Country or region||Midlands, North of England, Isle of Man and North Wales.|
Crown green bowls (or crown green) is a code of bowls played outdoors on a grass or artificial turf surface known as a bowling green.The sport's name is derived from the intentionally convex or uneven nature of the bowling green which is traditionally formed with a raised centre known as the crown.
The aim of crown green bowls is to roll a set of two bowls from the hand towards a smaller target bowl known as the jack. Rolling the bowl or jack is known as the delivery. When delivering a bowl or jack, the player must place one foot on a mat to ensure that all bowls and jack are sent from the same spot.
A full game comprises a number of ends. An end is where the jack is rolled first. The player sending the jack can choose to deliver it wherever they like on the bowling green. This ability to bowl an end in any direction is a unique feature of crown green bowls. Players then take it in turns to roll each of their bowls towards the jack. An end finishes when all bowls have been delivered. At the amateur level it is usual for several ends to be played simultaneously on one green. If two moving woods meet, both are taken back and the shots replayed. If a moving wood strikes a stationary wood or jack from another end, it is again taken back and replayed, but the bowl struck is replaced where contact took place.
The aim of an end is for a player to finish with their own bowls closer to the jack than those of the opponent. For each bowl that is closer than those of the opponent, a player scores one point. Each player usually has two bowls allowing a maximum of two points on each end. A score of one or two is denoted to the two markers (one from each team, in a team match)by raising one or two hands. The winner of the end delivers the jack in the next end.
Competitive games are usually held between two people with the winner being the first person to accumulate 21 points. An unlimited number of ends are played until someone wins. Variations exist where players can have more than two bowls, games are played to 31 points or more, or players form teams of two or more players.
Crown green bowls is played on a specially prepared short-cut smooth grass surface known as a bowling green or simply the green. The green usually has a raised centre known as the crown which can often be as high as 30 centimetres above the edge of the green. The green has a ditch around the edge, and slopes on all sides from the crown towards the ditch. Greens are usually rectangular or square, but L-shaped and circular greens also exist. The surfaces also often feature ridges, hollows and slopes to make the game more difficult. Due to this vast array of historical differences, no rules stipulating the shape, size or height of the crown are laid down by the British Crown Green Bowls Association.
In crown green bowls, players use two bowls each. Bowls are also commonly known as woods. There are no requirement for official markings on the bowls although manufacturers branding and the weight of the bowls is common. Players often have their initials marked on one side, or use stickers to identify their Bowls. One side of the bowl has an indent or dimple allowing the player to identify by touch which side of the bowl has the bias.
Crown green bowls come in a variety of bias strengths, weights, densities, sizes, materials and colours. The minimum weight is 2 lb but there is no maximum weight.
Bowls are referred to and sold by their weight, and are available from 2 lb 0 oz to 2 lb 14 oz, in 1 oz increments. They were traditionally made from lignum vitae wood but are now manufactured from a composite plastic. Wooden bowls have a variable density throughout their core due to the nature of wood. Plastic bowls have a consistent and regular density throughout and manufacturers can produce bowls in different densities generally known as standard, low density and high density. This means that a smaller bowl with a higher density can be the same weight as a larger bowl with a lighter density.
There are two ways of delivering a bowl: with or against the bias. Sending a bowl with the thumb on the biased side is known as thumb peg and sending a bowl with the thumb on the non-biased side is known as finger peg. The different pegs determine in which direction the bowl will go. A player delivering the jack is expected to declare which peg is used, but a player delivering a subsequent wood is not.
The jack, also commonly known as the block, is a smaller version of the bowls used by each player in a game of crown green bowls and also contains a bias. There are written specifications determining the size, weight and bias strength of jacks. To be able to be used in an official British Crown Green Bowls Association recognised league match or competition, jacks must be black, white or yellow. Other colours are available for use in practice.
Jacks have different markings on each side. On one side there is a single circle with the manufacturer's name and other official lettering. This side of the jack is the side with the bias. The other side has a single circle surrounded by three solid dots or smaller circles indicating the non-bias side. Official jacks must also be stamped with an approved date stamp every seven years to comply with the rules. Jacks measure 9.5 cm (3 & 3/4 inches) in diameter and weigh about 660 grams (1 lb 7 oz).
The mat is also known as the footer. It is usually black and has a textured top surface to help with grip. It a simple rubber circular mat measuring 14 cm (4.5 inches) in diameter, and around 0.5 cm (1/8th of an inch) in thickness. When delivering a jack or bowl, the player must place their non-leading foot on the mat.
Common terms or phrases
- Being 'on' - meaning that your bowl is closest to the jack, and therefore currently scoring. Players often call "Am I on?" to teammates positioned near the bowls, to check for them.
- The block - another name for the jack.
- "No more twos!" (or "No more!") - called out by a team mate marker of a game when the opponent has a score of 19 (or 20), denoting that the player shouldn't concede another 2 shots or they'll lose.
- Being 'across' - Use to describe two players on currently equal score. "They're ten across" means both players have ten so far.
- "No damage!" - called by a team mate observer, indicating that the player should be careful not to knock on their own or other bowls, for fear of upsetting a bowl of theirs that is currently due to score one point.
- "Jack up!" - called if another game's jack stops moving and is in the way of play, indicating that it should be sent back to be sent again.
- "Land!" - called out to indicate to other players on the green that they are in the way of a running bowl, or are in the way of an intended direction of play. If you hear this during a game, look around sharpish or risk getting a bowl to your foot.
- Land - the direction or angle that the bowl is being played.
- Weight - the amount of force that is put into sending the bowl. A perfect bowl must be sent on the correct land, with enough weight. Sometimes referred to as 'pace'.
- Heavy - used to describe a green that is damp, or is otherwise running very slowly.
- Quick / fast - used to denote the opposite, a green that is running faster, often due to dry weather or very short grass. The fall of shadow across an evening green can be enough to change it from fast to heavy.
- Being short - coming up short of the jack i.e. you needed to give it more weight.
- A mark - used to describe the effective sending out of the jack as per the rules (ending at least 19 metres away). Sending the jack very far is referred to as a long mark and vice versa a short mark.
- "Measures!" - called by a player to request that someone from each team come out with a measure to check the proximity of bowls to the jack at an end.
- "Long tapes!" - called to request that two people come out to check that a jack has been sent at least 19 metres.
- Potted Meat - When the running bowl stops short of the Jack.
- "Bowled" - shortening of 'Well bowled' - a good thing to hear!
- Tomlinson, Alan (2010). A dictionary of sports studies (1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 133. ISBN 9780199213818.
- Mills, Chris (1983). Winning bowls : an introduction to crown green bowls. London: Foulsham. ISBN 9780572012199.
- Clapson, Mark (1992). A bit of a flutter : popular gambling and English society, c.1823-1961. Manchester: Manchester Univ. Press. p. Chapter V. ISBN 9780719034367.
- Jackson, Brian (1998). Working class community some general notions raised by a series of studies in northern England. London: Routledge. p. 100. ISBN 9781136246340.
- Barratt, Harry (1989). Crown green bowls : the skills of the game. Marlborough: Crowood. ISBN 1852232986.
- Weekes, Barry (1988). Bowls, crown & flat green. London: Ward Lock. p. 20. ISBN 0706366603.
- British Crown Green Bowls Association : Laws of the Game | http://crowngreenbowls.sharepoint.com/Pages/LawsoftheGame.aspx Archived 2012-04-27 at the Wayback Machine