Short mat bowls
Short mat bowls is an indoor sport in which players attempt to score points by rolling a heavy ball along a fairly flat surface, to gain as many shots as possible by getting their bowls nearer to the jack than their opponents, and so outscore them. The game is a modern variation on lawn bowls, from which the game is derived.
- 1 Venues
- 2 Equipment
- 3 How the game is played
- 4 History
- 5 British Isles Championships
- 6 World Short Mat Bowls Council Championships
- 7 Short Mat Players Tour
- 8 International Short Mat Open
- 9 St Georges Cup - (North v South)
- 10 English Inter County Championship
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Short mat bowls is played indoors, so it is an all-year sport that is not affected by weather conditions. Because the equipment is transportable and easy to set up, it is particularly appropriate for locations that are also used for other purposes such as village halls, schools, and sports and social clubs; it is even played on North Sea oil rigs.
The ESMBA specify a rink mat length of 40–45 ft (12–14 m) with a width of 6 ft (1.8 m). The mat is foam or rubber-backed, and has the required lines permanently marked. A wooden fender is placed at both ends to keep the bowls from rolling off the mat. A block sits in the middle of the mat; players have to avoid having their bowls hit the block on their way down the mat. The 'jack' is the target that sits near the end of the mat.
As opposed to its counterparts, short mat uses a super-heavyweight jack that weighs approximately 900 g (32 oz), whereas, indoor bowls use 382–453 g (13.5–16.0 oz), and long mat (Grass) between 225–285 g (7.9–10.1 oz) 
Length Of Play
As with most variants of bowls, short mat bowls has a variable length of play. In traditional games such as crown green bowls and indoor bowls, winning lead players have the opportunity to throw the jack to the length they wish to play the next end from. In short mat bowls; the game has been simplified, to allowing the winning skip to simply place the jack on a 'jack line'; to determine the length of the next end.
How the game is played
Short mat bowls is very similar to lawn bowls in that the object is for each player, or team, to take turns rolling bowls (balls) down a mat in an attempt to get as many of the bowls as possible closer to the target (the 'jack') than the opponent. The main difference is in the size of the playing area and the presence of the block midway down the rink mat. The presence of the block prevents players from knocking their opponents' bowls away from the jack by sheer force; players are required to use the natural bias of the bowls to maneuver around the block. Any bowls that touch the block, or land in the ditch or dead area, are dead and are removed before the next bowl. The skill in playing short mat bowls comes from the bias of the ball and the inconsistent playing surface; both the performance of the rink mat and the floor surface can vary between matches in different venues. A general description of different bowls games, including short mat bowls, is maintained at bowls.org.uk.
The origin of the short mat bowls game is uncertain, but one story is that it was first played in Wales by two South Africans who came to work in the area. They had played bowls outdoors in South Africa and, perhaps due to the poor climate and the long close season in Wales, they began to play a simulation of the outdoor game on a strip of carpet in a church hall. Some time later, they moved to Northern Ireland and took the new game with them. Rules and conditions of play were drawn up and the game soon became well established in the Province. It was introduced into England by Irish expatriates, but development was slow until the 1980s when its potential as a low cost sport for people of all ages was realised.
The English Short Mat Bowling Association (ESMBA) was formed in 1984, and is now the governing body of the sport in England. The sport is administered in England at two levels, the ESMBA oversee administration of the National Championships and Inter County Championships in addition to running the National Squad. At a more local level, 37 County Associations arrange a series of League, One Day and Knockout competitions within their own geographical area.
In 2009, the ESMBA launched a new National Club Championship event, the event featuring teams competing in all-four disciplines (Singles, Pairs, Triples & Fours), with all members being from the same club team. The Final's Day was played at Rugby Thornfield with Kirby Bedon of Norfolk beating Warren Heath of Essex in the final. In 2010, Donnington of Cambridgeshire were the winners followed by Bob Carter of Norfolk in 2011. In 2012, the title was won by a side outside East Anglia for the first time when Cheshire's Morley Green lifted the title. The latest figures show 18,337 ESMBA registered members for the 2016/17 season. The ESMBA rules of the game are followed by the affiliated clubs and also by most others. Most clubs arrange competitions among their own members as well as allowing time for those not wishing to take part in competitions to enjoy informal bowling.
British Isles Championships
Each year, winners of the national championships of each of the home nations (Although Ireland are usually represented as one country), along with a team selected by their governing body compete in the British Isles Championships. Despite being open to entry to all competition, the Isle of Man generally only competes in the singles competition. The winner is traditionally decided in a round-robin format, with the winner being the team with the most points, and shot difference.
The team competition for the British Isles championship is sixteen against sixteen; known as rinks. Each team deploys four teams of four over four mats, and the winning team is the one with the most combined shots over every mat. Although traditionally frowned upon, it is possible for players in the 'individual' disciplines, to also play in the team event. In this way, it is possible for players to win two British Isles titles in one season.
|Year||Venue||Singles Champion||Fours Champions *||Pairs Champions *||Triples Champions *||Premier Team Champion *|
|2016/17||Bromsgrove, England||Michael John (WAL)||Simon White, Keith Lackford, Stephen Proctor & Martin Walker (ENG)||Ben Render, Danny Langdon (ENG)||Raymond Stubbs, Jonny Wilson, Eddie Campbell (IRE)||Ireland (IRE)|
World Short Mat Bowls Council Championships
The Short Mat World Championships is held every two years in one of its member states. Whilst this may usually be inside the United Kingdom, teams such as India and Italy also compete; and thus could host the championships. Unlike the British Isles championships above, the world championships allows nations to enter up to two teams to each discipline; as there is no team event. There is also a knockout system in place after the first round-robin round. These tournaments are run by a group known as the World Short Mat Bowls Council.
|Year||Venue||Singles Champion||Fours Champions *||Pairs Champions *||Triples Champions *|
|2016||Leigh, England||Raymond Stubbs (IRE)||Derick Wilson, Jonny Wilson, Eddie Campbell, Andrew Leckey (IRE)||Peter Hore, Christopher Willies (ENG)||Derek McCallion, Mark Sproule, Aiden Corrigan (IRE)|
|2014||Cardiff, Wales||Kevin Conroy (IRE)||Chris Mcwinnie, Jack Edwards, Andrew Jones, Nick Evans (WAL)|
|2012||Ballymoney, Northern Ireland||Stephen Williams (WAL)||Kevin Conroy, Fra Dillon, Michael Hand, Billy Taffe (IRE)||Dave Newsome, Ben Render (ENG)||Paddy Hanlon, Gerry McCabe, John Murnahan (IRE)|
|2010||Dumfries, Scotland||Stephen Williams (WAL)||Ronnie Stubbs, Gordon Stubbs, Keith Morrison, Raymond Stubbs (IRE)||DJ Wilson, J Wilson (IRE)||Glen Smith, Damian McElroy, Colum McHugh (IRE)|
|2008||Herentals, Belgium||Colum McHugh (IRE)||Leigh Hall, Trevor Brown, Craig Burgess, Stephen McAllister (ENG)||Babs Morokutti, Jody Frampton (ENG)||Simon Pridham, James Smith, Lee Toleman (ENG)|
|2006||Hopton-on-Sea, England||Chris Grocott (ENG)||Paul Hudson, D Hudson, Ben Haddon, Richard Hinkin (WAL)||James Trott, Mark White (ENG)||James Smith, Simon Pridham, Lee Toleman (ENG)|
Short Mat Players Tour
The Short Mat Players Tour (SMPT), is a company responsible of events set up by Craig Burgess and Simon Pridham in 2011. The events have been commercially and corporately successful, and have run events throughout Europe.
The first SMPT event was held in Wey Valley Indoor Bowls Club, Guilford. The event was won by Johnathan Payne of Belgium. The event was followed up by events in Sweden, Norway & Ireland on an annual basis, as well as a United Kingdom open championship. The world masters in 2014; held in Ireland became the biggest two-day event in short mat bowls history; with an event featuring 252 participants 
|Year||UK Open||Irish Open||Norwegian Open||British Open||English Masters||World Masters|
|2017-18||Sam Harvey (WAL)||Alan Paul (NIR)||Stephen Proctor (ENG)|
|2016-17||Lawrence Moffat (SCO)||Alan Paul (NIR)||Mark Beattie (NIR)||not played||Joseph Beattie (NIR)||Joseph Beattie (NIR)|
|2015-16||Gary McNabb (NIR)||Dimitri Payne (BEL)||not played||James Bucknall (ENG)||Gary Burke (NIR)|
|2014-15||Robert Martin (ENG)||PJ McCrossan (NIR)||Stephen Williams (WAL)||Mark Beattie (NIR)|
|2013-14||Joseph Beattie (NIR)||Andrew Leckey (NIR)||Cecil Dillon (NIR)||Gerry McCabe (IRE)|
|2012-13||Mark Beattie (NIR)||not played||Joseph Beattie (NIR)||Alan Paul (NIR)|
|2011-12||not played||Jonathan Payne (BEL)||not played|
Past Ranking Tournaments
|2016-17||P.J. Gallagher (IRE)|
|2015-16||Marcus Almén (SWE)|
|2014-15||Cecil Dillon (NIR)|
|2013-14||Joseph Beattie (NIR)|
|2012-13||Morten-Andre Coll (NOR)|
|2015-16||Joel Häger (SWE)|
|2014-15||Mark Beattie (NIR)|
|2013-14||Chris Mann (ENG)|
|2012-13||Jonathan Payne (BEL)|
Order of Merit
The Order of Merit is produced from the six ranking events on the Short Mat Players Tour. The player ranked number 1 at the end of the season will be awarded the Short Mat Players Tour Order of Merit sponsored by Henselite Bowls UK.
The Short mat players tour events also feature Short Mat Bowls' only world rankings table, with a rolling two year ranking system in place. This is the only world ranking system in place in short mat bowls.
|Year||Order of Merit Champion|
|2016-17||Dimitri Payne (BEL)|
|2015-16||Joel Hager (SWE)|
|2014-15||Mark Beattie (NIR)|
|2013-14||Cecil Dillon (NIR)|
|2012-13||Mark Beattie (NIR) / Joel Hager (SWE)|
International Short Mat Open
The International Open was the biggest open competition in Short Mat Bowls when it first started in 2010. The competition was organised by Craig Burgess and Barry Hedges of Essex; both of the trophies awarded are in memory of their fathers, John Burgess and David Hedges. The inaugural event was held at Kempston Indoor Bowls Club, Bedford, England, and had the biggest gathering of short mat bowls talent from all over Europe including England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Belgium and Sweden. In subsequent years, the John Burgess Trophy became a pairs event instead of the original triples format. The event finished in 2013.
|Year||Venue||John Burgess Trophy||David Hedges Trophy|
|2013||Havering Indoor Bowls Club, Essex||Allan Williams & James Trott (ENG)||Peter Fautley, Tony Elham, Steve Killington & Anthony Fautley (ENG)|
|2012||Havering Indoor Bowls Club, Essex||Joseph Newsome & Ben Render (ENG)||Sarah Beynon, Arwel Morgan, Tom Jones & Luke Haddon (WAL)|
|2011||Havering Indoor Bowls Club, Essex||Jack Shepherd & Chris Willies (ENG)||Steve Proctor, Andrew Beard, Gareth Stanway & Grant Soller (ENG)|
|2010||Kempston Indoor Bowls Club, Bedford||Marty Trainor, Alan Paul & Kevin Conroy (IRE)||Liam McHugh, Keith McCullagh,Damian McElroy & Colum McHugh (IRE)|
St Georges Cup - (North v South)
|2017-16||Bromsgrove Indoor Bowls Club||North of England||39 - 29|
|2016-15||Solihull Indoor Bowls Club||South of England||25 - 43|
|2015-14||Bromsgrove Indoor Bowls Club||South of England||20.5 - 43.5|
|2013-14||Bromsgrove Indoor Bowls Club||Draw||32 - 32|
|2012-13||Tamworth Indoor Bowls Club||South of England||26 - 38|
|2011-12||Wey Valley Indoor Bowls Club, Guildford||South of England||20.5 - 43.5|
|2010-11||Erdington Indoor Bowls Club, Birmingham||South of England||21 - 35|
English Inter County Championship
The ESMBA organise an inter-county championship for teams of 20 players from each county. Most counties will enter two teams, a first 'premier' team, and an 'A team'. Winners of the premier competition are invited to the Top County competition, where the winners of the English ICC play the Welsh & Irish winners. Teams are made up of two teams from each discipline (Singles, pairs, triples & fours).
|Year||Premier Championship||A Team Championship||Premier Consolation||A Team Consolation|
|2010||Cheshire||West Midlands||West Sussex||Cheshire|
|2009||Cheshire||West Sussex||West Midlands||Cornwall|
|2008||Cheshire||West Sussex||West Midlands||Hampshire|
|2003||Kent||West Sussex||West Sussex||Staffordshire|
|1994||West Midlands||West Midlands|
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