Search This Blog

Saturday, April 2, 2022

The Burnt End is Dead/No Place for the Drive in Modern Lawn Bowls

Re-spotting of the jack has become the new normal as part of the rules applied in modern lawn bowls and as a result ‘killing’ or ’burning’ an end no longer is a rational choice in the game. It is being erased from the regular bowls rule book and has become simply a chapter in bowls history. 

The tool for killing ends, the ‘drive’ or ‘runner’ (the latter, the deceptive term used in the northern hemisphere) has lost its only substantial utility, which was to force an end to be completely replayed. The reason for delivering the maximum velocity required for the drive was to increase the chance that the jack would fly off the rink no matter how it was packed round with close bowls.

This does not mean that ‘overweight’ shots, in general, will disappear. Instead what will happen is what should have been happening in the first place; running shots will be played instead. The defining difference is that the running shot is taught to be delivered with a constant, at least ditch weight no matter where the jack is located on the rink. Because its weight is less the running shot will be more consistently accurate than the drive it replaces. Because its weight is less the running bowl is more likely to stay on the rink. Because its weight is more precisely controlled taking the correct line to the target is easier to discern. 

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Bowling March 31st, 2022 Toronto


Wow! I was able to get out for an hour of bowls practice on a synthetic outdoor green today— the 31st of March. The temperature was 16 C— remarkable for Toronto Canada. It’s a one-day wonder. The wind is gusting and tomorrow we are expecting it to snow some more.

Snow is gone except in the woods. I had to clean a rink. There were big sticks, twigs, pine cones, dead earthworms, and Canada geese shit but not too much of any one of them. 

I met the man who used to do the grass greens when we had two greens here at James Gardens. He remembers when one was removed and the single outdoor carpet installed. The lighting standards for the two greens are still in place and functioning.

I told him that the club had received a provincial grant to resurface the present green. It has outlived its’ useful playing life. The wood supporting the carpet on the banks has rotted and goose shit and dandelion fuzz has glued the carpet fibers together into something the texture of rolled clay. It's excellent for growing moss which is challenging to kill off. The carpet seams which run diagonally from corner to corner are becoming elevated as have the edges of the green next to the ditches.

No matter; we’re rolling.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Bringing the Mat Forward to the Hog Line to Confidently Deliver a Very Short Jack Length


An indoor World Pairs 2022 match at Potters, illustrated a point I have consistently urged in this Greenbowler blog. 

The most dependable way to get the shortest jack length is to bring the mat forward to the hog line and then bowl the jack just past the forward T. In a match that Andersen/Burnett played against Foster /Marshall, Foster, who was leading, first tried to deliver a short jack with the mat back (at 34:54 minutes) and lost the jack when it was too short whereupon the opponents continued playing full-length jacks to easily win the first set. 

In the second set, Foster got the jack back, and he took the mat forward to the hog line and easily delivered this jack past the forward T (at 49:55 minutes) whereupon it was spotted at exactly 23 meters.  Foster and Marshall, using this length change, got a good lead and won the second set to force a tiebreaker.

Bringing the mat forward to play a short jack length is even more of a no-brainer on the portable rink because there are 3.5 meters from the T to the ditch instead of the regulation distance of only 2.0 meters! It is equally a no-brainer outdoors in Canada where there can be a distinct lip at the edge of some greens that reduces the likelihood of ditching the jack.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Too many good shots: A Common Error of new singles players and talented leads/vices playing pairs and triples


A common error of new singles players and talented leads and vices, when they are playing pairs and triples, is to place a third close bowl tight into the head. This all too often just fattens the target for an opponent’s inevitable weighted shot. If your early bowls are very close to the jack, the chance that the opponent can outdraw them is low already. More very close bowls may just improve the chances that a runner can break apart the head.  The best bowl is one that is as far behind as possible while still staying in the count. The purpose is to force the opponent to draw to reduce your score and to increase the likelihood that you will retain the shot bowl even after a successful drive while increasing the penalty if it is unsuccessful.

In pairs or triples as well as singles having the three closest bowls invites an attacking shot so once your side has two close bowls the lead or vice should put any remaining bowls in receiving positions behind the jack or less preferably in front of the jack where they can act as (a) blocker(s).  The most desired situation in a developing head is two up. The worst acceptable final outcome should be one down. Steer towards these objectives.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Strategy Playing the Phoenix Scoring System of Lawn Bowls

Aero Bowls has proposed a difference scoring regime for playing lawn bowls. A different scoring system immediately revolutionizes strategy and tactics.

In the Phoenix System which is designed for pairs play the lead bowler is provided ways to make points for the team that cannot be changed by the skip’s subsequent bowls. The second difference is that when an end is complete the scoring is similar to the game 4-3-2-1; 10 points are awarded for the closet bowl, 5 for the second closest, and 3 for the third closest irrespective of which team had the closest bowl. 

This Phoenix scoring system has the affect in essence of breaking each match into two parts. In effect, the leads play with one set of rules and then the skips play starting with the disposition of bowls from the leads’ play but their performance has a different set of rules.

In the portion of play between leads there are two ways to score. When a bowl in its original course hits the jack it scores 3 points for that side. Since each lead delivers 4 bowls this provides a possibility of scoring up to 12 points each. Finally, the closest bowl to the jack after the lead bowls are completed scores 3 points. The leads’ part of the game is more strategic and less tactical. That is to say, what can be described as a good bowl has consistent, unequivocal characteristics. Good bowls are narrow, close, and behind the jack. 

Strategically it is useful for the lead bowls to finish close to the jack both to win the 3 points awarded for their closest bowl and to provide their skipper with the most advantageous starting position. However, it is even more important that lead bowls should finish behind the jack since jack movement is more likely with this scoring method. Both lead bowlers will favour bowling a bit narrow because that provides the opportunity to trail the jack for an extra 3 points. The rules reward bowls that cross the centre line and finish behind the jack! 

When the skips turn arrives play is more tactical. That is to say, choosing an objective depends critically upon the particular disposition of bowls. If your lead has bowled anything short those bowls are essentially useless for scoring and may be even more seriously damaging by blocking skip options. Even if your side holds shot, another close but short bowl may just provide the wicking assist that moves the jack backwards. Even at the completion of the end scoring the shot bowl is less importance with the Phoenix system. The 15 points scored having the shot bowl are easily matched or bettered if the other side can win the 2nd and 3rd best (8 points) along with some touchers (3 points each).

Unlike in the classic game one does not need to worry about giving away shot when competing bowls are close to the jack because having shot bowl does not guarantee outscoring your opponent in the end. Instead trying for another toucher that will at least finish as another close bowl is likely the best tactic. In any case, the end is unlikely to lead to a large swing in the score.

Strategically, Phoenix scoring seems to discourage short ends. Because the game is played with no dead ends, a jack that is driven out of bounds will be respotted centered 2 meters from the forward ditch and since the leads are encouraged to play their bowls somewhat longer and because the bowl that has displaced the jack will either finish long or often alive in the ditch and because the bowl that has displaced the jack may have scored 3 points as a toucher, more heavy shots can be expected from skips in this format. Having last bowl will be more important and consequently the side with the mat (and bowling first) will not want to give their opponent a short end that can more easily be attacked.   

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Lawn Bowls Ramp


For several years now I have been looking for a place to purchase a lawn bowls ramp. Recently I saw one on the lawn bowls Youtube video, “Lawn Bowls for Fun” from Alec Sharman. Apparently, it belongs to the Camberley and District Indoor Bowling Club. I provide a screenshot from Alec's video edition #23.

I have asked Alec about the provenance of this machine and he is making inquiries but it is unfair to put all the burden on him. I am hopeful that one of my own blog readers can help.

I want to use such a device to introduce new bowlers to the concept of bias. Using it, they will immediately recognize that the curving of the bowl is not some sort of ‘English’ twist that is applied by the bowler. Furthermore, I will be able to illustrate that the same angle of delivery can be used from wherever the mat is placed; whether at the T or close to the hog line and the same angle of delivery can be used whether it is a short or long jack.

If you know how one could acquire such a device please provide some information in the comment section.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

What Confidence Looks Like Playing Bowls

"You can do what you believe you can do?"

I can’t buy this statement,  if this means something like, “I know I will bowl a resting toucher with my next bowl” I would be kidding myself. I’m trying to send a lie to my subconscious. 

Instead, if the statement means that I know that I might deliver a resting toucher with my next bowl, then it is trivial and obvious. Even a tyro bowler has a finite possibility of rolling a perfect bowl. Lawn bowls is not a sport like track and field where no one can deliver a world-class performance without preparation. The tyro is physically capable of doing it. Sometimes it will happen. In bowls, it is consistency that sets the expert apart— not any single shot. 

The corollary seems more likely: you cannot do what you believe you can’t do. True. If you visualize failure, you will enable it. If you visualize success, you enhance that possibility.

So how does the confident bowler think? And how does that thinking get expressed in action? 

When the confident bowler delivers consecutive bad bowls or has a streak of garbage bowls, (s)he doesn’t question the delivery; doesn’t ask secretly, “What am I doing wrong?” (S)he doesn’t call upon him(her)self to bear down or concentrate more.

Instead, for the confident bowler, it is obvious that something external has intervened. Something just ‘happened’ and there is no reason to get upset or disturbed.  To the confident bowler, the misfortune that has happened is most likely due to factors beyond control and most likely these factors can as easily disappear as persist. The last bowl doesn’t affect the present bowl. The deviation could have been the green or the wind or a change in temperature. So of course take these into account, but your delivery can be the same; the same relaxed, smooth step and swing.

The confident bowler never ‘fixes’ a delivery because ‘fixing’ means making a conscious adjustment from the previous execution. The confident bowler visualizes what is wanted, corrects any deviations from expectations about the environment, and bowls that same groovy delivery with every expectation of a good result.