Slant Pattern Livestreams a Candlepin Bowling Match

Boy, if that headline doesn't rocket me to stardom, I don't know what will.

Regular readers know I like to explore and get into minor sports, and indeed less than a month ago I wrote a netball primer in this space.

I also wrote a candlepin bowling primer for this column as well, although that one seems to be lost to the sands of time, or at least my Google-fu. I even tried Bing. God forgive me.

Anyway, some of these sports don't stick with me, but candlepin absolutely has. I have continued to watch it over the years, and have boned up a bit on its history.

I'm not going to do another primer column, but you don't need one, because the basics are easy enough if you understand conventional bowling. Scoring is just like bowling, and there are ten frames (called boxes) in candlepin, as well. The big difference is you get three balls per frame/box instead of two (no bonus for needing all three balls to knock down all the pins), the pins are smaller, and the ball is much smaller.

Perfection is commonplace in conventional bowling, but nigh on impossible in candlepin — the all-time record score is 245.

It is played almost exclusively in New England and Atlantic Canada. In the aughts, and reaching back to the '90s, '80s, and earlier, there were several weekly candlepin TV programs. Candlepins for Cash and Stars & Strikes were two of the big ones, and for many, an early Saturday afternoon ritual.

As best as I can tell (I don't live in New England) there are no current candlepin TV shows being produces that go out over the air (or on community access channels or regional sports channels, that sort of thing), and on YouTube, there seems to be a single candlepin program with professional production values being produced presently, and that would Candlepins for Cancer, which as you already guessed is a charity tournament.

Watch a match with me, why don't you?

0:35 — The announcers, as you might glean, are candlepin bowlers themselves, and are charmingly unpolished as announcers - the shorter guy stumbling over his words, the bigger guy swaying nervously.

2:54 — I am almost positive that I've seen this guy Myrick be an announcer for other candlepin productions of the last few years. This emphasizes how candlepin dudes wear many hats to get the game some pub.

4:11 — As you see, bowlers due two boxes at a time rather than one-by-one. There are also three games of ten boxes each to determine a winner.

5:19 — Yes, candlepin bowlers have averages and high scores for a single game (called a "string,") three games, five games, and 10 games. I think this reflects that you can play for longer since the ball is so much lighter.

7:51 — Our first mark!

You have also noticed by now that felled pins are not cleared between balls in candlepin — these fallen pins, called "wood" — can help our hurt your subsequent throws.

12:07 — "He sells some nice booze."

18:00 — 98-92 after one string is a touch on the low side based on what I've seen, but not outrageously so.

18:40 — Another rule, relevant here: you have to wait for fallen wood to stop rolling before you can roll your next ball.

35:22 — I picked this match at random, sure happy how super-close it is.

36:11 — Oooh, the background color on the score screen is different!

41:00 — What a robbery! Still no strike!

41:37 — And now we do, finally, have a strike. And we also have a boom-goes-the-dynamite reference. How can you not love these guys?

44:20 — It's going to be hard for Renaud to come back now.

48:45 — Five marks in a string, including and a score of 150 is incredible. Great closeout performance by Myrick.

So! Have I made a lifelong diehard candlepin fan out of you?

Comments and Conversation

June 2, 2022

Caitlyn Finn:

Hi, first time reader. Thanks for giving candlepin a shout out! We did have a recent candlepin show that on community access was out of Ryan’s in Millis, Ma thats called “New England Candlepins”. It did take a break due to Covid but in the works to come back on and you can also find those shows also on YouTube. However, the sport is definitely thriving as there is a tournament practically every weekend and leagues ranging from team pros to singles semi pros to just fun house leagues. You can catch many of these tournaments and leagues held around New England and Canada on Facebook live through the “Candlepin Chat” page.

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