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Choose your ball, eye the pins and let it rip! Will you score that elusive strike? and can you bowl your way to a perfect 300 game? With Sid Sackson's bowling solitaire you can try again and again!


  • 20 cards (numbered 0-9 twice)
  • a score pad
  • Instructions


First, shuffle the twenty cards. Then lay out ten of the cards face-up in a triangular layout representing ten bowling pins (see image below).

The remaining ten cards are placed face-down in three piles of five, three and two cards respectively (see image below). These three piles represent your bowling balls.

When you are ready to begin, flip over the top card on each of these three piles.

Please note the letters on the cards are simply to identify pin positions for examples later in these rules

Game Play

Bowling Solitaire follows the same format as a game of tenpin bowling. Players will play ten frames, bowling up to two balls in each frame, attempting to knock over as many pins as possible.

After the completion of a frame, the score is tallied and all the cards are re-shuffled in order to set up the ten pins and ball decks anew.

Each turn, select one of the face-up cards on your ball piles to "bowl" at the pins. Each card can, in turn, remove 1-3 pins from the layout. To use a ball to remove pins, look at the number on the ball card you have selected.

  • To knock over one pin, the number on the chosen ball card must match the number on the pin card you wish to knock over.

  • To knock over 2-3 pins with the same ball card, the pins must both: be adja- cent to each other (eg: H-I, or E-F-H, or H-F-G, etc). and, when these pin cards' numbers are added together, their final digit must equal the number on the ball card.

For example, a 6 can knock over a 6, a 2 can knock over a 2.

But also, a 6 may be used to knock over an adjacent 2 and 4 (2+4=6), or 1, 2 and 3 (1+2+3=6), or a 7 and 9 (7+9=16), or even an 8, 8 and 0 (8+8+0=16).

Once pins have been knocked over, those pin cards and the ball card used are removed and placed out of the game (however you should keep these cards' numbers visible to help your planning on future turns).

Then, the face-down card (if there is one) that lay beneath the ball card just used must be flipped so its number is visible.

There are some other small rules to follow when attempting to knock pins down:

  • The first ball card played in a frame cannot be used to knock over any pins in the back row (A-B-C-D).

  • The first ball card played in a frame cannot be used to knock over the center pin (F) by itself.

  • After any pins have been knocked over and removed, any subsequent balls must knock over at least one pin adjacent to a card already removed. (for example, if pins E and H were removed with the first ball card, pin C and G could not be removed with the second ball card, but pins F, C and G could be).

If you can continue using ball cards to remove pins from the layout until all are gone you have scored a STRIKE! Proceed to the next frame.

If, however, you reach the point where no cards from the top of your ball piles can be used, or if, in the hope of obtaining a SPARE, you choose not to use a ball card that could be used, you have reached the end of your first ball of the frame.

Once this occurs, remove the top card from each of your ball piles still remaining, placing them out of the game. With the new face-up ball cards, continue playing as if on your second ball of the frame.

If you are able to remove the remaining pins before ending the second ball, you have scored a SPARE. Otherwise, you score as many pins as you had managed to knock down. (How to score is explained in detail later in these rules).

At the end of a frame: Score your frame, shuffle all twenty cards, and set up the game once again.

At the end of ten frames: Your game is over and your final score should be recorded. Can you beat your previous best score? A "perfect game" is when you reach the highest score possible: 300 points!

A Sample Frame:

Imagine the cards are set up as shown in the illustration below. Of course, in an actual game, the numbers of the lower ball cards would not be visible):

The player starts by removing the 1 and 9 in positions H and F, using the 0 from the left-hand pile. He would have preferred to remove the 2, 7 and 1 in positions A, B and C, but is not allowed to take any cards from the back row on the first play.

He continues by using the newly exposed 5 to remove the 7, 1 and 7 in positions B, C and D. (using the remaining 0 to take the 2, 7 and 1 in positions A, B and C would have left the other 2 stranded and with no possibility of removing it).

The next play is to remove the 2 and 2 with a 4.

The 5, 8 and 6 in positions G, I and J now remain. The 8 could be removed, but that would leave an isolated 6 and a 5. Since the second 5 has already been used there would be no possibility of removing the 5.

Instead, the player takes a second ball by removing the 8 from the top of the left-hand pile, the 0 from the top of the center pile, and the 4 from the top of the right-hand pile, exhausting that pile.

Now on his second ball, he has a choice of two exposed 3s. He chooses (fortunately from him) the one on the left-hand pile and removed the 5 and 8 from the layout.

A 6 is now exposed and the player uses it to remove the remaining 6. He has made a SPARE!


Use your enclosed score pad to score your games of Bowling Solitaire. It is scored like a regular game of bowling. To use the score pad, simply follow these instructions...

A bowling score pad provides room for recording the ten "frames" of a game. In each frame, a player can bowl two balls in an attempt to knock down the ten pins. If all ten pins are knocked down with the first ball (a strike), the second ball is not used and the current frame is over.

In each frame, the player simply scores points for as many pins they had knocked down (for example, 7 points if seven pins are knocked over during the frame). However, if all ten pins have been knocked over, there are scoring bonuses:

  • If a player knocks down all ten pins in two balls, it is a SPARE which is noted with a / in the upper right-hand corner for that frame. The number of pins downed by the next ball rolled is added to the ten pins already scored in the frame.

  • If a player knocks down all ten pins with the first ball in a frame, it is a STRIKE, which is noted with an X in the upper right-hand corner for that frame. The number of pins downed by the next TWO balls rolled will be added to the ten already scored in the frame.

Here is a score pad showing a game of Bowling Solitaire in progress. The fourth frame has just been completed.

In the first frame, the player downed eight pins with the first ball and the remaining two with the second ball. The spare is noted in the corner of the first frame. No score is entered yet.

In the second frame, the player downed all ten pins with the first ball (a strike). These 10 are added to the 10 already earned in the first frame, and 20 points are now entered for the first frame. The strike is recorded in the corner of the second frame.

In the third frame, the player again bowls a strike. The strike is entered in the corner of the third frame but still no score is entered for the second or third frames.

In the fourth frame, the player downs six pins with the first ball. Now that we are two balls after the second frame's strike, the second frame score can be recorded.

Ten pins were downed in that frame, ten were downed by the first succeeding ball, and six were downed by the second succeeding ball, making a total of 26 pins scored in the second frame. These are added to the 20 from the first frame to obtain a running total of 46 pins.

With the second ball in the fourth frame, the player downs three pins. The score for the third frame is 10+6+3, for a total of 19 pins. These are added to the 46 pins to obtain a running total of 65 pins.

The score for the fourth frame is 9 (6+3). These pins are added to the 65 to obtain a running total of 74 pins.

If a player makes a spare or a strike in the tenth frame, the player must throw one or two more balls to determine their scoring bonus!

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