Why are there ten pins in ten-pin bowling?

Posted by Tenpin at 3.00pm on 13 March 2014

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Why are there ten pins in ten-pin bowling?

Now that's the kind of question we like.  After all, if things had shaped up differently, we might be called Ninepin, Elevenpin or Twentythreepin.  But we're not. And here's why.

Rollin' back the years

Our journey begins back in the early nineteenth century.  In America, bowling had been adopted from Britain, but also influenced from other European arrivals.  There was a variance of rules across the country, but generally it's accepted that the game was played with nine pins.

But in the 1820s, things changed, mainly on the East Coast.  In 1829 the first reference to a ten-pin alley appeared in the New York press.  The game's popularity grew. In 1840 the first indoor alley, Knickerbockers, opened in New York City.  It's format featured ten pins.

In search of the perfect pick-up?

Time moved on.  As did the game, spreading its influence and appeal at an impressive rate.  By the mid-1930s, ten-pin bowling was a staple of American lifestyle.  In 1936, the semiautomatic pin-spotter was launched.  The equilateral-triangle shape of the layout was perfect for pickup.

Following World War II, bowling's popularity surged across the world, influenced mostly by American soldiers playing the game in foreign lands.  Technology advanced with ten pins at the heart of this shiny new game.

The future was set and ten pins as a playing.

 

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