Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Clean Game

Last week, our sub K-Terk drove over the mountain from Cheyenne for his sixth attempt at league bowling. He bowls like most rookies- very poorly. Games 1 and 2 were predictable. In the 1st, he finished with a 93, achieved with nine open frames and one strike. In Game 2, he had eight opens and two strikes to finish with a 100 on the dot. In those games, he converted zero spares in 17 tries. Game 3, though, was a different animal. It was clean. He left zero frames open. He finished with a 195 and collected 7 of 7 spares. It was a remarkably weird and discrete change in bowling ability. And it was an awesome thing to watch.

The subject of this post is the clean game. A clean game simply means marking every frame, or leaving none open. There are many ways to achieve this feat from 12 strikes to 10 spares to anything in between. On the surface, it shouldn't be a very difficult thing to achieve, but in practice, clean games are not common, particularly for developing bowlers like ourselves.

For one, if you are not a punisher of the pocket, you are most commonly going to get fewer than five strikes a game. The more spare leaves you leave, the greater the difficulty of bowling cleanly. If you are prone to leaving splits, the task becomes even more difficult.

I decided to check out our stats for clean games with two questions in mind. First, how often have the bowlers of the Movements pulled off the clean game, and second what scores can you expect if you do so. In theory you could score as low as 100 with a clean game (Ten -/'s) or as high as 300 (12 X's), but in practice, what kinds of scores do we get when we bowl cleanly?

The image below shows every clean game in our database. The database includes a total of 576 games, and of those in only six were no frames left open. It's a little depressing, but we have clean games about 1% of the time.

I have the highest and lowest clean game scores (188 and 226). Johnebob also has two to his name, both games well into the 200's, and Joe D. and K-Terk each have one. For these six games, the average score is 209.5. If we could bring up our strike percentage, these scores would be much higher. Still, I think these games give you a good guide for what it means to be a 200+ average bowler. It's not that you have to mark every frame because splits are unavoidable. If I ever want to reach that magical land of a 200 average, which I think I can do in about 5 years, I will need to convert the great majority of my makeable spares. At the moment, I seem to be capable of this about 1% of the time, but if K-Terk can pull it off in Week 6...


  1. Congrats to K-Terk on the clean game, a 195 is solid.

  2. Thanks a bunch :)

    I'm going to chalk it up to having the same haircut as Mr. Clean; the mustache may have been counter-productive for Todd....


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