Bowling Solitaire

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Bowling Solitaire Rules


Try to fill in all 10 spaces (pins) on each of the 10 shuffles (frames) to score 150 points or more.

The Deal

Using one deck, cards are automatically dealt one at a time to the single Discard Pile.

The 10 Pins

Move the card next to the Stock to one of the 10 "Pin" spaces. Each pin may hold only one card.

To place a card on a Pin, the rank of the card must be equal to or higher than all cards on lower numbered pins. See the screenshot above for the Pin numbers.

For example, if there is a 7 on the 5-Pin, then you may only play cards equal to or lower than a 7 on Pins 1 through 4. Similarly, only cards equal to or higher than a 7 may be played on Pins 6 through 10.

It is not necessary, and usually not desirable to match the card rank to the Pin number. Also, it is not necessary to place sequential ranks on sequential Pin numbers. There may be gaps in rank from one Pin to the next (see screenshot below.)

Ball 1 and Ball 2 Columns

When it is impossible to place a card because it doesn't follow the rules set out above, you must place the card in the Ball 1 or Ball 2 Columns. You are allowed to place up to 3 cards in each Ball. (Cards are always placed into Ball 1 before Ball 2.)

If you fill up all 10 Pins before missing 3 times, you earn a Strike. If you don't get a Strike but are able to fill up all 10 Pins before missing 6 times, you get a Spare. Otherwise, you have an Open Frame and the frame ends.


The scoring for Bowling Solitaire is identical to the way real bowling is scored, however, it is not necessary to know how Bowling is scored in order to enjoy Bowling Solitaire. Just remember that a Strike is better than a Spare, and a Spare is better than an Open Frame.

A Strike scores 10 points plus the actual number of pins knocked over on the next 2 balls thrown. For example, if the next 2 balls are a 7 and 2, the the Strike scores 19. If the next 2 balls are another Strike and a 9, then the first Strike scores 29.

A Spare scores 10 points plus the actual number of pins knocked over on the next 1 ball thrown. For example, if the next ball is an 8 then the Spare scores 18. If the next ball thrown is a Strike then the Spare scores 20.

When there is an Open frame (no Spare or Strike) then the total pins knocked down for both balls are scored.

Since a Strike and Spare cannot be scored until more balls have been thrown, the latest Frame will not show an accumulated score until more balls are thrown. In the 10th frame, you may have to bowl extra frames in order to satisfy the scoring requirements for Strikes and Spares.

Scoring Example

1st Frame

The Strike in the 1st frame could not be scored until 2 more balls were thrown. The Strike in the 2nd frame only required 1 Ball to be thrown and so we still could not score the 1st frame yet. Finally, in the 3rd frame we have the 2nd Ball needed to score the Strike in the 1st frame. So the 1st frame scores 10 for it's own Strike, plus 10 for the Strike in the 2nd Frame, plus 7 for the 1st ball in the 3rd frame or 27 points.

2nd Frame

The Strike in the second frame can be scored as soon as the 3rd frame is over since 2 balls were thrown in the 3rd frame. It scores 10 for the Strike, plus 7 for the next ball plus 1 more for the next ball after that, or 18 points. When 18 is added to the 1st frame we have 45 points total in the 2nd frame.

3rd Frame

Since no Strike or Spare was thrown in the 3rd frame, it can be scored right away. 8 points are added to the previous total for a new total score of 53 in the 3rd frame.

4th Frame

The Spare in the 4th frame requires 1 more ball to be thrown before it can be scored. The first ball in the next frame knocked down 9 pins and so the Spare in Frame 4 scores 10 for the Spare plus 9 more for the first ball in Frame 5 for 19 more points.

10th Frame

There is a Spare in the 10th Frame. Since Spares cannot be scored until one more ball is thrown, one extra ball must be thrown in order to arrive at a score for the 10th Frame.


In the example below, a 2 must be played. To follow the rules, it must be placed before the 4 onto either Pin 1 or 2.

It is better to place the 2 on the 1-Pin. That way, any of three different cards will work for the 2-Pin (a 2, 3, or 4 may then go there.) If you place the 2 on the 2-Pin, then only an Ace or another 2 may be placed on the 1-Pin. So you've increased your odds by playing the 2 on the 1-Pin.

Game Notes

Bowling is an original solitaire game designed by Warren Schwader. A similar version of the game was included in the Hoyle Solitaire collection in 1988 (also designed by Warren Schwader.) Solitaire Network's version of Bowling Solitaire has been improved from the original!

Another solitaire game called "Bowling" was created by Sid Sackson in the 1970's. It is a completely different game using rules that are not at all similar to Bowling solitaire on Solitaire Network. The wikipedia page and other references on the internet do a poor job of differentiating these two very different solitaire games. The only things they have in common is that both games are solitaire games and both are bowling themed.