HK strike force face lane drain

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 June, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 June, 1997, 12:00am

Want to stay away from the summer heat and play a game which has been been played in Hong Kong for generations and is still enjoyed by the young and old? Try tenpin bowling, the sport which requires a steady arm and lots of skill - and sometimes a bit of luck.

The sport is dying a slow death in Hong Kong, not because its popularity is waning, but because it is getting too expensive to rent an area to accommodate a bowling lane.

Sarah Choi Lai-fun, sports executive of the Hong Kong Tenpin Bowling Congress said the sport did not enjoy the same status as it once did.

'There were 24 bowling centres not long ago, scattered all over the territory, but now there are only seven centres left.

'It has to do with the high cost of rent and the high running costs to maintain a bowling centre. Everybody knows that Hong Kong is such a small place and there isn't much space for anything - especially for tenpin bowling lanes,' she said.

The sport is suffering as the number of centres dwindles.

But tenpin bowling - played at either commercial centres or private clubs - can still be enjoyed by young and old.

'I know a lot of seven- and eight-year-olds who play quite well. I also know of several elderly people who still play the sport. Tenpin bowling does have a very long lifespan because you can play it at almost any age,' said Ms Choi.

'The sport is not so much a sport of endurance but a sport of skill. It's also a great way to stay out of the summer heat, by playing in an air-conditioned environment.

'You can also have lots of fun as well,' she added.

Tenpin bowling is a sport in which individuals compete against one another or as members of a team.

They roll a ball down an 18 metres long alley in an attempt to knock down 10 pins arranged in a triangle.

A game is divided into 10 frames, each of which consists of two attempts to knock down the pins.

If all 10 pins are knocked down with one ball, this is known as a strike. If 10 are knocked down by two balls, it is a spare and a bonus of the number of pins knocked down by the bowler's next ball is added to his score.

If a strike or a spare is rolled in the 10th and final frame, a total of three balls can be rolled for that frame to provide the bonus.

The highest possible score for a game, 12 consecutive strikes, is 300 - that's a perfect game. Bowlers must roll the ball from behind a line and they are allowed to take several steps in bowling so long as they do not cross it.

A bowler usually rolls one frame at a turn, except in match play where two frames are normally bowled.

Ms Choi said keeping score was half the fun and a strike really gave a player a lift.

Hong Kong is still one of the top Asian tenpin nations in terms of the number of outstanding international bowlers.

Its proudest moment came when Cat Che Guk-hung won a gold medal at the 1986 Asian Games in Seoul.