Lawn Bowls, Royal Calcutta Golf Club, Maidan Tent
Royal Calcutta Golf Club, Maidan Tent, Calcutta (Kolkata)
Giants balls thundering down the alleys to knock down the ten pins accompanied by loud cheers from the crowd, yes this is Bowling, Calcutta’s (Kolkata’s) latest sensation.
The air conditioned bowling alleys are a must visit for the Calcutta’s (Kolkata’s) generation next!!!!
The game of bowling comes in different versions and game of lawn bowls, is an outdoor version of bowling, which as the name suggests, is played in well manicured lawns. But unlike the bowling alleys, the game of lawn bowls is being played in Calcutta (Kolkata) for over 150 years!!!
The origin of the game of lawn bowls can be traced back to the 13th century England and it is also the English who first introduced the game in India.
According to historical records, the game was introduced in India at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC), Calcutta (Kolkata) around 1830s. The Bowling section of the RCGC shifted to the Calcutta (Kolkata) Maidan Pavalion in 1887, where it is still being played.
The rules of the game is simple. The object of the game is to get the woods ( bigger balls) nearest to the jack (small ball usually white or yellow in colour). Normally the lawn is divide into 6 to 8 rink and the game starts with the rolling of the jack from the mat, which is later aligned to the centre of the rink.
After this the actual game starts, with contestants rolling the woods alternatively, to get nearest to the jack. The game is played in singles, twos, threes or fours, with each contestant delivering a specified number of woods. Each team plays with the different coloured woods to distinguish it from its opponents. The one who gets closes to the jack wins.
Its not simple as it sounds, as the woods (bigger balls) don’t travel in straight lines, but in curves. The curvilinear motion of the woods is due to the fact that the woods are not perfect spheres.
Woods, which were once made of wood and have long been replaced by polymers, have a variable diameter ranging from 11.6 cm to 13.1 cm. The variable diameter of the woods create a bias, allowing them to move in curves.
The opposite sides of the woods are marked with dimpled circles, one smaller than the other. The smaller circle determines the direction of the turn.
There are two common grips of the woods, the first one with the smaller circle on the left (for a right hander) is called the forehand grip, allowing the ball to swing to the left (like in swing in cricket). The backhand grip operates exactly in the opposite way (see above photo).
Things are quiet simple in singles where, a total of 4 X 2 = 8 woods are played. In the case of fours, a total of eight players (of two teams) play two woods each, making it a total of 8 X 2 = 16 woods, making it quiet complex, with the woods often hitting the other woods or even the jack.
Disturbing other or own woods comes under the rules of lawn bowls and shot known as drives are deliberately fired to disturb the existing formation of jack and the woods. Sometimes the woods or even the jack, rolls into the ditch at the end of the rink. A wood that falls in the ditch without hitting the jack is considered out of play. The game continues even with the jack or woods in the ditch.
After all the woods are fired, the wood nearest to the Jack wins the game (photo above). The pointing system awards one point to the nearest wood, if the second nearest wood also belongs to the same team or individual, another point is awarded and the process is continued till an opponent wood comes in the count. Eg: If the nearest wood belongs to team A and the second nearest wood belongs to team B, then team A gets 1 point. If the nearest two woods belong to team A and the third nearest belong to team B, then team A gets 2 points.
Normally, the nearest wood can be spotted by eye estimation only, but however in close encounters, the result is decided by measuring the distance with a measuring tape (photo above).
- The photos were shot during the 4th National Lawn Bowls Championship held at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC), Calcutta (Kolkata) on 14 – 18 Dec, 2013.
- Thanks to the participants and the members of RCGC for explaining me the rules of the game.