This edition of Ask and Umpire covers Shot restriction in the first two ends of a game and player shadowing

Q: “Seeking clarification for Law 22.1 with regard to how shots are determined in situations which do not fall under Law 57.2.2.  My question is this – if a Controlling Body was to introduce a Condition of Play which stated that for each of the first two ends of a game, one shot only shall be recorded regardless of the number actually earned, would such a Condition be in compliance with the Laws?”

A: While limiting the number of shots scored in the first 2 ends of a game is not considered in law 22, it is permissible within the overall Laws of the Sport of Bowls, so long as the game is considered to be a social or recreational game, as described in law 57.2.2.

BCB has set no limits on financial rewards as per law 57.2.2. As a result, controlling bodies of competitions that do not lead to the winners being awarded a club title, or enable the winners to compete for a district, national or international title, can set conditions of play which include aspects of play that are different from those described within the Laws of the Sport.

I personally would prefer to play two trial ends before a game – and play two fewer ends in a game, if necessary – as opposed to restricting the number of shots scored in the first two ends, as I think this is a fairer way to play. However, law 57.2.2 does enable clubs to offer alternative formats of play to attract more bowlers and cater to varied interests.

Q: In regards to section 13 

Skip A, in possession of the rink, goes down to view the head. Skip B goes to head with Skip A. This happens multiple times during a game. Sometimes, Skip B stays at the head, other times Skip B returns to the mat with Skip A. Would this be considered interference ,annoyance or distraction. Players and other umpires view this in different ways. So we are all on the same page, how should will we address this.

A: This guidance is provided in the absence of any restrictions on the movement of players, which may impose additional constraints.

The law is quite specific about where players may stand when they do not have possession of the rink. If at the mat end, they must be at least 1 metre behind the mat. If at the head end of the rink, they must be behind the jack and away from the head.

When two skips are at the mat end, and the skip in possession of the rink walks up to the head, the opposing skip does sometimes follow. They have no right to do so, but most players don’t make an issue out of it. Some bowlers who believe in the etiquette of the sport may request their opponent’s permission to follow them to the head. Others just do it anyway.

There is no need for an umpire to intervene if they see an opposing bowler follow another player who has possession of the rink. However, if the player in possession of the rink asks the umpire whether this is allowed, or if the umpire decides that a player in possession of the rink is being annoyed or distracted by the opposing player, the umpire must warn the offending player about violating possession of the rink.

Once the opposing player has reached the head end, he or she must keep walking until they are behind the jack and away from the head, and remain there until their team has regained possession of the rink. If the opposing player tries to return to the mat end any sooner, when they are not in possession of the rink, the umpire must give them a warning that they are in violation of law 13 Possession of the rink.


Mary Wright · June 25, 2019 at 5:55 pm

In the absence of any specific restriction about visiting the head.

If Skip B follows Skip A up to the head when Skip A is in possession of the mat and as stated (they have no right to do so) why should Skip B be allowed to do so? The rule is not enforced.

Yet the same rule is enforced when Skip B is not permitted to return with Skip A to the mat?

When Skip B went down Skip A had possession of the mat. When Skip B goes back to the mat Skip A still has possession of the mat. Why enforce one way but not the other?

If Skip A when in possession of the mat has no objection to Skip B following her down to the head and Skip B remains there until after Skip A has bowled, two things occur to me

1. This would be an advantage to Skip B to see the head close up after the Skip A bowl has arrived. So why not take advantage of this at each opportunity that Skip A visits the head.

2. It would surely slow up the game as Skip B has to return to the mat to bowl.

Absolutely love articles like this, always eager to learn more.

David Smith · August 22, 2019 at 1:30 am

In regards to section 13

Sadly, the modern thinking seems to be all about speeding the game up. However, in this context of both Skips visiting the head at the same time, this does seem a sensible way to reduce the overall time of the game. The alternative is for Skip B to wait for Skip A to go to the head, study it, return to the mat and deliver his bowl, then Skip B has to do exactly the same thing. This takes almost twice as long.

I would suggest changing the rule to allow this to happen.

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