Rules of the game of Short Mat Bowls

As adopted by the Almijara Bowls Club, Nerja, Spain

Game Conditions

1. FORM AND DURATION

A Game of Bowls will be played on one Rink Mat or several Rink Mats.

It shall consist of a specified number of Shots or Ends and will be played for any period of time as previously arranged.

2. PLAY ARRANGEMENTS

A Game shall be played on one Rink Mat as.

[1] A Singles Game with two Players, each playing 2, 3 or 4 Bowls Singly and alternately.

[2] A Pairs Game with two Players on either side, each playing 2, 3 or 4 Bowls.

The Lead Two shall play all their Bowls Singly and alternately and in turn before changing Ends with the Skips who will then Bowl Bowls alternately and in turn.

[3] A Triples Game with a team of three players on each side who shall be called Lead, Second and Skip, each Player playing 2 or 3 Bowls Singly and alternately, each Lead playing all their Bowls before the Seconds be allowed to Bowl their Bowls.

The Leads will remain at the Mat End until both Seconds have Bowled all their Bowls, then these Four Players will

change Ends with the Skips who will then Bowl their Bowls Singly, alternately and in turn.

[4] [a].A Fours Game with Four Players on either Side who shall be called Lead, Second, Third and Skip, according to the position and order in which they play. Each Player will play 2 Bowls only, each Singly, alternately and in turn, the Lead will play all their Bowls before the Seconds be allowed to Bowl theirs and all Players shall remain behind the Fender. If no Third is at the Head End, both Thirds will then Bowl their Bowls Singly and alternately. These players will then change Ends with the Skips who will now Bowl their Bowls Singly, alternately and in turn.

[b]. When one or both Thirds elect to be at the Head End whilst the Leads and Seconds play their Bowls.

(see also PLAYERS AND THEIR DUTIES – THIRD),

The Leads and Seconds will play their Bowls as above and then proceed to the ‘Head’ End, the Thirds will leave the Head End when it is their turn to Bowl and may not return to the Head End.

[5] A Team Game shall be played by Two Sides on a given Number of Rink Mats, each Side composed of an Equal Number of Players.

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Definitions

BACKHAND To the Right handed Player it is a Delivery to the Left hand side of the Centre Block. To the Left handed Player it is a Delivery to the Right hand side of the Centre Block.

BIAS Is the peculiar property of one side of the Bowl, caused by shaping which enables it to follow I n a ‘Curved Course‘.

CENTRE BLOCK The Obstacle which is placed midway between each end of the Rink Mat on the Centre Block Line.

BLOCKING Covering the ‘Lying Shot’ or jack with a ‘Guarding Bowl’ in order to hinder an Opponent.

CONTROLLING The Body having immediate Control of the Conditions under which the Match is played.

BODY

DEAD AREA The section of the Rink Mat between the Dead Lines.

DELIVERY LINES The Markings within which Player’s Feet are restricted to deliver the Bowl.

DITCH The Area between the Back Line of the Mat and the Fender.

MAT The Foot-Mat (Delivery Mat) upon which the stance is taken to Deliver the Bowl.

DISPLACED OR Accidentally moving a Bowl or Jack otherwise than by a Bowl in Play.

DISTURBED

DRAW Delivering the Bowl with sufficient Impetus to reach its objective with the necessary Green to allow the Bias to take effect.

END The placing of the Delivery Mat and the Jack, and Delivery of all the Players Bowls in any one discipline, in the same direction on the Rink Mat. An End is completed when the last Players Bowl comes to rest.

FENDER The surround that encloses the Ditch.

FIRING OR A Bowl which is delivered at a Very Fast Pace.

FORCING SHOT

FOREHAND To the Right handed Player it is a Delivery to the Right hand side of the Centre Block. To the Left handed player it is a Delivery to the Left hand side of the Centre Block.

FOUR Four Players on one Side whose position of playing are called Lead, Second, Third and Skip.

HEAD The Jack and such Bowls that have come to rest within the Boundary of the Rink Mat and are not Dead.

JACK HIGH The nearest portion of the Bowl referred to is the same distance from the Dead Line as the nearest portion of the Jack.

LEAD The Player on each Side who plays First.

LIVE AREA The section of the Rink Mat between the Dead Line and the Ditch, delineated by the edge of the half inch markings.

ORIGINAL COURSE Is the Curved Line that the Bowl takes from the Delivery Mat to its objective.

LIVE AREA The section of the Rink Mat between the Dead Line and the Ditch, delineated by the edge of the half inch markings.

ORIGINAL COURSE Is the Curved Line that the Bowl takes from the Delivery Mat to its objective.

PAIR Two Players on each Side whose Positions in order of Playing are called Lead and Skip.

RINK MAT The whole Rectangular Playing surface.

RUNNING WOOD A Bowl delivered with sufficient Impetus to prevent its Bias from taking effect (used for removing a Bowl or Breaking a Head).

SKIP The Player who controls the Play on behalf of his side on any Rink Mat.

SINGLES One Player competing against another.

TOUCHER (S) A Bowl which touches the Live Jack whilst the Bowl is in motion on the Rink Mat and before it comes to rest.

It shall also be a ‘Toucher’ if the said Bowl deflected off a Bowl at rest or if the Jack is sprung to touch the Bowl whilst it is still in motion or if it falls and touches the Jack before the next Bowl has been delivered.

The ‘Toucher’ will remain in Play until the End is completed even when in the Ditch … it shall be indicated by a Chalk Mark which shall be placed on it before the next Bowl comes to rest … if this is impractical because there is a danger of the Bowl falling over or moving; it shall be Nominated and Chalked when the danger has passed.

TRAILING Contacting the Jack with sufficient momentum so as to move it and follow it to the new position.

TRIPLE Three Players on one Side whose position of Playing are called Lead, Second and Skip.

WICK A Bowl which glances off another Bowl or bowls so as to change its natural line of travel.

Rules of the Game

TRIAL ENDS

Trial Ends shall be at the discretion of the Controlling Body.

TOSSING FOR START

[a] The Captain in a Team game shall Toss. The Winner has the option to play First or Second on all Rinks [b] In Games played on one Rink Mat, the Lead shall Toss and the Winner shall have the option of playing First or Second.

PLAYING FIRST

[a] In all subsequent Ends to the First, the Winner of the preceding End shall play First.

[b] In the event of a Tied End (no score) or a Dead End, the Player who played First in that End shall again play First the beginning of an End the Player who is to play First shall take the Delivery Mat within the Delivery Lines with the shorter side in contact with the Fender.

PLACING THE DELIVERY MAT:

[a] At the beginning of an End the Player who is to play First shall take the Delivery Mat within the Delivery Lines with the shorter side in contact with the Fender.

[b] The Delivery Mat must not be moved until the End is complete. If accidentally move it must be returned to its proper position by the following Player

[c] The last Player to Bowl in that End shall remove the Delivery Mat clear of the Rink Mat.

PLACING THE JACK

[a] At the beginning of an End the Player who is to play first shall take the Delivery Mat within the Delivery Lines with the shorter side in contact with the Fender;

[b] The Delivery Mat must not be moved until the End is complete.  If accidentally moved it must be returned to its proper position by the following Player.

[c] The last Player to Bowl in that End shall remove the Delivery Mat clear of the Rink Mat.

PLACING THE JACK

[a] The Marker in a Singles Game shall place the Jack on the Jack Line where the Player who is to play First requires it.

[b] The Skip whose Side is to play First shall place the Jack on the Jack Line at any Length he/she chooses.

[C] The Jack may be placed on the Jack Line in any position and may overhang the end of the Jack Line provided it is in contact with the Jack Line.

STANCE ON THE DELIVERY MAT

A Player at the moment of delivering the Bowl shall have the whole of One Foot entirely within the confines of the Delivery Mat. The Foot must be either in contact with, or directly above the Delivery Mat.

The other Foot may be placed totally on the Delivery Mat, or partially on the Delivery Mat and the Delivery Area or totally within the Delivery Area.

The Delivery Area is shown diagonally ‘Hatched’ on the diagram in the Rules.

The Delivery Lines, the visible Ditch Line and the Delivery Mat Lines do not form part of the ‘Hatched Legitimate Delivery Area‘.

No part of the Body shall be in contact with the Ditch Area or any part of the Rink Mat outside the Legitimate Delivery Area.

Failure to observe this Law constitutes ‘Foot Faulting‘.

FOOT FAULTING

[a] Should a Player in a Singles Game Foot Fault, the Marker shall stop the Bowl and remove it clear of the Rink Mat.

[b] In all other cases the Opposing Player who is in charge of the head, shall stop and remove the offending Bowl.

FENDER DISPLACEMENT

Should the Fender become displaced by a Non-Toucher entering the Ditch:

[a] In a Singles game, the Marker will replace the Fender and restore the Jack and any Touchers which mat have been at rest in the Ditch to their Original Marker Positions;

[b] The Player who is in charge of the Head shall be responsible for replacing the Fender and restoring the Jack and any Touchers which have been at rest in the Ditch to their Original Marker Positions.

Should the Fender be displaced by a Toucher or the Jack entering the Ditch and where such Bowl(s) or the Jack should touch the Floor surface within the confines of the displaced Fender, the following rules apply;

[c] In a Singles game, the Marker will replace the Fender and place the Jack and/or Bowl(s) in the position at which it/they contacted the Fender or left the Rink Mat, also restoring the Jack and/or any Touchers which may have been at rest in the ditch to their Original Marked Positions.

[d] The Player who is in charge of the Head for the Opposing Side shall be responsible for replacing the Fender and placing the Jack and/or Bowl(s) in the position(s) at which it/they contacted the Fender or left the Rink Mat, also restoring the Jack and/or any Touchers which may have been at rest in the Ditch to their Original Marked Positions.

POSSESSION OF THE RINK MAT

[a] Possession of the Rink Mat shall belong to the Side whose Bowl is in Play.

[b] The Players in possession of the Rink Mat shall not be interfered with, annoyed, barracked or have their attention distracted by the Opponents;.

[c] As soon as each Bowl has come to rest, possession of the Rink Mat shall be transferred to the other Side, time being allowed for marking a Toucher, removing Dead Bowls or making Line decisions.

POSITION OF THE PLAYERS

Players not in the act of playing or controlling Play must be clear of the Rink Mat and if practical be behind the Fender.

PLAYERS AND THEIR DUTIES

SKIP

[a] The Skip shall have SOLE charge of their Side and their instructions must be obeyed by all their Players;

[b] With the opposing Skips they will decide all disputed Points or Shots. When both Skips agree their decision shall be Final. If they cannot agree either one will call the Umpire who will then arbitrate and their Decision shall be Final and Binding. In the absence of an Official Umpire, any person mutually agreed by both Players will act as the Umpire and their decision will be Binding.

Whilst at the Head

[c] They will be responsible for Marking all Touchers or removing the Chalk Marks from any Non Touchers. They will be responsible for removing any Dead Bowls from the Ditch, off the Rink Mat or Dead Area.

[d] They will decide on any Line Bowls with the other Skip and any other matters or will call the Umpire to adjudicate.

[e] They may remain at the Head End until it is their turn to Bowl. They may visit the Head only when in charge of the Rink Mat, but may not carry their Bowl beyond the nearest Dead Line.

Any Bowl carried beyond the Dead Line will be declared Dead and must be removed from the Rink Mat.

[f] It will be the responsibility of the Skip to call Foot Faults whilst at the Delivery End. (See also 7. FOOT FAULTING).

THIRD

[a] The Third will do all of the Measuring and agree the Shots, allowing the Opposite number to also Measure and will inform the Skip of the result.  Only if the Thirds cannot agree will they call the Skips who will then arbitrate.

[b] The Third will Mark all Touchers or remove the Marks from any Non-Touchers and will remove any Dead Bowls from the Rink Mat or Ditch and will see the Jack or any Toucher in the Ditch is not disturbed except by another Toucher.

[c] The Third will take charge of the Head only when it is the Skips turn to Bowl and their Side is in possession of the Rink Mat.  If the Head is changed he/she will inform the Skip and direct the Play accordingly.

[d] The Third may remain at the Head End until it is their turn to Bowl.  They may not return to the Head End or pass beyond the Delivery End Dead Line once they have played their First Bowl until it is the Skips turn to Bowl, except to replace the Block if disturbed by a Bowl they have personally Bowled.

SECOND IN A FOURS GAME

[a] The Second will keep the Score Card and will see that the Names of all Players on each Side are entered.

[b] The Second will record the Score both For and Against as agreed by the Thirds and will compare the Card with the Opposing Second after each End;

[c] The Second will be responsible for the Score Card and will retain it in their possession at all times and hand it to the Skip on completion of the Game.

[d] The Second will not visit the Head whilst at the Delivery Mat End and will remain behind the Mat until the opposing Second has Bowled all their Bowls.

SECOND IN A TRIPLES GAME

[a] The Second will keep the Score Card as in a Fours Game, but will also agree the Shot or Shots with the opposing second and having recorded them will inform the Skip.

[b] The Second will provide the claim for Shots by Measuring, but will not cause any Bowl to be moved until the Shot or Shots are agreed, allowing the Opposing Second to also Measure and if they cannot agree will call the Skips to arbitrate.

[c] The Second will take charge of the Head when it is the Skips turn to Bowl and their Side is in possession of the Rink Mat. They will inform the Skip if the Head has been altered and guide the play accordingly.

[d] The Second will mark all Touchers and remove the Chalk from any Non Touchers.

[e] The Second will remove any Dead Bowls from the Ditch.

[f] The Second will not visit the Head whilst at the Delivery Mat end and will remain behind the Mat until the Opposing Second has Bowled all their Bowls.

LEADS

The Lead shall place the Delivery Mat correctly and see that the Jack is correctly Centred on the Jack Line before playing the first Bowl.

The Leads shall Bowl Singly and alternately until all their Bowls have been played.  The Leads will not visit the Head or go to the Head End until all the other Players at that End have Bowled all their Bowls and will remain behind the Delivery mat or the Fender.

DIRECTING PLAY

Only one Player shall be allowed on the Mat at the Head End at any one time in order to direct Play and then only when their Side is in possession of the Rink Mat. They MUST leave the Rink Mat before the next Bowl is delivered.

FORCING SHOTS

[a] A Player who intends to Play a Forcing or Firing Shot MUST give a VERBAL and a VISUAL Warning to the Player in charge of the Head End, or the Marker in a Singles Game, and must then allow time for those in the vicinity of the Head to be made aware of their intentions before delivering the Bowl.

[b] Once advised that a Forcing or Firing Shot is intended, the Player in charge of the Head or the Marker in a Singles Game must advise all other Players in the vicinity of the Head End and any nearby Markers, Umpires and Spectators that such a Shot is about to be played.

[c] It is ultimately the responsibility of the Player delivering the Bowl to ensure that no other person is placed at risk of injury.

[d] Failure to comply with this Rule will result in the Offending Player being warned at the first infringement. Subsequent infringements will result on the Player being asked to leave the Rink Mat and take no further part in the Competition.

CONDUCT

In the case of a Wilful Breach of the Laws of the Game or Unfair or Unsporting Conduct, the Umpire may caution the Offending Player(s) or Spectator(s) or order them to retire from the Rink Mat or area.   In all cases except SERIOUS MISCONDUCT a Player shall receive ONE Caution.

PLAY INFRINGEMENTS

Following the Bowl up the Rink Mat.

No Player shall follow their Bowl up to the Head on the Rink Mat or leave the Rink Mat and follow it up the side. Any Player who infringes this LAW must be Warned as soon as they cross the nearest Dead Line and on the Second Offence the opposing Skip can have the Bowl stopped and removed from the Rink Mat or have the End played again, but it must be from the same direction.

Playing before the last Bowl has come to rest.

[a] A Bowl played before the last Bowl has come to rest must be stopped and removed from the Rink Mat.

[b] Any such Bowl that disturbs the Head or makes contact with any Bowl or the Jack, the opponent leave the Head as altered or declare it Void It will be replayed from the Same Direction.

Changing the Order of Play.

Players may change their Order of Play at the Completion of any End.

Playing Out of Turn.

[a] If a Player plays before their Turn, the Opposing Skip shall have the right to stop the Bowl and cause it to be played again in its proper order;

[b] If the Bowl so played has moved the Jack or altered the Head, the Opposing Skip shall have the option of allowing the Head to remain as it is or declaring it Void;

[c] If the Head is declared Void it will be replayed from the Same Direction;

[d] If the Head is allowed to remain in its new position the other Players will follow in the new Order of Play.

Playing the wrong Bowl.

A Bowl played by mistake shall be replaced by the Players own Bowl.

No Player shall change their Bowls during a Game unless they become damaged or objected to as not complying within the LAWS.

Leaving the Rink Mat.

[a] No Player shall leave the Rink Mat whilst a Game is in progress without first consulting their Opposite Number and then for a period not exceeding 10 minutes.

[b] If during a Team Game a Player is forced to leave the Game through Illness or any other just cause, their place may be taken by a substitute if both Captains agree.

[c] Should the sick or indisposed Player return after the Substitute has joined the Game on the Rink Mat, even though the Substitute has not Bowled the Player will not be allowed to rejoin the Game, nor can they act as a Substitute in any other set.

[d] Should the Opposing Team Captain not agree to the playing of a Substitute or should there be no Substitute available, the Game will continue with the missing Player being classed as the Second.

Absentee players.

[a] If a Player is absent from a Side at the time laid down for the commencement of the Game, a wait of 10 minutes will be allowed.

[b] If Trial Ends are to be played they will take place. The missing Player will forfeit their rights to Trial Ends.

[c] If the missing Player arrives before the Trial Ends are completed they will be allowed to play, only the Trial Ends will be forfeited.

[d] If the missing Player has not arrived by the expiry of the time allowed, a Singles or Pairs Game will be awarded to the Opponents.

[e] A Triples or Fours Game will commence with the missing Player being considered as the Second and a definite order of play will be maintained. It shall be LEAD, LEAD, SECOND, LEAD, LEAD, SECOND.

[f] If the missing Player arrives after the Delivery Mat has been placed for the first End they shall not be allowed to play.

Playing with a missing Player.

There will be no Penalty or extra Bowls played by the Side with a Player missing, but in Triples or Fours Games the missing Player will be considered as the Second and a definite order of Play will be maintained.   It shall be LEAD, LEAD, SECOND, LEAD, LEAD, SECOND.

Objects on the Rink Mat.

Under NO circumstances shall any Object to assist any Player or to influence the play be placed on the Rink Mat or on the Fender or on the Jack or on a Bowl or elsewhere.

RESULTS OF AN END

The Shot or Shots.

[a] A shot or Shots shall be adjudged to be the Bowl or Bowls nearer the Jack than the nearest Bowl played by the Opposite side.

[b] When the last Bowl of the End comes to rest, 30 seconds shall elapse if either side request it during which time no Bowls shall be Touched, Chalked, Measured or interfered with.   The request MUST be made as soon as the last Bowl has come to rest.  No Player may walk in the Live Area during that time.

[c] Neither the Jack nor Bowls must be moved until both Sides agree the result, except where a Bowl or Bowls have to be removed to allow another to be Measured.   Only the Player conceding the Shot(s) may remove the Bowls from the Rink mat.   If a Player removes a Bowl(s) before agreement has been reached a Penalty of one Shot per Bowl removed may be claimed by the Opposing Team.

[d] No Measuring shall be allowed until after the last Bowl has come to rest.

[e] When the last Bowl has come to rest at the completion of an End, only one Player from each Team shall be allowed on the Rink Mat for the purpose of deciding the Shot or Shots scored.

Measuring.

All Measuring MUST be done with Callipers, Flexible Measure or other equipment approved by the E.S.M.B.A.

All Measuring shall be to the nearest point of Both Objects .

If a Bowl requiring to be Measured is resting on another Bowl which prevents it being Measured, the best means available shall be taken to secure it in position whereupon the other Bowl shall be removed.  The same applies if more than one Bowl is involved.

The use of the Hand or Fingers for this purpose if PROHIBITED.

The same applies if a Bowl not so resting is in danger of falling before Measuring is complete.

If the Jack is in such a position that it maybe moved whilst it is being Measured, the best means available shall be taken to secure its position prior to the Measure being made.

The placing of the Hand or Finger on the Jack or any Bowl to be Measured constitutes disturbance and the Opposing Side shall claim the Shot or Shots or refuse to acknowledge the Shot or Shots in dispute.

Measuring with Hand, Foot, Mat or any other Object other than the recognised Measure is PROHIBITED. 

Live end no score.

When at the conclusion of an End the nearest Bowls of each side are Touching the Jack or the two nearest Bowls are of an equal distance from the Jack or there are no Bowls in the Live Area or Touchers in the ditch, it shall be deemed to be a Live End and NO SCORE. The End shall be recorded as an End played

The Player who played first in the tied End shall again play first and it shall be played from where the last End finished.

Last bowl in an end.

Nothing in these Laws shall be deemed to make it mandatory for the last Player to play their last Bowl in any End, but they should make their intention known to the Opposing Side before commencement of the determination of the result of an end. Once they have declared, that Bowl may not be played.

EXTRA END

[a] In the event of a Draw at the conclusion of a Game where a Winner must be determined, an extra End must be played.

[b] The Team Captains in a Team Game or the Leads in other Games shall Toss for the start. The Winner will have the right to play FIrst or Second.

[c] The extra End shall be played from where the last End finished.

[d] If at the conclusion of the extra End it is still a draw, a further End will be played. The Toss will again be made and the End played from where the

last End finished.

GAME DECISIONS

The Winner is the Player or Team with the Highest Number of Shots or points at the end of the Game.

SPECTATORS

Persons not engaged in the Game shall be situated clear of and beyond the limits of the Rink Mat.  They shall neither by word or act disturb or advise the Players.

SUBSTITUTES

Pairs, Triples and Fours Games: Competition

The Players taking part in the Game shall constitute the Team and will normally play together throughout the Competition. One additional Player – and the same Player – may be used as a Substitute at any time provided that he/she has not already taken part in the Competition.

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72 responses to “Rules of the game of Short Mat Bowls

  1. Perhaps you would like to have a look at my book on this subject.

  2. As I interpret the ESMBA rules, a non-toucher which ‘straddles’ to any degree, the ditch line, (even if actually ‘sitting’ in the live-area) is declared dead and removed.
    Can you confirm this and tell me what the recognised interpretetion is if the same occurs at the 3/4 dead-line (there being no possibility of touching of course)?

  3. Hi Roger – excerpt from ESMBA rules – (3) DEAD BOWL

    A bowl is dead and MUST be removed from the rink mat if

    (a) it is delivered from a foot fault position or

    (b) it contacts the centre block or passes over it or

    (c) it does not travel beyond the dead line or

    (d) it finishes in the ditch without touching the jack or

    (e) it touches or rebounds from the fender or contacts a toucher or the jack which is in the ditch, unless the bowl in question is a toucher or

    (f) when it comes to rest any part of the bowl breaks any part of the ditch line, unless it is a toucher or

    (g) when it comes to rest any part of it intersects any part of the dead line or

    (h) it makes contact with the floor or leaves the rink mat (except as in Law F12) or

    (i) it is carried beyond the dead line by the player who is in possession of the rink mat.

    Clearly if the bowl breaks any part of either of the lines( points f and g) it is dead – which includes “overhanging” the line – it must be totally within the “live” area.

  4. Just for the record, if a non-toucher touches the inside edge of the dead line or the ditch line within the delivery area it is a dead bowl and is removed. A Rooney square is normally used to precisely measure any conflict in this assessment.

  5. I would like to know why there is not a standard set of rules for Short Mat Bowls played anywhere in the World. In Wales we have the Welsh version of the rules which have, I believe, minor differences to the English! Also some rules are flagrantly flouted (eg more than two people on the mat at a time) but umpires are treated as aliens when this is pointed out!
    Michale Martin – West Wales

  6. Roger Hammond

    As there is no ‘World-wide association’ established at present, I imagine that most countries adopt what they feel is closest to their understanding of what the rules should be.
    Despite being in France, where there is no ‘national body’, our club , being mostly UK ex-pat players, use the general rules of the ESMBA.

    I can’t see that minor points make any real difference but I would agree that if we all intend at some stage, to play ‘competition bowls’, we should become a little more ‘au fait’ with the etiquette such as you mention……..after all,
    it’s only good manners!
    I think it has to be a ‘balance’ though, bearing in mind why we bowl in the first place……..at our club we have 90% of members who never bowled before and whilst sometimes they forget themselves and get excited enough in shouting from one end of the mat to the other. Although it can destroy concentration sometimes, I would miss the “whoops” and ‘high-fives’ that occasionally occur as they show real enjoyment if that were to change.
    So for me?….Live and let-live!

  7. With respect to Michael Martin’s comments. As at present, there is no established set of Rules at a ‘World level’ so far as I am aware. It is probable that those set out by the ESMBA are as good as any. Especially with the statement in the appendix “IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THESE ARE GUIDELINES ONLY AND NOT RULES. IT IS EXPECTED THAT EVERY ACCOMODATION SHOULD BE MADE FOR ANY DISABILITIES EITHER TEMPORARY OR PERMANENT BUT NO SET OF GUIDELINES CAN COVER EVERY PROBLEM. GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP AND FAIR PLAY SHOULD BE THE OVERALL DECIDING FACTOR” is a fair conclusion.

  8. Mr G H Henderson

    If a wood is delivered from the mat and remains in the air and lands 12-18″ over the line in the dead zone is this a legal wood. we have a player that is adamant that there is nothing in the rules to stop him delivering like this, apart from causing many arguments it is causing damage to the mats.
    I have looked in our rule book but unable to find a reference to this.
    ESMBA REG NO 13406

    • Hi Graham, Can’t see any rules that forbid this, only rule that says that the bowl must be delivered “by underhand bowling”. We would have thought that “common sense” should prevail, and that this delivery action is certain to cause damage to the rinks, and therefore could be classed as “unsportsmanlike” – quote from intro of “World Bowls Rules” – Introduction – No laws governing a sport can cope with every situation, and the laws governing the sport of bowls are no exception. Unusual situations not covered within the laws can often arise. The Laws of the Sport of Bowls (‘the laws’) have been drawn up in the spirit of true sportsmanship.
      So, if a situation arises that is not covered by these laws, players, markers and umpires should use their common sense and a spirit of fair play to decide on the appropriate course of action. ” End quote!

      • Michael Martin

        This is a view from the Welsh Short Mat Bowls side Visiting the Head The THIRDS in a fours team should both go up to the delivery end when it is their turn to play.  The second-playing Third should not stay at the head when the opponent goes to play their wood – however I have seen this ignored when it comes to inter-County games.

        The Skip can ask for their Third to come down and have a look to discuss the situation.  Normally, out of politeness, the Skip will ask the opposing Skip if this is OK. The second-playing Skip can stay at the head until their opposing Skip has played his shot, before he/she then goes to deliver his/her wood.

        Lobbing a Wood The idea of some players to project their wood so that it lands well clear of the dead-line is not mentioned in the Rule Book.  Nothing says that a wood has to land on the mat before the nearest dead-line.  Quite a number of players ‘drop’ their woods as they deliver their woods, but I have not seen anyone project the wood quite that far.  Perhaps it should be put into the Rules that a wood should land before the nearest dead-line, otherwise it will be deamed ‘dead’! Take this to extremes.  What if a player threw his wood so that it landed the other side of the block!!!  After all, it didn’t hit the block – so is it legal?  As an Umpire, in my mind, the block may be only 3 inches high, but is in theory as high as the roof of the room you are playing in.  (but only 18 inches wide)

          Michael Martin Cilgerran and Cardiganshire Short Mat Bowling Clubs

  9. Is it possible to have a definitive answer to this query please?
    Visiting the Head.
    Do I understand that in a 3’s or 4’s game, only the skips may visit the head
    and that being after the 1st bowl of each skip……..presumably only vocal/sign information being previously allowed?

    • Hi Roger – yes, as far as we are aware that is correct. It seems that the “official rules” at ESMBA have been taken down, presumably to be updated with the current changes to the rules. In a 4’s game the thirds can stay at the head (with the skips) until it is their turn to bowl if they both agree to it, but may not visit the head again after having left it.

  10. Hi,
    What are the rules, if any, regarding the bowls that one player may use.
    Specifically must the bowls, being used, all come from the same set or can you use bowls each of a different bias.
    Richard, Republic of Ireland.

    • Hi Richard – extract from official rules book – “1 “A Set of Bowls” means four bowls, all of a matched set, which are of the same manufacture, and are of the same size, weight, colour, bias, and where applicable, serial number and engraving; only bowls from the same set may be used.”. I think that answers your question.

  11. Hello Richard and Camaleon – I like Camaleon’s response apart from one thing. He quotes from an “official rules book”. The Welsh Rule Book does not mention what a SET of bowls is – only what a bowl is and how it can be marked. So with that in mind, a canny player could possible have four woods all different! (Not that I think that would do him/her much good) So long as they all bear the same stickers. If ever there was a case for an INTERNATIONAL set of Rules for the game, this is it! Michael Martin Cilgerran SMBC Wales

  12. Hello Michael, Richard and Cameleon,
    Sets of bowls? I beg to differ.
    I have the ESMBA short-mat rules book in front of me right now and will quote from it.
    Page 7/8 The Bowls…..(e) The ESMBA recognises bowls which are produced specifically for bowlers in the following codes; Short-Mat, Flat Green, Indoor Rink, Crown Green, Federation………….
    (g) There is no requirement in the Short Mat game for players to bowl with a matched set of bowls..

    Perhaps you have been confused by the differing rules of the other codes of bowling but I, and I’m sure many others, have always been aware of the facility to use different bowls in short-mat and use it to advantage……..indeed if you are not practised in the possibilities, you may not realise that it can do us some good! I’ll leave you to work out what those possibilities are!

    cordialement
    Roger

    • As I did say, if ever there was a case of having an International set of Rules for the game – this is it. It is accepted that, in the absence of any comment about what constitutes a “set of bowls”, that players should play with all their woods of the same type – but nothing is actually written in the Welsh Rule Book.

      Michael Martin Cilgerran and Cardiganshire Short Mat Bowling Clubs

  13. Can a player play with the left and then bowl the second bowl with the right hand at the same end in amatch we have a player who does this in most of his games to give him advantage

  14. The woods I play with have a strong bias and I have to really skim the edge of the mat especially when playing T to T. Question:- Am I allowed to alter the bias on my woods myself so they are changed to narrower running woods ?

    • Hi – I would not think that altering them yourself was within the rules. They are stamped as officially tested etc. and any “tampering” with them would make them illegal. I know that we allow the use of “outdated” woods in our club, but I think that this is within the spirit of the rules, as many of our club are retired pensioners.

    • Absolutely not. The bowls are made in sets of four and tested against a master bowl to make sure that they are a matched set with the same bias. They then receive an official confirmation stamp which effectively says that they comply with the rules. Although not required to be tested for normal match play if you tried to use them in a major contest they would be inspected and could be tested. If you are having trouble adjusting your delivery to compensate for mat conditions etc. Have a look at my book on http://www.shortmatbowling.net
      Regards
      Roy Wiggins

  15. What is the penalty incurred when the jack is knocked off the edge of the mat by a bowl?

  16. Once again I speak from the Welsh view on things. Knocking the jack off the edge of the mat is considered as “burning the end”. In a competition, the scorer should place a mark (asterisk?) against the side who burnt the end. TWO such ‘burns’ can be tolerated by a team, (it doesn’t matter WHO in the team) but on the third occasion, 3 POINTS are added to the opponents.
    If individual clubs have their own rules (as Camaleon states) that is up to the club. I don’t know what the ESMBA state – but I thought it was the same as I have just described

    • ESMBA rules state that it is up to each individual club to say what happens when the jack is knocked off the mat in “non official competition” games. Official competitons have their own rules, along the lines of Michaels post.

  17. Nothing in the rules to say you can’t. If you are lucky enough to be ambidextrous. Hope your firing shots benefit from it.

  18. Please explain how domestic handicaps work

  19. Michael Martin

    I have never heard of any form of “Handicapping” in SMB. Even wheelchair users don’t get any preference when it comes to playing – the only allowance for any disabled person is to cater for their ability to get onto the delivery mat.

  20. Robin Sheridan

    The delivery stance is quite clear in the rules but no reference is made regarding the delivery arm either during or at the point of delivery. I take it from this that there is no restriction and the arm can be outside the delivery area even at the moment of release.

  21. There are no rules that dictate that the your arms must be within any prescribed areas. It would be virtually impossible for instance, to play a reverse bias shot if ithere were any such rules.
    Regards to all
    Roy Wiggins

  22. Alan J Anderson

    Alan anderson 2:1:16
    In a game of triples the skip who was two shots down with the Jack 150ml from the ditch played a weighted shot taking the jack into the ditch, the jack hit the fender came back beyond the line and rolled off of the edge of the mat. The opposing skip claimed two shots,(this being the rule in our club if the jack runs off the side of the mat) The other skip argued that the Jack should have been replaced to where it first hit the fender ? Who was right.
    Happy new Year to you all aja

    • As I understand it, the jack is still live when it rebounds from the fender back into the playing area. If it then goes off the side it is as if it had gone directly off the side, and therefore should be two shots away. If the jack did not go off the side it would be left in the position where it rests and still be “live”.
      Happy New year to all too!

  23. Hello, I was asked about this possibility only a few weeks ago and gave the answer in line with Cameleon.
    However, relating to the same thing, another point does occur to me; If I am skipping and expecting a ‘drive’ with some weight, I tend to put my foot on the fender to ensure, if there are other bowls in the ditch, that the fender is not pushed away and off the mat. I have seen, during senior championship matches, the unattended fender moved by a strike and then manually returned to its correct position, pushing disturbed bowls and/or jack with it back to a random position.
    This can give a different position to a ‘natural lie’.
    My own action of ‘weighting’ the fender may also be incorrect as a truly solid strike on such a firm fender will naturally create a rebound such as the one in the question asked.
    A less ‘weighty’ fender will absorb a lot of the momentum and one would expect there would be insufficient movement now left in a bowl to go very far!
    What are your thoughts on this please as I don’t find any reference in the established rules?

    • You should not put your foot on the fender-It is not fixed so that it can absorb shocks by an over weighted bowl. Any subsequent mpvement of the bowls etc, during replacement should be carefully minimised but accepted. Any subseqent displacement of bowls etc could cause advantages and disadvantages and is unlikely to be subject to any deliberate misplacing.
      Hope this helps.

  24. Hi, Could you answer a disputed question for our team, in a singles match who doe`s the scoring, I say the two players decide who has won the end and by how many shots if they don’t agree the umpire shall measure and his decision is final. The other view is the umpire has total control and decides who has won the end and by how many shots without consulting the players.
    Which view is correct, Mike Jellyman.

    • Hi Mike – this is an extract from the rules – “With the opposing Skips they will decide all disputed Points or Shots. When both Skips agree, their decision shall be Final. If they cannot agree either one will call the Umpire who will then arbitrate and their Decision shall be Final and Binding. In the absence of an Official Umpire, any person mutually agreed by both Players will act as the Umpire and their decision will be Binding” – so in a game of Singles the skip is obviously the sole player – so if you cannot agree on the result of the end then the umpires decision is final, but is only consulted if the two players do not agree on the result of the end.

  25. the answer above is correct. One further point – Where a marker is being used.
    The Marker has no authority to adjudicate. His/her only function is to centre the jack and take off bowls that are outside the playing area. and keep the score. Only if both players agree beforehand is he used to measure the jack to determine the winner of the head.
    REGARDS
    ROY WIGINS

  26. what happens if the player in pairs match one wood to many

  27. is it against the rules to use crown green bowls on sort mat

  28. Are all bowls to be the same size for both sides ?

  29. If a triple is playing against a rink (4). Who in the triple plays with only 2 bowls . Scotland ?

  30. I would like to ask a question about when I fired on one occasion the wood hit the block so hard it still carried on and took out about five other woods nobody knew what should happen

  31. You cannot benefit from a foul. Therefore the bowls may be replaced where the opposing captain thinks they should be. That decision is final. If this is not possible the end should be replayed.

  32. What should be the weight and composition of the jack in short mat bowls?

  33. Hi I hope you can help ref Welsh rules

    I attended the county team competition and as far as I can see the following rules were contriviened and the umpires took no notice and often laughed away our concerns.

    Opposition skip kept crossing the dead line after bowling his wood to see what I bowled

    Players had feet on fender

    Players on other mats were shouting​, screaming and swearing on other mats

    rules contriviened

    4.2 Play Arrangements.
    4.) the skips will then go to the bowling end. They may only visit the head when in possession of the rink mat. Bowls must come to rest before any player passes the dead line.

    7.10 Possession of the Rink Mat.

    a) Possession of the rink mat shall belong to the side whose bowl is being played.

    b) The players in possession of the rink mat shall not be interfered with, annoyed, barracked or have their attention distracted by their opponents.
    .
    7.11 Position of Players.

    Players not in the act of bowling or controlling play must stand clear of the rink mat and, if possible, behind the fender.

    7.12 Players and Their Duties.

    Skip.
    f) While at the playing end the skip may only visit the head when he is in possession of the rink mat.

    Play Infringements.

    b) No player will follow their bowl up to the head on the rink mat or at the side of the rink mat. Players must be warned on the first occurrence as they cross the nearest dead line and on the second offence the bowl will be declared dead.
    7.23 Dangerous Play or Ungentlemanly Conduct.

    Any player found guilty of these offences may be disqualified from the event and can be reported to the WSMBA for further action.
    9. Duties of the Umpire.

    The umpire shall:

    a) Be conversant with and enforce the laws and rules of the Welsh Short Mat Bowls Association. When officiating always carry and use an up to date WSMBA Rule Book with any amendments.

    c) Follow the Code of Conduct for Umpires as laid down by the WSMBA.

    f) Ensure that the game is continuous and played in a competitive and sporting manner.

    I was extremely disappointed in the umpires attitudes in letting the shouting occur saying the players are young so it’s expected, also the attitude that we often ignore the rule about following woods up as it does not effect the game.

    There are rules for a reason and I hope you can help

    • Hi Ed – I am amazed at the standard of umpiring if this was the case in a county competition. Using age as an excuse is entirely the wrong attitude. By ensuring the rules are adhered to is the umpires job, and would be better if the players were young enough to ensure that they knew the rules and adhered to them too. The occasional shout of encouragement or disappointment is to be expected but constant bad language is unacceptable. As for the other infringements the umpire must impose their authority on all the players. I hope that you send these details to the appropriate governing body for your county and country. Hopefully you will get a response.

  34. Our club has a clock face score board which goes fron 0 to 21, if a team is on 19 and scores three points should that take their score to 0 or 1.

    • Hi Janet
      Could be either, so long as you all agree on which it is then there won’t be a problem. It would seem to me to be logical to point it at zero, as this is next in the sequence, which in this case would represent 22, but you could make an arguement for either (or even at 2 to represent 22!)

  35. Hi there recently I was playing third and gave the appropriate warning that I was going to fire unfortunately my wood hit the block crashed into the head my skip tried to stop my wood but she fell over disturbing some more woods ,what should have happened next

    • In these circumstances – you either allow the opposite skip to replace the bowls where he/she thinks they should be – and their decision is final. Or you replay the head.
      Regards
      Roy

  36. Can you change your bowls for another set during the game?

  37. Played a game on Wednesday and player was bowling with his foot in the ditch (dead zone ) his foot was way past the delivery lines, he said it was legal because his foot was in the ditch, I am very new to bowling surely this is wrong.

  38. If a game is being played and after more than 60% of all the bowls have been played in one end, and the jack is burnt, can the next end be played from the end where the majority of the bowls are, or MUST the end be played from the “original” end? If the former is applied this will speed up the play, especially if there is a time limit on the game that is being played.

    • Depends on the clubs rules for jack off the mat. In our club we decided that two shots are awarded to the opposition if the jack is driven off. Other clubs rule three shots. In competitions you should replay the end from the original position of that end. There is nothing to stop your club from changing this for non-competitions as we have.

  39. Hi to all, recently I played a triples game where the opposing skip had a very fine touch to the block that we saw but the opposing players at the head disputed that the bowl had touched the block. After discussion, the opposing skip felt that he may have skimmed the block but his two partners did not agree and stated that the decision was to be made by the “head” players and not the skip. What is the ruling on this issue?bloo

    • Open to interpretation. Second in team for triples assumes the Skips role when at the head. This implies that it includes calling block touches – but there is no explicit statement on this. I think that if the seconds disagree then Skips decision would come into it. If both skips agree that it was did touch the block then the head would have to be put back the way it was, and if that wasn’t possible then strictly the end should have been replayed, but in this case it was the last bowl of the end and it was stated that there was a shot to your team before the final bowl was played so calling the end result (although technically incorrect) was probably the best outcome. There are different ways of reading the rules in this case. Also there is no mention of the ruling for the last bowls of and end disturbing the head. So everyone was right in a way 🙂

  40. Hi if jack goes off side of green mat what happens Please ?

  41. how about.. jack out the rink short mat….. 3 point to oppenant yes or no..

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