Recently, I’ve been participating in the ABT (Amateur Bowling Tour). I’m a member of the Philadelphia chapter, and they host 1-2 tournaments a week at various alleys throughout the Philly Tri-State area (South Jersey, Philly, and Delaware). Generally, I only go to the ones in Pennsylvania, as the NJ and DE ones are an hour or more away. I’d say I’ve participated in 5-6 in the past year, with most of those being in the past 3 months.
A few months ago, I finished 5th in a tournament. Last week, I was 1 pin away from qualifying for the finals. This week’s tournament was in Delaware, but my father and I went down to it anyway because it was a “major”. The ABTs normal tournaments generally give $1000 for 1st place; the majors are either $5000 or $10,000. And the normal tournaments draw 50-70 people, this weekend’s had a little over 400.
The tournaments are broken down into 2 divisions; Classic and Masters. Classic is an open division, for anyone with a 189 or lower average. Masters is for 190+. The 2 divisions qualify separately, have separate semi-finals, and separate finals. The only time they compete against each other is for the overall tournament championship; masters winner vs classic winner. I’m in Masters, while roughly 60% of all entrants are Classic.
It’s hard to describe the shot that was laid out for this weekend’s tournament. It was even across the lanes, and seemed to break down very quickly; the play changed drastically between qualifying and the finals. Overall, it was very dry on the back-end, giving a very quick snap, while the front of the lane was quite wet. The result was that your ball would move, but you had to put it in a good spot, or you’d be in trouble. Too far outside, it wouldn’t recover and you’d leave a wash out… too far inside, and you’d go through the nose or cross over.
It cost me $75 to enter the tournament, another $33 for sidepots (high game, clean set, strike pot, and bonus bucks), $25 for scratch pot, and I entered 8 brackets ($40). I thought I was in trouble at the start; I was playing a straight-up inside line, and was having a lot of trouble keeping it consistent. Compound that with 2 pocket 7-pin hits following stikes and 2 chops of spares… I was sure I was done after 1 game. Pulled out a double in the 10th to finished with a 170 scratch (192 with handicap, good for a -8). The second game wasn’t looking much better, as I was all over the place… but I managed 4 straight 9-spares to start the game. Then I decided to make a drastic move; instead of playing straight-up 10, I moved left to 5 and dropped my ball speed a bit. First ball I threw was a pocket 7-10. But then things changed and I finished the game with 6 in a row and another pocket 7-10, good for a 231 scratch (+53 for the game)… which was the highest score for anyone that game, getting me $70 in the high game pot and securing me births in the finals of any bracket I was still alive in (I didn’t think there would be many, given my crappy 1st game). The 3rd game was up and down, with a double followed by a 6-out followed by a turkey; finished with a 203 (+25). Overall, 604 scratch and +70. Turns out this was good enough to qualify me 4th out of 31 who made it in my division, and 6th place for scratch ($140). I managed to survive the 1st game in 4 of my 8 brackets, and won all 4, for another $100.
Next up was the semi-finals. I put in another $6 for high game pots and entered 10 more brackets ($50). Total money I put up: $229. I played the same line throughout the semis, starting off strongly in-spite of a few splits (double-split-5 in a row-split). 217 final score (+39). The 2nd game was a disaster; I couldn’t do anything right on the left lane, hitting the head pin only once in 5 frames. I fought back, with another double in the 10th, for a paltry 166 (-12 for the game, +27 through 2). The top 8 out of 31 would make the finals and the cut through 2 games was announced at +29. I buckled down in the 3rd game, re-focusing, and shot a very consistent 216 (599 scratch series, +65). It was then a waiting game to see whether that would be good enough to qualify for the finals. After what had to have been at least a half hour, it was announced that the Masters cut was +29 and my +65 was good for 3rd. I survived 8/10 brackets through game 1, but my awful game 2 left me with only 1 in the finals, which I won for $25.
The format for the finals was a bracket. 8 people drew random numbers for lane assignments, then played 1 vs 1 with the winners moving on. I got lucky and drew against the guy who qualified 8th. We both struggled on a pair of lanes that were much drier than we were used to, and I eeked out a victory 184 to 168 scratch (I was only giving him 2 pins of handicap). We then re-drew lane assignments and I was slotted against the lone woman in Masters, who had shot a 217 in her 1st round match. Luckily for me, we were back on a pair of lanes that wasn’t super dry, and I had my best game of the day. I started off with a turkey, then alternated 7-pin spare / strike for the rest of the game, with every ball buried… just getting no carry on the left lane. She struggled and I won 217 to 165 (with me giving her 1 pin of handicap). With that, I was off to the finals of the Masters division. And I was lost all game. Couldn’t find a shot on the left lane, couldn’t keep the ball on the left side of the lane on the right lane… and my opponent had 5 in a row early. He coasted to beat me 223 to 164. I was given a check for $1000 for finishing tied for 3rd (1st place was $10,000, 2nd $3750).
It was an exhausting day, waking up at 8am. We reached the alley around 10, but didn’t start bowling until close to 1pm. My final game ended around 7pm. And I was starving, having eaten only a breakfast sandwich and donut from Dunkin’ Donuts and 1 bottle of water. I treated my father to dinner at a local Brazilian steakhouse then was home by 9:15, asleep by 10. Total earnings: $1335 for a profit of just over $1100 (about $1000 after dinner). Not bad for a single day… definitely makes my lifetime ABT revenue greater than my lifetime outlays. Next tournament I’ll enter is at my home lanes, Thunderbird Warminster, at the end of July.
So I have been pretty lazy when it comes to posting stuff here… will do my best to get back to posting more. Lot of stuff has been going on though!
I bought a house with Whorli (my girlfriend of almost 8 years now). This was about 3 weeks ago. It’s been pretty hectic trying to paint the new house, move everything out of the old house and into the new one, paint the old house and get it ready for the renters moving in (Whorli’s parents own our old house), etc etc. Still not done and we’ve been working on it for hours a day. Too many trips to Lowe’s and IKEA.
Bowling has been going fantastically. Tuesday night league is finally over… thank god. There is 1 more week left for Wednesday night, then the playoffs. Over the past 12 weeks of Wed bowling, I’ve averaged 231.00 and raised my book from 220.39 to 224.03. Yet, I somehow have a losing record in those 36 games (17.5 – 18.5). Of those 36 games, 6 have been under 200 and 5 have been over 265. I’m in 6th for average, but just 75 pins out of 3rd. I also shot back to back 700 series for the first time ever this past Tuesday and Wed (741 and 726). Will have a final bowling post for the season in 2 weeks.
Walkthrough business has been a bit slow recently, although it doesn’t seem to just be me. Most of the flash devs I talk to regularly feel that things are a bit down overall. I suspect it’ll pick up shortly, as the summer is just starting.
ThirdStyle is picking up, which is nice after 2-3 months of minimal development.
Been a while since I posted about bowling. Have been fairly consistent over the past few months. Averaging 219 across both leagues… 216 in 1, 222 in the other. Had a 786 with a 289 last week. I broke my performance down by month and by game, which is kind of interesting:
High game: 290, Low game: 170. 21 games of 250+, 34 games sub-200.
And, below the fold you can find my full series data for the entire year:
Just shot a 791. Best series ever.
1st game, 247: XXX 9- (left a weak 7-pin and then my foot slipped when i went to shoot the spare) X 9/ XXX XXX
2nd game, 290: 9/ (light mixer, all the pins shot to the right, none took out the 10-pin) XXXXXXXX XXX
3rd game, 254: XXXXXX 9/ (decent half-hit, messenger came across into the 7-pin but didn’t knock it down) 9/ (little too much hand, high hit, left 6-pin) 9/ (solid hit that was a bit flat, left a wobbling 5-pin) XX7
Needed either the 7th or 9th frame of the 3rd game to carry for an 800. Or not to have slipped on the 4th frame spare attempt of the 1st game… but who would have known I’d have had a shot at 800 at that point?
Overall, 17 strikes in a row between 2nd frame of 2nd game and 6th frame of 3rd game… that’s a record for me. 23 strikes in 24 throws is also a record (6 to end game 1, 10-pin in 1st frame of game 2, 17 in a row). I am pretty sad that I didn’t get my 1st 800, as I have no idea when I’ll ever have a night like tonight again… but I can’t be too upset with my best series ever. I got crazy good carry, although I was hitting high flush on almost all my shots… few half-hits that still easily carried out the 7-pin and a few high-hits that took out the 6 or 8 pin.
Had a pretty solid November, marred only by my 1st sub-600 on Wednesday night (2nd overall). Raised my Tues ave from 212.9 to 215.2, my Wed ave from 220 to 221, and overall from 216.6 to 218.2. Had my 2nd 700 of the season and 2 other series of 695+. And, my best night might have been my 630 from this past Tuesday, where I finished with 15 strikes, 14 7-pins, and 1 open… sooo many balls in the pocket, just couldn’t get any carry.
I think this will become a regular month-end piece. You probably don’t care… but, well, I don’t care that you don’t care. Anyway, I’m still subbing in my dad’s league on Tuesday nights and bowling my league on Wednesdays.
Last night was the 1st quarter playoffs, and we started out tied for 2nd place, 5.5 games behind the #1 team. We needed to win at least 11.5 games (out of 17). My team only bowled average, but we somehow won 16 points and took home the round. The 1st place team rolled over for us. This guarantees us a spot in the year-end playoffs and gets us some extra cash (the league is weird in that money is paid out based on position finished during each quarter, and then a bonus to each team in the playoffs based on final position).
At the end of September, I noted that I wanted to go the whole year without throwing under 600. Alas, as soon as I wrote that, I shot under. But, every other series this month was over 630, including my first 700 of the season. Dropped about 1.5 points on Tuesday, but gained almost 4 points on Wednesday. Overall average: 216.67.
I’m trying to understand why I’m 7+ pins different between the 2 leagues. Probably just variance.
So my main league is Wednesday nights. I’ve also been filling in on my father’s team Tuesday nights, until they find someone to replace me… which I doubt will happen. So, I’m bowling 2 leagues back-to-back nights. My goal is to average 215+. I’ll be happy with anything over 210, but 215 is what I’m shooting for. My highest book average is only 208, and that was 4 years ago (I’ve been battling hand injuries pretty much ever since, and my hand finally feels great again). So, I’ve been keeping track of my scores in both leagues, and figured I’d share the progress with you:
I’m pretty much right on track for 215, and overall I feel like I’m not bowling my best. So we’ll see where things go from here… the seasons are early, and averages can still move a lot in a short period of time. Also, another goal would be to shoot 600+ every series… not a very realistic goal, but so far so good.
I love bowling. I’ve talked about it before in my blog. When I was in LA, I bowled in 3 different scratch leagues. A scratch league means that there is no handicap given to even out the differences in skill between the teams. 1 league was a singles league and the other 2 were team leagues (3 and 4 man, respectively). I really like scratch bowling, for 3 main reasons. 1) I’m a pretty good bowler, and am confident in my abilities to be competitive. 2) I want to push myself every single game to win and improve. 3) If I am going to lose, I want it to be because I was beaten, not because my opponent bowled slightly over his average… winning scratch but losing because of handicap is unbelievably frustrating.
Most handicap bowling leagues use some variation of a 90% differential. This means that if you have 5 man teams with 100 pins difference in average, the inferior team is only losing 2 pins per person over 150-200 pins. Aka, about 1%. Figure at absolute most, you’re down 3%. I’ll leave the statistical variance calculations to someone else, but it’s clear that that is extremely minimal. In poker, 53% vs 47% is still referred to as a coin flip. And that’s what 90% handicap leagues are, mostly… coin flips, at least for individual games. In the long run, that 3% edge widens (and 3% is a very generous number), but it still gives way too much help to inferior teams on a week by week basis. I don’t understand the 90% handicap except in a youth league, where the goal is to make things fair and even for everyone. In a money league, where tens of thousands of dollars are being put into the pool, it should be more about skill and less about luck; for anyone to want it to be so heavily luck based is extremely illogical and baffling to me.
My belief is that, just like in scratch leagues or any professional sport, the best teams SHOULD win. Just because the St. Louis Rams or the Pittsburgh Pirates have been terrible for years doesn’t mean they stop playing… they still go out there and compete, even though their odds of winning are far less than 47%. However in bowling, I keep getting told that nobody will bowl in a 70% handicap league (or scratch) because all the “bad” bowlers will leave. This was not the case in LA… many people liked the challenge, even though they knew they had no shot (and the good bowlers liked the bad bowlers because they were free money). I suggested a 70% handicap for the league I’m currently in (which is the supposed “big boy” league of my area), and I was shot down by more than 90% of the league; good and bad bowlers alike. It makes me sad.
What are your thoughts on handicap in sports? And to note… the only time I find handicap acceptable is when it’s for wagering on a game-by-game basis, and even then I wouldn’t ever give an opponent 90% of our difference (I usually give 80%, if it can be calculated).
tl;dr version: the majority of the people in my league are giant pussies that either aren’t confident in their abilities, don’t want a competitive environment, or are afraid to challenge themselves with superior competition.
Things have been fairly busy since moving back 2 months ago. I’ve been wined and dined by family and friends to the point that I’ve gained 10+ pounds (to a whopping 150!). To balance that, I’ve been playing an awful lot of basketball with my father… who while is not the best competition, still provides a solid workout. And lots of bowling, of course… my league starts this Wednesday.
Also many members of Whorli’s family have visited. Her brother flew with us on the initial move, to carry a cat for us and help with things. Her sister was with us for 2 weeks while attending a summer program at a local university for high school kids. And her grandparents just left after being with us for a few days, headed on a cruise to Canada.
To top all that off, I still don’t have a car. Hopefully that will be fixed soon.
All in all, things have been fairly busy, plus work is going nicely. It’s a different pace from when I was in LA.
I recently posted a video of me bowling, which isn’t a big deal… I’ve been bowling in leagues since I was 8. What’s odd is how many people commented with the fact that I’m left handed. I take it for granted, but apparently it’s something unique? My father and 1 of my brothers are both left handed as well.
After doing a quick google search, it seems like studies think that somewhere between 7-15% of the population is left handed. It also says that most left handed people have some ambidexterity skills, but I do not fall into this category. I do everything left handed and also have a dominant left foot. My writing and throwing ability is flat out abysmal with my right hand.
The only thing I prefer to do with my right hand is use a mouse… I have really crappy mouse skill with my left hand.
Some people have asked how this impacts my gaming, but I don’t think it does. I’ve been using a mouse right handed since I was 5 or so… so it’s what feels natural. Even then I didn’t like using a mouse in my left hand. I do prefer using my left hand for keyboard control (which works very well with my right on the mouse), but there are some games where the setup demands using the right hand for control and the left hand for various hotkeys… and I don’t think it gives me any disadvantage.
It’s often brought up when I bowl though, since many right handed bowlers feel that lefties have an advantage. I won’t bore you with the detailed explanation of why… but I just really found it interesting that so many random people noted my left handedness.