The Epic Candlepin Vs. Ten Pin Battle – Know the Difference

Everyone enjoys bowling with family or friends; it is the best leisure and fun activity. Various people also play bowling as a professional sport participating in leagues and tournaments. Part of traditional bowling, known as tenpin, there are other game variations, depending on the origins.

Candlepin and tenpin are the most widely played variants in various parts of the world. Now, if a pin and ball are involved, what’s the difference? Candlepin vs. ten pins, which one is better or more fun to play? Tenpin has known as the American variant, and Candlepin is said to be the British variant of this game.

Further into the discussion, we will compare the different factors for both games and which 

Candle pin vs ten pin comparison

Origin and Geography

Where did candlepin bowling originate when tenpin was the basic layout? It is believed that the origins of the Candlepin lie in Canada initially in the 19th century, but it gained popularity in the United Kingdom later on. It is also played in vast regions of America, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maine.

On the other hand, Ten Pin bowling is the most basic bowling layout played worldwide. This variant has roots that originated in the United States and quickly got famous across the country and the world. Tenpin is the style that is followed in professional and international competitions.

Pin Shape and Size

When it comes to differences, the most fundamental difference is the shape of the pin themselves.; both are different in Candlepin and Ten Pin. Regarding candlepin bowling, the pins are tall cylindrical and relatively thin. Their height is 5.75 inches (40 cm), and they are tapered at the ends, making them more challenging to hit.

In contrast, tenpin bowling features shorter and thick pins that are easier to hit even on a slight impact. Each pin has a height of 15 inches (38 cm) with a triangular-shaped formation, making it easier to roll off. 

Bowling Balls

Candlepin and tenpin both use different kinds of balls for the hit. The balls used for the Candlepin are petite and have no holes for inserting fingers, making it easier to grasp and release on the alley. Being smaller in size, their weight is also less, ranging from 2 pounds to 7 ounces (1.2 kg) at most.

The balls used in tenpin bowling are giant and have holes for inserting fingers. Their enormous weight can’t be handled without the support of fingers, so bowlers need to learn how to aim in bowling properly. Tenpin ball weighs 10 to 16 pounds (4.5 to 7.3 kg).

Number of Rolls

As you are aware of the frame system in bowling, the Candlepin has three rolls per player, and there are two rolls per player in ten pins. Also, check what is an open frame in bowling to get a clear understanding. 

The additional opportunity to roll down your ball in the Candlepin allows you to score more, but the pins’ shape makes it challenging to achieve more. Ten pins maybe only have two rolls; the chances of taking down all ten are higher. 

Scoring System

The scoring system in both games also differs given the styles; pin and pin arrangement is different. Candlepin is known for having the most straightforward scoring system compared to the tenpin. 

There is no additional bonus, strikes, or spare just the number of pins taken down in each attempt is added to the total score.

Tenpin bowling has a tricky scoring system; it has struck and spare, significantly impacting the score. If a player strikes (knocks down all ten pins in the first roll), the ten points are added to the scores of the following two rolls.

 If it’s spare (knocking ten pins with two rolls), the player earns ten points for the next roll’s total.

Game Duration and Difficulty

Bowling with small balls and straight pins, known as candlepins, tends to be quicker due to the extra roll and design of pins. It can be difficult with no holes in the ball, and players might need additional control to handle it.

Tenpin games tend to last longer because they have two rolls per frame, which takes time to finish. However, the strikes and spare situations increase the score more quickly.

CandlePin Vs. Ten Pin: Game Setup

Candlepin BowlingTen Pin Bowling

– Smaller, cylindrical pins arranged in astraight line- Smaller, lightweight balls without finger holes for grip– Larger, triangular arrangement of pins in a 10-pin formation- Larger, heavier balls with finger holesfor better grip and control
Lane– Traditional wooden lanes, narrow and shorter– Synthetic or wooden lanes, more comprehensive and longer
– 41-42 inches wide and around 30-35 feet long– 41.5 inches wide and 60 feet long
Scoring– Simpler scoring system, adding pins knocked down to the total score– More complex scoring with strikes and spares affecting subsequent frames
Rolls/Frame– Three rolls allowed per frame– Two rolls allowed per frame
Game Duration– Typically shorter games due to a quicker paceand fewer frames– Generally longer games due to additionalrolls and scoring intricacies
Popularity– More famous in the New England region- Fewer alleys and locations outside ofNew England– Widely popular worldwide- Found in numerous bowling alleys globally

Wrap Up

You still need to get a holistic comparison of Candlepin vs ten pins. Candlepin is a variant in which pins are straight with tapered ends; players get three rolls per frame, and it is played with more petite balls with no holes. On the other hand, ten pins have shorter pins arranged in a triangular shape; players get two rolls per frame, playing with a big ball with holes to insert fingers. Candlepin and tenpin are the top most-played variants of bowling.

The choice depends on the players’ preferences. However, if you want to learn and join the bowling journey, opt for the most widely followed tenpin variant.


Yes, candlepin bowling is more challenging than tenpin bowling, and it is said to be the original version that emerged a century before the tenpin, around 1895. Due to the use of tall and pointed pins, it is more challenging than ten pins.

Well, it is considered better because it has a smaller, lighter ball with no holes that are easier to control. Besides, a player gets to roll the ball three times per frame in a candlepin.

No, 300 is the highest and perfect score that can be hit in a candlepin. No one in history has achieved this perfect score. The top score in Candlepin was 245 by Ralph Semb in 1984 and Chris Sargent in 2011.

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