Duckpin bowling has rules similar to tenpin bowling. In a 10-frame game, bowlers try to knock down pins in the fewest rolls per frame. Bowlers have three balls per frame, instead of two in tenpin bowling, to knock over a set of 10 pins. If a bowler knocks down all 10 pins with their first roll in a frame, it is scored as a strike. If all the pins are knocked down in two rolls, the bowler has made a spare. If all the pins are knocked down in three rolls, it is scored as a ten, as in candlepins, with no bonus. If pins are still standing after the third ball, the bowler gets one point for each pin knocked down.
In the case of a strike, the bowler gets 10 points plus the total number of pins knocked down with the next two balls rolled, for a maximum of 30 points. In the case of a spare, the bowler gets 10 points plus the number of pins knocked down with the next ball, for a maximum of 20 points. If it takes three balls to knock down all 10 pins, the bowler gets 10 points, with no bonus. A bowler's final score is the sum of the points earned over 10 frames (a spare or strike in the tenth frame earns one or two rolls respectively). The maximum possible score is 300 points, which is accomplished by rolling 12 strikes in a row. According to the NDBC, the official high score in a sanctioned game is 279, rolled by Pete Signore Jr. in 1992.
Below is a sample game bowled by "Fred":
Let's go thru this game frame-by-frame:
Fred has bowled a 150 game with 3 spares and 3 strikes (spares and strikes are typically recorded in league play).
Keep in mind that ANYTHING over 100 is considered pretty good in duckpins. The game in the boxscore above is VERY GOOD. The top averages in duckpins are right around 140-150.
During league play, records of spares and strikes are usually kept and some leagues award prizes at the end of the season for the leader in each category. Strikes are difficult to come by in duckpins, so making spares is an important part of attaining a high average in duckpins.
As of March 2016, the highest single game bowled in duckpins is 279 by Pete Signore, Jr. at T-Bowl Lanes in Newington, CT on March 4, 2002. The highest single game bowled by a woman is 265 by Carole Gittings at Fair Lanes Timonium in Timonium, MD on May 6, 1973.
The highest 3 game set in duckpin bowling is 655 bowled by Jeff Pyles at Glenmont Bowl in Wheaton, MD on April 24, 1978. For women, Diane Jasper holds the record with a 586 set bowled at Suitland Bowl in Suitland, MD on June 16, 1988.