A game of tenpin bowling involves 10 frames (turns) in which the bowler will deliver 2 bowling balls in each frame (except where a strike has been bowled on the first shot of the frame). Each pin has the value of 1 point, making scoring fairly easy once you get the hang of it.

The following example picks up a bowler’s progress in the 5th frame of a game. In frame 5 the bowler got 5 pins on her first delivery, and on the second ball managed to knock down another 4 for a total of 9 points in the frame. Added to her score in the 4^{th} frame (66) she now has 75 points in Frame 5. In frame 6 she knocked down 8 pins on the first delivery, and then missed the remaining 2 on the second shot of the frame (no pins hit), for a total of 8 points for the frame. These 8 points are added on to the 75 points in frame 5 and give the bowler a total of 83 points in the 6th frame. In frame 7 she knocked down all the pins on her first shot, bowling a STRIKE (marked as “X”). When a Strike is bowled no further deliveries are made in that frame. Although the value of the pins knocked down in the Strike is 10 points, these points are not added in just yet as the strike entitles the bowler to also add in the point value of her next 2 deliveries. The total points are therefore left unmarked for now.

In frame 8 the bowler’s first delivery earns her 5 points. Still we do not add in a score in the 7th frame as a Strike in Frame 7 means we add the points earned in the next *two* deliveries. On her second ball in the 8th frame she knocks down all the remaining pins, bowling a SPARE (marked as a “5” for the first ball, and a “/” to indicate a spare). Now with 2 deliveries completed after the strike in the 7th frame we can go back and record the points earned in Frame 7. Firstly a strike in frame 7 is worth 10 points (all pins were knocked down). Added to this is the value of the next two balls (10 points recorded in frame 8… the first ball earned 5 and the spare ensured another 5). So, the strike in frame 7 earned 20 points, which we add to the 83 points in frame 6 for a total of 103 points in frame 7.

Having bowled a Spare in the next frame, frame 8’s score cannot be tallied until the next delivery is made. Spares are worth the total points knocked down in their frame (all pins down equals 10 points) PLUS the value of pins knocked down by the bowler’s next delivery (in the next frame). In our continuing example, the bowler’s first ball in frame 9 only knocks down 6 Pins. These 6 points are added to the 10 points earned in frame 8 for a total earnings of 16 points on the Spare which, added to the 103 points in frame 7 gives the bowler a total of 119 points in frame 8 as illustrated below. Continuing in frame 9 the bowler gets 3 points on her second ball, for a total of 9 points which are added to the 119 total in frame 8 for a frame 9 score of 128.

Frame 10 is slightly different than all the other frames. It also allows 2 deliveries where the bowler leaves an open frame (not all the pins were knocked down by the first 2 balls). However, should the bowler roll a strike or spare, a third ball will be required. This ensures that even if the first ball is a strike the strike will carry the value of 10 plus the next 2 balls thrown. If a spare is bowled, it counts the value of the first 2 balls thrown in the frame (10) plus it allows a 3^{rd} ball to provide the added bonus points earned by the spare.

To pick up where we left off, our bowler gets a strike on her first ball in the 10th. The value of the tenth frame can only be tallied once all three balls have been delivered. On her second ball she knocks down 7 Pins. So far she has 17 points in the 10th. On her third ball (the last of the game) she manages to Spare (knocks down all remaining pins on a second ball after the full rack of pins has been reset). The strike was worth 10 plus the value of the next two balls, which in this case were worth another 10 points. This totals 20 points earned in the 10th frame for a total score of 148. See the following illustration and how the strike and spare are recorded in the 10th frame.

This example of scoring should clarify how tenpin bowling is scored.