Picture this - rolling a ball that's a little bit bigger in diameter than a baseball, but a little bit smaller than a softball, aiming at really skinny pins. That's candlepin bowling, and I'm taking my wife and kids to do that one day next week. It's something we haven't done in years. My son Chris (he's going on 22) will be doing his first PBA gig some time in June (non-televised). But that's "normal bowling", the conventional "tenpin bowling". It's funny how they call the normal mode of bowling (with the big ball, up to 16 pounds) "tenpin", considering duckpin bowling (which used to be big in Rhode Island, there are only a handful of duckpin houses left) and candlepin bowling (none in Rhode Island, but big in Massachusetts and New Hampshire) both use ten (10) pins.
The house we're going to is called Fun Spot, up in the middle of New Hampshire, and has a huge arcade, indoor golf, bingo, and twenty lanes of bowling - ten candlepin and ten tenpin. You can bet I'm in it for the candlepins. Heck, I can go tenpins anywhere! There's a tenpin house less than ten minutes from my home. I want the real challenge.
For those who have never seen candlepin bowling before (mostly those who don't live in MA, ME, NH, or Nova Scotia, Canada), the idea is the same --- roll the ball and knock down ten pins. BUT--- you get three balls to do it instead of two. If you knock them all down on the third ball, it's scored simply as a "ten" - no more, no less. No waiting for the next frame to determine your score like in a spare or strike. Same applies to duckpins. Also, candlepin bowling is the only bowling where you DO NOT clear the deadwood. You must play it. That has its ups and downs. With deadwood played correctly, 7-10 split conversions are more common. However, a piece of deadwood in a certain spot can prevent you from picking up that single pin for a spare.
A typical male pro candlepin bowler averages somewhere around 120-130 (a typical PBA tenpin bowler averages about 100 pins more than that). Here's a YouTube video of the first five frames of a match where the champion, Paul Berger, shot a rare three-game total of 500 (158-149-193). Enjoy!