Using separate lane patterns for team and minors (doubles and singles) at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships, which USBC announced Thursday it would do starting in 2013, could be significant or small.
The devil will be in the details of how different the patterns are.
For example, if USBC simply uses the same pattern but varies the distance by a couple of feet, the difference between team and minors will be small.
But if the patterns are radically different in shape and/or distance, the difference between team and minors will be significant.
We will find out a few days before the 2013 Open Championships, when the patterns will be unveiled on the second annual USBC Open Championships Kickoff Show live on BowlTV, according to this FAQ that is part of this USBC news release announcing the 2-pattern decision. The PDF of the FAQ is attached to the end of this blog.
The Kickoff Show again will feature tournament staff explaining and discussing the patterns, which then will be posted for download under LANE CONDITIONS on the Open Championships page on BOWL.com.
USBC said in the FAQ that the patterns “will be different enough to potentially require a slightly different game plan for team and doubles/singles.”
But that likely would have been necessary anyway due to the differences in number of bowlers per pair (10 in team and 6 in minors) and practice time (10 minutes in team and 4 balls per bowler in minors). Those factors mean even if the same pattern was used you probably would need a different strategy and certainly are going to experience a different pattern transition.
Still, I like the use of separate patterns because it adds another level of challenge in a tournament that should be challenging, as USBC noted in the release.
“We’ve worked hard to find a way to have fresh oil for every squad because it gives everyone an equal starting point, and having two lane conditions really will test the bowlers’ versatility,” Brian Lewis, USBC Managing Director of Tournaments, said in the release. “The Open Championships is the premier event for USBC members, and it’s our goal to provide an environment that reflects that.”
Those worried about needing more bowling balls to cover two patterns shouldn’t worry — unless USBC uses radically different patterns. Eight balls is the limit you can take into Open Championships competition and a basic 8-ball arsenal should cover most any two patterns, unless one is radically short and/or light volume and the other long and/or heavy volume.
And if you were someone who bowled one of the "burn" squads for minors in the past, you might be able to reduce the size of your arsenal since you're unlikely to face a severely transitioned pattern.
It's worth noting that in international competition like the WTBA World Championships, players are limited to six balls and it's typical for radically different long and short patterns to be used.
And it's also worth noting that most State and City tournaments I know of have different conditions for team and minors even if the same pattern is used for both because they are held at different centers.
The team event pattern will be used on the 900 Global Showcase Lanes that are new to the ground floor of the National Bowling Stadium.
The 10 lanes will be used for coaching, team or individual practice and the 900 Global Two-Game Challenge and Who’s Got the Look Baker Bonanza presented by 900 Global side tournaments.
The minor events pattern will be used in the Storm Bowlers Journal Championships that will be held on the high end (lanes 67-78) of the National Bowling Stadium.
My blog on the side events is here.
USBC in the FAQ gave the following reason for using the doubles/singles lane condition for the Bowlers Journal Championships:
“Surveys have indicated that bowlers want as many opportunities to bowl on the tournament conditions as possible, and this gives them that chance. Space and times at the 900 Global Showcase Lanes are limited, so it was decided to feature just the team-event pattern there for practice, but still offer an opportunity to bowl on the other.”
Open Championships side events typically allow groups of bowlers to start when they arrive and lanes are available, with not all competition on fresh oil. No oiling schedule for the 2013 side events is available yet, USBC spokesman Matt Cannizzaro said in an email.
USBC said it intends to continue using two patterns past 2013.