The game of skittles bowling is of British origin and has been played for over 500 years. The, now-traditional American 10-pin bowling was derived from and replaced the older game, though skittles is still popular in many regions in the United Kingdom. Skittles bowling is typically an indoor game using a rolled, heavy ball to topple a number of skittles (pins). Though many regional variations exist in the U.K., there are underlying standard rules that tend to be common in most versions of the game.
The most popular form of skittles, West Country skittles, requires nine wooden pins with a height of about 10 inches apiece and a diameter of about 4 inches at the widest point.. One of the skittles is sometimes made a bit larger than the others. This skittle is called the kingpin, and is typically placed in the middle or at the very front of the other pins. Wooden balls around 5 inches in diameter, but any size between a tennis ball and a cannonball, are ideal for play.
The alley used for play should be about 6 feet wide and about 24 feet long from front skittle to throwing line. A wooden floor is ideal, though other materials may be used if wood is not available. The skittles are arranged into a tilted square of three rows, with a corner facing the players. The square is usually constructed to be about 45 inches from front to back and side to side. If there is a kingpin, it's placed either at the center of the square or at the corner facing the players.
Each player receives three chances to bowl a wooden ball down the alley to knock over as many skittles as possible. The ball cannot be thrown, but rolled completely down the alley. If all of the skittles are knocked down on the first or second throw, then they're reset for the next throw. So, the maximum number of available points per turn is 27 per player. Generally, when a kingpin is in play, points won't be scored until the kingpin falls, meaning even if a player knocks down the other eight in three throws, that player receives no points for the round. Rules vary, but often, the winner is the first to win 11 rounds.
Many variations of the basic game exist and change from place to place. Popular variations include Long Alley and Killer skittles. Long Alley skittles has larger pins and spaces them about 20 inches apart in a square shape. The projectiles used are called "cheeses" and are irregularly shaped. Players get three throws per round and can bounce the cheese only once per throw. No score is recorded until the kingpin falls. Matches are typically five rounds. Killer skittles gives 5 "lives" to each player. A player must beat the previous score or will lose a life. Players also must throw with their off hand. The winner is the last player with remaining lives.