It’s pennants season!
20 September 2023
By Paul Neazor

The 2023-24 season is underway. Competitive players men and women will already have cast their eyes over the calendar. Unless you’ve been involved in the two early Year 1-5 championships, the first eye-catcher is the Interclub Pennants. 

Despite the fact we played this format last year, there still seems to be some confusion over how it works. So, class, sit up straight and pay attention. It’s actually not that hard. 

 Each team, as we know, is made up of nine players in three triple combinations, playing three games each day. Each time they play the three teams from the same other club, the rounds are straight head-to-head.  

 Just so we understand the terms: 

  • A “Team” is made up of three players. 
  • “Side(s)” are made up of three teams. 
  • A “game” is what two teams play.  
  • A ‘Match’ is the combination of three games, a side competing against the opposing side. 

If it makes it clearer, think of tennis where games are the smaller part and match is the big bit. We just skip sets. 

 The easiest way to win any particular match is to win all three games. No kidding, Sherlock, it really is. If your team wins any match, you get six “match” points. If you draw, you get half. Soooo, as we’re all clued in now, you can figure losing is not good and you get zero points. Nada. The circular cypher.  

The same scoring principles apply to “games”, win for the lot, draw for half and the old goose egg for a loss. The three individual games are worth two points each. 

 Scoring a game is easy, we’ve all been doing it since we started playing. Eighteen ends, two bowls each, count at the end of each end, put the score on the board. Skips sign the cards at the end of it. 

 Scoring a match is also easy once you get the hang of it. Add all the points your team got over the three games. Add all the points they got over the three games. Whoever has more points wins. So it means you can actually win a match despite not winning the majority of games. Again, in this regard, it’s a bit like tennis where your opponent can win a lot of games but if you win the right ones, you walk off with the W.  

 If you both have the same total points, the match is drawn, and you get … three match points. Correct answer. But just to be clear, there are no tie-breakers in pennants. 

Some examples. Team A loses two games 16-19 and 18-20, and wins the other one by 26-11. Team B gets four-game points, and Team A gets two. But the match result is that Team A has 60 points and Team B 50, so Team A wins the match and bags the six points.. 

If the same scenario plays out but with the sole Team A win being 16-11, Team B still gets the four-game points and Team A the two. But this time the overall score is 50 to 50, so the match points are shared. Team A scores three match points, and two game points, while team B scores three match points and four game points. 

Teams are ranked on the table based on the following rubric.  

  • highest match points, then  
  • highest game points, then  
  • highest shots for  
  • lowest shots against  
  • if tied after the above, then the pennant will be shared. 

Clear as mud? 

 Some might think this is a strange way of doing things, that two-game wins are better than basic for and against when it comes to determining a winner. But, if you want a bowls analogy, think of bonus fours. You keep the points you won in the smaller section of the action (in this case games) whatever happens, but the big picture is more than just that. In bonus fours, your front end can pile up points, and it normally leads to success, but there will be times when the other beggars swamp you regardless. Same here. 

The rest of the rules and regulations are normal competition bumph. The only one that doesn’t apply in most competitions regards grading, meaning players can’t drop down a grade or two once they’ve played four games (read: two days) in a higher team, and if your club has more than one team in any grade you can’t go swanning around between them. Pick one, and sit tight. 

Everybody got that? Any questions? Well, as I don’t see any hands in the air, class is dismissed. 

 Get out there and enjoy playing.