Bowling Solitaire

Bowling Solitaire is an odd variation on the standard version of the popular card game Solitaire, the game is scored the same way as regular bowling.



Space: Moderate

Level: Challenging

Cards: Ace through 10 of two suits in a standard deck of cards (no picture cards)

Players: One



Place the “pin” cards in four rows. For Row One, place one card (the “head pin”) face up. For row Two, place two cards side by side directly above Row One, face up. For Row Three, place three cards side by side directly above Row Two, face up. For the final row, Row Four, place four cards side by side directly above Row Three, face up.

The completed setup will look like the picture below:


To set up the cards, representing the bowling balls, create three piles with the remaining ten cards. Pile one has five cards, pile two has three cards, and the final ball pile has two cards. Place the top card of each ball pile to face upwards. Only the top card of each ball pile is visible.

Create a bowling score sheet with ten frames on a piece of paper, this will be used for the scoring.  Draw a horizontal grid with ten boxes. Draw a smaller box in the top right corner of each frame. The small box represents the number of pins knocked down in the frame, while the large box represents the total score up to that frame.

You can also download our Bowling Solitaire Scorecard


Attempt to remove (knock down) the pin cards using the ball cards in the first pile. Pins can be knocked down in three ways:

1) The pin card and the ball card have the same value.

2) Two or more pin cards equal the value of the ball card.

3) The last digit of pin cards equal the value of the ball card (for example, the ball card is a 4, and there are two pin cards equaling 16, such as two 8s).

Each card has a numerical value; the 10 card equals ten points, the 9 card equals nine, and so forth. The Ace represents one point, not eleven.

Certain pins cannot be knocked down if other pins are still standing. For example, the middle pin (card) in Row Three cannot be knocked down unless other pins around it are either knocked down first or are knocked down at the same time.

If the ball card does not make a “strike” (knocking down all pins), proceed to the second pile of ball cards. In the next frame, return to the first pile of ball cards.

Score the points accordingly on the scoresheet. If, for example, the ball card knocks down five pins, score five points in the upper square on the scoresheet. Then roll a second ball from the second ball pile. If the second ball knocks down two pins, score an additional two points for each pin, for a total of five points for the frame.

To win Bowling Solitaire

Complete the remaining ten frames.

If a player knocks down all the pins with one ball (strike), mark an “X” in the top right box, but do not score ten points yet. A strike gives you two bonus balls for the frame. For example, if in the third frame a player gets a strike, their points from the fourth frame are added to both the third and fourth frames, doubling the player’s points, for a potential score of 30 points for the third frame.

If a player gets a “spare” (all pins are knocked down using two balls in a frame), the player is awarded only one bonus ball. For example, in the third frame, a player scores a spare. The first ball rolled in frame four will be added to both frames, for a potential score of 20 for the third frame.