The present invention generally relates to bowling, and, more particularly, to a variation of a bowling game commonly known as “bingo” bowling.
 Bowling is a very popular pastime throughout the world. The basic concept of a standard bowling game is to roll a series of balls (typically 2 or 3) down a bowling lane to knock down a plurality of pins (typically 5 or 10 pins) at the far end of the lane. Each set of two or three balls is termed a frame, and after the two or three balls have been thrown, the frame has ended and the pins are re-set to their initial position. Knocking down all pins on the first ball is typically called a “strike”, and knocking down all pins with two balls is called a “spare”. Knocking down all pins also ends the frame. At the end of the frame, a score is awarded for the number of pins knocked down. A game generally consists of 10 frames.
 Bowling games using non-standard scoring techniques and/or objectives are also known. For example, bowlers occasionally play the non-standard bowling game frequently called “bingo” bowling. In bingo bowling, the bowler receives a card (or a list) of a number of possible frame or shot outcomes and attempts to achieve all of the frame or shot outcomes listed on the card in the shortest period possible. For example, the card could list possible outcomes, such as, a strike, a spare, a score of 3, 5, 8 or the like. This variation of the game is described, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,437,575 (Douglass, Jr.) and, in a related manner, in U.S. Pat. No. 6,017,278 (Benko), although the basic bingo bowling game has been known for a number of years.
 Bingo bowling is particularly useful in “team” application where a number of bowlers of different skill levels are joined together in order to compete against other teams by achieving all of the listed outcomes on the card as quickly as possible. Using this arrangement, bingo bowling enables bowlers of widely different skill levels to compete (as individuals or as part of a team) with one another.
 Operators of bowling centres are constantly looking for ways to interest broader segments of the population in bowling. However, bingo bowling games can take a comparatively long time to play since the game generally requires at least one or two shots which may be difficult to achieve, particularly for a group of unskilled bowlers. Also, bingo bowling is generally only of interest if more than one team is available, since bingo bowling requires competition between teams to determine which team is first to complete all of the outcomes listed on their card.
 Further, since the various bowlers are competing against one another, difficulties arise if one lane is prevented from bowling due to, for example, mechanical problems such as pinsetter problems like pin jams, string tangles and the like. In this scenario, all lanes playing the game will stop until the one lane is again ready for play.
 Additionally, once one team has won the game, all other teams are considered to have lost the game, and it is difficult to allocate prizes to anyone on the basis that they finished second, third, etc. Yet further, it is essentially impossible to calculate league standings for traditional bingo bowling over a number of games based on a simple won/lost approach, or to have other teams compete in the same game, at a different time.
 Accordingly, it is a principal object of the present invention to provide a bowling game variation which is played over a definite time or a pre-set number of frames.
 It is a further object of the present invention to provide a game wherein a single team or bowler can play alone or against the clock, so that their game score might be compared to other teams or bowlers at a later time.
 Additionally, it is an object of the present invention to provide a bowling game variation in which the performance of each of the individual players or teams can be ranked in order to determine the relative performance of each of the players or teams compared to other players or teams.
 These and other objects are at least partially attained by providing a bingo bowling game in which play is restricted to variations wherein the players attempt to complete the card outcome requirements in the fewest frames possible. Alternatively, the objects of the invention are at least partially attained by providing a bingo bowling game in which play is restricted to clearing the most requirements from the card in a set time period and/or in a set number of frames.
 Most preferably, however, the objects of the invention are met by providing a bingo bowling game wherein each frame and/or shot outcome is rated according to a point system and the players attempt to score as many points as possible in the fewest frames and/or within a set time period.
 Accordingly, the present invention provides a method for playing a bingo bowling game wherein a bowler plays a shot or a frame by rolling one or a set number of bowling balls down a bowling lane with the aim of achieving one of a number of pre-set shot or frame outcomes, characterized in that the length of the bingo bowling game is controlled by either establishing a pre-set time period for achieving the shot or frame outcomes, or is controlled by establishing a pre-set number of frames for achieving the shot or frame outcomes.
 In a further embodiment, the present invention provides a bingo bowling game wherein a bowler, either as an individual or as part of a team, plays a frame with the aim to achieve one of a number of pre-set shot or frame outcomes, characterized in that each shot or frame outcome possible or desired, is rated so as to have a point reward associated with said outcome, and the bowler attempts to maximize their point total by achieving any or all of the pre-set shot or frame outcomes within the bingo bowling game. In this variation, the bingo bowling game might be based on the prior art system of playing until one player or team completes all of the pre-set shot or frame outcomes listed, however, preferably, the bingo bowling game is limited to a pre-set time period or a pre-set number of frames, as described hereinabove with respect to the present invention. At the end of the pre-set time period, or after the pre-set number of frames have been played, the point totals of the individual teams and/or players can be totaled, and the teams and/or players can be ranked according to their point totals.
 Thus, the present invention also provides a method for playing a bingo bowling game wherein a bowler plays a shot or a frame by rolling one or a set number of bowling balls down a bowling lane with the aim of achieving one of a number of pre-set shot or frame outcomes, characterized in that each shot or frame outcome possible, is rated so as to have a point reward associated with said outcome, and the bowler attempts to maximize their point total by achieving any or all of the pre-set shot or frame outcomes within the bingo bowling game. Preferably, the bingo bowling game is limited to a pre-set time period or a pre-set number of frames.
 For the purposes of the present invention, the term “bingo bowling” is used to describe any bowling game wherein a bowler attempts to achieve a number of pre-set frame or shot outcomes by rolling one or more balls down a bowling lane, having a plurality of bowling pins, in order to knock down one of more of the pins. The game is normally played with either 5 or 10 pins standing at the beginning of each frame, although other pin numbers may be used. A frame is generally defined as a series of either 2 or 3, and possibly more, balls rolled down the lane. Each frame ends after all of the pins have been knocked down, or the bowler has delivered the maximum number of balls allowed per frame.
 Further, it is now commonplace for bowling lanes to be automated and/or computerized so that each lane will have a pin-setting system, and a computerized scoring system. The pin-setting system preferably automatically set the pins in place, provides mechanisms for clearing balls and fallen pins from the lane during the frame, and mechanisms for resetting the pins in place after the completion of a frame.
 With respect to the prior art, the computerized scoring system is preferably able to determine when a ball has been thrown (such as with an electronic beam which is broken as the ball passes), and for determining which pins have been knocked down on each ball thrown in a frame. Accordingly, the computerized scoring system would be able to calculate and display frame scores and game totals to the players. Further, the computerized scoring system also preferably interfaces with the pin-setting system so that, on command, the pin-setting system will act.
 With respect to the present invention, the computerized scoring system would also be able to determine which pins have been knocked down for each ball. Accordingly, the computerized scoring system would thus be able to determine which, of any, pre-set frame or shot outcomes have been achieved. Based on this information, the computerized scoring system could display to the player different strategy choices, and allow the player to select these strategy choices through a bowler input panel. This panel could consist of one or more push buttons on a console, but could also be located on a standard computer keyboard, on a touch-screen display, or by some other input device.
 Accordingly, in an additional aspect, the present invention also provides a bingo bowling game system for use with a bowling lane having a plurality of bowling pins, wherein a bowler rolls one or more balls down the lane to knock the pins down, the system comprising:
 pin-setting equipment for automatically setting the pins at the beginning of a frame, clearing balls and pins from the lane during the course of play of a frame, and re-setting the pins to their initial position at the end of the frame; and
 a bingo bowling computerized scoring system comprising:
 a game initiating means for selecting one or more bingo bowling games;
 a display system for displaying a set of shot or frame outcomes to be achieved during said bingo bowling game;
 sensors for detecting when a ball is thrown and the number and location of the pins knocked over by said ball;
 a comparison means for determining whether the pins knocked over by each ball of the frame meet any of the pre-set shot or frame outcome objectives in the set;
 a display system for displaying when the bowler has successfully achieved a shot or frame outcome objective in the set;
 a score calculation means for awarding a point score for each shot or frame outcome objective achieved in the set, in accordance with a pre-set table of point awards; and,
 game termination means for terminating said bingo bowling game after a pre-set time period, a pre-set number of frames, or after achievement, by one or more teams or players, of all pre-set outcomes of said set.
 In the preferred embodiment, the number of balls, pins and their arrangement, is compatible with standard bowling protocols so that the number of balls allowed per frame, and the number of pins used, are fully compatible with conventional automatic bowling equipment. For example, the number of pins and their arrangement is preferably compatible with bowling lane pin-setting equipment that normally clears the lane of all knocked down pins after each ball roll, and/or resets the pins into their starting configuration after, for example, the player has rolled two successive balls, in a tenpin or rubber duckpin game, or after three balls in a fivepin, candlepin, or hard-belly duckpin game.
 In one example implementation, paper scoring sheets may be used to play the bowling games. In accordance with another aspect provided by this invention, however, in one preferred embodiment, scoring is performed automatically using a computerized scoring system. In this computerized embodiment, grids of pre-set shot and/or frame outcomes are automatically displayed on a visual display such as a video monitor. As bowlers successfully bowl to match boxes in the grid, the computer automatically records the shot or frame outcomes achieved, and changes the appearance of the grid display to reflect the bowler's success. For example, the computerized scoring section of the bowling system might cause the boxe(es) the bowler has already matched to flash or be displayed in a different colour, or to be removed from the screen. Upon achieving all of the pre-set boxes defined by the grid, that set may flash or change colour to indicate that the bowler has successfully completed the game.
 Further, the computerized system can be used to record the number of frames bowled, and the time elapsed since the beginning of the game, and thus can advise the player when an optional, pre-set game time or frame number has been reached.
 Additionally, in a game wherein points are awarded, the computerized system can be used to calculate the number of points awarded for each player or team. The final point totals for the game can be displayed for all players. Additionally, a “running” score total can be displayed to all teams so that the teams can adjust their strategy to attempt different shots based on their position or standings.
 For the bowling lane operator, new games are begun within a set time period, or within a set number of frames. With the potential for an increased number of games, the bowlers have a higher interest level since new games may occur more frequently.
 The present invention thus provides a new approach to bowling that maintains a higher level of player interest while offering the challenge of a game of strategy and skill and providing frequent winners. Also, since the pre-set shot or frame outcomes are to be achieved in a pre-set time or pre-set number of frames, and/or since the point value of the shot or frame outcomes are calculated, games (and in particular, league games) can be played at different times and the results compared later.
 The shot and/or frame outcome requirements provided to the player in the card at the beginning of the bingo bowling game will be dependent on the type of bowling game selected. For example, in tenpin bowling, each of the ten pins is worth one point, and the bowler is allowed two balls per frame. Thus, as described in the patent to Benko, the frame outcome could include a strike (all balls knocked down with one ball), a spare (all pins knocked down with two balls), or some variation of pins knocked down with the first and second ball (e.g. “7-2” meaning 7 pins knocked down with the first ball, and 2 with the second ball).
 In a regular game of fivepin bowling, the centre pin is typically worth a score of 5, the two pins adjacent to the centre pin are each worth a score of 3, and each of the two outside pins are worth a score of 2. A frame in fivepin bowling typically consists of rolling 3 balls. Thus, the pre-set outcomes in a game of fivepin bingo bowling typically relate to the score achieved in the frame, with three ball score totals of 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 15 being possible.
 Other values such as a strike or a spare, as defined with respect to tenpin bowling, can be included as pre-set shot or frame outcomes. Further, in fivepin bowling, the outcome of the first ball of the frame can also be recorded depending on the outcome of the ball. For example, hitting only the centre (or “head” pin) can be recorded as “H”. Other outcomes are also possible, as described hereinbelow in Table 1. Accordingly, the points scale used for fivepin bingo bowling can include these first shot outcomes.
 The bingo bowling game of the present invention is suitable for use in traditional fivepin or tenpin bowling lanes. However, the bingo bowling game may be used in any bowling situation including games having more or less than five or ten pins. Also, the shape of the pins may vary so that traditional fivepin or tenpin bowling pins may be used, as well as other pin variants such as candlestick pins, duck pins (both hard belly and rubber) and the like. These different pin types are well known to those skilled in the art.
 The points awarded for achieving the pre-set shot or frame outcomes can also vary depending of the type and nature of the game played. An example of a suitable fivepin bingo bowling point scale which might be used is presented in Table 1. However, it will be clearly understood by the skilled artisan that other point scale tables may be used in place of the exemplified table.
TABLE 1 Example of a Fivepin Bingo Bowling Game Point Set Frame Score or Relative First Ball Outcome Explanation Difficulty Points 6 Frame Score 10 50 9 Frame Score 8-9 40 A Head pin and both 3 pins 7 35 on first ball 12 Frame Score 6-7 30 X Strike 4 25 R All pins except outside 5 23 right 2 pin on first ball L All pins except outside 5 23 left 2 pin on first ball C Head pin, 3 pin and 2 pin 5 20 from one side on first ball S Head pin and one adjacent 5 18 3 pin, from either side, on first ball 15 Frame Score 4 15 H Head Pin only on first 4 15 ball / Spare 3 15 13 Frame Score 3 13 11 Frame Score 4-5 11 10 Frame Score 2 10 8 Frame Score 4-5 8 7 Frame Score 2 7 5 Frame Score 1 5 3 Frame Score 4-5 3 4 Frame Score 2 4 2 Frame Score 1 2 F Free Cell 0 0
 Use of this scoring system allows the bowler to use some strategy in determining their next shot within a frame. For example, if the bowler removes only the centre (head) pin on their first shot, they have the option of taking the 5 points for a frame score, 15 points for the head pin only (“H”), or the option to carry on throwing the remaining two balls in an attempt to achieve other scores (such as, for example, a score of 9 with a point value of 40).
 Further, if a player or team realizes that it needs a given number of points to win the game, it can attempt to achieve the outcomes which will provide it with the necessary points.
 Generally, each bingo bowling card of the present invention will have a series of frame or first shot outcomes, and once that score or outcome is achieved, there is no further advantage to repeating that score or outcome unless the score or outcome appears twice on the card.
 Each player or team can play using the same card for a particular game, or each player or team could have its own card. Further, card could be grouped so as to provide the same maximum points per card. For example, a 5 by 5 card with 25 possible scores or outcomes, might have a maximum total score available of, for example 300 to 600 points for an average game. Different cards having the same point total could be used to provide games of the same relative difficulty for a particular group of players. Thus, cards could be made having easily achievable scores for novice or junior players, or could be made extremely difficult for the more advanced player.
 Also, the cards could be set up to emphasize only certain shots. For example, the card could be set up so that only first shots hitting the head pin are accepted, or so that only corner pins are accepted (point totals of 4 only for the frame), or that only strikes are accepted.
 Further, the cards could be set up to provide a bonus award for completing the outcome of a particular box. The location of the bonus box could be kept secret so that winning the bonus will be random or the bowler will need to keep track of all possible outcomes to try to determine which box is the bonus box. Thus, the bowler might adjust their strategy in order to try to locate the bonus box, and thus achieve the bonus box score.
 In a further variation, the bonus box might move from box to box on the card as the game progresses. To win the bonus box, the frame or shot outcome would have to be achieved when the bonus box had moved to that box.
 Using a computerized system, the scoring system could be programmed to automatically select an outcome and start a new frame once a outcome has been achieved, and no other outcome is possible. For example, if the head pin only is removed on the first ball, and only an outcome of “H” or “4” is left on the scorecard, the computer could automatically select the “H” outcome. In this situation, throwing the two remaining balls of the frame would be counterproductive since an outcome of “4” would not be possible on this frame.
 Alternatively, or additionally, the computerized scoring system could allow for early selection of an outcome (even though other outcomes are still possible) in order that the player or team can use some strategy to obtain points at that particular time, and thus end the frame prematurely.
 In the most preferred embodiment, the computerized systems automatically tracks the score of each player or team for a specified time period or for a specified number of frames. The scores of each player or team can then be compared and the results of the bingo bowling game can be presented to each player or team.
 The computerized scoring system of the bingo bowling system can also be used to synchronize game play amongst a number of teams or players so that, for example, each team or player begins a game at the same time. The computerized scoring system can also automatically record scores and scoring details in order to provide information on player statistics, game scoring histories, and the like, and allow league play where different teams play various cards on a given game day, but would play the same cards over the course of a league series.
 This type of computerized scoring system would be ideally suited for a system wherein a series of “scoring” computers are located at or near the lanes where the games are being played, and the scoring computers are connected to a master computer which records information from the scoring computer units.
 Other game formats are possible wherein the same card is used for a number of games but the player or team is required to meet certain patterns in the card (e.g. on a 5 by 5 card, achieve the result shown in all four corners and the centre “box”, or the top row only, or the left column only, or any similar selection).
 Thus, the present invention provides a game of skill wherein the quantity of pins the bowler knocks down with each roll of the bowling ball is compared with a predetermined pattern for a possible match; and the outcome of the game is determined by the attainment, through the skill of the bowler in knocking down certain quantities or patterns of pins with the bowling ball, according to predetermined rules.
 In a further variation, however, the bingo bowling game of the present invention can also be set up to award bowlers for achieving certain point or frame or shot outcomes. For example, a bowler could be awarded a “free” game for achieving a set number of points in a set number of frames, or in a given time period. The bowler could also be given time extensions to complete the game or a subsequent game, as an award for completing some task in a game played. The award system might also be set-up in a manner similar to a video game, wherein, on completing a set of shot or frame objectives, the bowler would be given a new card having a different, and potentially more difficult, set of frame or shot outcomes. In this manner, a single bowler (or a single team of bowlers) would be encouraged to continue bowling in order to attempt to complete a series of cards in order to reach a card with a certain difficulty level. This variation could provide a method for bowlers to practice a series of bowling shots while providing some feed-back on their bowling skills.
 Other features of the present invention, as well as other objects and advantages attendant thereto, are set forth in the following description and the accompanying drawings in which like reference numerals depict like elements.
 A preferred embodiment of the bowling bingo game of the present invention will now be described by reference to the following drawings wherein:
 Using the scoring system described in Table 1, the point value of this card is 300, meaning that, if all outcomes were achieved, the player or team would score 300 points. If only part of the card were completed at the end of the game (either as a result of time, frame numbers, or others completing their cards), the team would received the points for only those outcomes on the card that were achieved.
 The card can be printed on paper and provided to the players. However, in a preferred embodiment, the “card” is generated by a computerized scoring system and displayed on a screen. The points won by the player or team are then calculated automatically by the computerized scoring system.
 All of the games shown on these scorecards can be played until one player or team completes the card. However, in a preferred embodiment, a time restriction and/or a restriction on the number of frames can be imposed. In this manner, new games are begun on a regular basis, and the interest level of the bowler is maintained.
 Master computer
 In accordance with the present invention, master computer
 In response to commands inputted from the system operator via the master computer, the scoring computer generates scorecards from memory and displays them to the bowlers through displays
 Thus, it is apparent that there has been provided, in accordance with the present invention, a bingo bowling game which fully satisfies the means, objects, and advantages set forth hereinbefore. Therefore, having described specific embodiments of the present invention, it will be understood that alternatives, modifications and variations thereof may be suggested to those skilled in the art, and that it is intended that the present specification embrace all such alternatives, modifications and variations as fall within the scope of the appended claims.
 Additionally, for clarity and unless otherwise stated, the word “comprise” and variations of the word such as “comprising” and “comprises”, when used in the description and claims of the present specification, is not intended to exclude other additives, components, integers or steps.