Neuchâtel skittles


Category:
Social practices
Canton:

Description

Neuchâtel skittles, a forerunner of ten-pin bowling, is a game where players try to knock down nine bowling pins with a wooden ball. What makes the Neuchâtel version unique is that the bowling alley consists of two planks of wood that are joined together to form an upturned V-shape. A pinsetter ensures that the skittles are placed in their correct position. One point is given for each overturned skittle, however the throw does not count if the player fails to knock over the front skittle. The heyday of this convivial game was the late 19th and early 20th century; by the 1960s its popularity had waned considerably. Outdoor bowling alleys were set up next to métairies – country inns that were adjacent to dairy farms, and synonymous with the Neuchâtel Jura. Over time, these went to seed as open-air bowling fell out of favour. In contrast, indoor bowling alleys, many of which date back to the 1930s are still used and maintained by the four local skittles clubs. Players practice every week and compete against one another in various tournaments, such as the “Course Suisse”, the “Challenge de l’Impartial”, the “Championnat de l’Intercantonale”, and the very special “Challenge du 60e “, which is played at clearly defined intervals over a 10-year period. The winner is the club which has recorded the most victories during the 10 years. Calling all amateur players: the Neuchâtel skittle clubs would be delighted to welcome new members to their teams.

Image gallery

  • "Jeu des Tunnels", positioning the bowling pins © Fanny Richard, 2011
  • "Jeu de la Cheminée" © Fanny Richard, 2011
  • Polishing the bowling alley in Evologia, "Fêtes de la terre de Cernier", 2011
  • "Jeu de la Recorne"
  • A player from EPI in action, Evologia
  • One of the last games of Neuchâtel skittles, Pertuis © A. Schneider/Département audiovisuel de la Bibliothèque de la Ville de La Chaux-de-Fonds, 1984
  • "Jeu des Tunnels", positioning the bowling pins © Fanny Richard, 2011
  • "Jeu de la Cheminée" © Fanny Richard, 2011
  • Polishing the bowling alley in Evologia, "Fêtes de la terre de Cernier", 2011
  • "Jeu de la Recorne"
  • A player from EPI in action, Evologia
  • One of the last games of Neuchâtel skittles, Pertuis © A. Schneider/Département audiovisuel de la Bibliothèque de la Ville de La Chaux-de-Fonds, 1984

Video

2009 Swiss Skittles Championship, "jeu des Tunnels", la Chaux-de-Fonds (Canal Alpha + : “Clin d'oeil” broadcast on 11 May 2009) © Canal Alpha +, 2009

Game of skittles, Les Parcs, 17 September 1931 (clip from “Excursions du comité de direction du Plan-de-L’Eau, 1928-1942”, amateur film by A. Berner © A. Berner/Département audiovisuel de la Bibliothèque de la Ville de La Chaux-de-Fonds, 1984

References and documentation

Publications
  • Pierre Boulanger : Un Dimanche à la montagne (film amateur), Département audiovisuel de la Bibliothèque de la Ville de La Chaux-de-Fonds

  • Canal Alpha + : Coupe suisse 2009 de jeu de quilles, jeu des Tunnels à la Chaux-de-Fonds. In : Journal du 12 mai 2009

  • Sur la piste d’une nouvelle tradition. In : L’Express/L’Impartial, 23 juillet 2011

Documentation