What is the origin of scores of 15, 30 and 40 in tennis?
Scoring in tennis has no specific origin, and while many explanations seem similar because they follow a similar logic, many researchers have tried to trace it back. These are the most popular theories and explanations:
The scoring system is believed to be derived from the game “jeu de paume” (palm game) played in France during the 18th century, where points were awarded at 15, 30 and 45 for no apparent reason.
It has long been believed that the circle is the perfect shape. In this sense, and when applied to tennis, the theory suggests that each set represents a complete circle. Divided into six equal parts (groups), each circle is made up of 60 degrees, and each group in turn is divided into parts of 15, 30, 45 and 60 degrees.
The sexagesimal system
Among the most widely accepted theories is the sexagesimal system, whose center is the number 60, and which was historically used to measure times and angles. Accordingly, each game will be divided into four parts, resulting in scores of 15, 30, 45 and 60.
Another version suggests that points in the game are equivalent to quarters of an hour. According to this theory, the match is equivalent to one hour, while the points represent 15, 30 and 45 minutes, culminating in a full hour at the end of the match.
It is an instrument designed to measure angles and represents one-sixth of the circumference (60 degrees). It is believed that astronomers who played tennis used it to count points. Similar to the sexagesimal system, it is said that with four strokes this tool will return to the starting position, setting angles of 15, 30, 45 and 60 degrees respectively. History suggests that six sextants, totaling 360 degrees, would be equivalent to a full set.
Change from 45 to 40
Although these theories seem to have foundations, they all keep the score at 45, but the current score is 40. It is believed that the change was made to facilitate pronunciation during the game.
Oddly enough, in the event of a tie at 40, the count does not continue, and the game goes to a situation called “draw”. From here, players must earn two consecutive points to achieve victory, where the first advantage is called the “advantage” and the second, if achieved, determines the winner of the game.
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