What is a bisque in tennis?

Before 1890, tennis scoring used to have a feature known as bisque. Ideally, bisque is a word that is used to describe a thick soup that is made of lobsters or crayfish. There is no evidence as to how the word found its way in sports.


A bisque is a point claimed by a player at any stage of the match without any warning. The bisque was introduced as a feature that could balance out the level of play of two players. It aimed to reduce any bias towards one player. The introduction of lawn mowers in tennis, croquet and golf made the field equal for either players which led to the introduction of handicaps, where one player is deemed better than the other. Bisque aimed to reduce this disparity between the two players.

Why do tennis players put a ball in their pocket


A bisque cannot be called by a player during a deuce or a tiebreaker. One of the biggest drawbacks of bisque was that there was no limitation on how many bisques a player could call in a match. Moreover, it could only be used by a player who is a receiver and not the server. This often created problems in the scoring system, as a result of which the Lawn Tennis Association decided to abolish the rule in 1890.


One of the meanings of the word bisque is “twice-baked” which was first used in 1660s. Since the tennis terminology allowed a returner to “bake” one additional point for himself during a match, a hypothesis can be made as to how the word founds its way in sports. 

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