Monday, March 29, 2010

Curling Recap: 3/28/10

Curling is back! Hooray!

In case you're wondering what the Triangle Curling Club has been doing all this time, considering that the Winter Olympics wrapped up over a month ago, it's taken that long to meet the demand of interest we've been getting from everyone whose interest in curling was piqued during the Olympics. Over 700 people went to one of our "Open Houses" (5 minute introduction, 10 minutes of instruction, plus one or two full-sheet throws), and of those, over 150 have gone to a subsequent "Learn to Curl" session (one hour of instruction, plus a two to four end mini game). And we're not done! We still have more "Learn to Curl" sessions to go. Where would the Triangle Curling Club be without the Olympics? Probably nowhere.

Even though the Learn to Curls aren't done yet, it was still time to start up the club's "Spring Leagues". We couldn't make each of the traditional Friday night league draws, so we signed up for the new Sunday afternoon league instead. I think Friday night is better for curling than Sunday afternoon, but that's okay. At least it's not a Saturday morning league or something like that. the Winter League, I was a full-time league skip for the first time, as part of the league's "let's get some different people in there playing skip for once" initiative. And, my team did okay, going 3-1 and losing in the championship game. Now that we're back to a more normal league format, I'm back to playing...skip? Again? There are 16 teams between the two leagues, and apparently, I'm one of the club's 16 most qualified skips. That's kind of scary. All the new folks that are curling with us for the first time - over half of the Sunday league participants are brand new - are going to see me playing skip and assume that I've been doing this a while and that I know what I'm doing. But little do they know I haven't even been curling for three years yet. This'll just be our little secret, okay?

The first game of the Sunday league was yesterday:

End........ 12345678 |TTL
Kato....... 00012011 | 05
Allen...... 16100200 | 10

I now know that much of the club reads my blog, so I'm dropping the cryptic "Our team" and "Other team" designations in favor of real, actual names, since the names will actually mean something to some of you. (Curling teams are traditionally referred to using the last name of the skip.) Also, I used to avoid mentioning other people by name "behind their backs", but I now think people generally like to see their names mentioned on other people's websites and such, so I'm going to start using more names. With that in mind...our front end - brand new curlers Justin and Tabby - are awesome. Yeah! (Amber is the vice-skip. Most curling couples eventually split up and play on opposing teams, but we haven't gotten to that point yet. Apparently, it happens to everyone.)

"Wait a second, Chris. You've won four of your last five games as skip. Why must you continue with the self-deprication?" Because I think that's the key to being a good skip. Never get overconfident. Always keep your head in the game, never relax, and assume you're going to have to scratch and claw for every point. I know that score looks impressive, but throw out that 6-point end, and the game was pretty much even. (By the way, I went back through the archives, and could not another game in which my team scored a 6-point end. We have given up a 6-ender, though.) The one game my team lost in that stretch, incidentally, was the game in which I was most confident going in. Coincidence?

Let's talk strategy! I can do that, now that I'm playing skip again. Now...if you've been reading my recaps and have a good memory, then you know that my general strategy is to draw, draw, draw, and only take-out when absolutely necessary. This is an even better strategy is even more useful when you're playing with new curlers, for two reasons. One, take-outs are hard shots, and missing them (as often happens) isn't good for new curler morale. Two, calling the same shot over and over again will help a new curler get better and build confidence. Most often, I gave Justin and Tabby the same exact shot call for each of their two shots in an end. (Calling the same shot consecutively is also more predictable because you already have a read on that part of the ice.)

As much as I try to avoid throwing take-outs (a missed take-out is a wasted shot, and many missed take-outs in a row can result in a big end for the opposition), there are times when it is the obvious call. For example...the 2nd end: (our team = red)

(Disclaimer: my photographic memory isn't perfect, so as always, shot diagrams are only approximate and are often for illustration purposes only.)

This was the (approximate) setup before my first of two shots. Gee, if we could only get that darn yellow rock out of there, we'd be in pretty good shape! This is when you absolutely must go for the take-out. Low risk, high reward. Somehow, I was able to hit the shot it perfectly and leave all red rocks (including the shooter) in the house, leaving us sitting five. My second shot also ended up in the house, and we got our six after a couple of misses by the other team.

See, this is why I've avoided using names. While people like to see their names mentioned, people don't like to see their name mentioned like this: "The only reason we won that game was because [Person X] from the other team totally choked on his last shot. Ouch! That has to hurt." On the other hand, I also can't say things like "the other team completely outplayed us in this game; we just got lucky" or "I certainly don't expect to win our next game", because what about my teammates? Internet slander is certainly not the "curling spirit", but how do I avoid offensive commentary while accurately describing the events of each match? I'll just try to be as delicate as possible here, along with a healthy dose of self-deprication. After all, it's not like I'm that good anyway. (No, I am not going to stop with the self-deprication. Never!)


James Allen said...

*Chris Allen cannot insult your curling ability without the expressed, written consent of Major League Baseball.

Jeff said...

Homer and Marge curled on the same team.