Monday, September 26, 2011

Curling Recap: 9/23/11

Career game #154: 2011 Fall League - September 23, 2011

End.......... 12345678 |TTL
Allen........ 03020110 | 07
Scott........ 10201001 | 05

Before each new Triangle Curling Club league season, my biggest fear is that I will go 0-8. I don't really fear finishing last; I've never finished in last place in a league, but it will happen eventually, and that's okay. But I still think I'm trying to prove my worth as a Skip, and going winless would be a pretty big step back in that regard, to the point where it might be a while before I get another opportunity. Well, two games in, we've got our first win of the Fall League. Hooray!

The ice conditions of the night dictated that you could only reliably use the outer half of the sheet. Throw something on the inner half, and it will fall away from the center line and not really end up in a useful place. So, the thing to do was to take control of "the line" as early in the end as possible, which we did an excellent job of throughout the game. Controlling the center four feet of the sheet - or, in our case, the line you have to take to get there - is paramount to any good curling strategy. Ironically, that's something I learned from opposing skip Keith during a strategy session he taught a few months back. (Keith has been doing this a long time.)

Here is basically how "the line" played: (not to scale)

There was a subtle ridge down the middle of the ice, which a rock would "bounce" away from as it approached from the outside. So you had to take that into account when you are, for example, trying to take out that red rock there. Since the red rock is far from the ridge, you want to have the rock bounce off the ridge as late down the ice as possible, or else you'll miss the rock to the inside. I can't always figure out the ice (the previous week I struggled with that), but last Friday, I thought I had the ice conditions nailed pretty well.

Those who curl on dedicated ice may be thinking, "That sounds ABSOULTELY RIDICULOUS". It is, if you're used to good curling ice. But arena ice is all I've ever known (outside of away bonspiels), and I think that may actually give me an advantage over curlers who have decades of experience curling on dedicated ice. When the ice does crazy things, I just go with the flow and try to use it to my advantage.

How do I use it to my advantage? By throwing take-outs when necessary along the predictable line, and then guarding the heck out of the predictable line and forcing the other team into throwing difficult shots along the less-worn paths. My best shot of the game was a take-out for three points at the end of the 2nd end (along the predictable line), and I called a few crazy heavy take-outs later in the game for the rest of my team along that line, some of which worked out great for us. Later in the game, once we had the lead, we got defensive and guarded plenty, to the point where opposing skip Keith didn't have too many options when it came to be his turn. (That was important, because on any given day, Keith is going to out-curl me hands down.) Of course, it's easy to make a strategy sound good, but most strategies will pan out when everyone on your team plays as well as we did on Friday, top to bottom.

There are nine teams in this league, and right now we're in a six-way tie for 2nd at 1-1. (Full standings and schedule here.) Excitement!


Adam said...

That was a fun and competitive match! Of course winning helped, but if we lost I would say the same thing.

One of the best complete team performances I have been on in the brief time I've curled!

Maria Eswine said...

I have to agree with Adam - what a great game lead by our amazing skip!