Monday, January 30, 2012

Curling Recap: 1/27/12

Career game #164: 2012 Winter League - January 27, 2012

End.......... 12345678S |TTL
----------------------------
Allen........ 110002100 | 05
M. Jackson... 001210011 | 06

Last Sunday in pickup curling, I happened to catch opposing Skip Murray on an off night. Not this week! He made some incredible shots. I made some shots of my own, but not enough, especially early in the game.

First, the ice conditions. The line was really, really tricky, and not always predictable. Seemingly unnoticeable differences in shots would result in your rock taking a completely different path. That meant you could sometimes make your take-outs...but not always, especially early in the game before we figured it out.

In the first two ends, we got early position, and that was the difference. After that, Murray's team started making the shots before we (especially myself) did, and his team pulled out to a 4-2 lead. In the 6th end, I made a draw, Murray missed the take-out, and then I made another draw, to score two. I forget how we scored in the 7th - maybe that was one of the ends in which the other team accidentally promoted us into scoring position. (That happened a couple of times on Friday. Never underestimate the value of rocks in play!)

Now...the 8th end. Important strategy decision! The opponent had the hammer and was down by one; here's the approximate setup before our last rock. (Our team = red)

Even though the lines were predictable, we could use most of the ice, which meant that we had options. I couldn't remember having as many options at such a key juncture of the game as we did with this shot.


If I wasted my shot, I was almost certain Murray would go for the take-out on rock #1, and sit two, for the win. With that in mind, I think we had four reasonable options.
a) Guard rock #1.
b) Draw another rock in the general vicinity of rock #1 to get a guard and/or second scoring rock.
c) Raise rock #2 towards the button.
d) Raise rock #3 towards the button.

All of these options are sort of related, in that if the goal is option a) and you're heavy, you might end up with option b). Or, if the goal is option d) and you're narrow, you might end up with option c). On arena ice, what would happen if you miss is a very important consideration.

I called shot c), for a couple of reasons. One, it was the most predictable line; there was a ridge down the middle of the ice, and I was pretty sure the rock would hold that line. Two, it was hard to place a guard exactly where it needed to be, and the odds of placing my guard effectively under plan a) were slim. And also, in an earlier end, I did play the guard...only for Murray to make the "double tap" anyway. Precise guards weren't proving to be of much use in this game. But most of all, I wanted to prevent Murray from winning the game on his final shot. For that to happen, I needed to be lying two after my shot (which eliminates option A), and not have a double take-out possibility (which eliminates option B). So, I called option c), with option d) as a "Plan B" in case I was wide. Take-outs weren't gimmes given the ice conditions, so leaving it open and hoping he would either miss, or roll the shooter out of scoring position, seemed like a viable option. Or, if I raised rock #2 well enough, it wouldn't matter, because I'd have an untouchable rock on the button.

But, I only kind of made the shot. I raised rock #2 into the rings, and enough for second shot...but NOT enough such that Murray couldn't tie the game with the open take-out. I needed a little more weight. Murray made the take-out, of course, but at least it was only to score one and not two. And that matters because of a new rule that I (as the club's League Coordinator) implemented this season: NHL-style standings! Two points for a win, one point for a shootout loss. So, our team's league record is now 0-0-1. (Oh, right...Murray beat me in the tiebreaker by about an inch. Ugh!)

So...it's annoying when your team plays well, and you lose anyway. And, this was my fourth consecutive loss in league play. But these streaks happen, both good and bad. I'm still confident that I can get the job done, and I think we have a solid team. Our next game is this Friday.

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