Monday, February 20, 2012

Curling Recap: 2/17-2/19/12

"The Dykes" was fun, but for the next several weeks, it's back to Triangle Curling Club league play.

Career game #170: 2012 Winter League - February 17, 2012

End.......... 12345678 |TTL
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Allen........ 20122001 | 08
Schoolman.... 03000110 | 05

I seem to have gotten over my tendency of giving up a big number in the first end, which is good, because we lost the coin toss again (0-3 so far this season!). Not being afraid to try a hit or two in the first end, before we've gotten accustomed to the speed of the ice, is key, I think. Our vice Joe made a hit in the 1st end, helping us ultimately score two. But that "don't be afraid to hit" strategy didn't work out in the 2nd end...they put three rocks around the button, and we absolutely could not hit any of them out. With either turn, the rock would fall away from the center line and hit nothing. (This is why I get excited about playing on dedicated curling ice. You don't have this problem there!) I'm glad those first two ends happened in the order that they did, for my own sake.

There were a couple of instances in this game where we benefitted from a lucky bounce - not on our shots, but on the other team's shots. Opposing Skip Brian played a couple of high-risk shots that ended up promoting one of our rocks into the house for points, which...his team was 0-2 heading into the game, so maybe he played a little more aggressively as a result?

Well, while that approach didn't always pay off for them, it certainly did in the 7th end. I would diagram this shot if I had a better memory of it, but we were sitting one and had a rock frozen to the top of their best rock. They threw it hard, a bunch of rocks went flying everywhere, and after everything settled they were sitting one. Now we have a game!

So, once again, just like in the last game of "The Dykes", we're leading by two with one end remaining. At "The Dykes", we perfected the strategy of hitting anything and everything that wasn't your color. Here, I tried the same thing at first...but while we did make one or two hits, the ice was not particularly take-out friendly, so I had to abandon that strategy eventually. Instead, on my first rock, I just drew around the guards, right to the button. (Why didn't we think of that earlier?)

We're now 2-0-1 in the Friday League (the '1' being a shootout loss) and in sole possession of first place. And, Friday's game was my 100th career win. Hooray!

I also played on Sunday, as a spare on Amber's Sunday League team. One of our friends offered to babysit for us so that we could curl together for the first time since last February. I miss curling with Amber. It's fun!

Career game #171: 2012 Winter League (Sunday) - February 19, 2012
(our team: Howard)

End.......... 1234567 |TTL
--------------------------
Jaun......... 0001030 | 04
Howard....... 1110102 | 06

Also, as a substitute, I played Lead, which means, no pressure whatsoever. Instead of having to draw through a tight hole to the four-foot or else, I basically just needed to keep my rocks in play. Guard? Fine. In the house? That's fine too. I threw one or two through the house and probably hogged one or two during the game, but most of my 14 rocks ended up in play.
The other team played well too, so rarely did my rocks end up making a difference anyway! For example, in the 6th end, the opening sequence of rocks was: draw in (me), take-out (opposing Lead Maria), take-out (me), take-out and spill the shooter out of the house (Maria). So even though both of my shots were nearly perfect, both shots were immediately canceled out, and the house was completely empty afterwards. Like I said, no pressure whatsoever. (Well, I know one of my rocks was the scoring point in the 2nd end, but that was probably the only time one of my rocks scored a point.) It's a totally different story on dedicated ice, though. Lead is VERY important when playing on dedicated ice. And, having rocks in play is important here, too, but precise placement is not as important.

Playing Lead meant I also got to sweep for the first time this year, which is one thing I miss about playing Skip. But as a sweeper, I'm not as good at judging the weight as I once was. I'm out of practice there.

So...the game. There were lots of rocks in play for the first five ends, and neither team could score more than one in an end. In the 6th end, a predictable take-out line developed, opening the door for opposing Skip Chris to make a fantastic take-out on our shot rock for two, followed by a draw for three on his last rock. In the 7th (and due to time constraints, final) end, we went back to having lots of rocks in play. The game-winning shot was a difficult raise into the four-foot circle, made by...was it Chris H. or Andrea? I don't remmeber, so I'll just credit both of them.

A word on playing as Skip in a "lots of rocks in play" game like this one. Sometimes, it can mess with you. By the time it's your turn to throw, there is a bunch of crap everywhere, and there is no easy shot. There's a decent chance that by, say, the 4th end, you still won't have made a single shot - not because you're playing poorly, but because your only shot options are very difficult ones. And that can get to your head from a confidence standpoint, because as Skip, you want to contribute to the shot-making some. This has happened to me a lot. So lately my strategy has been to keep things at least a little open so that I at least have something to work with on my two shots. Easier said than done, of course, especially on ice that isn't take-out friendly, or when you're playing against a good draw team.

I'm not sure when I'll be curling with Amber on Sundays again, but hopefully it won't be too long, because it was fun! Having a child is wonderful, but "curling with Amber" is one thing that I miss. (We thought about getting a weekly babysitter so that we could curl together every week, but money is the main reason we decided against it.)

After playing six games in the last two weeks, I think my skill level is back to where it was last Winter when I played twice a week, every week. If only we could play in "The Kayser" this coming weekend...

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