Monday, February 27, 2012

Curling Recap: 2/24/12

Career game #172: 2012 Winter League - February 24, 2012

End.......... 12345678 |TTL
Scheck....... 04020003 | 09
Allen........ 10103110 | 07

I've always known opposing Skip Dan to play a rather quiet strategy. Almost always draw, only take-out when absolutely necessary. But his approach in this game caught me completely off guard: it was take-out crazy! Sometimes it worked out great for them, like in the 2nd end. (We had two in the house, one in scoring position, prior to skip's rocks; both of our rocks were gone at the end.) Other times it did not work out for them, like in the 5th end (and maybe also the 3rd end?), when they missed multiple take-outs.

Are our ice conditions becoming more conducive to a take-out game? I think they are. Take-outs are still tricky, but they can be made on every sheet on our ice these days (sometimes), and a take-out game can be generally successful now. Dan's team is one of two remaining undefeated teams in the Friday League, with the other undefeated team being skipped by someone who has always liked throwing take-outs (Murray). Even though we are 2-2, with the two losses coming to those two undefeated teams, I think it's time I start adjusting my strategy accordingly to keep pace with everyone else. Or, maybe I just need to place my guards better. One thing I definitely need to fix is a recent tendency to leave the other team a wide open take-out for a big score with their last rock.

So, all that said...we still had a chance here. We were never we in a position where I had to make a "rescue shot" to avoid giving up a big number, which is a credit to how well the rest of my team played. Every end, we were right there. Even in the 2nd end, we were in pretty good position until I screwed everything up by missing a take-out, and instead taking out a guard which happened to give them the window they needed for a hit for four. In hindsight, I should have just tried to draw in with my last rock. It might have been the difference.

"Wait a second. You had just gone to great length talking about how you should have tried more take-outs. Now, you're saying that trying a take-out when you shouldn't have may have cost you the game. What the heck?" Yeah...just goes to show you, you can't rely on strictly draws or strictly take-outs. Every situation is different and calls for a different shot. In theory, every game I play prepares me better for the next situation. Arena ice is tricky, because most of the time, it is ice conditions and ice conditions alone that dictates what the "best available shot" is.

I have to talk about the deciding 8th end, of course. Halfway through, we were in pretty good position. A predictable line (a.k.a. valley in the ice surface) had developed, and both teams were basically throwing that line with every shot. At one point, I think we were sitting two: (our team = yellow, solid black line = the neighborhood of the "predictable line")

This is a VERY approximate setup, because based on the diagram, I have no idea how they were able to go from this to sitting two with one shot. But, it happened! In hindsight, I should have called for a guard with our front yellow rock to prevent a situation where both yellows could be tapped out of scoring position (which is ultimately what happened, somehow...yeah, I don't know either). But the thing is...on our ice, I don't think we really need to be too concerned about the possibility of double take-outs. They don't happen all that often. And, I thought that getting two in the house would give us a better chance of holding them to one and forcing a shootout. But, nope...a guard well in front of the house along the predictable line would have been the better call either way. After the game-changing double, I should have abandoned the predictable line altogether and tried something different, because otherwise we'd just trade take-outs the rest of the way, giving the advantage to the team with last rock (them). So, yeah, my strategy wasn't perfect in this game. Oh, and I also threw my last shot, which was a must-make shot, all the way through the house. Even if I had made it, opposing Skip Dan likely would have bumped it out and won anyway, but we'll never know...

Well, we'll try again next Friday! I feel good about our team - we're 2-2, with the two losses coming against the top two teams in the league, and in the final end at that - so we'll get a few more wins before the season is out. And if not, then, well, it's just curling, so who cares? (Seriously, though, I think I need to tone down my intensity level some. It's hard when you're the Skip sometimes.)

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