Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Detroit Mixed Bonspiel: Recap

We had a great time at the Detroit International Mixed Bonspiel (curling tournament) last weekend. Woo! I'm splitting up the recap into two parts - the curling, and the party. (I'll also have some road trip, weather, and general Detroit-related stuff later this week.)

The curling

So, Detroit Curling Club: been around since 1885 (I think), but the current building in suburban Ferndale has only been around since 2002 (I think). The Detroit club is the 6th dedicated ice club that I've curled at, and it's the farthest west of the six, but not the farthest north (Rochester, NY).

Let's go ahead and get these first two games out of the way as quickly as possible...

Career game #208: 2013 Detroit Int'l Mixed, A Event, Round of 16 - February 16, 2013

End........... 12345678 |TTL
Triangle...... 0102000- | 03
Chatham, ON... 2010525- | 15

Being an "international" bonspiel, there were quite a few Canadian teams represented - maybe 6 out of the 16? I'm glad we got to at least play one of them. These guys were pretty good, and we managed to hang with them for the first half of the game. In fact, in the 3rd end, we could have scored five, if not for the other Skip's last rock draw to the button to save the end.

And then...things fell apart. The next game and a half, we truly sucked!

Career game #209: 2013 Detroit Int'l Mixed, C Event, Quarterfinals - February 16, 2013

End........... 12345678 |TTL
Detroit....... 2016???? | 12
Triangle...... 0100???? | 01

Please forgive me for not remembering the specific end-by-end scores after we have up 6.

So...what happened? Maybe we were tired - Amber and I, along with our teammates Justin and Tabby, each have a one-year-old child, of course. Regardless of what excuse I can come up with, we just didn't make too many shots. It happens. Not much use in discussing strategy here :)

But the good news is that our struggles earned us a spot in the "D event" with three other 0-2 teams. Fair competition, at last! Since the quality of competition can vary greatly at a bonspiel, I think a good bonspiel draw is one that pits the teams that are struggling the most against each other - for example, 0-2 teams against other 0-2 teams - to make the last game or two fun and competitive for everybody. Most do this, but there was that bonspiel a few years back in which we started 0-2, and were "rewarded" with a rematch against the team that had killed us in the first game. The Detroit 16-team bracket - four games for everybody; winners play winners and losers play losers, all the way to the end - is, by definition, as good as you can get in that regard. (Admittedly, it's harder to pull that off with a 24-team bracket.)

We must have all slept better Saturday night, because on Sunday, we played really well!

Career game #210: 2013 Detroit Int'l Mixed, D Event, Semifinals - February 17, 2013

End........... 1234567 |TTL
Detroit....... 200000- | 02
Triangle...... 011211- | 06
(Note - this is a different Detroit team than we played the day before.)

Career game #211: 2013 Detroit Int'l Mixed, D Event, Final - February 17, 2013

End............ 1234567 |TTL
Bowling Green.. 000200- | 02
Triangle....... 213011- | 08

Now that we're actually making our shots, now we can talk strategy. We've had the most success in bonspiels playing a "quiet" game - lots of guards and draws. Generally speaking, a team that curls on dedicated ice regularly is going to be better at precision take-outs than we are, so our best chance of victory is to try to out-draw them. And today, we executed! Woo! Put up some guards, try to draw around them, put as many rocks in play as possible, leave the opposing skip with as difficult a shot as possible. It seems like most of our dedicated ice bonspiel wins involve lots of one-point steals. Our Skip Justin also played made some key shots, including a key take-out for two in the 4th end of the D semifinal.

So: D event champions! It's the first event final I've won, or even played in, at an away bonspiel (pointspiels excluded). But I can't count this as making the final draw of a bonspiel, because the D event final was actually in the next-to-last draw time. So, we didn't get piped onto the ice by the bagpiper. Which I think is fair, really, because basically, the teams that went 3-0 or 2-1 in their first three games played in the final draw, while the 1-2 and 0-3 teams (including us) played their last game in the penultimate draw. Even though we did win the D event, in some respects, we actually just finished 13th out of 16 teams, if you treat all of the "losers brackets" as consolation playoff games. ... Well, 13th doesn't sound that great, so I'm going to stick with saying that we went 2-2 on the weekend and were the D event champions. Yeah!

Regardless of how you add it up, I think we represented Triangle very well, and I'm really proud of how we played this weekend. It is a primary goal of mine to play in the final draw of an away bonspiel, and I'll get there someday.

The party

For some, the party atmosphere is the reason you go to a bonspiel. For us, it may not be *the* reason, but it's part of it.

How did the Detroit bonspiel "party atmosphere" stack up? I'd place it top 3 out of all the bonspiels I've been to, for sure. There weren't any games at all scheduled for after 5:30 on Saturday; after that, it was dinner + costume party. I appreciate a bonspiel that takes Saturday night off and has an actual off-ice "event" scheduled. (I think about half of the bonspiels I've been to have done that.)

The theme of the costume party was "Famous Foursomes". We didn't have a whole lot of time to put something really sophisticated together, so our team did the "Four Seasons" (the actual seasons, not the band). Not particularly original, but it was an excuse for me to put on a Spring dress, I suppose. There were actually three guys in drag at the costume party on three different teams, and none of us won the contest, of course. Crossdressing normally doesn't win these kinds of things. (We don't do it to win, we do it because it's fun, amirite?)

I don't know what does win costume contests, usually, because I don't think I've ever agreed with the final decision, even once. Personally, I thought the Hungry Hungry Hippos should have won:

I know that's not a well-lit picture, but that's actually the only one I have from the costume party. Sorry, folks. (Or perhaps, in some cases, you're welcome.)

Oh, and one more thing: complements to the "chef", or whoever organized the food menu. Every meal was excellent, and I was particularly impressed that Sunday lunch was a fresh, new meal, and a good one at that (pulled pork and beans). Every other bonspiel I've been to, Sunday lunch has been leftovers, or non-existent. But not here! Of course, it is different when the bonspiel doesn't start until Saturday morning, but, still - I just assumed we'd get leftover dinner on Sunday.

Well, anyway, stick a bunch of curlers in a room together, preferably near a source of alcohol, and you'll have a good time. Guaranteed! I'm already looking forward to my next bonspiel.

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