Published on March 11, 2008
The ART OF CURLING: The ART OF CURLING BY ASHTON JAMALE GRACE Jr. What is CURLING?: What is CURLING? Curling is a team sport similar to bowls or Bocce, played on a rectangular sheet prepared ice by two teams, using heavy polished granite stones which they slide down the ice towards a target called the “ HOUSE”! The way you score points are by the number of stones that a team has closer to the center of the target than the closest of the other teams stones! The level of precision and complex nature of the strategic thinking required to win has led curling to be referred to as “ Chess On Ice” Basics Of The Game: Basics Of The Game Curling is played on a rectangular sheet of prepared ice into which two round, painted, archery-like targets (called the house) have been embedded. The game involves two teams of four players. These teams are called rinks and named for the team’s captain, who is known as the “skip”. Each team has eight polished granite stones, called stones or rocks, with which they try to score. During each round of play, called an end, each player slides two stones along the surface of the ice. Play alternates between teams, each throwing one stone on their turn. The person throwing the stone influences where the stone stops by the amount of force used, called the weight, the spin (turn), and the direction of the throw. Additionally, the final position of the stone is changed by sweeping or brushing the path in front of the stone to reduce curl and increase distance. Once all the stones have been thrown during an end, the score is determined and the play reverses direction back to the other house. The players are known as the lead, second, third and skip, and traditionally throw stones in that order . The skip acts as the team’s captain, determining the position played by each player, strategy during the game, holding the broom in the house as a target for the shooters, and representing the rink. However, there is nothing in the rules to say where in the order the skip plays and in recent years the skip has thrown second or third stones on some teams. Continued: Continued The basic goal of each end is to have your curling stones nearer to the center of the target once all the stones from both teams have been thrown for that end. Therefore, the maximum number of points a team can earn per end is eight, though this is extremely rare because only the closest stones belonging to one of the two teams are counted. Strategies used during play, such as blocking (guard) and hitting rocks to reposition them (bump) or remove them from play (take-out) lead to lower scores. The term draw is used to describe a shot that comes to rest in the house without making contact with another stone. To peel means to remove both the target stone and the shooter's stone from play. For more information, see Types of shots below. To help ensure the stone lands where intended, the skip stands in the house and indicates to the player throwing where to aim given the desired effect of the shot. The other two players sweep in front of the rock. Once thrown, players may not touch a stone while it is moving, so sweeping is the only way to influence the stone once thrown. Games, called matches, usually last eight ends, though in competitive curling there are usually ten ends and some recreational games last six ends. Equipment: Equipment When curling, players need to wear specially designed shoes. The sole of one shoe has a thin strip of Teflon or another type of smooth surface, called a slider. Inexpensive sliders can be purchased and attached to any shoes by means of an elastic strap. This enables curlers to slide out of the hack when delivering a rock. Left-handed curlers wear this shoe on their right foot, while right-handed curlers wear it on their left. The other shoe has a thin layer of rubber to maximize traction on the ice. Another piece of footwear is the gripper, which can slide on and off the shoe with the slippery surface. This is also usually made of rubber. This piece of equipment is needed when a player is sweeping, and needs traction with both feet. The curling broom is used to sweep the ice surface in front of the rock. The curling broom is used to sweep the ice surface in front of the rock. Aggressive sweeping momentarily melts the ice, which lessens friction, thereby lessening the deceleration of the rock, while straightening the trajectory of the rock. The broom can also be used to clean debris off the ice, although this is often done in vain. The skip will also hold a broom at the opposite end of the rink from the delivering player to show the deliverer where to aim the rock. In earlier days, brooms were made of corn strands and were similar to household brooms. Brushes were used primarily by elderly curlers as a substitute for corn brooms. Today, brushes have replaced traditional corn brooms at every level of curling, but are universally referred to as brooms. Brooms are also used by some curlers as a balancing aid during delivery of the stone. The curling stone or rock is made out of granite. The curling stone, or rock, weighs a maximum of 44 lbs. (19.96 kg) and is fitted with a handle on top allowing it to be rotated as it is released. If the handle is rotated across the body (clockwise for a right-handed thrower, counter-clockwise for a leftie), the shot is said to be an in-turn, and if rotated away from the body (counter-clockwise for a right-handed thrower, clockwise for a left-handed thrower), it is an out-turn. The handles are color-coded to differentiate one team's rocks from the other's (usually, one team's rocks are red and the other's are yellow). The handle may also contain circuitry for detecting hog line violations. Continued: Continued The curling stones used at the 2006 Winter Olympicss in Torino were provided by the Garn For granite quarry at the Yr Eifll mountain on the Llŷn Peninsula in North-West Wales A special handle for stones, called "Eye On The Hog", has recently been developed, which integrates electronics to ensure the stone is released before it crosses the hog line. The handle is coated in metallic paint; the circuitry detects the relative charge of the thrower's hand contact to determine if they are still in contact, and a linear field is established at the hog line to indicate its location to the internal sensor. Lights at the base of the handle indicate whether contact was sustained past the line or not. Not only does this remove the chance for human error (eliminating the game's most frequent cause of controversy), but it means there is no need for hog line officials as well. The downside for the technology is that the equipment currently costs around $650 a piece which multiplies quickly with the amount of rocks and sheets of ice in a tournament. Therefore its use is found mostly in high-level national and international competitions such as the Winter Olympics. Although the rock is designed to be delivered by players grasping the handle as they slide down the ice, a special "delivery stick" may be used by players incapable of delivering the rock in this fashion. Such a stick is designed to attach to the handle so that it can be released without requiring the player to place a hand on the handle in a crouched position. This allows the game to be played by players with disabilities, as well as those unable to crouch comfortably. According to the Canadian Curling Association Rules of Curling, "The use of a curling aid commonly referred to as a 'delivery stick' which enables the player to deliver a stone without placing a hand on the ." handle is considered acceptable Playing Surface: Playing Surface The curling area is a sheet of ice 146 feet( 45.5m) in length by 14 feet 2 inches( 4.318m) to 15 feet 7 inches( 4.75m) in width, carefully prepared to be absolutely level so as to allow the rocks to glide with as little friction as possible. A key part of preparation is the spraying of fine water droplets onto the ice , called pebble. Due to friction between the stone and pebble, the stone turns to the inside or outside, causing the stone’s path t curl. The curl changes during a game as the pebble wears out. The ice also has to be maintained at a temperature of -6 C. maintain perfect ice condition at a curling club is a science. Most curling clubs have ice keepers whose job is to take care of the ice. At the major curling championships ice maintenance is extremely important. Two well know professional ice makers shortly Jenkins and Hans Wuthrich resides in Canada. Larger events such as the brier or other championship are typically held in a challenge to the ice maker as they must constantly monitor and adjust the ice and air temperatures as well as air humidity levels to ensure a good playing surface. Continued : Continued It is common for each sheet of ice to have multiple sensors embedded to monitor surface temperature as well as probes set up in the seating are to monitor humidity and in the compressor room to monitor brine supply and return temperatures. Occasionally, small ice crystal, ( Ice Picks) will bond on the bottom of the stone( called the “ running surface”) which increase friction and change the stones path. As the pebble wears down, more ice picks develop, especially if the water is not treated to remove excess minerals. On the sheet a 12 foot( 3.7m) wide set of concentric rings called the house, is painted near two lines are that divide the house it to quarts and know as the button. The two lines are the centre line, which is drawn lengthwise down the centre of the sheet, and the tee line, drawn 16 feet( 4.9m) from the backboard and parallel to it. Two other lines, the hog lines, are drawn parallel to each backboard and 37 feet( 11.3m) from it. The rings that surround the button are defined by their diameter as the four- foot, eight- foot, and twelve foot rings. Continued: Continued They are usually distinguished by color. The inner rings are merely a visual aid for judging which stone is closer to the center. They do not affect scoring: how ever a stone that is not at least touching the outside of the 12 foot ring( i.e. more than 6 feet from the center) is not in the house and there fordoes not score. Continued: Continued to the sweepers to sweep as necessary to hold the rock straight. The sweepers themselves are responsible for judging the weight of the rock and ensuring the length of travel is correct. Usually, the two sweepers will be on opposite sides of the rock's path. Grip of the broom is vital - one hand grips the top (non-brush end) of the handle while the other grips the handle close to the head of the broom so that as much pressure as needed may be applied while sweeping, though the precise amount of pressure may vary from relatively light brushing to maximum-pressure scrubbing. It is important to never to touch the rock while sweeping (a rock touched by a sweeper is burned, and the opposing skip may opt to have the rock removed from play). Sweeping can be done anywhere on the ice up to the "tee-line", as long as it is only for your own team's rock. Once your team's rock crosses the tee-line, only one player may sweep it. Additionally, when an opposing rock crosses the tee-line, one player from your team is allowed to sweep it. This is the only case that a rock may be swept by an opposing team member. In international rules, this player must be the skip, or if the skip is throwing, then the third. How To Play The Game: How To Play The Game A competitive game usually consists of ten ends. Recreational games are more commonly only eight or even six ends. An end consists of each player from both teams throwing two rocks with the players on each side alternating shots, for a total of sixteen rocks. If the teams are tied at the completion of ten ends an extra end is played to break the tie. If the match is still tied after the extra end, play continues for as many ends as may be required to break the tie. The winner is the team with the highest score after all ends have been completed (see Scoring below). It is not uncommon at any level for a losing team to terminate the match before all ends are completed if it believes it no longer has a realistic chance of winning. Most competitive tournaments require eight ends to be completed before allowing a losing team to concede in this manner. Competitive games will usually end once the losing team is "run out of rocks" - that is, once it has fewer stones in play and/or available for play than the number of points needed to tie the game in the final end. In international competition each side is given 73 minutes to complete all of their throws. Each team is also allowed two 60 second timeouts per ten end game. If extra ends are required each team is allowed 10 minutes of playing time to complete their throws and one added 60 second timeout for each extra end. When throwing the rock, you must release it before reaching the near hogline (players usually slide while releasing their shots) and it must cross the far hogline; otherwise the rock is removed from play (hogged). Continued : Continued While the first three players throw their rocks, the skip remains at the far end of the ice to guide the players. While the skip is throwing, the third takes this role. Thus, each time a rock is thrown, there is one player throwing the rock, and another player at the far end. The two remaining players, equipped with brooms, follow the rock and assist in guiding its trajectory by sweeping the ice before the rock. Sweeping causes the rock to decrease its curl but travel a greater distance. The sweeping players combine directions from the skip and/or the thrower with their own judgement for the weight of the rock, as well as extremely precise timing, to guide the rock into the appropriate position. Often when giving instructions, the thrower or skip will yell "HARD." They are referring to the amount of pressure the sweepers should use to sweep the ice. Teams confer between throws to determine where they will attempt to place the next rock. The process of throwing a rock is known as the delivery. While not mandatory, most curlers deliver the rock from sliding out from the hack. When sliding out, one must start with one shoe (the one with the non-slippery sole) against one of left hack, and vice versa for a left-handed curler. the hacks (a position referred to as being in the hacks). For a right-handed curler, this means starting from the Continued : Continued When delivering the rock, it is important to remember that the momentum behind how much weight is applied to the rock depends on how much leg drive the delivery has. It is usually not wise to push the rock with the arm, unless absolutely necessary. When in the hack, one must crouch down with the body lined up and shoulders square with the skip's broom at the other end. While in the hack, one may hold a broom out for balance. Different curlers hold their broom out in many different fashions. The broom is held in the hand opposite from the rock, and should be positioned so that the non-sweeping side of the broom is against the ice. This prevents drag which would be caused by the soft head of the broom dragging against the ice. Before any delivery, it is important to ensure that the running surface of the rock is clean, and that the area around you is clean as well. This is achieved by wiping the running surface of the rock with either your hand or with the broom, and then cleaning the area around you with the broom. The reason for this is that any dirt in the area or on the bottom of a rock could alter the trajectory of it and ruin the shot. When this happens, this is called a "pick". After cleaning the rock, the next step is to know what rotation, or turn, to put on the rock. The skip will usually tell the thrower this information. The thrower will then place the handle of the rock generally at either a "two o'clock" or a "ten o'clock" position. When delivering the rock, the thrower will turn the rock from one of these two positions toward the "twelve o'clock" position before releasing it. A rock turned from ten o'clock to twelve will spin clockwise and curl to the right, and a rock turned from two o'clock to twelve will have the opposite effect. A generally desired rate of turn is about two and a half rotations before coming to a rest. Once the thrower knows the turn to give the rock, the thrower will place the rock in front of his or her toe in the hack. At this point the thrower will then start his or her delivery. This begins by slightly rising from the hack, and moving the rock back to one's toe. This is the beginning of a pendulum movement that will determine the force given to the rock. Some older curlers will actually raise the rock in this backward movement, as this is what they are accustomed to. The forward thrust of the delivery comes next. The thrower moves his or her slider-foot in front of the other foot while keeping the rock ahead of him. The thrower then lunges out from the hack. The more thrust from this lunge, the more power or "weight" the rock will have. When lunging out, the gripper-foot will drag behind the thrower. When lunging out, it is important to push as precisely as possible in the direction of the skip's broom at the other end, so that the "line" of the rock is accurate. The rock should be released before the thrower's momentum wanes at which point the thrower imparts the appropriate curl, keeping in mind the stone should be released before the first hog-line. Continued: Continued The amount of weight given to the rock will also be told to the thrower by the skip at the other end. This usually occurs by the skip tapping the ice with his broom where he or she wants the rock to be delivered. In the case of a take-out or a tap, the skip will tap the rock that he or she wants removed or tapped. It should also be noted that with a more skilled skip, where he wants the rock to land will not always be the exact place he holds the broom if the skip expects the rock to curl. When the rock is delivered accurately at the broom, it will curl towards where the skip wants it to land. When a rock is delivered, it is important that there be two players following the rock so that they are ready to sweep its path if needed. Sweeping is done for two reasons: to make the rock travel farther, and to make the rock travel straighter (curl less). When sweeping, pressure and speed of the brush head are key to slightly melting the pebbled ice in the path of the rock. One of the interesting strategy aspects of curling is knowing when to sweep. When swept, a rock will always travel both farther and straighter. In some situations, one of the two is often not desirable (for example, a rock may have too much weight, but needs sweeping to prevent curling into a guard), and the team must decide which is better: getting by the guard but traveling too far, or hitting the guard. Continued: Continued Much of the yelling that goes on during a curling game is the skip calling the line of the shot. The skip evaluates the path of the rock and calls to the sweepers to sweep as necessary to hold the rock straight. The sweepers themselves are responsible for judging the weight of the rock and ensuring the length of travel is correct. Usually, the two sweepers will be on opposite sides of the rock's path. Grip of the broom is vital - one hand grips the top (non-brush end) of the handle while the other grips the handle close to the head of the broom so that as much pressure as needed may be applied while sweeping, though the precise amount of pressure may vary from relatively light brushing to maximum-pressure scrubbing. It is important to never to touch the rock while sweeping (a rock touched by a sweeper is burned, and the opposing skip may opt to have the rock removed from play). Sweeping can be done anywhere on the ice up to the "tee-line", as long as it is only for your own team's rock. Once your team's rock crosses the tee-line, only one player may sweep it. Additionally, when an opposing rock crosses the tee-line, one player from your team is allowed to sweep it. This is the only case that a rock may be swept by an opposing team member. In international rules, this player must be the skip, or if the skip is throwing, then the third. Types Of Shots: Types Of Shots Types of shots Essentially, there are two kinds of shots in curling, the draw and the takeout. There are many variations of these shots, however. Draws are shots in which the stone is thrown only to reach the house (or in front of the house - when the rock is called a guard), while takeouts are shots designed to remove stones from play. Choosing which shot to play will determine whether the thrower will use an in-turn or out turn, for a right-handed person, the clockwise and counter-clockwise rotation of the stone, respectively. Possible draw shots include guard, raise, come around, and freeze. Takeout shots include peel, hit and roll, chip and hack. For a more complete listing look at the complete list Glossary of curling terms. Until four rocks have been played (two from each side), rocks in the free guard zone (those rocks left in the area between the hog and tee lines, excluding the house) may not be removed by an opponent's stone. These are known as guard rocks. If the guard rocks are removed, they are replaced and the opponent's rock is removed from play. This rule is known as the four-rock rule or the free-zone rule; (for a period in Canada, a "three-rock rule" was in place, but that rule has been replaced by the four-rock rule). This rule, a relatively recent addition to curling, was added in response to a strategy of "peeling" opponents' guard stones (knocking them out of play at an angle that caused the shooter's stone to also roll out of play, leaving no stones on the ice). A team in the lead would often employ this strategy during the game. By knocking all stones out, the opponents could at best score one point (if they had the hammer). Alternatively, the team with the hammer could peel rock after rock, which would blank the end, keeping the last rock advantage for another end. While a sound strategy, this made for an unexciting game. Continued : Continued The last rock in an end is called the hammer. Before the game, teams typically decide who gets the hammer in the first end by coin toss or similar method. (In tournaments, this is typically assigned, giving every team the first-end hammer in half their games.) In all subsequent ends, the hammer belongs to the team that did not score in the preceding end. In the event that neither team scores, the hammer remains with the same team. Naturally, it is easier to score points with the hammer than without; in tournament play, the team with the hammer generally tries to score two or more points. If only one point is possible, the skip will often try to avoid scoring at all in order to retain the hammer until the next end, when two or more points may be possible. This is called a blank end. Scoring without the hammer is commonly referred to as stealing, or a steal, and is much more difficult. After both teams have delivered eight rocks, the team with the rock closest to the button is awarded one point for each of its own rocks that is closer than the opponent's closest rock. Rocks that are not in the house (further from the center than the outer edge of the 12-foot ring) do not score even if no opponent's rock is closer. A rock is considered in the house if any portion of its edge is over any portion of the 12-foot ring. Since the bottom of the rock is rounded, a rock just barely in the house will not have any actual contact with the ring, which will pass under the rounded edge of the stone, but it still counts. Continued : Continued This is an example of a typical curling score-board used at clubs, which use a different method of scoring than the ones used on television. The score is marked on a scoreboard, of which there are two types. One is the baseball type scoreboard, which is usually used for televised games. On this scoreboard the ends are marked by columns 1 through 10 (or 11 for the possibility of an extra end to break ties) plus an additional column for the total. Below this are two rows — one for each team. The number of points each team gets in an end is marked this way. The other form of scoreboard is the one used in most curling clubs (see photo). It is set up in the same way, except the numbered row indicates points, not ends, and it can be found between the rows for the team. The numbers placed are indicative of the end. If the red team scores 3 points in the first end (called a three-ender), then a one (indicating the first end) is placed beside the number three in the red row. If they score two more in the second end, then a two will be placed beside the five in the red row indicating that the red team has five points in total (3+2). This scoreboard works because only one team can get points in an end. However, some confusion can exist if no team gets points in an end. This is called a blank end and the end number usually goes in the furthest column on the right in the row of the team who has the hammer (last rock advantage), or on a special spot for blank ends. The below example illustrates the difference between the "Baseball" style scoreboard used for televised curling matches and the style used at most curling clubs. The example illustrates the men's final at the 2006 Winter Olympics Continued : Continued When a team feels it is impossible or near impossible to win a game, they will usually shake hands with the opposing team to concede defeat. This may occur at any point during the game, but usually happens near the final end. When a game is completed by playing all ends, both teams also shake hands. This is often accompanied by saying "Good game!" Hands are also shaken before the game, accompanied by saying "Good curling!" to the opposing team. In the Winter Olympics, a team may concede after finishing any end during a round-robin game, but can only concede after finishing eight ends during the knockout stages. Most decisions about rules are left to the skips. However, all scoring disputes are handled by the third, or vice-skip. No players other than the third from each team should be in the house while score is being debated. In tournament play the most frequent circumstance in which a decision has to be made by someone other than the third is the failure of the thirds to agree on which rock is closest to the button. An independent official then measures the distances using a specially designed device that pivots at the center of the button. When no independent officials are available, the thirds measure the distances. ORIGINS and HISTORY: ORIGINS and HISTORY The is thought to be invented in late medieval Scotland, with the first written reference to a contest using stones on ice coming from the records of Paisley abbey, Renfrew, in February, 1541.There are tow paintings both dated 1565 by Pieter Brueghel the elder depict peasants curling( which Scotland and the low Countries had strong trading and culture links during the period which is also evident in the history of golf). The word curling first appears in print in 1620 in Perth, Scotland in the preface and the verses of a poem by Henry Adamson. The game was ( and still , in Scotland) also know as the “ The roaring game” because the sound the stones make while traveling over the pebble( droplets of water applied to the playing surface. The early history of curling, the rocks were simply flat bottomed river stones which were sometimes notched or shaped: the thrower had a little control over the rock, and relied more on luck than skill to win, unlike today’s reliance on skill and strategy! Continued From Origin and History : Continued From Origin and History Today the game is most firmly established in Canada, having been taken there by Scottish emigrants. The Royal Montreal Curing Club, the oldest active athletic club of any kind in north America, was established in 1807. the first club in the united states began in1831, and the game was introduced to Switzerland and Sweden before the end of the nineteenth century, also by Scots. Today curling is played all over the Europe and has spread to Japan , Australia, New Zealand, and even the People’s Republic of China and Korea. The first world curling championship in the sport was limited to men and woman know as the “ Scotch Cup” held in Falkirk and Edinburgh, Scotland in1959. the first ever to win the world title was won by the Canadian team from Regina, Saskatchewan, skipped by Ernie Richardson. ( The skip is the team Captain.) Curling has now become and an Olympic sport since 1998 winter Olympics! In February 2006, the International Olympic Committee decide that the curling competition from 1924 winter Olympics would be consider official Olympic events and no longer be consider demonstration events. The first Olympic medals in curling, which at times was played outside, were awarded for the 1924 winter games with gold medal won by great Britain and Ireland, two sliver medals by Sweden and the bronze by France! TIME –LINE OF CURLING: TIME –LINE OF CURLING 1927Eight teams from across Canada gather at Toronto's Granite Club for the first Brier, which was officially known as the Dominion Curling Championship. Murray Macneill's rink representing Halifax win the Brier Tankard, donated for the event by the MacDonald Tobacco Company. 1928Field increases to 10 and includes teams representing Manitoba (Gordon Hudson's winning rink), Saskatchewan and Alberta, which is represented by a Saskatchewan rink. 1929Gordon Hudson from the Strathcona Curling Club in Winnipeg becomes the first to win two straight Briers and the first to go undefeated. 1936British Columbia and Prince Edward Island send their first entries to the Brier. 1940Winnipeg becomes the first city other than Toronto to host the Brier. A total of 26 other cities from St. John¹s to Victoria have since hosted the Brier. 1943-45The Brier is suspended due to Second World War. 1949Ken Watson of Manitoba becomes the first three-time Brier with a perfect 9-0 record in Hamilton.1963Ernie Richardson wins his record fourth Brier -- the fourth in five years for this Regina curling dynasty.1976Jack Mac Duff records Newfoundland's only Brier win in Regina. Continued : Continued 1977Jim Ursel obliges the home fans in Montreal with Quebec's only Brier win. 1980Labatt Brewing takes over from MacDonald as the Brier's primary sponsor and replaces the Brier Tankard with the Labatt Tankard. 1993Round-robin ends with a four-way tie for first place between Ontario¹s Russ Howard, B.C.'s Rick Folk, Northern Ontario¹s Rick Lang and Manitoba¹s Vic Peters. Howard finally wins th Brier after four tie-breakers, a semi-final and a final. 2001Nokia takes over from Labatt as the primary sponsor, with the refurbished, solid-silver Brier Tankard brought out of retirement to be presented to the winner for the first time since 1979. 2002Alberta's Randy Ferbey becomes just the fourth man to win four Brier titles; the only man to do it with two different teams .2003Alberta's Randy Ferbey becomes the only man to win five Brier titles; his team becomes the first to win three consecutive Brier titles. The team goes 13-0, setting a new record.2004The Ferbey rink shatters the record for consecutive victories, winning 23 in a row dating back to Draw 17 of the 2002 Brier, before finally losing a game, 8-7 to Nova Scotia's Mark Dacey. This Is What We Call The End! Holla Back!: This Is What We Call The End! Holla Back!