Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Success at the Kinross Classic Junior Competition

Two weeks ago, some younger associate and members of the club went up to Kinross to play in the prestigious Kinross Classic Junior competition.  This is a long-established competition with a roll-call of great winners in the past - both men and women.

Rebecca Steven skipped Karen Munro and sister Rowena Steven to a great victory in the main event.  The other player was Clare Degan.  This is a real breakthrough for Rebecca and her team - many congratulations to them all.

In the men's event, Gavin Barr played in the team that lost the final.  Many congratulations to Gavin and his team mates for reaching the final - again, another breakthrough.

Meanwhile, in the final of the low road of the competition, Laura and Jane Barr, together with Sophie Sinclair and Emma Hair won the competition - another great performance.

Are You Getting Your Ends Away?

To be very fair, most of the games so far have comfortably reached seven ends.  Niall is the champion, having managed eight ends in three out of his four games.  When you look at the league table, you should not be too surprised that he leads the ends table by a whopping four ends in total.  He has managed to play 31 ends.  This lead that he has built up could well be crucial when it comes to the end of the competition and in the event of a tied points total.

Look also though down the table because as well as the Kettle trophy, we are also playing for the runners-up spot in the league.  The runners-up will be presented with the Harlaw Cup and the race could not be tighter.  Right now, just about everyone is still in with a shout and it will be decided on points first, then ends, and only then on the shots difference between the teams.  You might be getting thumped in terms of the score, but if you can secure another end or two, it may make all the difference between glory and the thought of what might have been!

This does raise an interesting tactical question as well, though.  Suppose you have last stone and you are four down in the match, playing the last end.  You have the hammer.  You know that the chances are that you will not score four, but you want to try; you also want to make sure that you give yourself as good a chance as possible to get in for a crucial shot with your last stone.  Tempting though it may be to freeze their first stone on the pot lid, or go round their centre line guard, you really ought to play for the wings and build your end that way.

On the other hand, what if you do not have last stone in that situation?  The advice then is to try to make it as easy as possible to get as many stones round the centre guards as you can and this may mean going behind the tee with the second’s stones to leave the room.  What happens if they follow you in perfectly?  Well, by that time you are pretty well goosed anyway, so you’re kind of hoping that they either fail with their attempt, or (probably more sensibly from their perspective) they rip the guard off.

How have Niall, Shona, Andrew and Francis managed to get their eight ends just about every game?  Simple really:
·         They start the game as soon after the bell has gone as they can
·         They are all in the hack with their stone cleaned and ready to play when the previous stone is coming to a finish
·         Quick decision-making in the house by skip and third
·         Cooperative opposition!

If you do not do those simple steps, the time builds up.  Let’s imagine that you watch your opponent’s stone all the way down the ice from the hogline.  Once it has stopped, you go back to the hack (5 seconds), search out your stone (10 seconds), clean its sole (10 seconds), then raise your eyes in the general direction of the skip waiting patiently in the head for your attention.  That’s not really that much time – it’s only twenty-five seconds.  But then you multiply those 25 seconds by 12 (on the basis that if everyone did that, you wouldn’t get more than six ends in!) and that’s six minutes.  Now let’s assume worst-case scenario and imagine that everyone is doing that (forget the skips’ stones for the moment); that’s six minutes times six people and that comes to over thirty minutes wasted, just faffing around!

Just give me a pill; I've lost the will to live!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Points Competition 2012

In 1836, according to the Reverend John Kerr's History of Curling, the rules of points were formalised by Currie schoolteacher, Robert Palmer, local doctor, Dr Somerville and Mr Cunningham of Harlaw.  All three were members of the Currie curling club, so when its successor club, the Currie and Balerno curling club, gather for its annual points competition, it is a special moment in the ongoing history of the game.

14 members turned out for the competition which took place on two adjacent sheets of ice.  The first discipline is always the straight hit and it was good to see that there was a high standard of hitting on show,with many of the competitors scoring a maximum of eight ponts.

The next discipline we attempted was the in-wick.  Two stones are placed close together.  If you hit and roll to the correct side, you score one point; if you manage to touch the second stone as well, you score a maximum two points.  Tricky stuff.  Interestingly, only one curler managed the maximum score - young Gavin Barr.  He was now on 16 points after just two disciplines - good going!

There were some good scores in the drawing competition.  Brian Fleming bounced right back to form here - to be fair, he had only dropped one point on the first two - and scored a maximum eight points to take him back into the lead.  David Aitken was always known as a strong drawer, so there were none surprised when he came in with seven points, as did Niall Gunn.  At this stage in the competition, Brian Fleming was leading on 23 points and young Gavin Barr was only 1 point behind on 22.  Others in the hunt included Niall and Francis on 19 and David Aitken on 18.  In the separate ladies competition, Susan Kesley was on 18 points and Jenny Barr and Morna Aitken were both on 17.

Raymond Preston and David Aitken were the only two curlers who managed the maximum 8 points in their guards.  The ice was swingy and not perhaps as keen as normal, so a full score in this discipline takes some good curling.  Donald Kennedy did superbly well here - a 7 (along with Tasha Aitken and Niall Gunn) speaks to a high level of curling as well.  Brian managed 6 points and Gavin hung on with 4.

Two more disciplines to go and some good scores had already been posted.  Next up was the chap and lie.  The clever curler has already tried to get a read on the ice with their earlier hits.  Dave Munro and Raymond Preston were the star turns here with maximum scores.  Brian faltered with 4 and Gavin made up some of the leeway with an impressive 6 points out of 8.

This meant that going into the tricky last session (the inwick from a stone placed at five o'clock on the rings), Brian led by one from Gavin Barr; Niall Gunn, David Aitken and Dave Munro were all no more than 4 points away.  In the ladies competition, Jenny Barr lead by 1 point from Susan Kesley and by 3 points from Tasha Aitken.  In a low-scoring round, Gavin managed to score the one point he needed with his very last stone; Brian failed to score so the scores were tied.  Susan managed 4 points to Jenny's 2, so she managed to overhaul her and win the ladies competition - congratulations!

In the "last stone draw" competition after the Kettle games, Gavin - just back from watching Edinburgh lose the rugby match at Murrayfield stadium by an agonising point - managed to draw the eight-foot with his stone after Brian had surprisingly missed the rings altogether.  Young Gavin is a first-time winner and one imagines that the three curling worthies from the 19th century looked down approvingly!

Kettle Trophy Round Four

Team Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4 Team 5 Team 6 Team 7 Team 8
1 Wood M       3 9 2 3 13 3 3 7 2 7 7 3                  
2 Munro 9 3 5       5 12 2 3 10 2       11 2 4            
3 Gunn 13 3 5 12 5 6       10 2 5             5 6 3      
4 Steven 7 3 5 10 3 5 2 10 2                         4 5 4
5 Fleming 7 7 4                         7 5 3 3 9 2 9 5 4
6 Kesley       2 11 2             5 7 3       6 8 4 11 6 5
7 Copland             6 5 5       9 3 5 8 6 3       5 13 2
8 Barr J                   5 4 3 5 9 3 6 11 2 13 5 5      

Position Team Played For Against Shots       U / (D) Ends Points
1 Gunn 4 40 16 24 19 6
2 Copland 4 28 27 1 15 6
3 Fleming 4 26 26 0 13 5
4 Steven 4 23 21 2 16 4
5 Munro 4 28 27 1 13 4
6 Barr J 4 29 29 0 13 4
7 Kesley 4 24 32 -8 14 2
8 Wood M 4 16 36 -20 10 1

Helpmaboab - but there was a lot of shouting in the Copland v Gunn game.  An entire season's worth of "get out of jail" cards were used up by team Copland, with Donald Kennedy at third, and substitutes Margaret Jacks and Richie Anderson.  They got a few rubs and there were a couple of shots for Niall that, if they had come off, would have spelt the end of game for their opponents, but they didn't and the league has suddenly opened up.  Copland moves onto six points but Niall has four ends in hand.  Niall, missing Shona Watt and Andrew Cargill, had regular lead Francis Kennedy at third; substitutes Ian Copland and Maggie Barrie made up the front end.

Meanwhile, Brian Fleming, on four points at the start of the evening, failed to take both points against Andrew Galloway (skipping for Mike Wood).  Team Wood gained their first point this evening.  They were three shots down playing the seventh end, so the big three that Andrew, Simon Kesley, Morna Aitken and substitute Tasha Aitken scored might be just what the doctor ordered to get their competition up and running.

John Steven, Katie Wood, Nook Weir and Agnes Barr failed to capitalise in their game against Jenny Barr, Lois Copland, Joe Barry and substitute Kirsty Barr.  John stays on the four point mark and Jenny and company join them.

Finally, Dave Munro, David Aitken, Karen Munro and Richard Alexander had a big win against Susan Kesley, Margaret Nicol, Sheena Munro and Rowena Steven.

Now that we are past the halfway mark, Niall is still setting the pace but has a difficult run-in against Brian, Susan and Jenny.  Robin has joined Niall on six points and his last three games are against Mike Wood, John Steven and Dave Munro.  Dave Munro, Brian Fleming, John Steven and Jenny Barr are still in the hunt.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Small Correction to the Kettle League Table

Position Team Played For Against Shots       U / (D) Ends Points
1 Gunn 3 35 10 25 16 6
2 Steven 3 19 16 3 12 4
3 Copland 3 22 22 0 10 4
4 Fleming 3 19 19 0 9 4
5 Kesley 3 22 21 1 12 2
6 Barr J 3 24 25 -1 10 2
7 Munro 3 17 25 -8 9 2
8 Wood M 3 9 27 -20 7 0

Please note that there is a smidgin of a correction to make!  The score in the Wood v Steven game was 7-3 in John's favour - not 5-3 as reported.

The new league table reflects the correct position.

I'm off for a wee dose of self-flagellation just to ensure that the same thing doesn't happen again.

Bertha - the whip, please.