Saturday, March 31, 2007

Draw 1 - Men's World's

Canada got through round one easily, helped by very disappointing shooting in the Finnish back end (64%, 66%) and the whole Canadian team's excellent shooting (95%, 88%, 84%, 97%!!).
Othr winners were Australia over the US, stealing 1 in the 10th, and destroying my dream of titling this post "Mankato rules!", Norway over Switzerland in an 11th end, and Denmark over Sweden in the 1th with a steal. What a draw, except for one match.
Canada sits out tonight.

Reminder: You probably won't see tonight's draw on TV (I won't), but the France-Germany match is on CurlTV.


Friday, March 30, 2007

My Picks for the 2007 Worlds

Last year, I predicted that Team Finland, skipped by Markku Uusipaavalniemi, would win. But early on, he injured his wrist, and the team faltered without him. In the end Scotland defeated Canada to win the championship.

This year, Team Canada, skipped by Glenn Howard looks absolutely unbeatable. I predict they will win the championship. Others who might do well are Team Scotland and Team Finland.

Once again, let me remind readers that CurlTV will be carrying the morning draws that are not being covered by TSN. We shouldn't have to miss a single draw (aside from having to work now and then)

Correction: It looks as if TSN will be carrying all the games of the round robin that involve Canada, and CurlTV will be carrying games from all the draws, but none involving Canada during the round robin. Here is the TSN/CBC schedule. And here is a list of the games that will be covered by CurlTV (including the afternoon seniors world championship on Saturday, March 31, between Hackner (Canada) and Prentice (Scotland).


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Curling Quarters

The other day I was in the bank, when I remembered that they might have rolls of curling quarters, so I bought an entire roll (big spender, eh? $10 worth!).


Monday, March 26, 2007

Colleen Jones with straight hair?

For roughly twenty years I have been a fan of CBC reporter and curler Colleen Jones and been entirely accustomed to her wavy hair.

Today she is interviewing Russ Howard for the CBC and the hair is relatively straight.

All I can say is that that works too! Wow!


Protecting Your Curling Shoe(s)

You know how, when you slide out of the hack, you tend to wear out the toe of the shoe that drags along the ice?

You know how many people try to protect the toe of their shoe by putting duct tape on it?

Jerry has a better idea:

He cut off the bottom of a plastic juice (or soft drink) bottle. Then he punched some holes along one edge, so he could hold the plastic shield onto his shoe using the shoelace, just lacing the plastic onto his shoe, over his toe. Nifty, eh?


Sunday, March 25, 2007

What do you put on at 4am?

Especially at the end of the Women's World Championhips?

So what they, our CBC, put on is a Sandra Schmirler hagiography, narrated, I am almost sure, by Albert Schultz. Now I was a great fan of Sandra Peterson, but do we still need this? I know I do not.

The good news about this show is that I need to fall asleep and this show will surely help.

Albert Schultz sure did some awful things getting where he is. (And my readers know how highly I think of him.)

Canada Wins 8-4 in 9 Ends!
Team Canada Is the New World Champion!

Team Canada, skipped by Kelly Scott, won the 2007 Women's World Curling Championship, defeating Denmark by a score of 8 - 4.

Canada led 4-3 at the midpoint of the game but then stole one in the 6th, and two more in the 7th, to lead 7-3. Canada then forced Denmark to take one in the 8th and then scored one in the 9th to lead by four, and Denmark conceded.

The final score does not fully represent the shooting, though. Denmark shot 76%, while Canada shot 75%. For more details on shooting percentages, see this site (I have no idea how long it will be available).


Canada-Denmark 9th End - Canada is the Champion

Canada is naturally just trying to keep the end fairly clean, though there are now two Danish centre guards, after Canada fails to clear as planned. Denise DuPont puts a rock nicely behind those guards, and Scott has Schrader clear one of the guards (and her own rock, which does disappear).

Denmark put up another centre guard, very nicely, and Scott calls for a time-out.

Scott draws to the button but is open for Madeleine DuPont who bumps her own rock in the 8-foot. Scott has shot rock sitting behind two Danish rocks. Scott takes one in the end, missing a draw for two, but she leads sufficiently that Denmark concede.

Kelly Scott has her world championship, after lots of grief in her career. CBC say she is the first junior champion to win the World Championships. Well, things I did not know!


Canada-Denmark 8th End

Joan McCusker points out that Denmark were similarly down four rocks late against Scotland yesterday, and came back to win. Those DuPonts can be very effective.

But at the moment Canada is cleaning Danish rocks out of the house; there are four Canada rocks now in the house, all ibut one n front of the T-line. No Danish rocks are to be found anywhere in play. Denmark tosses a rock into the house, and Sacha Carter removes it, and, even better, the one Canadian rock behind the T-line.

Denmark try to freeze to Canada's shot rock in the 4-foot, but there is separation and Canada clears that rock with no problem. It is a crowded house with many Canadian rocks, but it is not clear how Denmark can exploit this. Denmark put a rock in the front of the house (removing two Canadian rocks), and Scott, very aggressively, draws into the four-foot behind the Danish rock.

Madeleine DuPont makes a tremendous shot, removing two Canadian rocks from the four-foot, and ending up shot, and behind the cover of one Danish rock and a Canadian rock. Who are these DuPonts?

Scott makes an utterly perfect run-back, and clears the Danish shot rock.

Madeleine DuPont is forced to draw for one, which she barely makes. Canada 7-4 with the hammer.


World Championships Final - 7th End

I am luckily awake as the CBC is broadcasting the Canada-Denmark match. Canada is up 5-3 after a delicate steal of 1 in the 6th end. We are down to Kelly Scott and Medeleine DuPont's rocks. Scott places her first rock in the house to lie 2 unprotected, but not offering a double. DuPont hits and removes the Scott rock, and Scott's response is likely to at least permit the possibility of two for Denmark.

Scott rolls perfectly behind cover. Her shot is simply superb. DuPont really has only a draw for one, and it is not trivial. Wow - is she only 19? She comes up short - it's a steal of at least one for Scott, and maybe a measure for the second. It is two for Canada. After 7 ends, it is 7-3 Canada.


Canada Leads Denmark 4-3 after 5 Ends

I set my alarm for 1am this morning so Ms. Eclectic and I could get up to watch the 2007 Women's World Curling Championship match between Canada and Denmark. To put it mildly, Canada had blown Denmark away in the their first two meetings, but after Denmark's come-from-behind victory over Scotland, Denmark was looking stronger than they had in their previous three games, all of which they had lost.

Canada started strong, taking two with the hammer. Then each team forced the other to take one. In the fourth end, Denmark took two with the hammer, and then Denmark forced Canada to take just one on a good tap up in the fifth. Overall, as the CBC commentators have emphasized, Kelly Scott has saved the Canadian bacon in almost every end.

So going into the sixth end, Canada leads 4-3, but Denmark has the hammer.


CBC Coverage Sucks Again!
3 Lead Stones Not Shown in Each End

Thanks for almost nothing, CBC. Here we are in the fourth end of the 2007 Women's Worlds, and we still haven't seen the first three lead stones of any end. CBC is too friggin' busy showing too many commercials. And then, when they go back live to Japan, they point the camera somewhere other than the ice while Don blathers about something from a prepared script.

btw, even though Canada is leading going into the fourth, Denmark is looking pretty darned good.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Denmark and Canada Face Each Other in Finals

After Team Canada demolished Denmark in the page 1-2 playoffs by a score of 11-3, Denmark took on Scotland in the Bronze Medal game. Scotland took an early lead, scoring three in the third end and leading 5-1 after the fourth end. But Scotland stopped making so many shots, and Denmark started making more shots, stealing two in the 8th end, 1 in the 9th, and two more in the 10th, to defeat Scotland 9-6.

After watching today's game, I have to say that Team Canada's chances look pretty good in the finals (1am EDT on CBC).


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Open Letter to CBC Sports

Please please PLEASE add the Canada-Denmark matchup in the page 1-2 playoffs at the 2007 Women's World Curling Championship to your broadcast schedule. At this point, I don't even care if you have to add it on Country Canada (which I have not watched since your last curling debacle); please, you will have the announcers and crew there anyway. Just have them do two games on Saturday.

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Televising the Playoffs from the Women's Worlds --
Has the CBC Done It Again?

According to this site, Team Canada will play Denmark in the 1-2 playoff at 2am EST on Saturday. But even though they will have a crew in place, is CBC televising the game? Nope. They will, however, be televising the bronze metal game at 7am which, if Canada defeats Denmark in the 1-2 playoff, will not feature Team Canada.

I guess by televising the last two games, given Team Canada's record, CBC is guaranteed to be showing Team Canada at least once. Too bad they won't be showing 1-2 playoff on Saturday morning. And too bad we in Canada cannot even pay to watch that game on the NBC sports internet service.

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Canada to Face Denmark in the 1-2 Playoff

After suffering its only defeat in the round-robin, Team Canada still finished first, well ahead of the other teams in the 2007 Women's World Championships. Kelly Scott's rink will face Denmark at 3pm Saturday, which works out to something like 1am or 2am Eastern Daylight Time in Canada.

This game should go fairly smoothly for Team Canada. Denmark lost its last two games of the round robin to finish 8 - 3 to Canada's 10-1 when Denmark's second had to return to Denmark to write university exams. Team Canada is not guaranteed a win against Denmark, but when the teams met in the round robin, Canada soundly defeated Denmark by a score of 8-1 in just six ends.


Four Steals in a Row by Scotland Hands Canada Its First Loss

In the final round robin game of the 2007 Women's World Championships, Scotland defeated previously unbeaten Team Canada 7 - 5. Canada led 5-2 after five ends, and then Scotland was forced to take one in the sixth end, handing the hammer back to Canada.

Canada appeared to be well-set from then on, but Scotland stole one point in each of the final four ends, beating Canada and spoiling its otherwise unblemished record.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Canada Defeats Denmark 8 - 1
Denmark Concedes After Just Six Ends

In the penultimate game of the 2007 Women's World Championship round robins, Kelly Scott's Team Canada defeated Denmark by a score of 8 -1, stealing 3 in the 3rd end and scoring three more in the fifth end, and administering the coup de grace by stealing one more in the sixth.

The win maintains Canada's perfect record: 10W and no losses, dropping Denmark to 8W and 2L, still clinging to second place, a half game ahead of Scotland in the standings.

For me, an academic, one of the interesting aspects of the game with Denmark was this, which I managed to grab from the page:

Last year, Denmark's Jensen had to leave the competition early due to health concerns. Her team battled valiantly without her, losing the final round-robin game to finish 6-5 and one win away from tiebreakers.

This year, another Dane will be departing early. Second Camilla Jensen, Angelina's sister, leaves Friday to write a critical university exam back home. She is now out of the starting lineup with two round-robin matches left to play.

"It's my whole education, so sadly I must go," said Jensen. "So let's go Denmark, let's get those Olympic points."

Almost anywhere in North America, we'd have let her defer her exam; but then we don't have such massive exams either.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Canada goes to 6W, 0L at Women's Worlds

Kelly Scott's rink defeated home-country Japan by a score of 8 - 3 to lead the Women's World Curling championships with 6 wins and no losses. Close behind Canada are Denmark at 5W, 1L and the US and Scotland with 4W, 2L.

Team Canada appears to be dominating the championship, but there are several other teams (US, Scotland, Denmark) that are doing well; and don't rule out Sweden or Japan or China just yet.

Too bad we can't see these games. Please! Please! does anyone know how to watch the games via broadband over the internet??


Following the Women's Worlds via the Internet

For those of you who want to follow the Women's Worlds from Japan, the Canadian Curling Association has a link to end-by-end scoring which is automatically updated every five minutes on your computer. Click here and then over in the box on the upper right, click on "Live Scores -- Detailed".


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Canada Cup Men's Final - the extra end

Usual placing of guards. Roque moves one off to the side with a subtle shot. No centre guards.

Martin comes into the house, back eight, slightly protected by one of the guards.

Pfeifer clears one of his own team's rocks (he was shooting 97%!!).

Martin tosses up an excellent centre guard. Ferbey peels. Ditto for both.

Morris' guard is off the centre, so Ferbey decides to come into the house and freeze to the Martin rock but is heavy and kicks it back. Martin could now freeze to it. Comment - "I just want to make him shoot". Martin's shot is a little heavy and kicks the Ferbey rock bsck. Martin's rock is in the back of the four-foot. Nedohin peels it and the backing Martin rock - just a perfect shot. A nice capture of the conversation shows that Nedohin and Ferbey assume Martin will throw a perfect complicating shot.

And he does not and Nedohin has a draw with backing to the four-foot for the win. He makes the shot, though Martin confused me with some humorous mischief. 9-8 Ferbey! Very exciting match, with no dull ends.

Strauss Canada Cup - Men's Final

Early misses from the Ferbey rink make things more complicated than the Ferbey team would want, with a Martin rock in the back of the four-foot, and a back and forth about its guards.

Nedohin's intention to double two Martin rocks in the house fails to a small error and we go to an eleventh end!

UPDATE: The small error may have been burning a key rock, though had Pfeifer not touched it things may have turned out the same.


Ferbey 8-7 with the hammer going into 10. A big steal of one. Moreover, there is rumbling about the ice.

Ice Problems

I don't remember so many "picks" during the round robin play, do you? But now, all the sudden, we hear about rocks "picking" and hence upsetting the game and the players. Why the difference from the round robin?

In the 9th end, Morris executed a perfect draw behind a Ferby rock on the button and just bit the back of the 12' rings. And after Nedohin missed either a double or a hit and stick, Martin had a relatively easy hit and stick for two. I say relatively easy because Martin and Morris had quite a discussion about how much the rock might curl, even with the weight Martin throws.

After 9: Ferby 8, Martin 7

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Canada Cup, Ends 6 - 8

After forcing Ferby to take one in the sixth, Martin chose to blank the 7th end. His plan was that he could then take two in the 8th, force Ferby to take one (or maybe even two) in the ninth) and then have the hammer coming home in the 10th.

His strategy didn't work. After several close misses by the Martin team, the Ferby rink stole two when Martin was unable to cash a tricky run-back double.

After 8 ends, Ferby 8 - Martin 5.


How Long Will John Morris and Kevin Martin Stay Together?

Wow, did you see that during the sixth end of the Canada Cup? Who was John Morris talking to when he said, "just chill out, will you?"?

Despite some apparent tension on the Martin team, they force Ferby to take one in the six, and after six ends, Ferby leads Martin 6-5.

Canada Cup - Fifth end

In four, Martin's last rock fails to do the planned destructions and it leave Ferbey a draw for two, which Nedohin, with major help from the brushers, makes. 5-4 Ferbey.

In five, the struggle is to keep Martin from scoring more than one - he has one in the house, behind a swarm of Martin guards, accompanied by a couple of Ferbey rocks. Martin fails to get an extra, commenting "It makes you look like an idiot out here." 5-5 after six.

Canada Cup Men's Final - End three

A wonderful shot leaves Ferbey counting three - this was despite some freeze attempts from the Martin team. Morris freezes to the shot rock right in the middle of the house (the Plan B shot). Nedohin pokes the backing rock out of the house - one Martin rock is surrounded by three Ferbey rocks. Martin's attempt st a double moves a Ferbey rock behind a guard, decidedly not as planned. Nedohin's shot goes too deep, leaving Martin a run-back for three, and he gets it. 4-3 Martin after 3. This is a rocking match!

Canada Cup - Men's Final - After two ends

What a delight - you cannot get this at the Brier - Ferbey-Martin!

Two great hitting teams, and also great at delicate shots and we have seen a pile of the delicate shots in the first two ends. The result? Martin's attempt at a freee oin his last rock in the second came up just a little short, and Nedohin poked the rock out perfectly to giuve the Ferbey rink a 3-1 lead after 2.

John Morris' move west has definitely had an effect on Alberta curling.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Canada Cup, Women's Final: Jones defeats King 10 - 8 7

With the free-guard rule, it's just too hard to "keep it clean", and in the 9th, King missed a nose hit to score one, giving up a steal of one to Jones. That wasn't altogether horrible for King, who now has the hammer going home down one, and it isn't clear whether it is better to be down one with the hammer or up one without. My own preference would be for up one without, but it's a tough choice.

Digression: Watching the game on CBC and on CurlTV is an interesting experience. CurlTV has about a 20-30 second time delay, and so after each shot seen on CBC, we can then look at the computer screen to see a full replay.

In the 10th end, a number of King's team's rocks were waayyyy too heavy, drifting to the back of the rings or bouncing well off freeze attempts. As a result, King had bad position by the time they got to skips' stones. With her first shot, Jones tapped the only King rock anywhere near counting to the back of the rings to lie four. With her first shot, King tried a freeze to Jones' shot rock in the back of the four, but came up light, sitting on the button. Because King's rock was wide open, Jones picked it out, lying four again, forcing King to try to draw for one to tie the game at 8-8, but her draw attempt was much too heavy, yielding a steal of two.

Update: Oops. Final score was 10 - 7, as pointed out in the comments. King tried to tie it, but didn't get her 8th point and gave up 2.


Canada Cup, Women's Final: Ends 6 - 8

Digression: Gee, how come the grippers aren't disintegrating and ruining the ice in Kamloops the way they allegedly did in Hamilton? [sarcasm mode off]

Jones made some "interesting" strategic calls in the 6th and was forced to take only one point and yield the hammer to King.

The 7th end revealed some really, seriously good shot-making. King's rink would freeze to a Jones rock, and Jones' rink would manage to knock it out, leaving their shooter. Repeat. Repeat. etc. Finally, on the last rock, King made fine double to score two.

At the opposite extreme, the 8th end revealed lots of minor misses and (what would be for these pros) mediocre shots: hits that didn't roll, shots that drifted too deep. In the end Jones was forced to take one. Score tied, but King has the hammer back. Let's see if she tries to keep it clean in the ninth to preserve the hammer in the 10th.


Canada Cup: Women's Final: 5-5 after 5

When Jennifer Jones gave up 3 points to Kathy King in the first end (and didn't curl well in the process), I figured it was over for her. But she bounced back to score 3 herself in the second end, forced King to take one, scored two more herself, and then again forced King to take one in the fifth.

Overall Jones' rink is seriously outcurling King's rink, with the result that after five ends, the score is tied, but now Jones has the hammer.


Women's Worlds Update

Team Canada skipped by Kelly Scott jumped off to a 2-0 record after the first day of competition, defeating Switzerland 7- 4 and Germany 9-1.

It is disappointing that no one is telecasting these games to Canada. I'm especially puzzled that TSN didn't send a crew there to do at least one game per day. Fortunately for us addicts, CBC will televise the semi-finals on Saturday morning (March 24th) at 7am and the finals on Sunday morning at 1am. If you know of any site from Japan, Europe, or China that might be telecasting the round robin via broadband please let us know!

Also at 2W and no losses are the USA, Sweden, and Japan. The USA and Sweden are very strong teams, and as I recall, Japan did better than expected at the Olympics and might be in the hunt at the worlds this year.

Meanwhile for some information about how each of the teams is doing, click here. And for lines scores from each round, click here.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Losing 10 - 8: a moral victory!

I made my debut performance as skip last weekend at the Vanastra Curling Club. This is not a position I would ordinarily play because (a) I am a comparative novice, and (b) I am nowhere near as good as the other players on my team; generally speaking, in fact, I'm one of the worst curlers in the club. But for this third draw (set of games) this season, the rules require that the team members rotate through each of the positions, and so I had to take my turn as skip.

To get ready, I wrapped the handle of my brush with orange and red tape to make sure my team members could see where I was placing the broom. (see here for more; my stick handle would be grey, otherwise, because I have pipe insulation on it to keep from hurting my hands when I bear down on the stick -- I'm surprised others don't do this as well.)

I was pretty nervous about skipping for a game, and with good reason. Here is the line score for our 8-end game (we started with the hammer, which makes those scores in the early ends all-the-more impressively bad):

Them 5 1 1 0 0 2 1 0
Us.. 0 0 0 2 3 0 0 3

As you can see, I was really bad for the first few ends. We despaired of ever scoring even one point! But in the fourth end, I made a neato double to score two, and in the fifth end, we all made good shots, including some great draws, to steal three.

If it hadn't been for that truly horrible first end, the game would have been close. And if I had taken the advice of one of the team members in the 7th, we might have scored one or two instead of giving up one when I missed my shot. It was still LOTS of fun, and I got some great help in learning more about ice-reading and strategy from the other members of the team. What a blast!

I'm going to want to do this again sometime....

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Delights of CurlTV

Of all places I am stuck in Oklahoma in a hotel room, and having watched one movie here, and still sleepless, I had to wonder, what can I do now?
The answer! CurlTV is broadcasting Jennifer Jones versus Kathy King.
OK. I am fine now for a good while!

UPDATE: Changed CurlCast (which is also a useful tool) to CurlTV. (Thanks, Doc.)

Jennifer Jones has ANOTHER new lead

That's right. After the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Jennifer Jones replaced Janet Arnott with another new lead for the upcoming Canada Cup in Kamloops, BC. I just heard about it on CurlTV (see the link in the right-hand sidebar)

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Canada Cup on CurlTV

Now that the Brier is over, if you are having withdrawal pains while waiting for the Worlds, you can watch curling's Canada Cup on CurlTV.

Men's Qualifiers

Jean-Michel Ménard

Randy Ferbey

Brad Gushue

Kevin Martin

John Base

Jeff Stoughton

Kerry Burtnyk

Joel Jordison

Kevin Koe

Mark Johnson

Women's Qualifiers

Jennifer Jones

Cathy King

Karen Porritt

Shannon Kleibrink

Cheryl Bernard

Sherry Anderson

Stefanie Lawton

Crystal Webster

Deb Santos

Sherry Middaugh


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Howard Wins the Brier, 10 - 6

Brad Gushue looked good in the semi-final, and really made only one or two slight misses to lose the final. One of his great, class moves was to kick a couple of reds back into the rings during the tenth end, much to the delight of everyone there.

Glenn Howard and the Ontario rink, whom both Alan and I predicted would win the Brier [see here and here], looked good for most of the game. They should do very well at the Ford World's in Edmonton.

The Brier: Ends 8 and 9

End #8: ON 7, NF/L 5

Let's hear it for the free-guard rule! otherwise Howard would be cleaning like mad, clearing red NF/L rocks like mad. So ON starts with two on the button, but NF/L set up guards and draws, with ON removing the drawn rocks.
With Nichols last rock, he made a terrific draw around the corner guard. Hart tried to corner freeze to it, but bumped it a bit and rolled into the open. NF/L can't hit it without jamming it. Nichols tried to freeze to the two at the centre of the house, but he, too, bumped a bit. Howard punched it through to leave ON sitting four with three rocks to go.

Gushue moved all three, but one hit his own, leaving ON sitting second and third shot. Howard removed Gushue's shot, along with one of his own, to sit two. Hit and stick by Gushue for 1, but he gives up the hammer

After 8, ON 7, NF/L 6, Ontario has the hammer going into 9.

[digression: in how many sports do you hear a competitor use the word "adamant"?]

End #9:

Howard begins by putting rocks in the house, and Gushue tries to set up guards. Schille split the guards by accident, leaving the centre open.

More guard and peel; guard and peel, guard and peel...

Did you hear that great sarcastic question from a NF/L curler: "Great ice, eh?"

Hart's second shot looked like a great hit and freeze to their own. Mike Harris commented that Gushue used the wrong turn for his hit (double) and roll, and ended up wide open and didn't remove both ON rocks. So with Howard's first rock, he threw a hit that rolled just a tad to lie two.

Gushue tries a tough draw to lie shot and makes it, leaving Howard to try a gentle chip to score three. They swept like MAD, getting it past the guard and tapped the red shot rock out.

ON 10, NF/L 6, with NF/L having the hammer going home. Let's see if ON throws their first two rocks through the rings. In fact, let's see if NF/L does, too, as Stouten/Manitoba did in the tenth end last night.


Gushue - Howard (Ends 6 and 7)

End #6:

Schille, the second for NF/L missed a peel, followed by a great freeze from Laing, leaving ON in a good position after the seconds' rocks. Nichols mixed them up a bit, but left ON sitting two. Hart's first shot caught some debris (so what's new?), but Nichols wasn't able to double anything off with his second shot.

Gushue is teased with a double opportunity on the right side of the house and makes it with his first shot. Then Howard drew right back to the right side of the house. As a result, Gushue decided to try for a raise double, but got only one, setting up the end for Howard to draw for two.

After 6, ON 5, NF/L 5

End #7:

Just after I comment about teams without the hammer coming into the house with lead rocks, Howard has his lead (Savill, curling at 96%!!) start off with a centre guard. Savill bounced a bit on a freeze attempt, so Korab could remove it. But Laing removed his in turn. They exchanged nose hits for awhile.

Nichols was asked to "jiggle 'em around", which he did, but then Hart drove back the centre guard and bumped all three reds out to the edge of the house. Nichols responded with a double, removing the ON stones from play, leaving a bunch of red NF/L stones around the edge.

Nose hit by Howard on what should have been a hit and roll. Nose hit by Gushue, with very little roll. Nose hit by Howard to sit two, leaving Gushue with a very risky double to score two or three, but if he misses it, NF/L will give up a steal of one (or two?).

But Gushue wrecked on the guard to give up a steal of TWO!! Who'd'a thunk it? (besides Ms. Eclectic!)


Gushue - Howard (fifth end)

There were tonnes of rock lined up on the centre line, and no matter how many times ON tried, they couldn't remove more than one at a time. The result was that Gushue was able to set up some strategic guards with his shots, and Howard couldn't do much about it.

Steal of one for NF/L to lead 5 -3 at the midway break.


Gushue - Howard (ends 3 and 4)

End #3 (Gushue 2, Howard 1 going into it)

So why didn't Howard freeze into that pocket at the end of the second end? Anyway, Gushue made good shots, and Howard didn't, so, as Alan noted, Gushue picked up his two.

To lead off the third end, Korab's first two shots drifted behind the t-line for NF/L. Savill was unable to freeze tight to one of them for ON, allowing NF/L to clear some. Then with a better freeze, NF/l was able double off the rocks on the other side of the house.

Lots of action inside the house, with only one guard that isn't in play. Unusual strategies at this level. Nichols (NF/L) made an impressive hit and freeze, followed by a neato tap by Hart for Ontario.

What a fabulous double from Gushue to lie two with his last rock! Howard tried a thin double, leading to yet another measurement (and more banter between the teams), and (barely) gets his two. Ontario leads 3 - 2.
As Alan says, "Don't you just love curling 'trash talk'?" It's a so much nicer thing than basketball or football.

End #4 (Ontario 3, NF/L 2):

It looks as if the dominant strategy at the top level these days is for teams without the hammer to throw their rocks to the top of the 4' and then set up a centre-line guard. Ontario, following this strategy, started this way. Korab missed his shot, but Schille made an excellent double followed by a great hit and roll to leave NF/L in good position to get two this end.

After some exchanges, NF/L was left with two biters at the top of the 12'; Hart hit and rolled just a bit to sit as shot rock. Nichols overthrew his second shot, though, setting up a Howard attempt for a long double, but he ticked the rock in the back, pushing it behind the ON guard.

Let me ask again, "What is with the ice?"

Gushue picked, but Howard couldn't capitalize, setting up an easy draw for two for NF/L.

NF/L 4, ON 3

Gushue's admonition to his sweepers was very telling: "Keep your brooms on the ice!"



End #1:

Gushue force Howard to draw for 1 and they barely make it. Nice banter as Newfoundland say informally "I think you have it", and Ontario respond "Then why not just let us have it?" Measurement confirms it is Ontario taking 1 they did not really want (and it looked the other way to me). The mutual respect is delightful. I am not sure how many ends I will be here - hope Doc can take over.

End #2:

Genius shot from the Ontario second at a key point. Opens the end to Hart's just slightly deep bury behind a centre guard ("Actually came out the other side"). Nichols makes not quite a freeze but places his rock perfectly behind a guard with Ontario backing. Hart comes a fair bit short to the top of the four-foot in front of the Newfoundland rock. Nichols clears the front guard. (I am puzzled why.) Howard taps back and it is a very confusing house, with a Gushue rock fronted and backed by Ontario rocks, all wide open to taps.

Pretty good Gushue shot clears away some of the mess. Howard's response is just off.
Gushue does get 2.

The game is on!


Saturday, March 10, 2007

More Respect

The CBC is having a little chat show with their time remaining to promote tomorrow's Brier Final. Gushue, one participant, says, "We are playing the best team in the world tomorrow, ...". This is the sort of trash talk I like to see.

Woo-Hoo! Gushue-Howard in the Final!

The Page Playoff system does its job again nicely and we'll see if Glenn Howard can avoid the early problems he had in the first Page Playoff that forced him to play the semifinal against Stoughton's rink today.
One thing I do like in curling is the obvious mutual respect between many of the teams, and Stoughton's rink showed what I regard as the approrpiate contempt for a non-concede rule on the books, by conspiring with Howard's team to make a small mockery of the last end (with his team down 4 rocks, he would have surely yielded had he been able to), with everyone throwing his rock straight through the house, but at the same time with Stoughton's team encouraging the crowd to congratulate the Howard rink with applause through the whole process. Stoughton is also the man who gave us some entertaining balletic deliveries of rocks a few years ago.

The Top Teams Move on to the Play-offs

After watching the Brier all week (well, whenever I could sneak a peek away from my work), I had the impression that as good a curler as Kevin Martin is, he just was not quite as good as the top three teams: Ontario, Manitoba, and NF/L. I was glad he made it to the play-offs, but the defeat of Alberta by Manitoba in the 3-4 game seemed reasonable, given their apparent abilities demonstrated throughout the week.

As we go into today's semi-final, I am confident that any one of these three teams will serve Canada well at the World's next month in Edmonton. That confidence makes me a bit less upset than I would otherwise be at the ice conditions in Hamilton. If one of the better teams were eliminated because of bad luck with debris on the ice, I would be more-than-disappointed (see here for more). But the ice conditions impart a randomness to the outcomes of the games that provides strong support for the use of the page play-off system, where the top two teams from the round robin are less likely to be eliminated from the final simply because of some random events on the ice.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Sudden Death at the Brier

This afternoon's draw at the 2007 Tim Hortons Brier pits Saskatchewan (6W and 4L) against the Territories (also 6W, 4L), and it is the feature game on TSN (which I am trying to watch on-line at work, but which still has a number of tentative freeze-ups, perhaps because I tend to keep lots of windows open?). If either Sask or NWT/Yukon loses, they will be eliminated from even the possibility of making the play-offs.

Also, N.Ontario, also at 6W, 4L, is playing for its life against Ontario (9W, 1L) and will be eliminated if they lose, too.

Overall, I have really enjoyed the high quality of the curling, and I am relieved to see that there are fewer picks in these more recent games [I-told-you-so digression: the most recent attempt to fix things involved a discussion of "dust"].

What will really disappoint me now (how's this for whining?) will be if there are no tie-breaker games leading up to the play-offs. I love watching those, and I love watching curling. If there are no tie-breakers, does this mean I'm going to actually have to do something else when there's no curling on TV this weekend? 8-(

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

What Is With That Ice at the Brier?

I have never heard so many complaints from the competitors in major tournaments/bonspiels about the ice as we have been hearing from the curlers at the 2007 Tim Hortons Brier in Hamilton. What gives?

Why are there so many "picks" this year as compared with other tournaments?
  • I simply do not believe it is because the curlers are using dirty equipment, as Dave Merklinger implied in one of the interviews he gave. Is there any reason at all to believe the equipment is dirtier this year than it has been in the past? (well, maybe dirtier shoes? See below.)
  • Also, I do not believe the problem arises from curlers' leaving their hands or knees on the ice too long and creating flat spots; again, the incidence of these behaviours this year seems no higher than in the past, when there were far fewer problems.
  • One possibility is that the curlers are tracking crud onto the ice from the walkways. If so, certainly those areas should be kept cleaner. And, as is done some some places (e.g. the Scotties), the curlers should wear shoe covers on their way to and from the ice. Quite frankly, I cannot believe they are not required to do this, but the TSN announcers say they aren't.
  • Another possibility might be from the ventilation system. If it is not well-filtered, all it takes is a few ducts to spew dust and crud onto the ice to create more picks.
Whatever the problem, I hate seeing the randomness that results from picks be responsible for some of the scoring. And surely, if picks are a problem, wouldn't you, as a curler, want to throw very slightly less weight and have the brushers keep the path clean? Why aren't the curlers adjusting better?

For an interview that Alan did with Dave Merklinger (ice-maker at the Scott last year and at the Brier this year), click here.


Monday, March 05, 2007

What a Day for Howard

Glenn Howard is not killing off opponents the way he did in the Ontario Championships. He is actually throwing tenth-end rocks, and 11th-end rocks. But he is 4-0 and after two ends now against Kevin Martin, up 3-0.
The Gushue match on CurlTV in the morning was very exciting with Gushue fighting his way back desperately with steals and doubles, but to no final avail.
So Howard is well ahead early; the pattern so far is a big early lead, followed by the other team fighting back, and Howard surviving. We'll know about this one in a few hours.

UPDATE AFter 5: 3-3! Howard happy to give up a steal of 1 in the fifth! So much great shooting.

UPDATE: After 6. Howard 4-3 and lucky to be ahead! Just brilliant shooting by both teams. At the moment I think the team with the hanmmer has scored twice, the team without 4 times. Wild and crazy match.

FINAL : Alberta win 7-5. Just a great match.

Years ago I really did not like Kevin Martin and his one-approach game. No longer, and he has developed a sense of humour and some great shots.

Sunday, March 04, 2007


This weekend afternoon kindly pits Glenn Howard, my pick, against Jeff Stoughton. Howard had the hammer in the first end, and Stoughton forced him to a draw for 1 with a briliant hit and slide behind cover.

This is clearly a feature matchup, as was Stoughton's win over Gushue yesterday.

UPDATE: Second end
What a stunning quality of shooting. Stoughton's third got an amazing double. In the end Howard forced Stoughton to draw for one as well. THe skill level here is just stunning.

UPDATE: Third end
Lots of small misses, and the clear love of both teams for complication, wind up giving Glenn Howard 3 in the 3rd. 4-1 Ontario. I may not update again all that soon.

UPDATE: Now after 8th end
Well some small misses on some higher-risk shots have not got us back to an essential tie. Stoughton has the hammer going into 9 down 6-5. What a match. Both teams continue to enjoy making it complicated.

UPDATE: Going into 10: Interesting and aggressive call by Ontario in 9. They chose to assure the end does not get blanked! As a result they will have the hammer coming home, one down. An option they were willing to take.

MEANWHILE ALberta loses to Northern Ontario!!

UPDATE: 7-7 after 10.

11th End: Ontario steal 2 cruelly as Stoughton cannot repeat an almost perfect draw that Howard picked out.

So Stoughton has beaten Gushue, Howard Stoughton, and Martin has lost to an unexpected rink. It is getting interesting!

Getting CurlTV Full Screen on a HDTV

More techno-babble from a techno-ignorant sports fan:

Ms. Eclectic and I have full subscriptions to both CurlTV and to the Major League Baseball Premium broadband telecasts. In part, so we could view them on a larger screen than my laptop's 13" screen, we bought a 32" Samsung HDTV a couple of months ago. We hooked it up to the "monitor-out" connection from the laptop and got..... no action. We could get the screen from the computer, but where there was supposed to be action, the screen was just black.

After many more hours than most of you would need, here is the solution we found.
  1. The problem lies with something in Windows Media Player. Open WMP.
  2. Click on Tools.
  3. Click on Options.
  4. Click on Performance.
  5. Near the bottom of that screen, adjust the accelerator slide. For our tv, we just had to slide it back to the medium position.
It works well for both CurlTV and MLB Premium.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

CurlCast: Resizing the Window
(a partial work-around)

By far, one of the very best (almost) real-time sources of information about curling matches at The Brier is CurlCast, which provides, inter alia, line scores and shooting percentages, the latter on a shot-by-shot basis.

One of the minor complaints that Alan and I had last year was that we could not resize the window.
But here is a neato work-around, if you want to make the window smaller.

First, don't go to CurlCast from the link provided by the official Brier website.

Instead, use this link (and don't forget to bookmark it!)

Then just resize the window the way you would any window. You can make it smaller, essentially cropping out some of the CurlCast information if you want to, but you can't make their window any larger.

It works great for me when I want to keep a bit of the CurlCast information on my desktop while I'm working on other things.


My Brier Guess

I think I am over-influenced by seeing Howard's Ontario win, and Kevin Martin's miss in the fourth end of this first match. I know one shot does not a summer make, but I think I will line up on the Howard side (for that and other reasons). (Though last I looked, he was behind in his opening match.)
There are no betting considerations here - just my own enormous prestige.

The Brier: Predictions and Bets
An Algebraic Summary of Our Selections

Last night at our curling club, Ms. Eclectic and I entered the pool to predict who would win the 2007 Tim Hortons Brier. Ms. Eclectic thinks it will be a toss-up between Glenn Howard (Ontario) and Kevin Martin (Alberta). Deep in my heart, though, I predict Glenn Howard will win.

Who did we pick in the club pool? Not Glenn Howard; and our choices were reasonable because of how the pool works: the pot is split between everyone who correctly picks the winner.

Given that we curl in Ontario, and (as a result) given that we expect most of our fellow club members would pick Howard to win the Brier, we realized that if we also picked Howard, and Howard won, then the size of the prize (split among everyone who picked Howard to win) would be pretty small.

So, even though I think there's a somewhat higher chance Howard will win, I picked Brad Gushue (NF/L) to win in the pool, and Ms. Eclectic very reasonably picked Kevin Martin.

Algebraically, E(W) = (pS)/N, where
  • E(W) is each bettor's probablistic, expected dollar winnings,
  • p represents that bettor's subjectives guess as to the probability that his/her selection will win the Brier;
  • S is the size of the pot that is to be divided between all those who correctly pick the winner; and
  • N is the number of people each bettor thinks will have selected the same winner s/he did.
For Howard, p might be high, but N is expected to be high, too, offsetting the high value of p. For Martin and Gushue, we expect that N will be much lower so that if we do pick the winner, we will win more money.

Note: this strategy assumes risk neutrality on our part. It also assumes that nobody else (or not many others) in the club have the same betting strategy.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Curling on Broadband: TSN vs. CurlTV (again)

By the end of the 2007 Scotties Tournament of Hearts, I had had a chance to watch both TSN and CurlTV several times on broadband. Here are some general impressions:
  • As I said before, the video resolution on TSN is better than that of CurlTV.
  • But CurlTV's signal was much more consistent and reliable. It seemed as TSN's picture often froze up just as a shot was being made.
  • TSN had more camera angles, more stats, and more graphics (as one would expect from their budget).
  • Luke, the play-by-play announcer on CurlTV concentrated on curling and didn't mess with all the idle chit-chat on TSN.
  • CurlTV has a feature allowing me to watch in a pop-up window, which seems to be the only way I can transfer the image to our television set from our old laptop that we use to watch curling at home. When the games were shown on TSN, we were stuck watching the broadband telecast in a small picture (when it wasn't on TSN).
All things considered, I prefer the reliability of CurlTV over the bells and whistles of TSN. I hope both keep working to overcome their weaknesses. And no matter what, I'm glad they're both there, and I'm absolutely delighted to have curling available via broadband for days when I'm working at my office instead of at home.

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Curling Bonanza Next Week

In addition to the Brier, TSN will be showing some men's curling matches from the Canada Winter Games.

March 5, 11:30pm -- Ontario vs. PEI
March 6, 11:30am -- Saskatchewan vs. Ontario
March 7, 11:30am -- Manitoba vs. PEI
March 10, midnight -- gold medal match
(all times Eastern)

And CurlTV will be picking up games from the Brier, too.
March 4 - 7, the 9am matches will be shown on CurlTV

It'll be fun and interesting to see how TSN (and our household) juggle their schedules to fit all this in!

So much for getting any work done next week! One of my friends and his wife plan their holidays each year around the Scotties and Brier, and they actually travel to the tournaments.

Ain't life grand!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

More Curling on TSN today (Thursday, March 1)

TSN will be showing more curling today from the Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse, Yukon.

So much for a big work push for the next couple of hours!

Update: Wow! so far, after seven ends, the curling between Ontario and Manitoba junior women has been fantastic!