Sunday, March 29, 2009

Qualifying for the 2009 Men's World Curling Championship

As I looked over the list of teams that will be contesting the championship, I realized that Australia will not be there. That made me wonder about how the teams are determined. And here is a good answer:

Canada qualified by virtue of having the best finish of the Americas in last years Worlds. North America, who have two spots in the Championship, have always had teams from only Canada and the USA, so a playoff was not necessary. In 2009 for the first time, Brazil has challenged for one of the 2 spots and as a result a playoff was held between USA and Brazil in January and USA won.

The South Pacific recently held their qualifying tournament, where 6 countries, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, China, Japan and Chinese Taipei competed for 2 qualifying spots. China was the big winner for the second year in a row at Pacific Curling Championships in New Zealand. China captured the gold by defeating Japan 8 – 5 in the final, with Japan qualifying as the 2nd place finisher.

This will be China's 2nd trip to the Worlds, their first-ever being last spring where they finished a strong fourth at the Worlds in Grand Forks, North Dakota. They are ranked 10th in the Olympic chase and their latest effort, teamed with a solid performance in Moncton, might qualify them for Vancouver 2010.

This will be Japan's 4th trip to the World Championship, previously playing in 2000, 2002 and 2006.

The 3rd qualifying event was held in Europe in December, where 8 countries qualified from a possible 35 participating countries.

So, Europe gets to send 8 teams and the South Pacific gets to send only two? What do you figure the odds are that there will have to be some realignment in the future, based on the performance of teams from each region?


China Wins the 2009 Women's World Curling Championship

I saw only the first two ends before drifting off to sleep. What I saw was a pretty good indication of the outcome (China defeated Sweden 8-6). The Chinese team looked very good, and the Swedish team looked less good. I see that by the end of the game, the curling percentages were the same for the two teams, but I wouldn't have expected that from what I saw in the first two ends.

Meanwhile, Canada lost the bronze medal game to Denmark. The teams seemed to be fairly even, forcing each other to take only one point in each end. But then Denmark scored a big three, and Canada couldn't recover from that.


Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Bronze Medal Game on TV? Probably not.

Both Alan and I forgot that at the world championships, there is a playoff to determine who wins the bronze medal.

As of now, I can find no indication that TSN will be telecasting this game, even though it involves Team Canada. Not even on TSN2.

Let's see: Curling. World Class. Prime time. The team from the world's largest and richest market. And yet the World Curling Federation didn't negotiate even a conditional contract with TSN to show the bronze medal game in Canada? Who are these schmucks?

Update: Not only is TSN not showing the bronze metal game, but I seem to be unable to follow it on CurlCast, too! Is there any site where we can follow what is happening??

Update #2: Ah, CurlCast is now showing the results. Perhaps the game began at 9pm EDT, not 8pm.

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Semi-Live Blogging Denmark-Sweden at the Wonen's Worlds

As the child of a Norwegian mother, I do get a lot of pleasure watching Denmark versus Sweden in the Women's World Championship semi-final. Though of course both countries are responsible for terrible wrongs against Norway.
End #1: Denmark reluctantly take 1.
End #2: TSN aggressively not showing early rocks in an end. And then going out of their way to explain what we missed. Grrr. At this point Denmark has a guard at around 11:30 not far in front of the house. They tap it back to the button but the rock is open. Sweden do a great hit and roll behind the guard. The Denmark freeze actually taps a bit but the shot is still quite good. Sweden's attempt at a freeze misses, actually punching the Danish rock onto a Swedish backer, and lying wide open. Denmark clear that rock, losing the shooter. Sweden (Eva Lund, the third) freeze nicely to the Danish rock. Denmark miss big time on an attempted hit and simply go through the house. Sweden call a time out! In the second end! Norberg parks a rock behind some cover but a bit short of freezing on her other rock. Sweden count two. Dupont wrecks on the guard, leaving Norberg a draw for three. She is heavy and Sweden take two. Gotta be a bit worrying to find your draw weight utterly off so early.
END #3: I cannot figure this end out at all. First, all play is in the house, and then now there is a Danish guard out front at about 1 pm. Replaced now by a Swedish rock. Exchange of open rocks in the house now, and now out in front of the house. But it continues. OK Denmark is trying to come around now. And the rub on a guard, sit in the house, wide open at 3 o'clock in the 12-foot. Sweden clear that rock and the shooter. The younger Dupont also hits the guard. This is really not a pretty end. Norberg decides to make mischief and perhaps steal, and beautifully raises one of her guards into the 4-foot behind cover. Denmark raise a Swedish guard to give up a steal of two!!
I am not sure I need to keep covering this live. If it gets exciting, I will return.
END #4: Seemed like two teams displaying a large degree of incompetence. Denmark in the end barely take two. So I will keep watching.
END #5: Generally bad curling lets Denmark lie two behind a guard late in this end. Sweden try to run a guard back - reduces Denmark to lying one and opening the house up. Denmark kill the Swedish rock and force a draw for one. Let's see if Norberg can find the weight. Actually, she is hitting - and the shooter rolls out. Holy Cow - this is tied, and it is NOT a pretty picture at all. The Chinese should kill either of these teams if they show up and play like this.
I've got to take a bit of a break. If Doc is around maybe he will pick up the next ends.
END #6: Blanked in my absence.
END #7: Seems a pile of bad shots have led to a very messy house, behind a bunch of guards. Norberg freezes to a Denmark rock, having intended top four, but she is behind the T-line. Dupont's attempt to freeze slightly misses - why is this no surprise? Norberg has a draw or a tap of the Denmark rock for two. She makes the tap perfectly and Sweden score two.
END #8: Sweden fill the house with rocks as Denmark keep missing shots. The Duponts do not look happy. (But then, do they ever?) The third Dupont hits and rolls, though not entirely behind cover. Lund removes that rock. And now a decent come-around behind some Swedish rocks. But the rock is still largely open. Cleared nicely by Norberg. The boss Dupont tries a come-around - not bad - behind the T-line and mostly guarded.
A while ago Doc asked about make-up during the Canadian championships. Those Dupont girls do not skimp!
Norberg makes some totally weird bad shot, leaving the Duponts a draw to tie. Not the greatest draw ever but it scores two.
END #9: Another total mess of an end with each team apparently trying to give the advantage to the opposing team. Stunningly, Denmark make a good shot late in the end, burying the shot rock behind a guard, and Sweden is astonished to find they have to make a good shot. And the make a great double, clearing out the Danish offending rocks. Dupont the skip makes a great double, clearing the house of all but her rock, which sticks. Norberg empties the house, but leaves annoying backing that Denmark could use behind the house - Denmark miss by a foot or so. Norberg blanks handily, taking the hammer into the tenth end with a tied score.
END #10: I sure hope this is the last end of this not-so-great display of curling skills. There is a Danish center guard. They toss up another guard. Sweden clear one guard. Denmark put another one right in front of the house. Norberg seems to be playing for a final draw to win but she has been crappy at those - does this make sense? Denmark center guard cleared by Sweden. Replaced and cleared. Denmark is coming in now, maybe. Neither team has been at all good at this so they are spending a timeout to discuss this. Linda would come into the house now, as would I, and I just watch curling! The boss DuPont is coming in now, with an out-turn down the center-line. No sweeping. Pretty good - back four-foot and behind their guard very nicely. Now Sweden needs a conference and a timeout! Why do these teams all have male coaches? That annoys me. I thought these Scandinavians were so liberated. Sweden decide to draw and do a nice corner-freeze on the Danish rock. Denmark plan to return the favor. A miss here ends it, and seems quite possible, given the history today. Major sweeping! The shot overcurls slightly and Sweden win.
Sweden versus China at 2am Canada!
And hey! Denmark and Canada do play for the bronze - there I was counting Canada out totally!

Bye-bye Canada

As Doc just reported (I was awake briefly at 2am but did not look in on the CurlCast, and it would have misled anyway) the Jones rink representing Canada will not even get a medal this year. Maybe my earlier ruminations on their mental toughness were a tad misguided.
Even more amazing to me, though, is that Sweden's Norberg rink were also in the Page 3-4! There is a sea change coming in world curling, clearly marked by the utter dominance of China in the round-robin. Seems pretty clear evidence that the depth of the talent pool even in a freaky sport shared once only by Scots and Scot emigrants in Canada, once it becomes recognized by the Olympics, will win out.
I will give TSN credit - they are showing the last rounds despite Canada's not being in them. Of course, the sunk costs surely rule that decision. But I am happy.

Canada Loses 3-4 Playoff

As I predicted on Thursday, Team Canada will not be in the finals of the 2009 Women's World Curling Championships. The Jones rink lost in eleven ends to Sweden, 5-4. Jones had the edge, being up 3-2 with the hammer in the 9th end. But they gave up a steal of two in the ninth and then took only one in the tenth, forcing an extra end. Sweden had the hammer and cashed in one for the win.

So no miracles this time; no rabbits out of hats. And no medals for Team Canada.

I wonder if TSN will still show the semi-final and final...

Update and correcton: Yes, TSN is showing the semi-final and final. But Canada is not necessarily out of the medals. TSN just mentioned there will be a bronze-medal game with, Denmark, the loser of the Denmark-Sweden game. I wonder if TSN will show that game....


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Not This Year

The 2009 Canadian Women's Curling Champions, skipped by Jennifer Jones, finished the round robin in Korea with an excellent record of 9 wins and only 2 losses. But there are other good teams there, too, and this record was good enough for only a third-place finish. From TSN,
The Winnipeg skip will play in the 3-versus-4 Page playoff game after finishing with a record of 9-2 -- tied with Denmark's Angelina Jensen, who finished second by virtue of her round-robin victory over Jones.

China's Bingyu Wang (10-1) secured top spot in the round robin for the second straight year with a 7-2 win over Norway's Marianne Rorvik (1-10). Wang opened the tournament with an 11-6 loss to Jones, then reeled off 10 straight victories -- several of them blowouts -- to reach Friday's 1-versus-2 Page playoff matchup with Denmark.

The path to the world title will be a rough one for Jones, who will face Sweden's Anette Norberg on Saturday. Norberg (7-4) beat Jones 7-4 in their Draw 11 meeting, handing the Canadian her first loss of the tournament.

... A win would pit Jones against the loser of the China-Denmark tilt in Saturday's semifinal (TSN, 6 a.m. ET), with the winner advancing to Sunday's final (TSN, 2 a.m. ET).

Denmark handed Jones her only other round-robin loss, a 7-5 decision in a game Canada led 5-3 after eight ends. And China is no slouch, either -- Wang beat Jones twice in last year's tournament before ultimately falling in the championship match.

So to get to the finals of the 2009 Women's World Curling Championship, Jones must first beat Sweden, who defeated Canada in the round robin, and then must defeat Denmark, who also beat Canada in the round robin. And then, to win the championship, Canada must defeat the amazing team from China (whom they handled fairly well in the round robin).

I know the Jones rink has made some impressive comebacks over the past couple of years. But the odds are against their making it to the finals, much less winning the championship. And I'm trying to say this impassionately. Please don't write comments about being a fan or "ya gotta have faith" or some such nonsense. If you really think Canada can [update: I meant to say will] win this, please explain why in the comments.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Martin Wins the Men's Canada Cup 2009

Martin struggled a bit in the early ends, but he and his entire team (especially including the sweepers!) adjusted relatively quickly and began to read the ice better than the Ferbey team. A disappointing letdown by the Ferbey team in the second half, and superb recovery by the Martin team.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Canada Cup 2009 -- Bottom Half

Ferbey seems really on, but Nedohin seems just a tiny, tiny bit off. Martin seems to have recovered.

Speaking of being a bit off, I see that a bunch of what I write is disappearing and not being posted. Apologies to those who might be interested in following this game.

End 6: Nedohin is forced to draw for one.
End 7: Martin gets two as his very minor misses are less serious than Nedohin's very minor misses, but the deuce was set up when Ferbey missed a shot when he was bent out of shape about the clocks not working. As Ray said, he shouldn't have taken the shot until he calmed down.

It would be interesting to see the curling stats for this game. Too bad I can't find whether Curlcast is covering it.

End 8: What's with the Ferbey Team and their difficulty reading the ice in the second half? Nedohin's last shot doesn't curl much, giving up a steal of two for Martin. Martin 8, Ferbey 5 after 8.

Nuts. I'm losing too much of what I write. Don't know why. I'll post more at the end.


Meanwhile in Korea

Check out the Curlcast reports. Denmark and Sweden, the only other undefeated teams (besides Canada) are nip and tuck after 7 ends


Canada Cup 2009 -- First 5 ends

Wow! The Martin team has missed quite a few shots over the first three ends (Martin missing two himself in the third, to let Ferbey take 4 in that end). I would never have believed this.

At the same time, Ferbey has made some really fine shots. And the Ferbey team is very good, so coming back from a 4-1 deficit will be very difficult.

Update: But then to see Nedohin flash on a freeze-or-tap shot in the 4th end was pretty amazing, too. So after 4 ends, it's Ferbey 4, Martin 3.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

2009 Women's World Championships - Results

Are you getting tired of hunting for links to what is happening in Korea. Here is a link to the CurlCast scoring and results.


Twelve Ends??

Have you ever seen a game go to twelve ends? In the 25 years or so that I have been watching curling, I've never seen it. And thanks to the crappy WCF marketing making it difficult for those of us in Canada to watch the Round Robin of the 2009 Women's World Curling Championships (other than on CurlTV), we didn't see it this morning, either:

Sheet D 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Final

Korea 1 1 0 1 0 2 0 2 0 1 0 0 8

Sweden* 0 0 2 0 3 0 1 0 2 0 0 2 10

What do you figure happened? My guess is that Sweden had a hit and stick to win in the 11th but rolled out. Does anyone know for sure?


Friday, March 20, 2009

The Telecasting of World-Class Curling

There are two curling events going on this weekend, both of which are world-class events.
  1. The Canada Cup in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. Unfortunately, we have been unable to watch the curling there live during the past week, but beginning tomorrow, TSN will be carrying semi-finals and finals:
Mar. 21, 2009 3:00 PM Local (5:00 PM ET) TSN Semi-Final (women)
Mar. 21, 2009 7:30 PM Local (9:30 PM ET) TSN Semi-Final (men)
Mar. 22, 2009 8:30 AM Local (10:30 AM ET) TSN Final
Mar. 22, 2009 7:30 PM Local (9:30 PM ET) TSN Final

2. Women's World Championships begin tomorrow in Korea. CurlTV will be carrying games from many (maybe even all, but not all involving Canada?) of the round robin draws. Their broadcast schedule is here. It isn't clear who or what is carrying which game of which draw, but it looks as if we'll be able to watch a lot of the games from there.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rolf Hoppe

Last weekend while I was in Toronto at the CAFI conference, I had the chance opportunity to meet Rolf Hoppe. Rolf is a writer, a playwright, a former management consultant, and is heavily plugged into the Toronto arts and music scene. As we were parting, I learned that he had been the second on Ted Hunt's 1960 team that represented Quebec at the MacDonald Brier, and he was selected as the all-star second for that tournament.


Monday, March 16, 2009

A Disappointing Finish

Not because my predicted outcome was wrong - after all, it was the night before yesterday that my prediction became impossible.
Rather because, as Doc observes, one suspects Ontario would have put up a better fight than Manitoba. Ontario had played two tight matches against Alberta in the week, and Manitoba's previous loss to Alberta lasted only seven ends. But this is all speculation.
What is NOT speculation is that Alberta performed stunningly for a whole week. They made it almost impossible to create significant opportunities to score multiply in an end, and at the same time leapt on opportunities left to them by the smallest errors.
I wish them well in the Worlds next month.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Alberta Wins! Martin Wins! Doc Wins!

Alberta won the 2009 Tim Horton Brier, just as I predicted (thanks to Ms. Eclectic's having taken Howard, so I took Martin, just to make a bet of it). I'm really going to enjoy the fine dinner she must now buy for me!

At this point, it really looks as if nobody will every be able to beat the ALB rink. They were amazing in the Brier.


2009 Tim Hortons Brier, Final: Last Two Ends

9th End
What are the odds this will be a close game? less than 1%?
Gould (lead, MAN) is still curling 100%, and Martin is still curling 97%. Impressive. And then Kennedy doubles off the two MAN guards.

I really think Howard, ON, would have given Martin a much better challenge than this. Too bad they were so flat last night.

By the time we're at the Vice stones, the only rock on the ice is one in the back of the house from MAN. Please let this be over after this end. Martin hits and rolls out. Stoughton does a spin delivery!!! neato. But his shot sailed through the rings, and they all shake hands.

Alberta wins!


2009 Tim Hortons Brier, Final: Ends 6-8

End #6
Alberta seems to be barely missing a few shots, so once again MAN has good position early on. Neither ALB nor MAN was able to hit-roll in their first attempts. Finally Morris is successful, with both of his shots -- great hit and flops. Stoughton came up a tad light on his draw attempt, but froze nicely to the top ALB rock. His second shot is too heavy, leaving a draw to the full 4' by Martin for two, and he hits the button.

ALB 8, MAN 3

End #7
The vices are interesting. Both appear to be trying to assert or challenge to be the alpha male on their teams. Morris seems finally to have worked out who is the alpha for Alberta (but what will happen if they ever lose?), but Park doesn't seem to have accepted that Stoughton is the skip, and Stoughton seems willing to let the niggling challenges persist, perhaps because Park is a good curler.... until the 6th end when Morris really out-curled him.

Repeat of the usual: Two in the 4' for Alberta, two corners for Manitoba.

I don't want to say it's over, but it sure looks as if it is. ALB is dominating this end, even w/o the hammer. There are no MAN rocks in the rings as the skips throw their rocks. Stoughton tripled, but Morris swept the shooter out, just barely. Martin draws around the guard, forcing MAN to draw for one.

ALB 8, MAN 4

8th End
Won't it be nice to have a break from the same old ads for a few weeks? I'm grateful to the sponsors, but the ads do get tiring after having seen them for two years. And does it seem to you that Ray is babbling more than usual?

Well, let's see if MAN can hold ALB to only one or maybe steal this time. So far, Gould is STILL curling 100%! Isn't that something!!

Alberta eschews the corner guards that would be typical when a team has the hammer, opting instead to draw to the top of the button and top 4'; Manitoba had two centre-line guards. Kennedy tried a double peel but jammed the back guard into the rocks in the rings. Prediction: Stoughton and Park will not be together next year: dja hear Park grousing to the leads while he was in the hack??

But on the very next shot, Morris doesn't seem all that happy with Martin's call, and they're still together, so who knows.

Morris throws an angle raise takeout, followed by a draw from Park. Nice shots. Martin draws to the t-line and is shot. Stoughton tries a tap, but is a bit heavy and bounces into the open, leaving a hit-stick for two for ALB.

ALB 10, MAN 4. Can't they shake hands yet???


2009 Tim Hortons Brier, Final: Ends 4-5

Well, whaddya know! Only 15% of the recent visits here have been from people looking for the Nude Women of Curling photos.

End #4
Damn. I lost all I'd written. Well, in summary, Alberta dominated the end, but Stoughton made a really good draw to the button. Martin's only play was a runback takeout, which he made for three.

ALB 6, MAN 1

End #5
After 4 ends, Kevin Martin is curling 100%. Amazing. The odd and difficult thing is that it is hard to identify any truly horrible shots from MAN that let this game get so far out of hand so early.

At the start of this end, Alberta has two on the button (one is a bit deep), and Manitoba has two corner guards. Later, Morris almost makes a sideways double. Gee these guys are good. Park comes to within 2" of freezing to the ALB rock on the button. Martin tried a hit-roll, but didn't roll much. . Stoughton tries a freeze onto his own on the button, but is 8' light for third shot. Martin drives it out. Stoughton has to draw-freeze to their own on the button to get two.

ALB 6, MAN 3 going to the break.


2009 Tim Hortons Brier, Final: Ends 1-3

Welcome back! How many of you predicted these two teams, Manitoba and Alberta, would meet each other in the final?

End #1
Alberta has the hammer and sets up two guards on the corner. Manitoba had two on the center line, but they're doubled off (one's still a biter) and Alberta has three on the side.

MAN tries to get the play to the other side, but ALB gets it back to the other side. Stoughton tries to freeze but bounces off about 2', leaving a tap and roll for Martin to sit two. Stoughton doubles them off with a nice slice and sits on the button. Martin peels it to blank the end.

No score after 1.

End #2
After one end, Alberta is curling 97% and Manitoba is curling 100% -- very impressive!

The end starts out nicely for MAN with some minor (quarter inch?) misses by ALB. MAN has three angled in the rings behind one guard. Kennedy (2nd, ALB) nose hits the middle one. Park (vice, MAN) barely picked the red (ALB) rock out of the middle. Morris (vice, ALB) nosed the MAN rock out of the top twelve; Man sits one-two. Neither skip is too worried about the opponents rocks in the rings as they jockey for position.

Morris doubles, leaving MAN sitting one, but ALB has 2-3. Stoughton noses the top ALB rock; Martin decides to try for a raise tap-out and rolls the shooter behind the center guard. Stoughton is left with not much other than a freeze attempt to the ALB rock that's on the button. A bit narrow and rubs on the guard, leaving a hit-and-stick by Martin for three.

Alberta 3, Manitoba 0

End #3
Alberta starts with two on the center line in the top of the rings, MAN with a corner guard. Kennedy slashes off the corner guard and doubles off a MAN rock in the rings. Amazing shot!

As the end develops, Alberta has three the same distance back of the t-line, and Manitoba keeps trying to freeze to them, but bumps just a bit, and Alberta picks 'em out. Stoughton is forced to draw for one.

Alberta 3, Manitoba 1


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Brier Semi-Final, Last Two Ends (?)

Howard is curling only 63% in this game. Ontario is lucky to be down only two with the hammer going into the 9th end.

End #9
Two corner guards from Ontario and two in the top of the house by MAN.
Nice freeze by Howard. Stoughton slams and gets a double, too. Howard draws, Stoughton picks to lie two. Howard must draw for one.

MAN 7, ON 6. Manitoba is up one with the hammer going home.

End #10
What has happened to Howard? Stoughton is looking strong despite a lot of missed opportunities to put the game away.

Nice pick by Fowler. House is clean, there are three guards. ON needs a steal to tie. That count of 4 for MAN in the 2nd end highlights the need to consider 2nd, 3rd, and maybe even 4th moments of probability density functions. Ont didn't handle the risk of that situation very well.

Ontario has one in the house, and Howard will try to put up a guard on it. Stoughton peels it. Howard draws again. Stoughton has a draw to the 4' for the win. And makes it to upset ON in the semi-final. Man 8, Ont 6. Man faces Alberta in the final tomorrow night at 8pm EDT.


Brier Semi-Final, Part II

End #6
Surprisingly there are no corner guards. But ON and MAN each have a bunch lined up on the centre line in the house. Man peels the centre guard; Ont replaces it. Man peels it. Ont replaces it. MAN peels. ONT discusses a freeze, but decides to guard once again. Peel by MAN. Howard taps into the mess, driving on Man stone out and opening the other one. But one ON stone is also open. Nose hit on that rock by Stoughton. Double attempt by Howard. Hit the first one just a bit thin, leaving a draw for two by Stoughton, but he's light, as I predicted before he threw it.

MAN 6, ON 4

End #7
Odd, isn't it, how regularly we observe overcorrection by humans, as we saw with Stoughton's draw last end.

A slightly different start to this end. Corner guard by ON, but not all the others are lined up along the centre line. Fowler and Laing both make less-than-perfect shots. MAN decides to try a long angle double with Park's first stone. Just missed, but removed the Ont rock on the top 8. Hart tries to freeze but is a bit wide... ends up touching the button. But it curled around enough that MAN decides they can't make a double and go for a pick. Barely cleared the guard. Hart tries to freeze, but is light and rubs on the guard. MAN has shot rock and tries to draw for second shot, too. Beauty draw to the button by Stoughton. Immediately Linda and Ray say theres a runback double for Howard to try. Jammed it. Linda says Howard is a shade off-balance in his delivery with these recent misses. Stoughton draws to the edge of the button. Ont discussed trying for three, but they decide to try an angle raise double for two. Gets only one.

MAN 6, ON 5

End #8
Two long centre guards by ON. MAN has two in the rings. Ms. Eclectic and I both agree that ON needs a miracle to win this game. Laing rubs on the guard --- that has happened often, it seems, for ON. Three in the rings for MAN; none for ON.

Now Stoughton starts to peel the guards. Park rubs on a guard. ON still sits one. Time out ON as they discuss their options. Hart convinces the others they need a guard against a runback. Stoughton draws through a port to tap his own back to the button. Howard has an in-off to try for a steal of one. Comes up light --- probably should have known that side of the ice is heavy. Let's see if Stoughton adjusts to the weight on that side as he draws for two. Nope, he's heavy instead.

MAN 7, ON 5


Brier Semi-Final, Ends 4 and 5

Manitoba is up one with the hammer as the 4th end begins. Howard and Hart have not been sharp so far.

End #4
Ontario hogged their first stone. Ray is sure it caught something. Nice hit-roll by Brent Laing (ON 2nd). It's a bit exposed, leaving an opportunity for Fowler to hit and stay off the centre line. Ooops... I drifted off a bit.

Howard wrecks trying to go around a guard and Man rock in the top 12. Gould seems to harrassing Stoughton at this point, and Stoughton seems a bit upset. Tries a draw and rubs. Howard is concerned, though, about what to do with his last rock. Tries a thin double, but gets only one. Draw for two for Manitoba, but the draw goes a few inches too deep.

Manitoba 5, Ontario 3

End #5
Same opening. Fowler comes up a bit light with a freeze attempt, but Laing misses with a double attempt. Laing wrecks on the guard, opening things up. Park hits and rolls, so MAN has three in the rings. Hart tries for a double. Gets it, but also pushes out an Ont biter on the side.

Park hits and sits to lie two. Hart draws around the corner guard but is partially exposed (not much, though). Stoughton barely cleared the guard for a hit-roll to lie three, and once again Howard is on the ropes.... must try a freeze to the rock on the button, but bumps it back 6". Stoughton wants it out and isn't going to worry about removing his own at the same time. It'll force Ontario to take one. Nice pick by Stoughton. Howard must get a piece of the 4' to score 1.

Manitoba 5, Ontario 4 at the break.


Brier Semi-Final, Part I

End #1
Manitoba sets a centre guard, Ontario goes around it. Man runs the guard back to drive the Ont rock and the run-back out of the rings. Draw-hit; draw-hit, just missed a double. Park runs the guard straight back and saves it for 2nd shot. Hart draws to lie two. Park rubs on the guard. Hart draws to the 4', but probably left a double and maybe a triple. Stoughton missed the double, driving the top Ontario rock between the other two.Howard puts one right back there (by mistake -- he wanted to tuck the draw a bit more behind cover). So Stoughton has the same opportunities and gets the double, leaving Ont with a draw to the 8' for two.

Ont 2, Man 0

End #2
MAN has a corner guard, but all the other rocks are in an uneven line along the centre line. With the 2nds, the runbacks begin. Nice hit-and-roll by Fowler (MAN 2nd). Hart hits and rolls, but isn't shot. Park draws, but is wide open for Hart, who jams the double attempt. Man is still shot. Beauty come-around by Park. Howard doesn''t have many options but to try to come off his own. Had the result of removing one of his own and knocking a MAN rock across the house with the house well-split. Another nice draw by Stoughton. Howard is discussing several possible TV shots. Misses a triple and gives MAN an opportunity to draw for four. High cost-high risk decision.

Manitoba 4, Ontario 2

End #3
Do we really need to hear this chatter from some schmoe from Halifax?
As usual, Ontario (with the hammer) has a corner guard, with a bunch of other rocks along the centre line. Nice double by Fowler, peeling the corner guard plus one that was biting the 12'. Nice hit and roll by Laing. Double by Park leaves Man with 3 in the rings and Ont with one. Hart's attempted hit and roll ends up rolling the wrong way. Park doubled off the two Ont rocks but loses his shooter. Ont takes off two Man rocks. Only one in the rings, now as Man tries to hit and stick, and Ont will try to blank the end. And doesn't! Hits and sticks.

MAN 4, ON 3



We kick stones all the time at our local club. If a shot is obviously short of the hog line, there are several people who very obviously nudge them with their feet and laugh about it. But we're not in the championships, and even so we are very careful not to kick a shot that might matter.

So what was Jeff Stoughton thinking when he kicked that rock (yes, I know it was his own) in the 8th end. It likely would have stopped as a biter, and even if it had ended outside the rings, it might still have been in play. You know: chaos theory, butterfly wings, all that stuff. Having a biter or near biter on the side of the house could easily have influenced shots and shot decisions later in the end.

And where were the CCA officials? Why didn't they give Gushue the option about where to place the kicked rock? Or did they?

I expect we'll hear about it during tonight's semi-final.


Page 3-4 Playoff, Last Two Ends?

Well, last night it was the last three ends. Let's see what happens this time.

End #9
Manitoba has the hammer and would love to blank or take two. Again all the play is along the centre line. No corner guards. I'm surprised Manitoba didn't make more of an effort to blank this end, but both teams have two rocks in the house, and Nfld keeps putting up guards which Man then peels. Park tries a run-back double but only peels the guard. Nfld put up another guard. Park tried another run-back double and not only just peeled the guard but left his shooter as a guard on the Nfld stones. Gushue puts up another guard. Stoughton makes the run-back double that Park twice tried and missed. Time out for Nfld. It sure is fascinating listening to the discussions of options and "what if"s. Gushue draws right down next to his shot rock.

Risk/loss decisions for Manitoba. There's a run-back double for three for Manitoba, but it's too risky. Stoughton tries to draw for one, but gives up a steal of one.

Nfld 7, Man 6 after nine.

End #10
Going into the 10th end, is it better to up one without the hammer or down one with the hammer? Nfld sure has turned things around in the last few ends.

Nfld draws to the button with the first rock; Man puts up a corner guard. Nfld comes tight to the rings with another guard; Man draws right up to the shot rock, followed by a Nfld rock right behind it. Man follows that rock down, taps them all a bit, and the Nfld shot rock is now behind the t-line and might not be shot rock. Nfld taps into the mess, spilling a Man rock onto the button and another into the open. Man removes the Nfld rock at the top 12, pushing it through a hole.

Nfld asks Nichols to try an in-off double, which he makes -- spectacular shot!
Park does an angle tap-back for Man to get second shot. But he's less successful with an attempted run-back double. Gushue guards. Stoughton tried a run-back double, but didn't make it. Gushue tries another guard.

With Nfld sitting one, and reasonably well-protected, Man is facing one and in trouble. Stoughton makes an amazing angle double raise takeout of the Nfld shot rock to score two and win.

Man 8, Nfld 7.

We're off to dinner tonight, but hope to be back for the semi-final at 8pm EST between Ontario and Manitoba.


Page 3-4 Playoff, Second half

End #6
All the play is in the centre of the rink (down the centre line). Once again Fowler (Man 2nd) is in the hack just as the front end questions Stoughton's call. Some tension on the team, perhaps.
Odd, because Man is leading, but there sounds like some frustration in their voices. Nice tap out of a red stone by Park. Nichols tries to come down to the rocks in the centre, but is about a foot light. So Park taps that one out, too. Man has 4 in the rings behind the T line. Gushue's first attempt to freeze is a bit heavy -- a 6" bump. Stoughton knocks it out, leaving his shooter on the button. Gushue hits and rolls into the open, leaving Stoughton a hit for two.
This game is a perfect 1-2-1-2-1-2 for Manitoba.

MAN 6, Nfld 3

End #7
Nfld sets up with two corner guards, and Man with two in the rings on the centre line. Man removes a guard along with one of their own in the rings. hit-roll; hit-roll; come-around draw attempt by Nfld as they ignore the Man rocks that are sitting 1-2, but it is exposed. Park peels and avoids the jam. Nichols' draw attempt drifts deep. Park flashes. Nichols hits, rolls, freezes with his second shot. Stoughton tapped the Nfld rock in the back of the house, but not out. Gushue slides of the Nichols freeze, opening them up and leaving his shooter exposed. Stoughton hits and rolls, leaving a tough choice for Gushue to try to get two, and with luck he can maybe get three; odds are against his making this shot. Not a bad decision, given that he's down three. Got two with a very nice shot.

Man 6, Nfld 5

End #8
As Alan noted yesterday, the TSN ads and interviews sure take a long time. I was able to pop a bag of microwave popcorn during one of the breaks (not the major th-end break, either). So by the time TSN rejoins the game, the third rock is sliding down the ice. Manitoba is up one with the hammer. Who do you think would give Ontario a tougher game?

Wow! Stoughton just kicked off a stone that sure didn't look as if it was going out. It probably won't matter, but it looks mighty cheesy nevertheless.

Gushue made a nice tap up. Stoughton peeled the guard. Nfld can't decide what to guard. Gushue puts up an off-centre guard. Stoughton tied a tricky runback, but gave up a steal to Nfld. so after 8 ends, the score is tied!

Nfld 6, Man 6


Page 3-4 Playoff, Ends 4 & 5

End #4
The fourth end begins with Nfld rock on the centre line. Both Nichol and Park have rocks that are a bit heavy -- weight problems persist.

Nice freeze by Gushue to Manitoba rock that is partially on the button. Stoughton draws to the other side of the button with a beautiful shot. After lots of discussion, Gushue thinks he can double or maybe even triple the Man stones out of the middle of the house. He moved them around a bit, but Man lies one and Stoughton draws to bite the button for two.

Man 4, Nfld 2

End #5
All the play ends up in the rings after the first 4 stones are delivered. The thirds on both teams are struggling, with the lowest curling percentages on the ice. When Man has 3 in the rings, Nichols tries a freeze to the Man shot rock, gets a 2" bump, leaving it pickable. It's a tough pick for Stoughton, who catches and removes the Man stone behind it, but takes out the Nfld stone and still is sitting two. Gushue tries to freeze to the Man shot rock, but comes up 6" short. But Stoughton jammed, took out the Nfld rock, and took out his shot rock, AND moved the other Man rock to the outer ring. Gushue had an easy hit and roll to blank the end, but hit the rock on the wrong side, and rolled into the rings.

Man 4, Nfld 3; Man has the hammer to start the 6th end.


Page 3-4 Playoff, The Beginning

In the first end, Gushue (Nfld) was forced to draw to the 4' to take one.

End 2
For some reason, I like both these teams and generally cheer for both of them to win. But also I think either Ontario or Alberta would do better at the Worlds.

Big mistake by Fowler (Manitoba 2nd) who hit a Nfld stone but rolled off and knocked a Manitoba stone back ANd lost his shooter. Nfld looks to be in good shape this end, as both teams, but Manitoba especially are having troubles judging the weight on the ice. Nichols (Nfld 3rd) comes up a bit light, leaving a double opportunity for Park (Man 3rd). He hits and rolls next to the Nfld shot stone. Gushue (Nfld skip) takes out the Man shot rock but loses his shooter, leaving a nose hit for Stoughton (Man skip) to lie two. Gushue hit the Man shot rock and rolled a bit out but still lies shot. Stoughton hit that one, rolled to the button and barely avoided jamming the Nfld rock.

MAN 2, Nfld 1

End #3
Typical beginning: Manitoba has centre-line rocks, Nfld a corner guard. Fry (nfld 2nd) throws a really nice tap that eases a Man rock off the centre line and rolled behind the corner guard. Ray comments that the Man team is questioning Stoughton a lot -- he thinks too much. Geez it sure is early to be discussing so much and trying an in-off double, and Fowler doesn't get either Nfld rock out of the house. Moves one back and misses the other. Fry doubles out two Man stones, and Nfld has two behind guards. Park bounces off one in a freeze attempt, allowing Nichols an attempt to push it back, but he didn't curl quite enough, jammed his own out to bite the 12' and rolled in to bite the 4'. Park is able to tap the Nfld rock back, leaving Man counting three with two Nfld rocks in the 12'. Nichols tried a double, but knocked out Nfld's two rocks with a jam. Close, but not good for Nfld.

Stoughton runs the only Nfld rock out of the rings to lie three. Nice sideways double by Gushue, but his shooter is exposed. Stoughton hit-roll to lie two with one behind the guard, and leaving Gushue no choice but to draw for one.



Friday, March 13, 2009

Brier, Page 1-2 Playoff, Last two ends?

So far this has been a very close game. A bunch of really good shots.

End #9
Martin would like to blank this end and have the hammer in the 10th. Howard would like to force him to take one so Ontario has the hammer going home. Centre guard, Alberta rock in the rings, freeze attempt by Ontario but a bit of a bump. It sure looks, after a couple more rocks, as if this end will NOT be blanked.

Tap-back by Ontario. Tap-and-roll by Alberta, but it taps the other Alberta rock into the open. Ontario hits the open Alberta rock, but lies open. Time out, Alberta. These guys are discussing shots two or three moves down the line -- fascinating. Morris slams into the rocks, driving out an Ontario rock and opening up the other rocks. Hart is narrow and gets a nose hit instead of an outside roll. Morris then doubles off the two Ontario rocks, and Alberta sits two.

Howard hits and rolls, but rolls outside the Alberta rock in the top 12, leaving a hit and short roll for Martin. It didn't roll, so Howard tries a double, but gets only one, leaving Martin with a draw for one.

Alberta 6, Ontario 5 after 9

End #10
Which would have been better for Ontario? down one with the hammer or up one without? In this case they're down one with the hammer, which means Howard's miss in the 9th wasn't absolutely horrible for them.

Earlier, Alan noted that TSN often is busy running ads and/or meaningless little vignettes (my assessment) and misses the first couple of shots. But tonight, the curlers appear to have been forced to wait for the commercials, etc., to end before starting. Whatever, it's nice to see all the shots.

Two corner guards from Ontario; two in the rings from Alberta. Fun discussion on the Ontario rink:

Hart to Laing: What's your plan here?
Laing in reply: I don't have a plan; I'm the second.

Some disagreement on the Alberta rink about whether to try to double peel the guards. Martin seems more than a little disappointed when the double is missed. Nice come-around by Laing; Morris is light and touches the guard (blames a pick -- nonsense). That leaves Hart with a runback double attempt; gets one, but the other is moved well behind cover. Morris makes a runback to kill the only Ontario rock that is fully in the rings. Very pretty shot. Hart's freeze attempt is outside and light. Alberta sits three but there are three Ontario rocks in front of them.

Martin draws top 4 behind cover. Howard is in deep doo-doo. His first shot is an attempt to come in off an Ontario rock, and .. Wow ... he went between the two Alberta rocks near the button. Martin guards, trying to make it hard for Howard to get even one to tie. Howard's only shot is to draw to the 4' to tie the game and force an extra end. Perfect.

Ontario 6, Alberta 6; Alberta has the hammer in the 11th.

End #11
Two guards from Ontario and two TERRIFIC nudges by Alberta, leaving the centre open.
Things proceed as expected until Morris's peel attempt is a nose hit, leaving a centre-line guard, which Hart draws around, but it's not biting the 4'. Morris peels the centre guard. Howard replaces the guard. Morris wants Martin to put one on the top of the button, but Martin elects to peel the guard. Great, fascinating discussion by the Ontario team: their goal is to make Martin hit and hope he rolls just enough that Ontario scores. Howard's shot is outer 4', leaving a draw by Martin to touch the button for the win. He (really his sweepers) just barely got it close enough for the win -- within an inch. Wow.

Alberta wins and goes through to the final. And tomorrow night at 8pm, Ontario plays the winner of the 3-4 playoff (noon tomorrow between Manitoba and Nfld).


Brier, Page 1-2 Playoff, Continued

After a truly horrible curling performance myself, we watched the skips' stones of end four at the curling club, and the entire place was going wild! Amazing freeze by Howard, amazing run-back by Martin, etc.

In the fifth end, Hart didn't quite roll the way he wanted, and Martin forced Howard to take one

Ontario 4, Alberta 3 after 5.

Then we made a mad dash home from the curling club to catch the last half of the sixth end.

End #6
As I started watching, the house was really full, but Kennedy threw a rock that cleared out a bunch of them. Hart came up short with a guard. Morris wrecked on an outside guard, but rolled in to sit second shot. Howard nosed it to sit three. Martin barely cleared the centre guard and took out Ontario's shot rock. Wow! Howard picked it (not quite all the way out) and is sitting 4 now. Martin draws to take one.

Ontario 4, Alberta 4 after 6

End #7
There's a ritualistic dance as both teams pretend to try to keep things clean but also try to keep their options open. Hit-stick; hit-peel-roll; etc. Morris rolls behind an Ontario guard, and Hart runs it. Martin draws behind the only guard on the ice. Howard makes a straight run back and is sitting one. Martin barely it out, so Howard throws his through to blank the end.

End #8
This end is shaping up to be more interesting. Guards followed by draws to the button by both teams. Then Laing runs back the centre guard to leave on Alberta rock in the top 4'. Another Alberta guard, and Laing peels only one guard while trying to get two of them. Another Alberta guard, and Hart peels it plus the tight Alberta guard. Yet another Alberta guard, Hart runs it back to peel it and the rock in the rings.

Aside to TSN: Please, please can the puns.

Martin comes around the corner guards. Howard runs a guard and peels the Martin rock. Martin makes a perfect come-around draw, leaving Howard with no option but to draw for one.

Ontario 5, Alberta 4 after 8.


2009 Brier - Page 1-2 Playoff

Alberta-Ontario again!

END #1:
Sorry - missed the first bit. Rocks in play all over!! Too hard to describe. There are eight rocks in the house!
Morris kills the guard and leaves three Alberta rocks in the house. Too good.
Hart puts a rock in the middle but Ontario is not happy.
Morris pushes it back. Howard is heavy - Alberta lie 3.
Martin puts a beauty into the house. We shall see where this leads.
Howard hits a gorgeous tapback into the nest of Alberta rocks.
Ontario steal one.
I am now switching venues.
END #2:
Venue switched. The configuration of rocks was so wild I could not have described it anyway. Alberta get one. I think I will give up. I expect Doc to be on scene by the break.
The sad truth is the Page 1-2 playoff does not really matter much. The loser continues through the playoffs, which may be reasonable but simply does not create a sense of urgency.

END #3:
Ontario biter - and a rock in the front 8-foot. Morris kills the biter and stays a biter at the back. Ontario toss up another rock in the house. Morris cleans one up. Hart spreads two apart. Martin nose hits one Ontario rock. Howard returns the favor. And vice versa, with a roll to the middle. A hit for two for Howard. Perfect.

Apologies to our readers but I must leave the scene.

Doc should be on board soon! Only a couple of lost ends.

Note on Tonight's Game

I will be curling myself until at least 9:30, and so if I get anything posted about tonight's game it won't be until the second half, at the earliest.


Brier Tiebreak

OK I am in place, and ready to go. What a great year for this competition - everybody is a previous champion! Stoughton, as explained for somewhat silly reasons in a previous post, is a favorite of mine, but I also just like the sheer competence and solidity of Menard and team from Quebec. I cannot really cheer against either of them, so it is perfect. I can simply cheer for a great match!

End #1:
An early Manitoba error leaves Quebec, halfway through the end, with a couple of rocks in the house. No guards now. Manitoba has the hammer. Now three Quebec rocks in the house. Park executes one double. Menard wanted to guard, but his team overrules him and decides to split the house. And done very nicely! The broadcasters are covering the week for Quebec, which was on a terrible downward arc in the middle, but they finished with five straight wins. Manitoba had a somewhat more scattered history in the week. But they are both here now! Menard removes a Stoughton stone and rolls beautifully away from his other rock in the house. Stoughton sees he needs to freeze. Big miss! Heavy and inside and wide open! Menard removes it. Stoughton has to draw or hit for one. Draw, it seems. Nicely into the 4-foot. Sylvain clears away the two in the rings, so there is now one Manitoba rock in the house and two Quebec rocks out front of the house. Manitoba put another rock near the other one and look vulnerable to a double. They hit and roll too far - leave one Manitoba rock behind the center guard. Manitoba remove the Quebec rock and have two in the front of the house. Quebec do a runback and it clears the house of Manitoba rocks. The shooter sits open.

Vic pointed out that nobody has ever won the Brier out of a tiebreak! Not like the distaff side at all, as we pointed out during the Scotties.

END #2:
Lead rocks finish with one Manitoba rock in the front of the house and a guard from Quebec rather too close to the house. Manitoba clear teh Quebec guard but it seems to me there is a double. Rather, they try a hit and roll, which rolls too far. Manitoba hit and roll, incrementally, still open. Everybody is trying to get behind the Manitoba rock just in front of the house at 11 o'clock. This one rolls too far inside. Cathy Gauthier thinks there are some differences in the ice when there is only one match in the afternoon. Manitoba hit and roll over to the open side. Quebec freeze to the open rock, which is in the back of the 8-foot. A little too deep. Park blasts it out, leaving the shooter still hanging on to the house at 4 o'clock. Quebec's freeze attempt misses by a foot. Stoughton nose hits it - Manitoba lie two. Freeze attempt winds up being a big bump instead. Stoughton removes it, leaving his own in place nicely, and clearing his shooter. Menard is hitting and takes one.

END #3:
Warning - got to check the golf tournament at Doral from time to time so I might appear absent-minded.
Quebec go in behind a Manitoba guard. Manitoba end up behind that rock and behind the T-line. Quebec get an OK angle freeze to that. Manitoba bump a bit too much - just behind the t-line. Quebec remove all Manitoba rocks from the house, as predicted by Cathy Gauthier. Four Quebec rocks in the house. Manitoba get a nice hit and roll into the covered side. Quebec's third comes up a bit short on a freeze to the Manitoba stone. Park punches it back, jamming a bit - Quebec is shot, but the front of the house is largely open. Menard asks for and greats a fine clean-up shot. Lots of Quebec rockery in the house, one Manitoba stone, out at the open edge. Manitoba put a rock in the front of the 4-foot, moving all Quebec rocks to behind the T-line. Well, except for the one up front. Stoughton rock in the middle is gone - time to freeze into a pocket. Stoughton's rock stops very nicely in front of Quebec backing. Menard's removal attempt leaves Manitoba counting one - draw for two. Made.

This is exhausting, just watching.

END #4:
Sorry - off checking out golf. As I return - let me await one more Manitoba shot, which should simplify what I have to describe; no guards, two Manitoba rocks in the front of the house, a Quebec biter at the back. Quebec remove the outside Manitoba rock. Removed by Manitoba. Favor returned. Quebec hit and roll almost into cover, but not. Which Stoughton proves. Manitoba lie two now. The biter is still biting and the double seems possible. Menard makes it. Stoughton clears the house, removing both Quebec rocks and his own! Quebec blanks.

END #5: 3-1 Manitoba, Quebec hammer.
Is there a new policy at TSN not to show the opening rocks of an end? Not nice if so.
Quebec are a bit heavy trying to get behind a guard and Manitoba kill it, so they are counting 2 behind a front guard with a Quebec guard out front on the right.
Sorry - some editing disaster. With skip rocks left, Quebec have shot in the four-foot behind cover, with a Manitoba rock crowded in there too. Stoughton does not quite get the freeze he wanted. Menard sits on top of a Manitoba rock in front of his scoring rock. I do not get where this is going. Stoughton maybe guards the right-hand side (looking back to the hack). Some complicated shot Quebec tried at least does not cause a loss of a ton of points. They get one.

END #6:
Front guard Quebec and Quebec rock frozen to Manitoba rock at the back of the 4-foot. Not sure how we got here. Manitoba tap-back separates the Manitoba rock from the Quebec rock - Manitoba frozen in front now. Sylvain tries to freeze at the front and comes up about two ffet short. Manitoba peel the front guard. Another one goes up. And away. And back. And away. Now Quebec attack the house. Menard frees the Manitoba rock by removing his own with a tapback. Stoughton hit and stick on a Quebec rock. Menard is trying a crazy tap-back double, and comes up just short, leaving Stoughton a simple hit for two. 5-2 after 6. This is likely over.

END #7:
My heart is really not in this at the moment. House is filling with Manitoba rocks, though they are punching those back to behind the T-line so there is some hope. But Manitoba is not missing much. Giant miss by Martin Crete, basically going through the house instead of freezing. With last skip rocks, Quebec have two in the house, though a double seems to be possible. Stoughton gets the double! Quebec try to blank. And succeed.

END #8:
Halfway through, Sylvain puts a great rock into a pocket backed by some Manitoba rocks. Park clears away some of the backing. Quebec toss a guard into the 12-foot and Manitoba peel it. Quebec now into an utter mess - piles of Manitoba rocks and no great positions for the Quebec rocks. Now four Manitoba rocks in the house and one Quebec one, sitting forlornly off on the side. Menard gets rid of three Manitoba rocks. Stoughton looking at a big double. And gets it perfectly? How did this team finish only at 7-4? Another blank? Yup.

END #9:
Gushue is funny. He notes that he hopes Stoughton is using up all his doubles. Indeed! If this Manitoba team had been present most of the week there would have been no tiebreak? Who is this masked man? OK, he is not masked.
I am not even describing this end, Manitoba are so totally in control. Quebec finally have to take one, to leave the Manitoba lead at 5-3 and give Manitoba the hammer.
This is the Stoughton I remember! Lovely to watch. I hope we see him again tomorrow.

END #10:
I may be sketchy. Seems to me this will quickly become a rock-counting exercise. Fowler brilliantly does a double peel. That pretty much ices it. Could they be the Jennifer Jones of this tournament and actually get focus only in the face of doom? It is again Manitoba after all! I feel sorry for Quebec, who have played really well, and even very consistently today, but have run up against a wall. Even Cathy Gauthier cites Jennifer Jones, and watching these guys today, I do wonder. This is not the team thatwas so vulnerable earlier in the week. On the other hand, the men's game is SO Competitive, and Howard and Martin will not roll over, nor will Gushue! We are down to one rock now. Menard clearly knows it, as does Stoughton. Two class acts. One won, one lost. I sure hope we see a lot more of Menard in the future.

Manitoba go forward. Thanks so much to both teams!

I am expecting Doc to cover tonight's Page 1-2 playoff.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Brier - Draw 17, the others

Meanwhile, both Quebec and NB were still alive, but both were in trouble.

Howard misses his last run-back attempt, and BC defeats NB, meaning NB is out of it.

Quebec and N. Ont are in extra ends, Quebec has the hammer. If Quebec wins, there will be a tie-breaker with Manitoba and curling tomorrow at 3pm EDT. Otherwise, there won't be any tie-breakers 8-(

Menard confidently opts to draw to the button with his hammer. It's on the pinhole, so we'll see you at 3pm tomorrow. Perfect timing! It should be over before we do our own curling in the evening!


The Brier - Draw 17, Conclusion

Man-o-man. Russ Howard just made a draw through one of the narrowest ports I've ever seen, and saved one point but still trails by one without the hammer. Also, Northern Ontario just tied Quebec.

Interesting-er and interesting-er!

End #9, Ont v. Alb
Martin would like to blank this end or take two. He really doesn't want to be forced to take one and lose the hammer. Howard is trying to keep some rocks in play so Martin can't blank the end. Now it becomes a mind game to see who decides to try to come around the guard (plus two in the rings) first. Ray pointed out that at some point, Ont could run back their stone in the top 12 onto the yellow, setting up a situation in which Martin might be forced to take one.

Morris tries to go around, but is mostly exposed. After some discussion, Ont decides to try to freeze to the Alberta shot rock (Ont is 2, Alberta 3). Oops, Hart rubs off the red in the top 12 and is open. Morris makes a truly fine pick on it. Alberta is sitting 3, all lined up so they cannot all be removed at once.... or can they??? Howard tries for a double of those in the 4', but gets only one and is wide open. Hit and roll into the mess by Martin. Double by Howard leaves a draw for two for Martin.

Alberta 6, Ontario 5 after 9.

End #10
Please save us from pathetic announcer attempts at puns!
Ontario is one down with the hammer. Alberta keeps attempting double peels, but isn't successful. Ontario tries to freeze to an Alberta rock; didn't quite get it, and Alberta peels both it and their own. Alberta is shot, but Ontario tries to split the rings with their own stones, ignoring the Alberta stone.

Morris goes for a hit and roll off the exposed Ontario rock, but is still wide open. Hart's freeze attempt is too heavy and taps the Alberta rock back a bit. Martin, with his first stone, tries a weak tap back.

Howard tries a run-back thin double, but takes out only one. Martin does a nice draw, semi-buried. Howard opts to try a thin double for the win. Wrecks on the guard, gives up a steal of one:
Final: Alberta 7, Ontario 5, and Alberta goes through the round robin undefeated.


The Brier - Draw 17, 2nd half

I think I'll go back to adding commentary on each end at the bottom of the posting. Which is better??
End #6
It really stands out that Hart is curling only 60% so far, and that is probably the reason Ont isn't ahead at this point of the game.

Oops, Kennedy misses a hit-roll, rolling out; Laing draws. Morris gets a good hit-roll. At one point you could see Glenn watching what was going on on the next sheet, where Russ is playing.
Geez, Hart sort of misses a hit-roll, and Morris makes one. But the rocks are lined up for a double. They didn't leave the backing they wanted, but it was a fine shot, leaving two reds at equal depth in the rings. Martin curled around the guard to freeze (within 2") to the Ont shot rock. Howard taps it back onto the red, driving the red out. Ont is on the button with a yellow stone behind them. Alberta tries to guard and force Ontario to take one. Some fun banter between Hart and Martin. Howard made the shot, to tap the Alberta rock back, but the shooter rolled even farther.

Ontario 3, Alberta 3 after 6

End #7
A bunch of nose hits. Then Ontario tried to split a tight guard onto the rings. Didn't quite work. Alberta, good hit and roll, followed by a nice freeze from Ontario. Alberta has to try to blast it wide open. Morris knocks out everything but one red in the 4'. Howard guards it, but Martin threw a run-back double with his shooter rolled to the side -- yet another GREAT shot. Howard buries around the wide corner guard. I didn't follow the logic about why, but Martin decided to draw for one rather than attempt the take-out/blank.

Alberta 4, Ontario 3 after 7

End #8
NB is trailing. Quebec is ahead. Playoff positions are still in doubt.

Same set up as before, with the roles reversed. Alberta rocks up the centre line with one Ontario rock sandwiched in, plus an Ontario corner guard. Blast out by Laing leaves two Albertas in the rings, draw by Kennedy. Double-raise runback by Laing. Watch that biter for Alberta in the top 12; it could affect things later. Morris through a gap to drive out the Ontario shot rock. Hart follows him through the gap to double off the top two Alberta counters. Morris through the same gap to remove the Ont shot rock. Rather than remove it, Howard has Hart draw around the guard -- perfect shot.

Martin ran the guard back to knock off the shot rock, but it jammed, so Martin is sitting one-three. Howard draws around the long guard. Then Martin draws around that, but is partly exposed, leaving Howard with a tap back for two.

Ontario 5, Alberta 4 after 8. Too bad this has to end! Oh well, we'll see these two teams play each other again in the 1-2 page playoff.


The Brier - Draw 17 Continued

Before I take over the live-blogging, let me thank Alan for all his blogging of the 2009 Brier! It has been a busy week for me, and I have really appreciated being able to follow the games more closely with his running commentaries.

Also, I'm going to try doing these in reverse order to see how that works.

End #5
A typical start with Ontario having a centre guard and a centre rock in the rings, and an Alberta corner guard. Freeze by Hebert (Alberta lead); freeze by Laing; this is going to be weird and fun! Tap- squeeze by Kennedy. Laing shoots through a small gap, hits, and rolls. Looks great, but Kennedy slams down the center line for triple! Wow, that sure cleaned out the rings. Hit-roll by Hart is a bit open. Morris got through the same gap that Laing did, but took out only one Ont rock, leaving Ont with shot rock. Hart draws to the button, not quite buried. Morris tapped it back with another beautiful shot. On to skips' stones:

Howard tries to guard the path to the rings, but his shot over-curls. But Martin comes the other way through the "Laing" gap and taps his own stone back for shot. Lots of discussion by Ont about whether the double is there, but it doesn't matter. Howard is going to try to freeze. Either way, Martin would have a shot for one. Oops, I was wrong: The freeze attempt is too hard, leaving Martin with a tricky, angle gentle tap for two.

Alberta 3, Ontario 2.
End #4
In the background, Alan and I have both been wishing we could see more of the other games as well. What might be good for those who have big-screen HD televisions would be a 4-way split screen so we could watch 'em all!

The end started out looking well-set-up for Alberta with good rocks, but in the middle. Laing (Ont 2nd) didn't quite get a double with his blast. Nice little hit-and roll for a biter by Kennedy (Alberta 2nd), followed by a hit-roll by Hart that over-rolled into the open. Morris hits and sticks (Alberta has the only two rocks in the rings). Hart tries another hit-roll and again over rolls right out of the rings. Hart is struggling. Morris then draws around the centre guard to the top of the button -- great shot!

Howard makes an amazing, AMAZING run-back double, taking both Alberta rocks out of the house. There is one Ont rock in the rings, and it is open. Martin hits and rolls, but doesn't quite get behind the centre guard. Howard peeled it, barely avoiding a jam, leaving the rings empty. Martin throws it away. Such an exciting end for no score!

Ontario 2, Alberta 1
End #3
Isn't it fascinating/odd/ironic that all three of the other games matter more than this one? Two teams (Quebec and NB) are fighting to survive into the tie-breakers, and Nfld needs to win to avoid having to go into the tie-breakers.

Ontario is well-set-up with rocks behind cover, but Laing's first shot over-curled leaving Ont stones exposed. Then Morris's first shot was straighter than expected and his take-out jammed, followed by a hit-and-roll-out from Hart. The commenters note that both skips are having a bit of difficulty reading the ice.

Morris's second shot is a perfect hit and roll/freeze to put Ontario in a bit of trouble. Hart really overthrew his second shot and ended up knocking out his own stone AND losing his shooter. Martin can hit and stick to sit two, forcing Howard to try to freeze. Ray says, "There is no such thing as a perfect freeze against Kevin Martin."

Howard's freeze attempt comes up short; Martin picks it, and Howard is obliged to try to draw for only 1. At the same time, on the next sheet, Russ Howard drew for one as well

Ontario 2, Alberta 1
[and NB 2, BC 2]

End #2

A couple of minor misses by Alberta, followed by a hit from Hart (3rd, Ontario) that didn't roll behind the centre-line guard, and Morris (3rd, Alberta) got a perfect hit and roll. Howard puts in a light-peel through a fairly narrow port to hit out the Alberta shot rock, but roll out in the open on the outside. Martin ignores the Ontario rock and draws to the button around the centre guard -- perfect shot. Howard does a near freeze to the shot rock -- tapped it about 3 inches. Martin is left with an impossible draw (or roll off the Ontario 3rd shot rock) to try to get two, but couldn't do it.
After 2nd end, Alberta 1, Ontario 1


The Brier - Draw 17

I am VERY curious to see what TSN choose to do tonight.
This draw includes the major Ontario-Alberta showdown, though of course it is not so major! They will play on another day.
The matches that matter are Quebec's and NB's. Both teams are at 6-4 and need to get to 7-4.
I am VERY curious to see what TSN choose.
TSN has decided on Ontario-Alberta. I understand the choice but am not really happy with it.
END #1: Alberta are counting three in the house! Howard nestles into a lap opened by Martin. Martin misses badly trying to fix it. 1 for the junior Howard!


The Brier - Draw 16

Wow - just saw the last end as Quebec needed an amazing shot to stay alive.
Now they must win tonight to stay in the game as must NB.
We shall see!


The Brier - Draw #15

Manitoba-NL. Gushue's team are at 7-2 and so set at worst for a tiebreaker. Stoughton is on the cusp at 5-4, having been whipped badly by Alberta last night.
END #1: Manitoba win the hammer. The end features a very crowded house, filling up because peel attempts run the risk of jamming and making things even worse. Stoughton has become intoxicated with the idea of a big score in this end with the right combination - so we'll finally see a rock thrown hard again. In the end he gets one only.
END #2: "From lots of rocks, to none". Blanked.
END #3: Great triple by Rob Fowler opens the house and clears it of NL rocks. A Gushue shot unintentionally clears the scene of newly accumulated NL rocks and leaves Manitoba counting three. Stoughton now lies four with a couple of front rocks in the 12-foot to obstruct access to his rock at the button. Gushue seems prepared to hold the steal to one. And so it goes.
END #4: Another Rob Fowler cleanup! All NL rocks out of sight, and the responding NL shot goes through the house. One Manitoba rock at the edge of the 8-foot in front guarded by a center-line Manitoba rock. Manitoba adds a rock on the button. Nichols clears the guard and the front Manitoba rock.
Meanwhile - wow! - NWT score 5 in the fifth end against BC. May be the end for BC, at 4 losses.
Park puts one up in the 8-foot; Nichols kills it but leaves a Manitoba rock in the house and his shooter wide open. Stoughton nose hits it. Gushue puts a rock on the button. Stoughton clears it and the shooter goes out. Gushue takes one reluctantly with a perfect draw.
END #5: Late in the end, Nichols just cleaned up about half what NL need cleaned up.
NWT steal one more against BC. Looks like game over for BC.
Nice Nichols freeze to a Manitoba rock in the 4-foot. Park is asked to tap back a Manitoba rock in the 12-foot. He moves the NL rock into a more vulnerable position. We now have Manitoba rocks in the front of the 8-foot, front of the 4-foot, and back of the 8-foot, almost lined up vertically. The NL rock sits beside the Manitoba rock at 3 o'clock in the 4-foot. "I think we're in a lot of trouble." Not sure whether that was Gushue or one of his team.
Gushue puts a beauty into the button, slightly open. More GREAT sweeping. Stoughton picks it perfectly. Gushue comes up a little light and wrecks on the front rock. I think this leaves Stoughton with a draw for two. Aha - he is more ambitious - potential for three if he can remove the NL rock. He picks it out - three for Manitoba. 5-1 at the break.
Also at the break, NS are up 4-3 over Ontario, with Ontario having the hammer. I still want a Bill James to sort out whether that is good or bad for Ontario. Surely I do not have to become that Bill James!
End #6: My mind wandered - should not be allowed a break, especially long enough for me to initiate some cooking. Gushue's final rock is a draw for two - and he gets it, though not prettily.
END #7: This was all too complicated for me to describe. So I summarize. Stoughton's first rock is a brilliant hit and roll behind NL cover. Gushue leaves the blank an option. Effected.
Disclosure - I am a long-time Stoughton fan largely because of the resemblance noted by my wife, of him to her former roommate. And then there is the spinning delivery he occasionally does.
END #8: Sorry - was cooking. Stoughton shooting for a hit for three! He gets it. This one is over.
Also - NWT have won over BC.
Manitoba hang on at 6-4. The rest of the day will tell the story.
The younger Howard also defeats NS and is now for sure in the Page 1-2. A giant step. Means tonight's game against Alberta seems rather uninteresting.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Brier - Draw 13

TSN Appears to be featuring NL-NB and featuring the idea that the elder Howard was on Gushue's team for the Olympics! Both teams are still alive. It is a little shocking not thinking of Gushue as a complete kid.
END #1: NB come into the house first and NL miss the first runback attempt. NB come again into the house, just a tad too deep. Nichols tries for a freeze and wrecks on the guard up front. NB put up a nice guard. Gushue gets rid of some rocks but leaves NB with shot. Howard puts a rock behind cover. Gushue ALMOST gets into a perfect position, nipping on Howard rock but leaving Howard a draw for two. Howard comes up short. 1-0 NB.
END #2: Nichols misses a runback, leaving a NB rock in the house though open. Grattan comes up short but reaches the front of the 12-foot. Nichols hits and rolls into cover in the front of the 4-foot. Howard chips it out with a lovely shot and rolls behind a different guard. Gushue essentially sets a rock on the button. Deeper than he wanted. Howard is heavy, leaving Gushue a draw for two. 2-1 NL.
END #3: NB conceded a steal of 1.
END #4: Howard just misses a double on his first rock, in a runback attempt. NL now thinking they can steal a pile. Gushue puts a rock on the button, a little deeper than wanted. Howard is toying with risk-reward. There is a high-risk triple, and a lower-risk, but not trivial draw for one. His team is arguing that they should take the one if they can get it. Howard agrees. Perfect! The sweepers did their job! (One of them I guess I should describe as the TRULY younger Howard.)
END #5: Very messy house with a pile of NB rocks out front. Nichols is asked to shoot 'heavy-hack' and wrecks (the weight was translated as 'light-bumper' - I love sports lingo). Howard glowers at length at the house. He bumps one of his rocks to shot, very nicely. Gushue blasts and NL lie two. Ray says "This is just great curling". Sure seems so to me. Howard hits, but seems to concede the deuce. Which Gushue takes.
Elsewhere I note that Quebec is up 6-3 over Ontario. Ontario are 7-0 but they have twice had to score 3 in the tenth to win. Mind you they did it.
END #6: NB guards line up vulnerably and NL wipe them off the rink. NB miss a freeze to NL rock in the back of the 8-foot. Removed. Freeze missed again. Removed, with the NL rock in the back of the 8-foot. NL have one in the front of the 8-foot, nothing behind the T-line. Grattan's first rock goes through the house. NL put another into the front 8-foot. NB choose the come-around. It sort of does it. Gushue does not quite freeze but parks right in front of the NB rock. Howard doubles away the NL rocks in the 8-foot. Gushue misses a double abd leaves Howard able to hit for two. Perfect. 5-4 NL.
Meanwhile Alberta go to 8-0, and, bafflingly to me, according to TSN, join Ontario in the playoffs for sure now.
Now I am less baffled - Ontario went to 8-0 this morning - I missed that.
END #7: Two NB rocks in the house behind a NB guard. The really younger Howard was calling opposite to Dad. NL shot removes NB rock and demotes the other and sits shot. Open, though. NB wreck on a guard. Nichols removes the remaining NB rock and rolls into cover.
Stunning to think that Gushue and Nichols are in their late 20s. Wow!
NB shot removes one NL rock but leaves the other still under cover. Talk of a pick.
Nichols is heavy and his latest rock is wide open. Howard aggressively freezes to the covered NL rock. Gushue says "I can freeze too", and is shot. Howard says "Hey I can freeze too!!!" trying to force NL to one. Man what sweeping! Those guys are really tired.
Everybody is laughing. Gushue is trying to nuzzle to his shot rock with a delicate draw. It runs away.
This is SO much fun!
END #8: Grattan tapboack leaves a NL rock still shot. Gushue puts a rock over beside his other on the back edge of the 4-foot. Howard's freeze attempt comes short and is open. NL kicks it out and lie three. Howard now has to draw for one against three. Once again, the sweepers bring it in. Dad Howard is sure making son sweeper Howard work!
END #9: Missed it. Sorry - good L&O episode.
END # 10: 8-5 NL. We will be out of rocks soon.
Meanwhile Quebec beat Ontario! We may see them again - Quebec hanging on the edge at 4-4.
OK this one is over. NL have moved into a strong position.
This is going to be a GREAT weekend.


The Brier - Draw #12

I am guessing that any team with 5 losses will not make the playoffs or tiebreakers. Unfortunately that means that every match in this draw has an irrelevant team. So I suspect I will be pretty spotty.
I did note that the two undefeated teams at this point, Alberta and Ontario, meet tomorrow evening. Does anyone know how these schedules are set? It seems very convenient that these two meet in the last round-robin draw.
Anyway - meanwhile, BC lead NS in the 7th end.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hmm - TSN - Draw #10

PEI and Alberta?! I am not sure of my level of commitment.
End #1: There are two guards and ALL the other rocks are in the house! (4 Alberta, 3 PEI.) Morris cleans up marginally - one PEI rock goes out but we still have a crowd. The PEI rock is open and Alberta have a mittful in the house. After first PEI skip rock Alberta lie 4. And at the end Alberta score 5. I think this match is settled.
So does TSN. They have flipped over to Quebec-NS, which is 2-2 after three.
End #6: Freeze upon freeze and Nova Scotia are in nice shape. Score is 4-4. A Quebec runback is brilliant, clearly away all those frozen rocks. Quebec's rock is, however, pretty open. Dacey wrecks on a guard. Quebec clears away some NS rocks and lie one. Dacey leaves a possible double for Menard. Menard makes the double for at least 4! Five. SO this one is over as well.


One End Only

Sorry - I explained this.
Howard and Howard versus Howard. Too attractive for words. I expect to die watching Steven Howard skip for Ontario in the Brier.
Elder Howard sits in the 8-foot. Younger puts up a corner guard in the opposite side. Elder guards his own rock on the other side. Younger clears the house. Elder wrecks on the guard but gets a rock into the edge of the house. That puppy is gone. It is so sweet seeing these two brothers together. They really are similar. Good runback and now the house seems empty. The elder gets a rock behind some guardedness; Hart removes it. Elder brother clears the house - not the plan.
Elder brother almost buries but no quite.
Younger brother has a decent tap-back for 2 and could make 3. It's 3! OK I am off to Russian art music.


Another Bleeping Apology

It's Cathy Gauthier, not Kathy. Sorry, Cathy. You are great!

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Advance Apology

I will likely be able to blog the first end of the historic pairing of two brothers as skips at the Brier as the elder Howard takes on the younger Howard. But I will be gone after that for draw 9, sadly. As an Ontarian, I am invested in both of them (as I was too in Ed Werenich, and, yeah, even Middaugh). But the longevity and persistence makes me feel much more deeply invested.


Monday, March 09, 2009

The Brier : Draw #7

TSN have picked Manitoba-BC. (3-1 vs 1-2 - I am not sure how committed I will be.)
END #1: BC get the first roll on some hit and roll attempts. They now have a rock, with the hammer, tucked in behind guards. Manitoba freeze to it perfectly - front of the 12-foot. BC put a rock inadvertently into the 8-foot, and open. Manitoba plan a freeze again - they are short. Sorry - off preparing food; I too have to eat. Now they ARE frozen onto the rock in the center. BC come up way short, as they apparently did while I was engaged in cooking. Manitoba guarding now like crazy. BC light again!? Manitoba think they are in good shape for a steal of one and throw away their last rock. BC do the same. WEIRD. Manitoba take 1.
END #2: Mostly early misses in this end. BC now have two rocks in the front 8-foot more or less behind a Manitoba guard. One of those is now gone. BC do not get deep enough and Manitoba eyes a double. It almost works - Manitoba lie two, but the BC rock is not gone, lurking in the 12-foot on the left. Front guard is gone - BC wrecked on it. Manitoba come in to fill the house. Exchange of front rocks. BC must draw for a not so easy one. And done very prettily. 1-1 after 2.
END #3: Manitoba have a rock frozen to a BC rock in the 8-foot center behind guards. Now Manitoba have removed the guards. BC put a guard back. Went away again for food prep and am not sure what happened. BC rock at the back of the button with shot rock. Now Manitoba have three rocks lined up in front of it, though. BC toss a rock in to confuse the scene. Manitoba slightly miss a shot - another rock of theirs now around the button. If that one BC rock gets kicked out they are in a real mess. BC put up a guard but leave a hole and Manitoba decide to go for the murderous tap-back. He barely misses and is baffled. There are three Mantioba rocks in front of the BC rock, and Stoughton has a number of paths. BC closes one of them, the one Stoughton just missed through. Stoughton is now coming the other way. Perfect runback for three!
END #4: I got interrupted but Manitoba steal one. 5-1.
END #5: Stoughton clears the house to foil a Manitoba attempt at 2.
This whole draw is looking as if it is playing to form - all of Ontario, NL, Manitoba, and NS have commanding leads at the break. My attention may be selectively brought to bear on play coming up.
END #6: A roller-coaster ride at the end, where at one point there seemed a shot for BC to count 3. The first skip rock is a miss, allowing Stoughton to double away the BC rocks and force BC to take a draw for one. 5-2 Manitoba.
END #7?: Manitoba take 3. BC throw in the towel.
What will we see now? There were no competitive matches at the break.
And they switch to one of the other non-competitive matches - Ontario-PEI - which has unfolded in "I'll take 2, you get 1" repeatedly, with PEI in the second person.
TSN give up on that one and flip to NS-NOnt. I am heading back to Law and Order.
I hope I can cover the evening draw. But I have to get up at 5:30 AM so it might not fly.


The Brier - Draw #6

Unfortunately TSN is highlighting PEI-Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is a very disappointing 0-3 and PEI is probably not too unhappy to be 2-1. I may not follow this too closely. I had really hoped to see Menard-Stoughton, both at 2-1.
End #1: Fairly open end. PEI, with the hammer, blank the end.
END #2: PEI forced to take one. 1-0 PEI.
Ouch - maybe Menard-Stoughton is not so attractive - Manitoba get 3 in the first end.
End #3: PEI's last rock is a perfect hit and roll behind a guard, and it is shot. There is a Saskatchewan rock in the house, sitting second, but the PEI rock cannot be removed. Saskatchewan draw for one.
END #4: Saskatchewan steal one. I missed how.
END #5: Jordison clears two PEI rocks in his last shot, losing the shooter, and PEI throw through the house. End blanked. 2-1 Saskatchewan at the break.
END #6: PEI get their deuce. 3-2 PEI.
Note that this is the first deuce of the match! Kathy Gauthier understands why PEI is happy keeping the game more open but is baffled that Saskatchewan have not been more aggressive, given their greater experience of this caliber of play.
END #7: A steady exchange of rocks, while PEI has one extra rock sitting in the house - neither team seems to get a roll behind the guard. Jordison's first rock goes a bit deep and is open to a PEI hit. PEI's freeze attempt bumps a bit but it leaves Saskatchewan drawing for one. The draw is long but just counts. 3-3.
END #8: The house was getting complicated, and the PEI second clears it of Saskatchewan rocks, leaving two of their own buried. Delicate shot. A Saskatchewan freeze misses and that rock is removed. Saskatchewan's runback attempt misses, but the guard is removed. PEI put a third rock in the rings - they now have rocks in the front of the 12-foot, and 8-foot behind that, and the back of the 12-foot at about 5 o'clock. Saskatchewan get the triple (Wow!!), leaving the shooter. PEI hit and remove it, the shooter lingering out front. Saskatchewan try to tuck in behind, but wreck on the PEI rock, promoting it into the house. PEI hit and roll, but not into the house. Jordison tries to clear out the PEI rocks, but leaves the rock in thee dge of the house there. PEI have a draw for two - need only get into the rings. And do. 5-3 PEI. PEI were lucky that their rock got pushed into the house.
END #9: Saskatchewan miss a key shot, leaving PEI a rock sitting on the button. Kathy Gauthier had a nice line - "Showing some indecision - that's what we have timeouts for". Truer words were rarely said. PEI really do not want a blanked end. They put up a center-line guard, but it is too deep and leaves their rock open. Jordison's tap-back attempt overcurls. PEI try a freeze, come up short, and occupy the front of the 4-foot. Saskatchewan have a possible double for two, and maybe a milder approach - it is close but it seems they have shot rock. They choose to draw for two. Jordison's draw percentage today is pretty bad. He wrecks on a guard. Saskatchewan take one. PEI go to ten with the hammer and a 5-4 lead.
END #10: Interesting draw. NB win their match over NS so the elder Howard goes to 2-2. Jordison's first rock is a draw to the button, slightly protected by a front guard and a PEI rock in the 8-foot. MacDonald misses his hit. Jordison tosses up a guard. PEI decide to "do no harm" as a primary goal. They miss badly. Steal of one for Saskatchewan. Extra end!
END #11: There is a center guard, nothing in the house. Saskatchewan draw to the front 8-foot behind the guard. PEI clear the guard. Sask put up a guard and PEI clear it. Another guard up. And cleared. And put up again. And cleared. And put up yet again. MacDonald decides to draw with his first rock. He edges the button, is shot, but is somewhat open. But he now knows the path in. Saskatchewan want to close that path with a tap-back on the freshly delivered rock, forcing MacDonald to try the other side of the ice. The shot is dead perfect. MacDonald tries the other side - it goes just a bit too far and Saskatchewan pulls this one off with back to back steals.
Much more exciting than I had expected.
Meanwhile Martin and Stoughton have also won in the draw. And, as mentioned before, the elder Howard.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Brier - Draw #4

TSN is featuring NS (Dacey) vs. NWT (Koe).
End #1: NS have a rock buried at the back of the button behind three front guards on and near the center line. Koe removes one of them with a shot meant to take out more. Unfortunately this gives Dacey a path into the house, which he did not have before. They go to the top of the 8-foot behind the remaining guards. They seem amazed by the curl of the ice but adapted nicely. Koe draws against two. He is too heavy and NS steal two.
END #2: Sorry - there is also golf and a soap opera on. NS have a rock in the front of the 8-foot behind cover. NWT tap that NS rock and sit somewhat open in the 8-foot. NS wreck on the guard, clearing it. Koe removes the NS rock from the house but is open now to a double. Dacey blasts everything out of sight. There are still front guards on the left for Koe to exploit. He puts a rock in the middle of the 8-foot behind cover. Dacey runs back a NS guard, but the NWT rock jams. Koe can draw now for two. The sweepers drag it into the house! 2-2 after 2.
END #3: Dacey has to draw against five and does. 3-2 NS after three ends.
END #4: NWT get two. No idea how - I was watching a Hugh Grant movie on another channel.
END #5: And heading back to the movie.
Meanwhile the younger Howard takes at least two against Northern Ontario. Wow - 4, to lead 7-2.
NWT freeze to a NS rock in the button - rock is slightly exposed. Dacey chips it out and is counting 2, maybe 3. Dacey wrecks on a guard and NWT steal 1, leading 5-3 at the break.
END #6: Blanked. Missed it.
END #7: Pile-up in the house leaves Dacy only a crazy in-off. Close but no cigar. NWT steal one, maybe. It needs a measure. NWT do steal one.
END #8: Dacey draws for one against a handful of NWT rocks and gets the one. 6-4 NWT.
END #9: NWT take 2 and NS throw in the towel.
TSN switches over to Manitoba-PEI. Stoughton is decidedly NOT in command of this match. If Stoughton wants the needed two to tie in the ninth, he must make a very tricky double. Seems he will try it. He makes it! PEI take the hammer to the tenth with the screw 5-5.
Pretty dramatic ending of this match. Manitoba puts a rock in the 8-foot, which did not curl as they hoped. PEI make a very tough hit and more or less stick to win.

The Brier - Draw #3

Hoping TSN will feature Alberta-Quebec.
Yes! That is what we get.
END #1: Joining at the end, as I was caught up in Stephanooulos, especially since he had Cokie Roberts on the panel. Menard makes a stunning double through a tiny port. Martin has to draw, very nicely, for 1. Quebec should be very happy.
END #2: Missed.
END #3: Missed - we are into the 4th end 2-2.
END #4: Freeze upon freeze upon freeze - both teams close to perfect in that phase. Very hard to describe. To quote Martin, "Ours aren't welded on his, his are welded on ours." Morris clears a front guard and pops a couple of the rocks into less threatening positions, making Alberta shot in the end. Quebec misses on an attempt to sit in the house - mini wreck on a front guard, leaving Alberta more chances to clean up. Morris falls short, promoting Quebec to shot rock. Again, from Martin, "It's kind of skeet shooting right now", referring to learning the ice. Quebec are skeet shooting too and leave Alberta a very nice opportunity to fill the house with their rocks. Martin does OK and lies 2. Still lots of Quebec and Alberta rocks in the house. "le Boom-Boom". Love that bit of Quebec French. Menard misses but puts another rock into the complication. Martin tries to configure things to rule out a two from Quebec; very nice! Alberta lie three. Menard seems a bit baffled. He will draw for one, on the side of the house nobody has played to this end. And he makes it!
Meanwhile the elder Howard steals two against Saskatchewan and now leads 4-2.
END #5: Kathy Gauthier thinks there is serious uncertainty about weight - we had a hog-line, and rock that came up WAY short. Skip rocks now to come, Alberta sittwo, all behind some cover, with a Quebec rock lying third. Plan is to run back a Quebec center line guard. It sort of works, and Alberta now lie one, exposed. Martin notes that this is his first draw! It comes as needed into the eight-foot, but is open. Menard misses a freeze and leaves Alberta an easy hit for three. Which he makes perfectly. 5-3 Alberta.
END #6: Wandered off for a bit. Nice weather. Back to find Alberta lying 6, some pretty well protected. Menard uses his first rock to try to open up the front of the house, but Alberta still has a rock up front and Martin has a rock to throw too.
Did Kathy Gauthier just refer to "the draw to the Tim Horton's button"? I am grateful to Tim for the sponsorship but that seems to go too far, even to get the morning draws televised.
Martin puts a rock up front. Quebec can really only limit damages. He holds the steal to one.
I may just check in intermittently now as this seems somewhat settled.
And so it was with Alberta winning in the end. You cannot give Martin three in an end and hope to prevail. The elder Howard also won his match.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Brier - Draw #2

Not sure how long I will last here but I am game at the moment.
Have TSN picked Howard (Jr)- Gushue? This could be fun! That should keep me awake!
END #1: Ontario guard up front, ON rock in the house behind it. Second center-line guard closes the house. ON rock in the 12-foot out to the side. Lang cleans up a ton with one shot! OK I missed some exchanges - there is an open ON rock but some ON guards in front.
Nichols (NL) comes up a bit short.
The Howard team seem to learn and place a rock in the front of the 4-foot.
Gushue xrops one on the button!
(BTW this is aggressive brushing the women could not do.)
Howard comes up a tad short - NL might get in for two.
And they do with s great draw! 2-0 NL.
END #2: Police showed up at my door!
2-2 now.
END #3: Done for the night.
In the end Ontario win by way of some major misses from NL in the last end.

Doc Picks Martin

So I pick a Howard.
I see no reason right now to be more specific.

The Brier! Live-blogging Draw #1

This is too good! I was going to say it would be the best men's tournament this year, but I had forgotten that this is a year for Olympic qualifying, and that tournament does not suffer the geographic restrictions of the Brier. It will be the best, but this will be dandy!
I am hoping TSN will follow Alberta - N.B. - that would be Martin, Kevin and the elder Howard, Russ. And TSN does the right thing.
END #1: NB go to the back of the 8-foot and Alberta toss up a corner guard. Second NB shot is in the front of the 8-foot, cleared. NB clear the previous shooter and sit out at 3 o'clock. Alberta clear that rock and the shooter. NB clear the corner guard but jam on their own, and Albert put a rock in at 3 o'clock and sit two, the other on the center on the back of the 8-foot. After Morris' first rock, Alberta now have a rock at 2 o'clock and back of the 8-foot on the center. The next exchange moves Alberta's 2-o'clock rock to 1 o'clock - decent chance now of a double. Just missed. House contains only the Martin rock in the back. Only very aggressive brushing brings Martin's first rock into the edge of the house at about 2 o'clock. Howard whiffs totally despite much loud screaming. Martin draws to the 4-foot for three. Don't expect the same level of detail from me for a while!
END #2: Pretty exciting. In the end Martin's team out-draw Howard's in a freezing battle and in putting up guards. NB just get 1. 3-1 Alberta with the hammer.
END #3: I missed the first few shots but NB now REALLY need to do something as Alberta are already counting 3. NB wreck on one of their own front guards and now it is a real mess.
Howard does make agood shot to cut the damage. Martin comes up short. Howard challenges Martin with a rock to the button, got there by aggressive sweeping. Martin's tap-back is perfect for 2. Alberta 5-1, NB have the hammer.
END #4: Some slightly unlucky NB shots but Alberta remain in command. They have made some mistakes here too but are in a situation quite tolerant of that. BIG miss from Alberta - maybe NB can get 3 back. But much of the end to go. NB largely lose their shooter. Martin does not achive quite what he wanted, rolling the wrong way. Howard does not get over to the edge for his freeze. Martin hits to leave NB 2. They get it. 5-3 Alberta with the hammer.
END #5: Meanwhile the other scores are close except that NWT/YT are headed for oblivion fast.
Morris, late in the end, comes up short. It is amusing watching the teams play against shots that would be left to women's teams. Howard's first shot rolls just a tadtoo much. Martin leaves Howard some options. He comes up short and is now guarding an Alberta rock in the house. The Alberta rock picks - Alberta take 1. 6-3 Alberta after 5.
END #6: NB take one.
END #7: Seconod Alberta rock wrecks on a NB guard - we have a NB guard at 12:30 and two Alberta rocks at 11. NB clear the Alberta rocks but end up in the 4-foot. Alberta clear the guard and the shooter. NB toss up another guard near the center-line. Peeled. NB almost freeze to the Alberta rock now. Alberta empty the house. No rocks in play now at all. Despite an almost-miss from Martin the end remains open. Blanked.
END #8: After first, NB have two center-line guards and Alberta two rocks behind them in the front of the house. NB come up short freezing to one of the Alberta rocks. Alberta peel all the guards and clear the shooter.
(On the side PEI win over NWT/YT.)
Heading for a blank. And blanked.
END #9: NB has two center guards, Alberta a pair of rocks in the in the front of the house behind them. NB wreck on a front guard. Alberta clear a guard but leave two others up. NB put a rock behind their guards and in front of the Alberta rocks. Alberta clear both guards and leave the shooter somewhat off the center-line. NB miss an attempt to sneak in on top of the Alberta rocks in the house. Double coming! (I would never say this if this were the women.) Double executed! NB is heavy on a freeze to the Alberta rocks in the house and spin away. Alberta clean that rock away and lose the shooter. Still an Alberta rock in the four-foot, not quite protected by an Alberta rock out front. Howard gets a nice hit and roll , removing the Alberta rock and sitting behind the guard. Martin peels the guard. Howard puts up an unconvincing guard. Martin draws to the button! (Did I really write that?!) Alberta take another one.
END #10: (Meanwhile, Manitoba, Stoughton, claim a win over NS, Dacey.) This end is proving what you would expect. Will interrupt if a surprise occurs. It does not.
The whole thing really over after the first end. NB should feel ebcouraged, though.