Sunday, April 19, 2009

Capital One Grey Power Men's Final Second Half

Capital One guy tells Scott Russell that they are in for next year. Good news for all of us.

Next - Kevin Martin explains why he did not win the World's. I sure hope they put this online as his discussion is quite good. "All the power to David, he made a perfect shot."

END #5: It just dawned on me you might be someone who can find this blog but not the tournament site or news sites. So, just so you know, there was a women's tournament too and Jennifer Jones won it 9-7 from Shannon Kleibrink.

Mike Harris asks an interesting question about the scoring of shots. What if you as skip decided on a stupid shot and make it perfectly? How should it be scored?

Anyway Ferbey and Hart compete on getting a rock buried in the house. Ferbey does OK but Howard can see a lot and pops it away. Nedohin clears it, and rolls behind the Howard guard at the front. Howard plans a tap-back - very nice, but leaving Nedohin a pretty easy hit to blank. Which he JUST achieves.

END #6: Getting to be a complicated house but the most important comment from Mike and Joan is the observation that when Glenn Howard may call a shot, he is ready to be overruled by his team. And on the nIt's at about 3:30 on the edge of the 4-foot, and half-open. Next shot, the Ferbey team does a consultation as well. Anyway after all this Hart doubles all the Ferbey rocks out of the house, leaving Team Howard counting three. Ferbey nose-hits a Howard rock - not as wished. Hart hits the Ferbey rock and rolls into mild cover. Ferbey hits and rolls to about 9 o'clock in the twelve-foot, largely open. Howard nose-hits. Ferbey decides to draw around a Howard rock in the front - undercurls and comes a bit deep, according to Joan because of undercurling. Ontario freeze to it but with an angle and Ferbey has a draw for two. Sweepers make it. 7-5 Ferbey!

END #7: Much chatter about the growth of quality of curling but really, there is NOT enough money in this sport, as far as I can see, to maintain the current level. I guess we will see.

Even the big bonus for winning the Capital One series, as Howard will do, is only $50K. Divided among four (five? six?). Maybe now someone else pays their expenses. 7-all, Ferbey with the hammer, into the eighth.

END #8: Roque's move-aside is heavy so the Howard guard gets restored. Howard second guard leaves a double-peel wide open. Next tick shot leaves a guard in place. The perversity of funny rules! Howard goes to the button. Peeled. Back to the button. a bit better buried. Front guard is peeled. Howard tosses up another pretty good guard. Peel called. Made, but leaving the rock in the house, and actually I would guess it was the run-back they wanted. Guard replaced. Ferbey comes in but the shooter angles away. Howard comes in behind the guard. Nedohin does a perfect tap. Howard has to come sit on it and poke it back not far. Howard sits in the front of the four-foot. Nedohin is just fine. We'll see Ferbey in December!

Really a fine match. Fun to watch and it is SO nice to see them back.

Capital One Grey Power Men's Final - Early ends

It's the Ferbey rink (nice to see them again, after they beat Martin in the semi-final) against the younger Howard.
END #1: With a possible but high risk double available for two, Ferbey directs nedohin to play the draw for one, which is perfect. 1-0 Ferbey.

It feels a bit odd watching curling again on the CBC.

I am not sure what this "Grey Power" thing is. I hope to find out.

END #2: Ferbey loses the shooter on a double and lets Hart draw into the front of the house. Sorry - cannot really see the computer screen in the sun. Things will improve. Team Howard put a nice rock into the front of the house and sit two. Nedohin punches out a Howard rock and rolls into the middle. Howard hits and rolls ff the center, as planned. Nedohin nose hits, leaving Howard a hit and stick for two. An invitation he accepts. 2-1 Howard.

There are some things at stake in this match. If the Ferbey rink win, they have a pass into the Olympic Tirals tournament. If they lose , the Middaugh rink gets that slot. There's a lso bonus money in the Capital One series at issue. Seems Howard has the 50K for first lined up but Ferbey could take second over Kevin Martin.

END #3: The CBC broadcast crew do not fully at ease, but we are getting a lot of the team chat about next shots, which is really good. There is a pile of Ferbey rocks in the house, and Howard's only defence looks as if it can get whacked. This could be a major mess of an end - Mike Harris suggests Howard would be happy to lose 3 in this end. Hart hits and rolls into the four-foot to join the other gazillion rocks there. Ferbey adds another rock to the "What a mess". Howard tries a super high risk shot - too complicated to describe. It "is as good as he could have made that shot", says Joan McCusker, tucking a rock into shelter. Nedohin overcurls and there is some cursing on the microphones; team Howard are now joking about a steal. Team Howard are serious and plan a shot Joan McCusker really does not like. First comment on this shot is "Ah no". Some major whack is coming, and nobody is sure whether it will be three or five for Ferbey. Nedohin does his job and Ferbey's rink score four. Wow!

Aha! Grey Power is auto insurance for older coots like me. Maybe it is their ad with the screaming lady in the intersection.

END #4: Howard comes too deep, leaving Nedohin a double he just misses. Draw for three for Howard. MAJOR MAJOR brushing gets it there. 5-5 halfway (it's and eight-end match).

Monday, April 13, 2009

Scotland Deservedly Win the Worlds

I finally saw the end of the Canada-Scotland final during the wee hours, having sensibly and needfully fallen asleep during the match. Canada had a tie and the hammer in the tenth. It looked as if Canada had finally solved the Scotland problem. When Morris missed a double-peel of guards (he got a single peel), the Scots got to create a monstrously complex house, to the point that Martin actually threw away his first rock.
As Martin was heading to the hack for the final rock of the tournament, one of his front end muttered something like "I don't like this". He was right. Martin came nowhere close to doing the cleansing operation on the house that was needed.
Congratulations to the Scottish team. They beat what I still think an amazing rink three times in a row! Nobody can even contemplate begrudging them this championship.
Moreover, not a single one of those wins was easy - when the going got tough, they kept going!


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Men's World's Semi-Final, Canada versus Switzerland

After 10 straight wins, Canada's Martin rink ran into a Scottish steel wall twice in a row, most crucially in the Page 1-2 Playoff. Martin never looked comfortable with either broom (target) placement or weight calls, and it showed. Mind you, both matches were close.
As a result, Canada was relegated to the Page Semi-Final against Switzerland (coached by Russ Howard), who scraped out a win against Norway (to my disappointment) this morning.
Canada seem very comfortable with the ice tonight and lead comfortably late in the match - in fact, leading 6-1 after 7.
I might have live-blogged, but once again, as happens every year, I find myself on the weekend of the World's channel-hopping with the Masters Golf Tournament. And those azaleas are much nicer to look at than yet more ice!
Switzerland get two. Canada go into the 9th leading 6-3 with the hammer. The Swiss have made great shots, so I am not counting this in the win column yet - I will update.
UPDATE: John Morris looks so wonderfully vulpine as he delivers his rocks - the sort of concentration I can see as the pack pursues its target.
Switzerland steal one in nine as Martin whiffs on his last rock - 6-4 Canada with the hammer.
ANOTHER UPDATE: The match this morning featured something I have never seen and it seemed nobody was sure of the rules. Norway and Switzerland had rocks that needed to be measured, and the person who measured initially announced that she could not distinguish their distances from the button, and so there was a tie, and so there was some outcome. I was not following completely. The Swiss team objected, insisting that the rule requires two umpires to make a determination. I do not recall how it came out, but in the end the Swiss could not really fret about it. On the other hand, I liked the Swiss player making the objection - he said, "Look, giving it to Norway would have been all right but you have to make a choice." I wonder how much national and international rules differ on this.
UPDATE: 10th End. No hint of what became of the lead rocks. Typical TSN. Snarl. Kennedy kills all the Swiss rocks potentially in sight - shooter vaguely around but not really relevant. Sorry - it actually is up there. Swiss put up a guard. Kennedy kills his previous shooter, almost coming near the Swiss guard. Now the Swiss have guards on either side of center. That one is cleared. Swiss try a come-around but "oh-oh" in Schweizerdeutsch is about the same as in Canadian. Morris removes the remaining guard - Swiss have one rock at 7 o'clock around 12-foot. Swiss put a rock at 3 o'clock at the edge of the 8-foot. Martin kills the 7 o'clock rock and hangs on the edge of the house. Last Swiss rock goes to about 9 o'clock at the edge of the 8-foot. Martin need only remove one of the rocks. Here it comes! He kills the 3 o'clock so we get one more nail-biter with Scotland! Canada wins 6-5.
Can it REALLY be the first time ever we have had the two same skips playing for the World's final in consecutive years? What an amazing observation.


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Magic. Ugly Magic

Scotland defeated Canada in 11 ends in the final game of the round robin. But that's not what this posting is about.

Here's the magic: the minute the tape-delayed telecast on TSN showed that Scotland won, CurlCast was magically restored to show us the details of all the evening's games. That development is consistent with my theory that TSN blocked CurlCast from providing the data on the internet for those of us who wanted to follow things live.

And here's the ugly magic: There will be two tie-breaks tomorrow. And TSN will NOT be showing either of them. TSN, which has two channels, will not be showing them.

And even uglier magic? Tonight, TSN opted to show a replay of the Masters's golf tournament on TSN2 rather than show live curling. What are they showing tomorrow instead of showing the curling tie-breaks?

Addendum: Actually, TSN has very misleading information on its site:
TSN may occasionally need to tape-delay some games, as has always been the case when programming conflicts occur. In this instance, TSN will now be in a position to offer the live game on TSN2 while still broadcasting that game on a tape-delayed basis on the main TSN network.
As Johnny Dangerously would say, "lying bastidges."
  1. There's not much of a "programming conflict" in my mind between live curling vs. a rerun of golf that had just been on the main TSN channel.
  2. They did not carry draw 17 live on TSN2, despite what they say on their website.
Chumps. Yes, they were in a position to offer it. But they didn't.

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Did TSN Place an Embargo on CurlCast and Other Sites?

So here we are. Ms. Eclectic and I enjoying a pizza and watching the curling on TSN. I keep peeking ahead to see what happened in real time by looking at the scores and stats on CurlCast. Here's what I see:

Holy Cow, Scotland scored three in the eighth. And then Canada took only one in the ninth to trail without the hammer. And then Canada stole one to tie it up in 10th and go to an extra end. And then..... and then.....


CurlCast goes blank. So does Season of Champions. So does the Canadian Curling Association site.

We saw that the US stole four in the 10th to beat France and guarantee themselves a spot in the playoffs.
But what happened with Germany? They were in a close match. What happened with Switzerland? They, too, were in a close match.

But, nope. Suddenly at CurlCast it says "Data unavailable for this draw". Of course that is utter nonsense. The data are available. They're just not providing them.

I think this is what happened: TSN went to CurlCast and the other websites and said something like, "We have an exclusive contract to broadcast this tournament and you are broadcasting. You must cease and desist."

I'm pretty cheesed off. thanks for nothing, TSN!

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The Winnowing Continues

Switzerland and Scotland have won in the last afternoon draw. One clear outcome is that 5 losses is the most that can lead to past-round-robin play.
Moreover, Scotland is into the playoffs, joining Canada and Norway.
Outlook for others?
The Swiss at 6-4 play China tonight. The USA look headed to a big win this afternoon and will end up at 6-4, playing France tonight.
Germany are also still in, locked in a tough match with Norway. They play Japan tonight and will be 6-4 if they win.
There are still a lot of possible outcomes.
I am sorry it will be tape delay this evening.

UPDATE: Norway finish at 7-4. Scotland are at 7-3 playing tonight against Canada. Does Martin care about beating them? Probably.
USA, Germany, and Switzerland are at 6-4, all playing teams tonight that are now at best spoilers.
I'll be watch CurlCAST and the golf!

The Final Day of the Round Robin at the 2009 Ford Men's Worlds

This morning, Canada defeated Denmark to extend its record to 10W and no losses. I thought Canada didn't curl quite as well as their 91% scoring indicated, but they still looked mighty good.

We will not see any curling this afternoon on TSN. Tonight Canada plays Scotland. Our impression is that the game will be on a one-hour tape delay because TSN is showing hockey and golf. If so, it is unlikely we will be live-blogging that last draw of the round-robin.

And starting tomorrow, I'll be on the road and won't be able to do much; also, with The Masters occurring, there will likely be conflicted interests to divert our attention.

And, quite frankly, the way Canada has been playing, it would be (note the subjunctive mood here) a tremendous upset if Canada were not the winner. To the best of my recollection, in the past twenty-five years of watching curling, I don't think I have ever seen a curling team as good as the present Martin rink.


Draw 15, Conclusion? (live-blogging)

Canada is in good shape but really cannot relax against the Danes, who aside from the first end have done pretty well.

End #9: Kennedy peels two long Danish guards. Excellent shot. Jensen puts up another long guard, which Kennedy peels. It seems a little premature for Morris to be goofing around with those funny-looking pink glasses. Is he always so inappropriate? I'm still impressed that Martin is able to integrate Morris into the team and keep him reasonably in check.

With his second stone, Schmidt glances off the Danish stone in the rings and is open at the back 8'. Morris hits and sticks. Denmark tap-freezes into a crotch of Cdn stones. Martin draws to the top 8'. With his last rock, Fredriksen slams into the cluster to knock some Cdn rocks back and to have shot rock. Martin has a tough nose hit with some ancillary action to score two (or was it three?? Schmidt had his foot on a Cdn stone before the rocks were done moving!) and Denmark concedes. Canada 10, Denmark 4.


Draw 15, Ends 7 and 8; Live-blogging

End #7: Without that four in the first end for Canada, this would be a pretty close game. Canada starts with three clustered in the rings, top 4', and Denmark has a corner guard. Den taps out one Cdn stone, but Kennedy removes the Den rock as well as one Cdn stone. Jensen taps back one Cdn stone onto the other so both Cdn stones are back 4'. Morris picks Jensen's stone off the top 4'.

Schmidt draws top 4'. Morris picks it. Schmidt tries again, but is light again. Martin picks it, but also removes one of the two Cdn rocks in the back 4'. Now Denmark has a corner guard and Canada has one rock in the back 4'. That's it. Fredriksen freezes to the Cdn rock which strikes me as an odd strategy. Odder still, instead of freezing to that stone, Martin crams the freeze out, leaving one Cdn rock in the rings. Fredriksen peels and blanks the end.
Canada 8, Denmark 3

End #8:
Two in the rings for each team. Kennedy runs one Cdn rock back to remove one of each and keep his shooter. He's disappointed with the shot. Denmark draws about 4" too deep; Canada lies two. Morris executes a short double-raise tap and roll to get rid of one Den rock and lie two, but both are behind the t-line. Schmidt freezes to them, but isn't quite shot rock.

Morris throws up weight to remove one Den, one Cdn, and lose the shooter, leavin two Cdn rocks and one Den rock in the rings. Schmidt looked at a double attempt but tapped the Cdn rock off the button. However the rocks are lined up for Martin to slam into them so both Den rocks roll out and his shooter rolls behind a Cdn guard. Fredriksen doesn't have much, facing three, makes a nose hit (which he wanted) to be second shot. Canada is shot and third shot.

Martin opts to draw to the back four, lying two. The only shot left for Denmark is to hit and stick for one.
Canada 8, Denmark 4


Draw 15, Ends 5 and 6; Live-blogging

End #5: Canada starts with one in top 4' and one in the top 8'; Denmark with a corner guard, then a weak tap on the top Cdn stone. Kennedy removes the Den rock in the rings with a very good hit-roll to the side of the rings, lying three.

Jensen tries a double, but gets only one, leaving shooter top 8'. Kennedy removes it and rolls a foot. Jensen hits-rolls on Cdn shot rock, but is mostly open. Morris hits it but is wide open. At this point Canada has 3 in the rings and Denmark has a corner guard. Schmidt noses it and is also open. Morris hits and rolls a bit away from the other Cdn stones, but is still wide open. Schmidt tries to hit-roll behind the Den corner guard, but didn't roll enough. Martin hits it, but rolls out; blames it on the stone, but I thought he was a bit narrow with the shot.

Fredriksen draws, but doesn't curl enough; is wide open on the button. Martin hits, and now Fredriksen must hit and stick to save one.
Canada 6, Denmark 3 at the break.

End #6: All rocks in play after the leads' stones. Nice hit and roll by Jensen to end up behind a centre-line guard. Kennedy peels the guard, and Jensen replaces it. Kennedy and team convince Martin to let him try a run-back double, but he gets only one, leaving a centre-line guard and two Den rocks in the rings.

Schmidt hits the only remaining Cdn rock in the rings and rolls behind a Danish stone. Den lies three with a Cdn rock out as a centre-line guard. Morris's freeze attempt is a tad outside and exposed; Schmidt tries to tap it back but is outside, leaving Canada as shot rock. Morris draws to the the top of the button; Canada lies two.

Fredriksen tries a tap back but rubs slightly on a guard, taps the Cdn shot rock but not enough, and so Canada is still lying two. Martin worries that if Denmark can make a run-back double, they'd lie five, so he mixes up the rocks on the button a bit. However he nudges the Den rock into 2nd shot position. Fredriksen guards, but Martin has a tap-tap to score two. A bit harder and he'd have scored three.
Canada 8, Denmark 3


Draw 15, Ends 3 and 4; Live-blogging

End #3: Canada starts with a rock on the top button and another frozen to it. Denmark has a tight corner guard. Poulsen knocks off the rock at the button, Kennedy removes Poulsen's rock to lie two. Jensen draws up short of the Cdn rocks in the rings, so Kennedy peels the Den corner guard. Jensen's second shot is light and overcurls, lying to the side of the 12', short of the stones in the house. Morris takes out that stone but nudges the other Den stone up frozen against the Cdn shot stone at the top of the button.

Schmidt freezes to his own stone. Canada still has shot rock, but Denmark has pretty good position at this point. Morris throws up weight, removes all the Cdn rocks and moves the Dane rocks apart from each other and to the side of the rings. Schmidt draws to the back 4', and Martin tries a double, but gets only one. Denmark lies two. Strange call: Fredriksen peels the front Cdn rock. Martin tries a hit and roll but loses the shooter. Fredriksen draws for two. Nice save of the end.
Canada 5, Denmark 2

End #4:
Two Den guards short of the rings, and two Cdn rocks near the centre in the rings. Den runs one guard back and removes one Cdn rock. Kennedy hits and sticks of the resulting Denmark rock in the rings. Jensen hits that stone and rolls out of the rings. Kennedy draws to the top 8', leaving a possible double, which Schmidt makes. Denmark has one on the top 8' and a bunch of guards on the right of centre. Morris hits and rolls over sort of behind the guards. Schmidt throws a neato double raise takeout, but it opens up the rings. Morris hits and sticks for one. Fredriksen tries a hit-roll to get behind a guard and almost makes it. Martin has tough draw to try to set up a deuce, but it's wide open. Fredriksen makes an excellent hit and roll to lie two and to force Martin to draw for only one.
Canada 6, Denmark 2


Draw 15: Live-blogging Canada vs. Denmark

Canada, undefeated, takes on Denmark (6-3) in this draw. Denmark has been good so far in the round robin, but has had some spottiness and lapses. This draw will not likely be a walk-over for Canada.

End #1: Denmark is using its spare (Poulsen) at lead; he's deep with his first and short with his second rock, and Hebert for Canada has a corner guard and a draw around a long centre guard. Jensen (DEN 2nd) tried a come-around freeze, but wrecked on the guard, and Kennedy drew into the rings. Canada lies three.

Denmark's skip (Schmidt) throws 3rd stones. Hits and sticks, then hits and rolls into the open. Morris hits and sticks twice. If Denmark hits and rolls right, they can put some pressure on Canada. Fredriksen (skip stone) hits and rolls out. Martin draws around a tight guard to the top 4'. The final Danish stone was a double attempt and would have wrecked on the guard, but was burned with the lead's left foot. Martin draws for 4. Canada 4, Denmark 1.

End #2:
There are probably two reasons that Denmark replaced the lead for today. Their regular lead has the lowest curling percentage of all the leads; and apparently Denmark's win yesterday qualified them for Olympics, so they can shake things up a bit for now. And of course we missed all the leads' stones. Kennedy tries to hit and roll behind two Canadian guards, one in the rings and one tight to the rings, but his shot is exposed a bit. Jensen picks it out but is wide open himself. Morris hits it and over-rolls to the outside wide open. As the Danes discuss their shot, we see Martin watching action on other sheets. Given his play, I suspect he is studying, not just spectating. It is hard NOT to have phenomenal respect for Martin's abilities and knowledge.

Schmidt's first stone is a perfect draw around the corner guard, but it is a bit light, leaving Canada lying two. Morris chips out the DEN stone and rolls to the centre behind the two other Cdn stones. Wow, what a shot. Schmidt tries to double and save his shooter, but instead just peels the tight guard. Martin puts up a long guard. Fredriksen draws, but slips to the back 4', leaving Canada with shot rockso Martin puts up a guard, which makes it harder for Fredriksen to draw to get shot. Fredriksen tries an angle raise but overcurls; steal of one for Canada.
Canada 5, Denmark 0


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Canada Clinches #1 Spot in the Round Robin

After 14 draws at the 2009 Men's World Curling Championships, Canada has a record of 9W and 0L. The next closest teams are Scotland and Norway with 6W and 3L each. Since each team has only two games remaining in the round robin, even if Canada loses its last two games, it will still have the best record of the bunch. The imp entire team has performed magnificently so far. They are one of the most impressive curling teams I have ever seen.

On Thursday, Canada faces Denmark at 9am. I will try to live-blog that game for those readers who enjoy our summaries and rants. And then Canada faces Scotland at 6:30pm (both times EDT), and we are hoping that one of us will be able to live-blog that game as well, but more likely than not we will be sufficiently bent out of shape because the game is being broadcast on tape delay by TSN that we will give it a miss. We'll see.


No Live-Blogging during a tape-delay

As Alan says, it doesn't make much sense to live-blog a draw when it isn't being shown live. So just why is it on half-hour tape delay??

Nevertheless, judging from the CurlCast data, I gotta try to see the fourth end!

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Ford World's - Draw 13


This is seriously on tape delay so I cannot in any honesty "live-blog" it. And won't.

But I DID notice on CurlCAST that the US stole two in the opening end. It was pretty funny - their highest ambition appeared to have been stealing one but Martin decided to go nuts and gave them two. In any case Martin has taken two in the second and the USA one in the third.

For further information try CurlCAST.

That Kevin Martin Rink - Wow

I have been a curling fan for many years, and got to see the early days of Kevin Martin's prominence in the sport. I did not much care for him then, as he ragged his opponents and his teammates and had a rather one-dimensional, I thought, albeit somewhat effective game.
But today's incarnation of Kevin Martin I find quite delightful - I suspect because both of us have changed over time.
But he has changed the more radically. While not losing the intensity (he was complaining about the other team members yesterday over one shot, though the team won handily), he has created a team that is clearly just full of mutual respect. That is enjoyable to watch. I do not know the whole story of how he built this team, but enlisting John Morris (himself a pretty good skip!) as a third must have been a major enterprise for both of them. So just on a personal basis he made great changes. There is no way John Morris could have worked with that young Kevin Martin.
And his game has changed. He has become someone who can out-Howard Howards!
Watching his rink at the Brier this and last year and now at the World's astonishes me. I so wish this sport were broader-based, as I think we would then REALLY see how good these guys are.
So let me bow and say "I am not worthy".

Draw #12: End 6 and ?

Note: This afternoon's game between Canada and the USA is at 2:30 EDT, not 2pm as it says on CurlCast.

So what on earth happened? Hebert is throwing second rocks for Canada, but of course we didn't see who is throwing the lead stones. I assume it's Meek. No explanation, but I assume they're rotating him in for different players. Morris draws to the 4' so Canada lies 3. Finland has a centre guard in the top 4'. The Fin vice hits, takes out only one, and over-rolls out to the 12'. Martin takes it out. Kiiskinen wrecked on their guard in the 4' but is overlapping it so it will be difficult to use either one of them. Martin is lying two and puts up a guard. It's not a great guard as there is still a sizable (for pros) port to go through for a Finnish tap up. But Kiiskinen tries a raise double through the port doesn't make it past the guard, giving up a steal of one. Finland concedes. Canada 12, Finland 4. To be honest, I thought Canada stole two that end, but I guess nobody really cared.

I might be able to cover a portion of this afternoon's game between Canada and the USA, but probably only the first half. Remember it doesn't start until 2:30 EDT.


Draw #12: Ends 4 and 5

End #4: Once again, we join the game in progress after having little idea what happened with the first four shots. The TSN announcers are convinced that Finland just hasn't figured out the ice the way Martin has. I expect poorer ability (aka execution) plays a more important role. Come on folks, it's not just experience and ice-reading. Ability to make the precise shot is something that really distinguishes this Martin rink from the other teams. Note that Morris's first shot overcurled and his second shot undercurled. hmmmm.

Martin's first attempt to draw around the centre guard is half exposed ("lost its handle" according to Martin, but it was still spinning a bit as I saw it). Kiiskinen tapped it back to lie one, but Martin can pick out the shot rock to lie two. Oops, threw it a bit inside ("curled like a banshee" says Martin). Ray says, "There goes 100% for today" referring to Martin's sterling performance against Norway yesterday. Finland still lies one and draws for two. Canada 7, Finland 4.

Linda notes that this is the first time Canada has given up as many as four points to ANYONE! Did I hear that right? [update: I must have misheard. Canada gave up four to Japan, China, and Germany, but never gave up more than four points that I could see.]

End #5: Finland tries to come around the centre guard but is half exposed; Canada has a rock in the back 8 and taps the Fin rock out. Finland tries to tap out the Cdn rock, but flashes. Martin spends some more time watching play on other sheets. After a few more shots, Canada lies four with the hammer and Finland has just an off-centre-line guard. The major hope for Finland in this end to try to freeze to one of the Cdn stones (preferably the shot stone), but if it isn't perfect freeze, Martin will pick it out. So Kiiskinen opts instead to try for a double, but gets only one. So Martin freezes to his own, followed by a fascinating conversation about which rocks do what. Apparently there are more than minor differences in how the rocks interact with different types of ice. Finland tries a tap-freeze to try to hold Canada to just one, but is heavy and bounces away, leaving Martin with a hit for four. Canada 11, Finland 4.


Curling Demographics

Who do they think we fans are? Doc makes a reference to this in another context.
I will now document who advertises between the second and third end of draw 12.

  1. Ford Flex (soccer mom ad)
  2. Rocks and Rings (a Capital One ad much less objectionable than the stupid one with Jennifer Jones)
  3. Curling Rewards (an almost funny ad from Capital One again)
  4. Sandra Schmirler Foundation (a weird ad with a preemie - have any of our famous athletes been premature births?)
  5. Tim Horton's (natch)
  6. Home Depot (or was it some other hardware store?)

Now I must ruminate on who TSN's advertisers think we morning viewers are.

Draw #12: Number 1 vs. Number 12
Canada vs. Finland

Canada comes into Draw #12 after having curled nearly perfectly against Norway yesterday. In fact Kevin Martin curled 100% in that game!

Canada takes on Finland, and surprise of ALL surprises, TSN shows the very first shot of the game! Well blow me down, I'm stunned.

Finland is at the bottom of the bunch so far, having won only one game so far in the round robin. This game should be a blowout for Canada. My guess is the odds are that Finland might have a 3% chance of even putting up a good challenge here. I.e., it's not impossible, but it is unlikely that Finland will do well.

End #1. Finland has already made some mistakes in the first end, and even Martin looks bored as you can see he is watching the play on other sheets much of the time. He'd better not get toooooo careless and sloppy. Let me also point out that in terms of overall curling percentages, Finland ranks ahead of the Czech Republic. Throughout this end, it is clear why Finland has only one win. They just aren't making perfect shots. Martin draws for 4 to lead 4-0 after 1. This shouldn't take long.

End #2. M&M, Cashmere, Tim Horton, Budweiser, Capital One, and a few others, then some TSN updates. So we missed the first three rocks of this end. And here I was hoping our rants might have had some impact on TSN policies. No such luck.

Alan's points were important: if TSN thinks we don't care about lead stones, why don't they just randomly put some stones out there.

Well, if it wasn't over in the first end, it might be after the 2nd end. To be fair, I really can't blame TSN if they get bored with this game and show lots of other games and shots. I presume Finland won't concede until after the break, but I'm not going to report in detail.

Summary: Canada makes amazing shots; Finland looks like good club-level curlers.

Whoa! Finland's 3rd makes a nice tap-tap to have the shot rock. I'm not sure, but this might be the first time they even have shot rock in this game. As a result, it sounds as if Martin is back into the game more thoroughly. But Martin makes an amazing rub-and-take-out to lie two.

Martin: "He's got the bigger biter." Cute phrase. Hit and stick by Finland to lie one; hit and roll by Martin to lie three. Finland has a long shot at a triple to score three, which would make the game interesting. Great shot, and he scored two. So it isn't over yet. Canada 4, Finland 2.

End #3. So it won't be a total blowout. Yea! TSN joins the end after the four lead stones were thrown. Ray, bless his aging mind, tried to summarize what had happened but couldn't quite remember and stammered and stumbled and blathered. Sad and disappointing.

Once again, Canada seems to be curling better than Finland, but Morris misses a shot pretty badly, leaving Canada lying only one and Finland with a positional advantage. After a nice guard by the Fin skip (Kiiskinen), Martin makes an angle raise power double to lie two. Kiiskinen overcurls, and Martin hits-and-sticks for three. Canada 7, Finland 2.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

TSN: Show Curling, Please

Last year, when we learned that TSN would have the exclusive (does CurlTV count?) coverage of major curling events in Canada, we speculated that perhaps with their monopoly TSN would get sloppy and unresponsive.

Judging from what we have seen, that is exactly what has happened. Let me second Alan's concerns. These particular parts of his live-blogging from tonight's game struck me as both hilarious and spot on:
I am getting really peeved not seeing any shots in an end until the last lead shot. Thanks, TSN, for this useless coverage. ...

This really pisses me off. Several rocks are in play and I have no idea how they got there. ...

TSN decide to babble with Pia Lindholm, skip of a team that did not make this championship. Thanks, idiots. Nice to know his wife is birthing, Sheesh, I hardly now want to report this end. What excuse is this for sports coverage? Is this the worst of the NBC Olympic Coverage again? ...

I am sure we are all already missing the first couple of shots of the next end. Is there anyone out there willing to admit he/she would get a Capital One card because of Jennifer Jones shouting hard and easy? In fact, my own reaction is that I will studiously avoid getting such a card. Sorry, TSN, they seem to be your sole advertiser, an ominous thought. ...

This is ridiculous - we are almost halfway into the end? What isin their brains? Do they actually get a large audience who find the early shots irrelevant? I guess they think so. ...

Maybe TSN could just put a bunch of rocks out and let the thirds and skips play out the ends. Like limited-overs cricket it could speed the sport up.
Let me just add that the problem with TSN's coverage is not just that they are missing the early shots (though that is VERY annoying). It's also that Ray, especially, but the others, too, seem bored. As a result they blather about all sorts of things and divert attention away from the curling. I don't watch the coverage to hear cute little in-jokes and repartee between the announcers.

This is clear evidence of the value of competition. TSN seemed much better when they had to prove they were as good as, or better than, CBC.

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Ford World's, Draw 11- Canada vs Norway

Norway's skip Thomas Ulsrud is surely the hunk of the show.

Norway, we hear, like open ends. So we might something interesting.

End #1: Norway have the hammer by a coin toss. Canada center guard in place. Norway come around into the house, well covered. Canada put a rock in the front 12-foot. Norway wreck on the front guard. Kennedy kills the Norway rock in the house but leaves his rock a bit open. Norway return the favor and roll behind some cover. Kennedy runs the Canada guard back and removes the Norway rock. Norway tap the guard - did they mean that? Canada buries a rock behind cover at about 3 o'clock. Norway's freeze attempt bounces into the open. Morris hits but does not roll. Norway hit and do not roll. Martin, with the option of hitting that last rock, is coming around - slightly hits the center guard, with a ton of brushing, but is just barely edging out of the four-foot. "Curled like crazy, uh?" Ulsrud wrecks on a Canada rock in the front of the house. Martin is talking, precision-wise, about "over-curling by an inch or two". Wow. Crazy brushing and they have a rock just in front of the house on the center. We'll see is Ulsrud can find his way in, facing three. He goes through the house and Canada steal three! Oh dear. Not quite the match I had hoped to see.

End #2: I am getting really peeved not seeing any shots in an end until the last lead shot. Thanks, TSN, for this useless coverage. OK - however we got here, a whole bunch of Canada rocks along the center and some Norway rocks vaguely scattered elsewhere. Martin is being brutally aggressive and adding to complexity - he now has the perfect configuration - one center line rock in front of the house and behind that one in each of the eight and front four foot. Norway do a nice run-back and clear some of this out. Open path not to a Canada rock in the center, front of the four-foot. Canada put a guard right in front of the house. Norway hit, staying shot and wide open, and leaving the Canada rock in the back of the eight-foot at 7 o'clock. Morris hits the Norway rock and rolls behind cover, though behind the T-line. Norway come to the top of the four-foot, not shot, and not frozen, as surely intended. Martin, with a TON of brushing, knocks out the Norway rock and slide behind less cover than hoped (but good cover). Ulsrud puts a rock in the front eight-foot but is third shot. Martin draws, getting to the top of the eight-foot, short of the plan. Norway has some options - risky raises. They are trying one - there is a double for two through a not totally tiny port. He wrecks, but gets one, via, as rightly put 'Plan F' (from Vic). It was like one of those mis-hits or net shots in tennis where you apologize to the other guys.

End #3: This really pisses me off. Several rocks are in play and I have no idea how they got there. Center-line Norway guard out front and two Canada rocks and one Norway rock in the front of the house on the center. Norway add another. I am sparing myself describing this as someone will surely simplify it soon. Getting tricky - Canada misses and wreck on a Norway rock in the front 12-foot. OK two Norway rocks in the front 12-foot, two Canada rocks in teh 8-foot, and a Norway rock in the 4-foot, all hanging around the center. Canada try the nuclear option - the 12-foot reds remain but behind them it is a Canada rock now. Norway try something similar and screw up, leaving Martin the ability to have Morris do this. Oops a screw-up. Anyway a Norway rock at 3 pm behind cover now and an open Canada rocks at thye top of the house. Norway put one beside that, not sure why (they speak Norwegian as they plan shots). Morris definitely does not do as planned. Norway now sit two with shots in the front of the house - nobody has made a shot as planned in a while. Martin plans a crazy double, and makes it. Not quite as wanted as the remaining Canada rock in the house is open and behind the T-line. Ulsrud wants a double and is not even close. Martin has a straight and simple open hit for two. "Sort of a strange end", says Linda. Well, I hope my commentary reflects that! Canada get 2. 5-1 Canada. Does anyone think this is NOT over?

The 'Dancing with the Stars' eliminations for the week are coming up soon, so I hope my assumption that there is a level of irrelevancy here is right!

End #4: TSN decide to babble with Pia Lindholm, skip of a team that did not make this championship. Thanks, idiots. Nice to know his wife is birthing, Sheesh, I hardly now want to report this end. What excuse is this for sports coverage? Is this the worst of the NBC Olympic Coverage again? OK we are already on third rocks, have a Norway corner guard, but a Canada rock in the house behind it. Heavy miss by Norway, behind the T-line,giving Morris a freeze chance. Not great - a bounce and the wrong way. Norway wreck on a guard and the house is now a mess, all over on the right side behind a corner guard. After much discussion Canada decide to come and park a rock on their shot rock, on the outer edge of the eight-foot. Hard to do better than they did! Norway wreck horribly. After long deliberation on how to make Ulsrud's life maximally miserable, Martin and Morris agree to put a rock up in top of the four-foot, forcing him to do something against three counting Canada rocks. Beautiful draw to the button! But really, that is what Canada wanted at the start of the end (maybe not at teh end).

I am sure we are all already missing the first couple of shots of the next end. Is there anyone out there willing to admit he/she would get a Capital One card because of Jennifer Jones shouting hard and easy? In fact, my own reaction is that I will studiously avoid getting such a card. Sorry, TSN, they seem to be your sole advertiser, an ominous thought.

End #5: This is ridiculous - we are almost halfway into the end? What isin their brains? Do they actually get a large audience who find the early shots irrelevant? I guess they think so.

Here is my plan going forward. I will describe ONLY the lead and second shots I get to see. I will no longer describe third or skip shots. I will report the score at the end of the end. I will have for this end only the score at the end. If Doc is around he can complement my effort but this is driving me bats. Maybe TSN could just put a bunch of rocks out and let the thirds and skips play out the ends. Like limited-overs cricket it could speed the sport up.

My new principle means I am NOT reporting two stunning skip shots leading to a blanked end. Thanks, TSN, for pissing me off.

End #6: After the mid-match break there is no excuse. Some rocks already played nonetheless. Norway rock is a center guard in front of another one they have. Canada rock joining another in the house - Canada rocks creating a nice pocket for Norway. Norway park on the button in front of the pocket. Canada clear a front guard. Norway put it back. Canada misses the guard and chip out the Norway rock on the button. That's it for this end for me. Canada steal four! Sorry TSN decided not to let me tell you how.


TSN - shape up!


Note for Tonight's Showdown

Going into the 11th draw of the 2009 Ford Men's World Curling Championship, Canada and Norway lead the round robin and will meet each other. Canada is undefeated with a record of 6 wins and no losses. Whether Norway is undefeated or has one loss depends on the outcome of their game with Switzerland, which is taking place as I am contemplating this posting.

The point I wanted to make is that if you look at the CurlCast data, you see that Canada leads all teams in curling percentage, while Norway was tied for third, a full six percentage points behind Canada in curling percentage.

Now, I know that curling percentage is not a perfect measure of a team's quality, ability, or performance. I know it is not a perfect predictor of outcomes. But I also know it is a mighty strong indicator of these things*. The fact is, as good as Norway has been, they have not been nearly as good as Canada so far during the round robin.

Additionally, note that neither Norway nor Canada has yet faced the next best team, Scotland.
So even though this looks as if it has the makings of being a showdown, there will be more important and tougher matches to come.

*A student did some stats for me a few years ago and found R-squares in the range of .72 or so when trying to use curling percentages to explain points scored.


Ford World's, Draw 9 - Canada vs Switzerland

Sorry - failed to realize we were in action so early today!

End #1: Switzerland have the hammer, on skip rocks, two Canada rocks in the house, guarded. Swiss clear the guard. Martin will try to put up a guard closer to the house. The rocks in the house are perfect, both at noon and in the 8-foot and 4-foot. He adds one right in front in the 12-foot. Stoeckli has a miserably tough draw against these rocks, maybe to save a steal of one. Steal of two, it appears to me, for Canada. Measuring for three but it sure looks like two to me. Seems I am right.

End #2: I wish Doc had not mentioned the blather. We are getting it in spades this morning. How on earth is this a game of confidence? It is not the financial system! Morris tries a hit and roll and instead stops in front of the house. Canada rock in the house at 10 o'clock, two Canada rocks right in front of the house in the center. Swiss hit and roll does not quite bury behind the Canada rocks. Morris kills it and sits at 9 o'clock on the T-line. One of the Canada guards is removed; I am not sure why. Martin punches his remaining guard to the button, but leaves s tiny port open (maybe not so tiny for these guys). Stoeckli gets through the port, rolls away to about 4:30 in the inner 12-foot, remaining shot. It is open. Martin hits and sticks - draw to the 8-foot for one for the Swiss. Done very nicely. 2-1 Canada.

End #3: Somehow again Canada rocks in the house behind a front guard, albeit Swiss. Swiss do a strange (to me) bump-and-run, leaving Canada lying two, with a Swiss rock in the center in the front 12-foot. Canada put a rock up right beside the Swiss rock at about 11:45. Swiss very nicely hit one of the counting Canadian rocks out, rolling behind mostly cover. Canada peels a guard. Swiss decide to guard a slightly complicated house. Morris peels the guard, hitting a Swiss rock, which jams on one of the Canadian rocks. So there is still a guard, and there are now two Swiss rocks in the front of the four-foot, the 11:45 Canadian rock still there in the 12-foot. The Swiss guard their rocks. Now there is a truly small port. Morris removes one of the Swiss rocks and now sits right in front of the other under cover - he barely missed guards at two levels! A draw attempt by the Swiss goes too deep. Martin wrecks on some guards - leaving Stoeckli at least some possibilities. The Swiss guard their one but there is a hole now, returning the favor to Canada. Martin capitalizes - two Swiss misses give him his two (yeah, I thought of that pun an end ago). 4-1 Canada.

End #4: You may notice I am not so committed to the details in this match as I was with Germany. Just a rough guess on things. So Canada sit on the front of the 4-foot and the back of the 4-foot behind a Swiss center guard. The Swiss run-back just misses and becomes a peel. Morris puts a nice guard in place. There is a swarm of Swiss rocks out in front in implausible positions for in-offs. Swiss punch the guard back into the front Canada rock and get it out - and put one of their rocks up to guard the other Canada rock. Martin buries a rock on the button behind that 'guard' (it is not meant to be there). Remember that Martin's rock is backed by another Canada rock. Stoeckli makes a truly fine shot through a somewhat narrow hole to get one, against three counting Canadian stones. 4-2 Canada.

End #5: Stoeckli has put up two center guards, Canada has come in behind them. Canada clear a guard. There is also a Swiss rock in the front of the house, and now two, backed by the Canadian rocks. Martin really does not like those two rocks. Kennedy clears one at some cost (Canada lose a rock) but now have two in the front of the house with a Swiss rock between. Swiss nicely punch out one of the Canadian rocks. Canada hit and remove the middle Swiss rock in the house, and roll into the open (not as planned). Swiss hit that rock and roll to shot stone, but open. Morris makes a highly brushed hit and roll into cover at the back of the four-foot. Stoeckli rubs on guards and comes into the top of the eight-foot, open. Martin, again with heavy brushing, removes the Swiss stone and one of his own. He still lies two. Stoeckli's double comes up close but leaves Martin a hit/stay for two. Heavy brushing again, then settling and Canada take 2. Canada 6-2.

Please understand if I confine myself to exceptional circumstances in this match now.

During the break Russ Howard, the Switzerland coach, commented, "We're on life support now". That is why I contemplate pulling a plug here.


Monday, April 06, 2009

World's, Draw 8, Ends from Six On

End #6: Oops, was off watching "Dancing with the Stars", even though Wozniak is no longer in it.
Canada center guard, two Canada rocks around the button, one Germany rock off at around 3:30. Germany punch out one of the Canada rocks in the house and sit. Kennedy pretty much freezes to that Germany rock. Germany, though the skip shouts 'optimal' in German, move the back Canada rock, but not where they wanted, I am pretty sure, (Well, I cannot see why they wanted the rocks where they are now.) Morris puts another rock into the front of the four-foot. Can Germany double? Kapp realizes things need shuffling. They are not happy about things now. Lang does a sort of peel, removing one Canada rock and one Germany rock. Morris misses his pick on a German rock on the button! Lang misses his shot and now sets up a double - plan was to pile up on the button - instead he angles off a Canada rock. Martin does not get the double - he clears a German rock but Germany still have shot. Kapp leaves a double available again. Martin hits brilliantly - Kapp has a hard draw/hit(double) for one. He misses - Martin steals one.

I will perhaps be reporting in less detail as I also want to watch "Dancing with the Stars". Doc might pick up for me.

End #7: Canada biter at 8 o'clock, German guard in front of the house near the middle. Canada clear the guard and roll into 1 o'clock at the front of the house. Germany draw, open into the back of the four-foot. Morris removes the Germany rock rolling to 5 o'clock in the 8-foot. Germany hit and roll almost into cover at 12:30 in the 8-foot. Morris chips this very hard rock to remove, no sweeping. Germany try to tuck behind the front Canadian rock but wreck. It is slightly moved and they sit open. Four Canadian rocks in the house now, no German ones (Martin hit and stayed). Germany want to draw behind cover. They sort of do but into the very back of the eight-foot. Martin almost corner-freezes to that German rock. Kapp takes his one.

End #8: Will start reporting once Melissa has finished dancing. (She had a bit of a choppy dance this week.)

Germany rocks at 3:30 and 5:45 in the 8-foot, no guards. Canada trying to freeze on the 3:30 rock. Almost perfect. Germany whack the frozen rock, which rolls to the middle, and Canada comes and freezes on the German shooter at 3 o'clock in the 12, with a little more bump. But German hopes for a double are diminished. Germany trying a very hard pick. They remove that last rock, stick, and no jam. Martin draws in for second shot in amongst German rocks around 3 o'clock. Germany is lining up an insane takeout - which works out perfectly! Andy Kapp is no second-rank skip! Martin must now draw for one. And right to the button. The death blow does not occur in this game.

End #9: This has been maddening. I really wanted to watch "Dancing with the Stars".

Hey wait the final of the Final Four is also on!

Vic gives me the news - where is this German team from!? From right by Neuschwanstein. Neat.

Let me try to catch up. Actually let me wait for a rock or two - this is too tricky. OK two Canada rocks in the four foot behind a Germany rock in the 8. German rock wrecks on teammate's and makes not much difference. Sorry - missed what happened but things look as before (Gilles and Cheryl nailed their dance). Seems we are getting competing doubles. After first skip rocks, and competing doubles, we have a Canada rock sitting open in the house. Germany get the blank.

End #10: Big mistake by Germany, going through the house, lets Canada clear the one guard. And its reincarnations. Rinse, lather, repeat. Germany run out of rocks. Nice job by Kapp forcing Canada to 10 ends.


Ford World's, Draw 8 - Canada vs Germany Before the Break

Germany is again represented by the excellent veteran Andy Kapp.

End #1: Germany put a rock in the back of the house. Martin tosses up a corner guard. Germany go into the very front of the house. Canada removes all the German rocks and now have a rock in the front of the 12-foot. Germany removes the in-house rock, hanging just off the house. Canada punches it away and sits. Germany remove it but roll into irrelevance, where they meant to roll into relevance. Kennedy buries nicely behind the Canadian guard. Germany make a great runback double! Morris buries behind the previous German shooter, now serving as a guard. Germany remove it but roll into the open on the button. Still, a fine shot. Morris wrecks on the guard, and sort of chips off the German rock. We now have a German rock sort of behind cover, and nothing else in the house. They toss up another guard (I am not sure that was the plan) and shot rock is pretty buried but now Canada can get inside the German rock and under cover. Pretty good at 10 o'clock on the edge of the four-foot - the unintended guard is now guarding the enemy rock. This is SUCH A tricky sport. Germany make a fine tap-back but they leave Martin a shot for two. Martin notes that an obvious error is to give Germany a steal of two. Let us see. Great hit and roll by Martin, with NO sweeping, and the comment "It curled like crazy", to give Canada two. I think this is one of the best ends I have seen played against Martin so far.

End #2: Something evil took control of my blogging. May have had to do with the breadmaker. Anyway Germany looked in great shape early and then let Martin make a great shot (well, not Martin - maybe a teammate). By the end it looked as if it might require a great shot for Germany just to get their one. They got their one.

To me it seems Germany are giving a little more game than I have seen so far against Canada!

End #3: Well we did not expect to be here. House filling up. German guard out front, and two Canadian and German rocks in the house all near noon, Goodbye all German rocks! I guess that is the risk. Great German hit and roll to hide behind centre-line rocks! Canada rearranges rocks in the front of the house. Morris removes all German rocks from the house. Germany wrecks on a front rock and now they are likely in some real trouble, unlike the earlier unreal trouble. Morris misses a shot - let's see what Germany can do. German tapback attempt comes up short. Martin produces a stunning hit and roll - Canada lie 2. Germany want to freeze to one of those rocks. And it is not a bad tapback but no freeze. Martin does not like his release - they turn it into, by sweeping, a semi-peel, that lets them score one.

These Germans are proving tough.

End #4: Thanks to TSN I have little idea how we got here. Canada has center guard, rock on the button, and one at about 3 o'clock. Germany tap the button rock back and Canada respond by removing the German rock completely and staying. Germany clear the guard. (The blather, now about the glasses of one of the Germans, is getting really stupid.) Canada rock seems to pick. Nice German hit removes the Canadian rock near the button but shooter lies open. OK Canada lying two again. Germany buries at the front of the four. Martin plans a tapback. Far enough back to lie two. Kapp doubles, maybe lying two now. I have no idea what happened - I guess the Martin rock just went too long. Kapp has a hit for at least two. Tied after 4! Kapp's team are a problem.

Blather time - "It's like a car on only seven cylinders or on six cylinders". Mine maxes at six, and for almost 30 years I drove 4-cylinder cars. How dumb are these people?

End #5: Canada do a hit and roll behind a corner guard. Germany kill it and stay but ignorably. Canada bury nicely at the top of the eight-foot. Germany AGAIN do a great runback double. Canada bury in the twelve-foot behind the previous shooter but Canada is not shot. Germany try to tuck behind the Canadian rock but wreck on it. Morris, not quite as planned, does a hit and roll and Canada lies one, not protected enough to prevent a nice hit and roll from Germany into the middle of the house. Martin hits and rolls over in front of the German rock in the back 12; Canada is now shot but this is not pretty. Kapp clears Martin's rock, no jam, and loses the shooter. Martin has a hit for two. It is a bit hard to understand how well-rewarded Canada might have been! Martin hits but loses the shooter (calling the sweeping instruction, "What the Hell?") so are up only one now after five and Germany has the hammer.


2009 Ford World's, Draw 7 - Canada vs the Czech Republic

End #1: Canada, with the hammer (though CurlCast seems to say the opposite), and with Morris throwing his second rock, already have two rocks in the house behind a phalanx of Czech rocks that came up short in front of the house and one Czech rock, counting second, at the back. Morris gets them sitting two. A Czech raise attempt comes up short. Martin guards against a more successful raise but overcurls. The next raise attempt leaves Canada lying two but gets a rock into the 8-foot. Martin is heavy and Canada take only two.

Doc mentioned that TSN were downplaying the problems with the ice (my evidence that there seem to be some was the prevalence of ends with scores of 3 and 4) last night, but it seems the City of Moncton threw resources at the supposed non-problem, possibly a very good stimulus infrastructure project. There was only one end with a score of 3 or more this morning in four matches. So maybe something had to be done. But I guess we'll see. It is a difficult time of year - days in Eastern Canada can alternate between late spring temperatures and winter temperatures, as they have here, and even an air-conditioned arena is likely to be affected by that.

End #2: This is a lot more open. The blather is suggesting that this is because the Czech skip wants to give his team the chance to make some shots in less complicated circumstances. Sadly one of those relatively easy shots is missed, and Canada now get a chance to lie two. One Canada rock cleared, the Czech shooter leaving the rings. Canada again lying two, not much opportunity for a double. Same result on the next Czech shot. Rinse, lather, repeat. Martin's last rock rolls close to the other Canada rock - Czechs take the one they are more or less forced to take.

End #3: Canada seem to have filled the house with rocks while I was setting up the breadmaker. They are counting four with the hammer and rocks are running out. First Czech skip rock gets a roll, but is open, with a small likelihood of a possible jam. Martin peels, so Canada lie three - the peel call avoided any possible jam and further complication. Czech skip rock goes through the house, leaving Martin a draw for four. To the button. 6-1 Canada. My attention may now wander a bit.

End #4: Nice last skip shot from the Czechs to get two with a hit and roll. 6-3 Canada. Meanwhile the Canadian team is thinking about swapping around their rocks as they find them behaving quite differently from one another and would like better individual matching.

End #5: First Czech skip rock wrecks on a guard and leaves Martin with some good chance of getting two. Martin leaves a double open. Czechs remove one, but not the second and the shooter rolls outside the remaining Canadian rock so Martin has a draw for two. Into the four foot for two! 8-3 Canada.

Unless something dramatic happens (and I do not include the Czechs conceding) I likely won't update this.


Sunday, April 05, 2009


Ms. Eclectic and I agree: there is far too much blathering on TSN during the telecasts of the 2009 Ford World Curling Championship. Too much talking about inanities, too much talking just to fill air time and dead air space, and too much talking over the players whose discussions would greatly illuminate the contemplated strategies.

Wouldn't it be nice if they'd just shut up more, especially when they are blathering?

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2009 Ford Worlds, Draw #5: Canada vs. China
Ends 6 - 8

Ms. Eclectic asserts that no matter how poorly most skips are curling, the curling is still substantially better than that at the women's worlds.

End #6: Canada is without the hammer and has a mess of rocks in the centre of the rings, while China has a corner guard and a tap-back, which Canada removes. It just looks as if China can make okay shots that would be good at the club level, but not good enough when playing against Martin's rink.
Once again Scotland scores four, and the commenters say it's not the ice, it's the mistakes.
Canada has four in the house, China has one corner guard and the hammer and is clearly struggling. I wonder how long this will go on. Canada still has four in the rings and China still has only a corner guard after missing a bunch of hit-and-rolls. Liu hits and sticks, but Canada is shot to steal one.
Canada 8, China 2

End #7:
Meek comes in for Ben Hebert. And the end starts the same as the last one did.
Alan thinks it must be something more than just mistakes leading to three 4-enders and four 3-enders. I cannot figure what else it might be. Any ideas?
As the end unfolds, the guards are gone, and each team has only one rock in the rings and no guards. This is a more defensive style of play for Canada. China puts up another guard. Morris removes a bunch of stones but leaves one Chinese rock in the house. Wang puts up a mediocre guard rather than splitting the rings. An odd decision. Morris comes around the guard and takes out the CH rock, rolling into the open. Wang draws around the guard, but Martin goes off his own to remove the CH rock and lie one in the open. Liu makes a near-perfect draw around the guard to the top of the button. Martin tapped it but not enough, leaving Liu with a draw for two.
Canada 8, China 4 so I guess they can't really shake hands at this point.

End #8: As the 8th end develops, Canada has a rock on the button, China has one in the top 8 and a centre-line guard. Canada removes the centre-line guard. Guard, peel. Guard, peel. I don't understand this strategy, since it almost guarantees Canada a deuce. Finally Liu goes into the rings and taps Canada's rock off the button (but still lying shot). Martin peels the guard, allowing Liu an opportunity to tap (I don't understand Martin's strategy either). The tap ends up on the button, frozen to a Cdn rock, but Martin has a clear shot at a double, but he knocked his own rock out the back, and scored only one. Nevertheless, China shakes hands.

Final Score: Canada 9, China 4


2009 Ford Worlds, Draw #5: Canada vs. China
4th and 5th Ends

We might have a bit of a struggle soon. Tonight is also the opening game for major league baseball, which Ms. Eclectic and I would also like to watch.

Fashion comment: I really like those Team China curling jackets. Love those bright colours!!

End #4: Canada starts, as usual, having Hebert (lead) put rocks on the centre line in the rings just short of the t-line. Zang (CH lead) put up a corner guard, but drifted into the rings with his 2nd stone. Kennedy (2nd) tried to hit and roll, but left his shooter exposed. Xu doubled off the two Cdn stones on the centre line. A series of nose hits down the middle in the rings, with both teams trying to hit and roll but remaining exposed. Morris tried a hit and roll, but rolled out. So Wang drew around a corner guard to lie one, but it was a bit deep. Martin tapped it back to lie two, which will likely force China to draw or tap for one. Liu taps Martin's rock back to lie one. Then Martin taps/freezes Liu's rock to lie one. Liu draws for the single.
Canada 4, China 2

End #5:
it looks as if China set up two center-line guards, but the commentators tell us that one was a big mistake: it was supposed to be a come-around freeze that came up short. Meanwhile Canada has two rocks in the centre behind what are now three Chinese rocks on the centre line serving as guards. Kennedy's first shot hung out a bit, but Xu couldn't quite tap it the right way, so Kennedy came down with a beautiful tap out, leaving Canada lying 4.

Wang tried to freeze but was waaayyyy light, so now China has 4 rocks serving as guards on the centre line, and China has four rocks in the middle of the rings. What a strange picture!
Morris put up a long guard on the centre line to keep China from raising any of their guards (in my view, doing that would be hard anyway). Wang tried a tricky shot that would have required maxi-weight, but ended up weakly removing one guard. Morris puts up another guard. Wang threw a tight take-out to double out two of Canada's rocks -- beautiful shot, given the circumstances. Martin hits and rolls to lie three. So Liu again has to make a magical shot. He was really, really close, but took out only one of Canada's stones. Pretty much an open draw for three.
A question in the comments about the high scoring on some of the sheets. The TSN commenters say it is NOT the ice. Rather it looks as if the houses are often full of rocks and then the skips are missing some key shots. Take a look at the CurlCast shooting percentages, and you can see that some of the skips are really struggling.
Canada 7, China 2 at the halfway break. Time for some dessert!


2009 Ford Worlds, Draw #5: Canada vs. China
Early Ends

WHAT? Martin lost the "draw to the button" and so China starts with the hammer.

Note: for those of you following this, I will update several times during each end.

End #1: Canada starts with many rocks in the centre, but Xu made a nice run-back to remove and move a bunch of them. Then Xu (China's second) rubbed off a guard to sit on the button behind a Cdn centre-guard. Morris (Cdn vice) made a beautiful gentle tap-back on the shot. Wang (Ch vice, actually he's the skip, but he's throwing third stones) tried to copy the shot, but came up light. Canada guarded the package, and so Wang removed and moved some of the centre guard rocks.

Martin put up a long centre guard with his first stone. Liu wrecked. Martin tried a hit-and-roll but missed, leaving a double attempt for Liu (the CH skip for this draw), but he nosed one Canada stone, leaving the other for a steal of one.

Canada 1, China 0 after one end

End #2: Well, of course. TSN not only misses the first few shots, but also seems not to realize that some of what they see on the monitors isn't showing up on our tvs.

The initial Cdn guards are off-centre a bit, and one of the shots came into the rings too far, setting up a series of freezes and taps, mostly behind the t-line. Morris's first rock coasts just a bit deep, freezing to the agglomeration behind the t-line when they wanted it to be in the top 4. As a result, Wang can sit on top of it and be on the pin. There is about a 2" gap between it and the Cdn second shot. Morris followed it down and tapped it a bit. China still has shot, but the way this end is shaping up, they'll be lucky to get more than one. Wang tapped Morris's rock, and now the Cdn rock is shot with a whole truckload of Cdn rocks near the button and skips rocks to come. The TSN commentators have pointed out that every single rock is still in play!

Martin's guard attempt over-curled, so Liu had a run-back attempt to sit two; it was close, but his rock overcurled, too, leaving Canada sitting one. Martin puts up another guard, and China is left with only tough alternatives. Liu made an impressive long run-back of a yellow (Cdn) stone and scored one.
Canada 1, China 1 after two ends

End #3:
Canada has the hammer, and the play is in the rings for the most part, with a Chinese centre guard and Canadian corner guard. The ice looks a bit frosty, but it's hard to tell for sure on lo-res television. But after a couple of ends, it looks as if the teams have the ice fairly well scoped. Canada has shot rock and another on the side for 2nd or 3rd shot. China keeps trying to hit and roll but is always exposed. Morris tried a tap-back or maybe a freeze, but came up about 4' light. China tapped it back, but Canada is still shot and might even have 2nd shot. This time Morris is asked to draw around the guards to the top 4', but he freezes back to the Chinese rock in the back 4'.

Liu made a pretty fancy hit and roll, but Canada is still shot (barely). Martin made a very narrow tapback with his first stone to lie three. China freezes onto their own rock in the back of the 4', and it is hard to tell whether Martin has a draw for two or maybe a gentle, very gentle tap, for three. His draw rubbed just a bit on a guard, but still got in to count. Now to measure to see whether Canada scored 2 or 3. Wow! Even with the measurement, it was close, but Canada scores three.
Canada 4, China 1 after 3 ends.


Draw Five is at 6:30 pm EDT on TSN2

Canada plays China in draw #5 this evening. The game will be shown live at 6:30pm EDT on TSN2 and reshown on tape delay later on TSN.

Update: Alan tells us in the comments that Rogers cable will not be carrying TSN2 in some?/many?/all? of its regions. For those of you who would like more detail than you can infer from the CurlCast details,
  1. You might be able to watch it on (I can't tell from their website, but it doesn't look as if they will be carrying it live).
  2. You might be able to watch it on (It looks as if they are perhaps showing USA vs. Switzerland)
  3. I might be all that's left! So I will try to provide more detail on an an end-by-end basis.

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2009 Ford Worlds, Draw #4

There were two games this morning, involving only four teams, not including Canada, so we didn't see it. One highlight, though, must have been the 6-ender scored by Scotland against the USA!

In draw four, Canada takes on France. Through the first three ends, it was clear (judging especially by the media comments) that the curlers were still struggling with reading the ice. The arena is still very warm, and that has played havoc with the quality of the ice.

France took one in the first end. Canada replied taking two in the second. France blanked the third end, when Martin's hit-and-roll was exposed. But then France flashed on a draw for one in the fourth, and Canada stole two to lead 4-1 after 4. Linda Moore says to watch for Canada to try to keep the rings clean, especially empty of yellow (French) stones for the rest of the game. But in the fifth end, Martin seemed pretty aggressive and piled even more pressure onto France. Dufour (French skip) came up light with his first draw attempt and was just as light with his second draw attempt, yielding a steal of three more for Canada.

Halfway through, Canada leads France 7 - 1. Dufour is curling only 43% (which is less than 47%!)

France takes only one in the 6th and shakes hands. All of team Canada looked very impressive in this game. They figured out the patchiness of the ice, they read and anticipated the effects of the frost, and they made most of their shots.

And France is not necessarily a push-over team. After all, this loss just dropped them to a record of 1-1. And in the end, Dufour curled 48% (topping my 47%!).


Saturday, April 04, 2009

2009 Ford Worlds, Draw #1 #2
(Canada's first appearance, but the second draw of the tournament)

Holy Macaroni! That's quite a mess they have there in Moncton with the ice! Temperatures very high inside the building (what, no air conditioning to cool it down???) that required the ice maker to scrape, pebble, repeat and repeat.

When was the last time you saw so many shots from champions fall so far short of the rings?

After three ends, the curling percentages are (not surprisingly) low. The teams took turns forcing each other to take only one, but Japan is outcurling Canada 76% to only 67%.

Hey, RAY!!! Canada's opponent in this draw is Japan, not China. Time for him to retire?

Amazing. Two big misses from Japan's skip. First he missed the opportunity to score two in the fourth end; and then most seriously, he wrecked with his last rock in the fifth, allowing Canada to score 3.

Halfway through, and Canada leads 5 - 2.

In the sixth, Japan missed a roll-out and took one. But then Canada took one in the 7th. With three ends to go, Canada leads Japan 6 - 3, and Japan has the hammer.

More ones: Japan took one in the 8th and Canada took one in the 9th. So Canada leads 7-4 without the hammer coming home. And Canada runs Japan out of rocks to win 7-4. It wasn't just the big miss that allowed Canada to score three; it was several others, as well, that made match so much easier for Canada.


Friday, April 03, 2009


Tonight was my last time curling this season. I tried to assess my shots objectively (yeah, sure; as if...) as I might expect an official from a major tournament to score them. I estimated that of the 16 shots I made over the eight ends, I would have been awarded 30 points out of a maximum possible 64 points, for 47%.

It will be nice to watch people over the next week who curl so much better than that!


The TSN Schedule for Telecasts from the 2009 Ford Worlds in Moncton

Here it is:

Apr. 4, 2009 7:30 PM (6:30 PM ET) --- Canada vs Japan
Apr. 5, 2009 1:00 PM (12:00 PM ET) --- Canada vs France
Apr. 5, 2009 7:30 PM (6:30 PM ET) --- Canada vs China
Apr. 6, 2009 3:00 PM (2:00 PM ET) --- Canada vs Czech Republic
Apr. 6, 2009 7:30 PM (6:30 PM ET) --- Canada vs Germany
Apr. 7, 2009 10:00 AM (9:00 AM ET) --- Canada vs Switzerland
Apr. 7, 2009 7:30 PM (6:30 PM ET) --- Canada vs Norway
Apr. 8, 2009 10:00 AM (9:00 AM ET) --- Canada vs Finland
Apr. 8, 2009 3:30 PM (2:30 PM ET) --- Canada vs USA (Tape Delayed)
Apr. 9, 2009 10:00 AM (9:00 AM ET) --- Canada vs Denmark
Apr. 9, 2009 8:30 PM (7:30 PM ET) --- Can. vs Scotlnd (Tape Delayed)
Apr. 10, 2009 8:30 PM (7:30 PM ET) --- Page Playoff (Tape Delayed)
Apr. 11, 2009 10:00 AM (9:00 AM ET) --- Page Playoff
Apr. 11, 2009 4:00 PM (3:00 PM ET) --- Semi-Final Game
Apr. 12, 2009 7:30 PM (6:30 PM ET) --- Gold-medal Game

The schedule above is from the official website for the event.

Of course, it would be nice if TSN were to broadcast ALL the draws, but I understand from a business perspective why they might choose not to show draws in which Canada is not participating.

More seriously, though, I am perplexed and dismayed to see at least three of the draws (including a page playoff!) will be "Tape Delayed". TSN has two different networks. Surely they could show the draws live on at least one of them.

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Curling, Taxes, and Necessities

Ironman, who blogs at Political Calculations, sent me this link. In it, there is a brief discussion of using a NY state income tax increase to help support the Utica Curling Club.

This tax increase would be less annoying if it were truly necessary to produce a balanced budget. However, as the New York Times noted in a news analysis piece yesterday, the budget's 8.7% spending increase "could hardly be called austere." ...

If the state has money to spend on the Utica Curling Club ("Where Central New York plays the hottest sport on ice"), the Haverstraw Brick Museum ("a museum dedicated to the history of brickmaking & bricks"), and the Montauk Boatman's and Captain's Association (a trade association for charter deep sea fishing boats catering to the Hamptons set), can legislators truly say this tax increase is 'necessary'?