Thursday, April 21, 2011

Another Prominent Canadian Third Gives in to the Day Job

Mark Nichols had indicated before the Brier that he would be stepping down as Brad Gushue's third after the Brier.
Now he is followed by Team Glenn Howard's Richard Hart, as reported by The Curling News today.
Inevitably, Hart’s decision centered around his career. As a project manager and vice president of his family-owned electrical engineering firm based in Pickering, Ontario, increased work responsibilities had become a factor. With a senior partner in the firm set to retire this year, the pressure had climbed a notch.
The article also reminds me of another case.
Just a few short weeks ago, Team Kevin Koe lost third Blake MacDonald to his busy work schedule plus family commitments.
Those pesky day jobs.
And of course there is speculation about Hart's replacement.
The early frontrunner for Hart’s spot has to be ex-Howard teammate Wayne Middaugh, who replaced Hart three times on the WCT this season. Middaugh shone in one particular event, the Canada Cup, in which the modified Team Howard won the title with a classic victory over Martin.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Team Edin Rolling

They had determined to make the most of their Ford Men's World appearance and go to  Grande Prairie for the CapitalOne tournament. And have they made good use of it! They are in the final against Kevin Martin.

END#1: Brutally bad miss by Martin trying to blank the end, but he rubs on a guard. Team Edin score a steal of one.
Edin 1 - Martin 0

Let me say that CBC coverage makes me long for TSN.

But I also wonder - what do the numbers on the player's jerseys mean?

Disaster for Edin in the fourth end. Martin scores three to lead 4-2.

END #5: Edin makes a pretty good shot but it is still a steal of one for Martin.

Somewhat later: Martin owns this,

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Truly Great Match

Team Jennifer Jones beat Team rachel Homan in a wonderfully exciting match today;
What more can I say!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Human Curling

I know they're making fun of the sport of curling, and I know that in some ways I should be insulted; nevertheless, this is a pretty funny skit/ad [h/t my son]

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Updating Doc's Attendance Model

Drw PdAtt 50-50 Cumul C 8am?
#01 05595 10935 05595 *
#02 05748 10515 11343 *
#03 03948 01818 15219 - *
#04 05633 10765 20924 *
#05 04497 05635 25421
#06 02513 02280 27934 * *
#07 02585 03318 30519
#08 04185 09470 34704 *
#09 02431 01638 37135 - *
#10 03505 06173 40640 *
#11 05580 14780 46220 *
#12 03083 02918 49303 * *
#13 04554 09623 53857 *
#14 03131 05008 56988
#15 03059 04025 60047 * *
#16 02832 04343 62879
#17 05765 18200 68644 *
T-B 03960 06360 72604
1-2 05689 22460 78293
3-4 04968 11538 83261
Sem 05491 16873 88752
Brz 04839 09260 93591
Chp 05854 30505 99445 *



UPDATE from Alan: I published this by error - I am sure Doc intends some analysis. But looking at the numbers myself I would say there is a VERY large animal spirits component to the 50-50 returns. This is even if Doc's numbers are actually what was paid out rather than raked in, in which case the numbers for the last two sessions should be halved. (Numbers updated as my speculation was correct.)


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Championship Match Canada-Scotland, Last Ends

END #9: Stoughton leaves Brewster a hit for two with his last rock. Russ Howard says Stoughton is 'making' Brewster throw a hit instead of a draw. Brewster undercurls badly, and loses the shooter, getting only one.
CAN 6 - SCO 5

Kim and Ethan Brewster (Tom's wife and son) have been wandering about in blue jerseys with the St. Andrew cross on the back (naturally). Hers says 'KIM' on the back. His says 'Munchkin'.

END #10: Gould makes a perfect tick on the first guard. And another. The center is open. Then Carruthers peels the next guard as well as one of the tickees. Another guard peeled. Mead peels the next one. And the next. Brewster finally goes into the rings, but not behind the cover of the remaining tickee on the side he chose. Stoughton peels it. Brewster does not make the rings with the last shot. Canada is the world champion.

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Championship Match - Canada-Scotland, Late Middle

END #6: Canada has shot and is trying to protect it with guards. Linda Moore suggests Stoughton is planning to force Brewster to some draws, as he has had difficulty with them this week. Brewster's first rock is a draw and sits open on the button, and a little deeper than wanted. Stoughton freezes to it with a slight bump. Brester's tap is brushed to Stoughton's rock and gets the bump needed to take one.
SCO 4 - CAN 4

END #7: Two front Scotland guards are troubling Stoughton and Mead doubles them off, and rolls into the house to sit beside another Canada rock and Drummond removes them both, rolling out. Looks as if we are playing for a blank. For his last rock, throwing it through the house, Stoughton gives the crowd the requested spinorama.

END #8: Stoughton gets the chance to split the house early and uses it. A series of missed Scotland double attempts follows. Two for Canada.
CAN 6 - SCO 4

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Championship Match - Canada-Scotland, Middle

END #4: Drummond finds a port through a wall of front Canada guards to lie two, and Mead's nuclear option runback removes a Canada rock in the house and touches no Scotland rock; Brewster fills the hole Mead left with a guard buting the front of the house. Stoughton now tries hte nuclear option and gets rid of two, but Scotland still lie one. Brewster puts a rock in the top four to sit two; heis other rock is back four. Stoughton's attempted tap-back is off-line and Scotland steal one.
SCO 3 - CAN 1

One good effect of this; part of the crowd is getting quieter.

END #5: Canada trying to bury rocks behind two front Scotland guards but keep being exposed; a Scotland miss lets Canada put another rock in the house angled off the first one. Scotland do not make the double but get one of them. Next Canada draw stops close in front of a Scotland rock at the back. Scotland sit on top of that rock. Stoughton taps that and lies two. Brewster sits on top of it for second shot. Stoughton hits it on the nose for three.
CAN 4 - SCO 3



That Scottish cheering section can concentrate, mind you.


(Kim Brewster normally sits in front of that blue balloon, but was likely off visiting friends in the audience.)

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Championship Game - Early

Five minutes before gametime the arena is not yet full, though it is turning into a bit of a freakshow, with kilts all over, and various forms of self-decoration celebrating Canada and Scotland. I suspect it will be VERY loud at times.
I want to thank Charl Schwartzel for preventing extra holes at the Masters; birdying the last four holes is certainly an impressive way to win the Masters.

The loudmouth seems to think it remarkable that this game is being broadcast 'not just coast to coast, but around the world'. Well it is the World Championship, is it not?

And not five minutes later this place is pretty packed, and the mere march of the teams onto the ice is deafening. I cannot hear the bagpiper (which may be just as well, in the opinion of some).

The Scottish cheering section (absent this afternoon) is here, and over to my left is what I infer to be the family of Tom Brewster's wife (who is from Edmonton). And Tom just got one hell of a birthday greeting from the crowd in the form of applause. Well, I thought it was loud until they announced it was also Jonathan Mead`s birthday.

END:1: The media benches, essentially empty this afternoon, are packed and adjustments have disrupted my attention a bit.
Well this is not yesterday evening`s Scotland; there seems little reluctance to put rocks in play. Brewster`s last shot is a brilliant runback which cleans the ice of relevant Canada rocks, where it had looked as if Stoughton had rocks somewhat buried. Stoughton draws against five - needs full four. He`s heavy, but there are so many Scotland rocks in the house one happens to get in the way. :-) The crowd goes wild though Canada has just been foreced to take one.
CAN 1 - SCO 0

I love Russ Howard's comment about Brews's last shot - "He cleans them out better than my telestrator did".

END :2: Drummond makes a terrific double; it leaves two Scotland rocks open in the twelve, doubled away by Stoughton. Exchanges of hits and a blank.

Between ends the Proclaimers' '500 Miles' comes on again, eliciting some clapping from the Scottish audience. Actually a rather nice little tip of the hat to Scotland.

END #3: Scotland make some early misses giving Canada a chance to pile up some rocks behind cover but a small miss by Mead allows Scotland to hit a triple. Stoughton draws in behind a Scotland guard in the front twelve but it looks exposed to me. Brewster hits it but rolls out. Stoughton hits a wide Scotland stone, conceding two to Scotland.
SCO 2 - CAN 1

This is decidedly not the Page 1-2 Scotland team.

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Farewell to the Pants for a Year

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Bronze Medal - Norway-Sweden - Late

END #9: Edin misses his last two shots, on the first cleaning most of the ice of his own rocks, and not getting a tough double on his last. Ulsrud hits and just stays in the house for two.
SWE 6 - NOR 6

Sweden take the hammer to the tenth.

END #10: Sweden start off with two perfect ticks. This triggers a guard-peel alternation. Ulsrud puts his last guard over beside one of the Swedish rocks that did the early ticking. Edin goes to the front twelve-foor on the other side of the house. Ulsrud hits it and sticks. Edin draws to the four-foot.
SWE 7 - NOR 6

A few too many mistakes by Nergaard and Ulsrud.

Lots of applause for both teams.

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Bronze Medal - Norway-Sweden, Middle

ND #5: Pretty open end, blanked by Sweden.
SWE 3 - NOR 3

END #6: Norway manages to get a bunch of rocks in the house, and keep pokiung out whatever Sweden put there. Edin's first rock comes up way short and sits as a biter in the front twelve. Norway put up a long guard. Edin makes his draw to the four for one.
SWE 4 - NOR 3

END #7: Ulsrud has to draw against two to the eight for one. He does.
SWE 4 - NOR 4

END #8: ulsrud's last rock comes up slightly short and leaves Edin a draw for two, which he makes.
SWE 6 - NOR 4

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The New Pants

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Bronze Medal - Norway-Sweden, Early

The Page playoff system, especially when combined with having a bronze medal game, can sure lead to a strange sense of deja vu.
Having watched Sweden against Norway in the Page 3-4 game, we now watch them in the bronze medal game.
Later we watch Canada-Scotland in the final, having watched them in the Page 1-2, though that at least was longer ago.

I have not seen so many Norwegian flags in one place since my wife and I visited Olso a few years ago for the four days of their summer. I can imagine the scene tonight had they made the final. There are also a few Swedish flags. Both Ulsrud and Edin got a great round of applause.

END #1: I spent much of the end changing the batteries in my radio. Ulsrud goes into the house behind cover as shot. Edlin taps him back well out of shot. Ulsrud takes his one.

I was changing the batteries because the TSN audio feed, which includes all the players miked, is broadcast inside the arena on an FM signal. I lent my cellphone, which is also an FM radio, to Sebastian Kraupp's (Swedish third) father, who has been with us on the bench this week. He says this is utterly perfect - he understands both Swedish and Norwegian, can hear everybody on both teams; he says he has noticed that the discussion by the players in the hack is often at variance with what the sweepers are saying. Very interesting. Wish I knew as much as he did.

END #2: On third rocks, Sweden sit one and decide to split the house. In the end it gets them two.
SWE 2 - NOR 1

END #3: Not a pretty end for Norway. On one shot Svae, with surgical precision but unintentionally, removed all Norway rocks from play, leaving a bunch of Swedish rocks in the house and guards. A little later Nergaard manages to hit two guards and still put a rock on the button behind cover. To which Sweden freeze. Uslrud move things around and Norway lie two and three. Edin guards. Ulsrud cannot get past the guards and Sweden steal one.
SWE 3 - NOR 1

END #4: Edin's first shot just misses a double. Ulsrud comes deep into the house to inoculate against an Edin double. Edin just hits and stays, offering Ulsrud an opportunity to roll out for one or jam for one. Instead he hits and stays for two.
SWE 3 - NOR 3

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Bronze Medal - Norway - Sweden - Preliminary Notes

Norway have new pants; no doubt they had hoped ot use them this evening. Photo of the pants to follow.
Edin and one of his teammates are playing catch! With a Canadian football (I assume it is Canadian as it has green striping on the ends.)

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Saturday, April 09, 2011

Semi - Final - Scotland versus Norway - Late

The intermission is used to present the Amber Holland Team Canada, to a standing ovation (they are in their home town), and they have a little interview. Holland is characteristically sunny, and professes only pleasure in their world's silver medal.

The crowd is very happy to think that there will be two Saskatchewan teams at next year's Scotties Tournament. In a Glee-ish moment, the individual running the sound system hits us with Journey, naturally, "Don't Stop Believin'".

Russ Howard points out that Ulsrud has had to make some pretty fantastic shots to keep Scotland from running away with this. This is not the Scotland team we watched last night.

In the sixth end Norway get a biter in thee front twelve-foot, and we get an exchange of guarding and peeling. Norway finally come into the rings with a second rock. Scotland hit the front rock and roll over in front of the back Norway rock. Norway tap the Scotland rock out without jamming. Looks like a possible double for Brewster to me. He jams instead and the shooter rolls off. Ulsrud has an open draw for two and makes it.
NOR 5 - SCO 4

The seventh end is played wide open and blanked.

The eighth becomes pretty wide open after Norway, in the process of peeling guards, also remove their last remaining rock in the house. Brewster blanks.
NOR 5 - SCO 4

The Scottish fans just put on a show that earned a major round of applause from the media. It was elaborate, involved quite a variety of body movement and chants, and was nicely synchronized. We now know what they are doing with their spare time.
The ninth end involves some awfully nice angle-freezing and hitting. Ulsrud's first shot is open in the eight-foot. Brewster changes his call from the hack, and does not get the roll under cover the change in call targeted. Ulsrud ignored that rock and decides to draw. He gets behind cover but draws too deep. This time Brewster makes the needed draw for two.
SCO 6 - NOR 5

Brewster's first rock in nine kills a Norway rock in the house and leaves Scotland lying two, open, with two short corner guards. Ulsrud puts a rock partly covered by one of the guards and shot (there is a Scotland rock touching the eight-foot just slightly farther away). Brewster's planned tap-back misses, sitting on top of the just mentioned Scotland rock, almost a freeze. Ulsrud blasts but appears to get only one. However, there will be a measure. It is one.
SCO 6 - NO 6.

We are getting our money's worth.

So far in eleven Scotland have pulled off two great runbacks. They are hitting every attempt by Norway to get behind cover (there is a short Scottish corner guard). Ulsrud's first rock runs a Scotland rock back, leaving Scotland shot, and Norway, in front of (not touching) second shot. Brewster's hit avoids the jam perfectly. Ulsrud's draw attempt goes long and Scotland win.

Despite losing my prediction I look forward to the cheering section in the final.

It is pretty hard to argue anything but that Scotland deserved this. After all, they were a clear second in the round-robin. I hope it is this Scotland team that shows up tomorrow.

UPDATE: I am glad I dodged the scrum, as the cheering section is REALLY putting a show on now. "Brr it's cold in here, Something something atmosphere." They are all down at the edge of the ice, and have assembled even people who do not sit with them.

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Semi - Final - Scotland versus Norway - Early

The audience reaction to the announcement of Ulsrud's name suggests Norway is the favorite of the two teams here.

Scotland turn the hammer in the first end into two.
SCO 2 - NOR 0

Ulsrud's first rock in the second end leaves what looked like an easy double for Brewster, who just misses it. NOR take two.
NOR 2 - SCO 2

The cheering may provide some evidence that Norway has more fans, but it is equally clear that Scotland seems to have more committed and intense fans.

In the third, Ulsrud on his last rock threw a late guard that may save him from giving up a pile. Brewster decides to draw for a possible two, but goes therough the four-foot and scores one.
SCO 3 - NOR 2

Ulsrud finishes the fourth end attempting to split a front biter into the rings; the biter does make it to shot, but the roll of the shooter leaves a Scottish rock second shot.
SCO 3 - NOR 3

The fifth end is a series of taps and freezes, advantage Scotland by Ulsrud's first rock. He gets a rock onto the button, backed by Scotland rocks. Brewster's tap-back attempt comes up light, leaving Norway shot. Norway guard. Brewster runs the Norway guard back and promotes one off his rocks into shot.
SCO 4 - NOR 3

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What To Do Between Draws....

As Alan mentioned, he watches the Masters (golf) on his laptop. Here, he and a fan check out the Masters' leaderboard on his computer.

That's my computer next to him. If you use your imagination, you can make out the CHRW logo on the back of it.

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Norway - Scotland Coming Up

I predicted Norway would win this whole thing, and I must admit I was certainly feeling pretty stupid about mid-week. But they are following Amber Holland's lead and hanging on by the fingertips.
Tonight they play Scotland and I am pleased at that; about the most spirited cheering section is the Scottish one over to our left, and that adds to the fun a lot.
I still miss my US cheerleaders,

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Canadian Women of Curling: photos from the Calendar

That's right. There is a calendar featuring only Canadian women curlers. Here are a few:


Jill Officer


Kristy Jenion


Chelsea Carey

Paul Wiecek, writing in the Winnipeg Free Press said,
The last few editions of the calendar have been all-European affairs and included nudity. The new Canadian version, just like the country generally, is decidedly tamer than its European predecessor. "It's really kind of G-rated," Carey says.

No foolin'

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Page 3-4 Playoff Norway-Sweden, the Finish

Norway dominance continued, with the score 7-2 after six. Norway blanked the next two ends.
In the eighth, Norway kept the house pretty wide open, and Sweden could see where things stood. Kraupp made two trick deliveries (which I missed, watching the Masters on my laptop). On the final rock, Edin paid a nice tribute to Stoughton with a spinorama delivery, which actually proved to be an effective takeout shot.
A classy finish, a gift for the fans.
Norway-Scotland tonight, with the loser of that facing Sweden in the bronze medal match tomorrow. The match could well be interesting, as Norway was pretty inconsistent in shooting if not in scoring this afternoon.
One sign in the audience: "In pants we trust - Go Norway." And yes, the flag pants won again; they seem to have finally warmed up.

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There are Wags in Regina

One 'feature' (which I consider a bug) of the tournament is the between-end activity, where some loudmouth interviews audience members, setting up various games, and giving out prizes.
An interview just went something like:
LM (loudmouth) : "And what do you do?"
AM (audience member) : "I'm a retired farmer."
LM : "And so young for it. What did you farm?"
AM : "Marijuana."

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Page 3-4 Playoff: Sweden and Norway, Early Ends

After a beauty draw by Edin (Skip, SW) behind a guard, Ulsrud (skip, Norway) tried an in-off take-out but was wide of the broom and gave up a steal of one.

In the second end, Edin whiffed on a double attempt, leaving Ulsrud with a draw for three. And then another near-whiff in the 3rd end has Edin slamming his broom on the ice and yielding a steal of one to Norway. Shouldn't there be a fine or penalty for slamming one's broom on the ice? I mean, not only is it annoying to watch fits of anger, but it could damage the ice.

In the 4th end, Edin was forced to try a difficult double tap, but it didn't work, and NO stole two more. NO is dominating after 4 ends, 6-1.

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National Anthems - Just Love the Worlds

One thing that became extremely tedious at thh Brier was sitting through the Canadian national anthem at the start of EVERY draw, including playoffs.
I was pleasantly surprised at the start of this tournament when the draws featured not the Canadian national anthem, but rather the national anthem of the featured team of the draw. At least this meant variety, though if I were picking music to listen to it would not likely be a national anthem, with the possible exception of La Marseillaise.
Of course with only twelve teams and seventeen draws, they were going to run out of teams to feature, and I wondered what would happen at that point.
I was not here so I do not know, but I am delighted that so far in the playoffs nobody is even hinting at singing anyone's national anthem! Hooray!

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Page 3-4 Playoff: Sweden and Norway:
do red rocks win more often than yellow rocks?

Preparing for today's game, I looked at the scoreboard and saw that Norway has the hammer. I couldn't figure out what was going on, why Sweden didn't have the hammer, so I asked the statisticians for CCA what was going on.

I turns out Sweden had the choice. But they decided they wanted the red rocks more than they wanted the hammer. Huh? Well, we were informed, the red rocks win more.

Alan and I were skeptical. So the statisticians ran off the data for us. No foolin' What a shock: in the 66 games of the round robin, 43 games were won with the red rocks and 23 games were won with yellow rocks! I don't think the powerful teams had the red rocks more often, so it is quite likely that this is both a statistically significant difference and, more importantly, an important difference for making the decision.

I'm astounded. I would have thought that giving up the hammer would be foolish and that preference for red rocks is just a silly superstition. I'm much more confused, now, and much more willing to look into what is going on.

We need a SHRCC grant to study this question!!!

[update] The father of Kraupp (3rd, SW) is sitting next to us on the media bench. He says that's not at all what happened. His explanation is that SW and NO were tied at 7-4 in the round robinm and because NO defeated SW in their round robin game, NO won the hammer, so then SW chose the red rocks.

But that doesn't refute the result concerning red rocks. We still need the grant!

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Friday, April 08, 2011

Brewster's Draws

We noted during the round robin that Tom Brewster, skip of Scotland, had a pretty low curling percentage on his draw shots. We were puzzled that, given this low percentage, he opted for draw shots several times when he had the opportunity to throw a hit instead. Several times, those draw attempts led to misses that cost him points.

In the 8th end of tonight's game, Brewster had two draw attempts. The first was to set up a possible deuce, but he came up quite light with the shot. And then after Stoughton hit and rolled behind a guard, Brewster had to draw to the full 8' (not ordinarily a big challenge at the top levels of curling) and was a shade heavy. So not only did he not score his deuce, but in fact he gave up a steal of one.

Update: well his hit attempt in the 9th wasn't very good either. He completely flashed and gave up another steal of one. Canada leads 5-2 without the hammer in the 10th. It's all over but the shouting, as Canada keeps peeling Scot guards.

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Mutual Respect

With nothing particular going on on the ice, I noticed an outburst of applause. Looking over to a section to our right, I noted the Chinese team coming in to watch the game and getting applauded as they made progress to their seats, also waving acknowledgment to the crowd.
A little later, as one fan led that section in cheering for Canada, the Chinese team joined in. They even joined enthusiastically in a wave that erupted during yet another scoreless end.

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Back to Open Play

After scoring two in the fifth end, Scotland was in deep trouble in the 6th. Stoughton had a runback double for three, but he missed the shot, and Canada scored only one. Now we're in the 7th end, and the teams are playing it wide open, with no rocks in play once again.

Meanwhile, a very kind gentleman in the audience gave me his curling scarf:


I was dumbfounded and absolutely delighted!

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Booooorrrrriiiinnnggggg

It may be excellent curling (especially Canada), but three blanked ends out of four is just plain boring. I'll grant that one of those blanked ends came about only because of a super-duper triple by Scotland, but for the most part I would rather see more rocks in play.

As it is, we see some rocks in play, and then the run-back doubles begin, a shot which nowadays is almost a gimme at this level of play.

Hmmm. And just as I write this, a mistake by Mead leaves more rocks in play. And Scotland scores two.

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More on Splitting the Rings

In the second end, Canada split rings. But Scotland's draw drifted through the rings, and after much jockeying for position, Canada was able to draw for its deuce:
  • splitting the rings on defence typically will force the team with the hammer to take only one.
  • splitting the rings on offence typically increases the odds the team with the hammer will be able to take two.

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Splitting the Rings

Early in the first end, Scotland split the rings against Canada, with rocks at equal depth on either side of the 12'. Ordinarily, that layout would force Canada to take one if it persisted through the end. But I leaned over to Alan and said I didn't think it would last long. Sure as shootin', Mead doubled off two Scotland rocks, which led to a series of hits-and-sticks and a blank of the end by Canada. Splitting the rings just isn't nearly so powerful a strategy when there are top curlers who can double a lot of combinations in the rings if the rocks get too close to each other

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The Page 1-2 Playoff

The arena is sold out for tonight's game between Canada (10-1) and Scotland (9-2). The winner moves on to the gold medal final on Sunday. The loser must play the winner of the 3-4 game tomorrow.

The game tonight will be on Sheet C, and it looks as if many of the cameras will be sliding up and down sheet D, so we should have a pretty good view of the game from our vantage point at the end of the fourth row in the media section.

Nevertheless, we likely will not be blogging play-by-play, end-by-end coverage of the game. Instead look for us each (welcome back, Alan!) to post observations, commentary, rants, and analysis as the game proceeds.

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Team Canada Photos at the 2011 Men's World Championship

Here is a photo of Team Canada entering the arena last night (Thursday night) just prior to the last game of the round robin (the game Canada lost to Norway).



And here is a photo I took earlier this evening. I'm told it was posed for a TSN promo, but I think they are either looking for divine inspiration or seeking divine intervention.


.

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Warming Up for the Page 1-2

It will feature Canada versus Scotland.
As the Scotland fans drift in the sound system plays The Proclaimers' "500 Miles".
That should get them in the mood!

Despite appearances....
( Tie-Breaker: France vs. Norway)

I arrived at the arena midway through the fifth end. What I saw was Ulsrud of Norway make a gentle draw to score two after France's penultimate stone drifted through the rings. And after France blanked the sixth end, Norway has made some superb shots (including another nestling draw by Ulsrud) in the seventh end.

France has the hammer with a tied score, and overall, France is curling only very marginally better than Norway. But from what I've seen since I have been here, Norway seems to be in control of the game. In the 7th end, this sense was confirmed as Norway's shots were precise, but France's shots all seemed a bit off; and FR was forced to hit and stick for one. FR 3, NO 2.

End 8.
FR forced NO to take one in the 8th with deft placement of stones in the rings. So FR has the hammer in the 9th with the score tied.

End 9.Norway has three rocks in the house, and FR just drew in but is open. It looks as if FR's goal isn't going to be to blank the end. But I spoke too soon as Angibous cleared the rings with one spectacular shot. Norway still has a corner guard for Ulsrud to draw around, though, which he does perfectly to the back 12'. Angibous tries a run-back double using the guard, but misses. Steal of one for Norway. NO 4, FR 3.

End 10.
FR is down one with the hammer, and it isn't surprising to see that Norway has edged ahead of FR in curling percentages, too. Standard centre opening, but NO's rocks are not lined up on the centre line, leading to FR decision to draw up to them. Guard, peel, etc. Finally FR tries to go around the NO rocks and draw to the button, but drifts a bit deep. NO tries to freeze to the back FR stone, but undercurls and is side frozen, if anything. FR tries to double off the two NO stones that had been put in the top4' and button by the NO lead, but removes only one and loses the shooter, too. Ulsrud tried to hit and roll to the button but rolled to the outer 12'. FR is lying one, but a freeze attempt is light and overcurls, wrecking on the NO rock in the top4'. Ulsrud draws to the back of the button, almost frozen. FR has little option but to draw for 1. NO 4, FR 4. Extra end!

End 11.
NO has the hammer and the advantage in the extra end. It has been close through 10, but my sense has consistently been that NO has the advantage. Indeed, the curling percentages are NO 87, FR 85, and Ulsrud is curling 94%.

There are three corner guards in play, so NO still has a clear shot at the center of the house as we're into Vice stones. NO peels a guard, couldn't double off a FR stone at the back of the house. Repeat. FR draws to the button with their last rock. Ulsrud must hit and stay in the 8' to win. He does. FR is eliminated, and NO faces Sweden tomorrow.

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What Demographic Are They Aiming At?

I realize that the various curling associations around the world would like to interest more young people in the sport. But let's face it, by and large the fans of curling are older.

Do the folks who run these events really think that playing loud music between ends will suddenly attract more younger people without driving away even more older folks? The music in the tie-breaker is painfully loud... so loud I'd want my money back if I were a paying customer.

And to have it going, very loud, even when the leads are throwing their stones perturbs me considerably, given the requests that fans turn off their cell phones so as not to disturb the curlers.

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My Prediction!

Hey that cool Norwegian team is STILL in the game! (And as a second-generation Norwegian Canadian I find this pretty nice.)
I will confess I did not think they would need some weird and wild last-round win.
They did and they got it!
Let us see how it goes from now on!

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Thursday, April 07, 2011

WTF? Universal Sports Delay

Why This Feature (for anyone who does not understand the initialism)?
Why is the Universal Sports feed on the order of a couple of minutes behind reality (certainly a couple of minutes behind CurlCast, which is also on a sort of delay)?
This devalues the so-called 'live' coverage so much I do not understand how it can be marketed as very useful for a sport.
This really undermines my interest.
Might as well just go watch CurlCast. What is on the screen seems to be ancient history.

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Woo-Hoo USA vs France sort of

I'm in a hotel in the US and the only way to follow any curling is on NBC's Universal Sports online service.
Judging from the last rock of the first end, this service would not be too bad, but for the particular way this hotel offfers its Internet service. I am not sure what the throttling mechanism is (I sort of understand why), but it predictably inserts a little pause every now and then, frequently just as a rock is entering the house. Whatever happens during the pause seems to be clipped.
Well it is a little better than nothing.
People who get this service in ten years would be outraged to learn it was ever this bad, and I find it tolerable! :-) Well, I know what I could get ten years ago. I'd have considered CurlCast a blessing.
Well, this will be solved tomorrow; I should be back in Regina, for the late part of any tiebreaker in the afternoon, and certainly for the Page 1-2.

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Draw 17: Still Some Things to be Decided (1)

The outcomes of three of tonight's four games will affect who does or does not make the playoffs, which begin tomorrow. Switzerland, playing Korea, must win and hope for losses by both France and Norway to make a tie-breaker for the play-offs. If France defeats the US, France is guaranteed being in at least a tie-breaker; but if France loses, they also need Norway to lose to qualify for a tie-breaker. Norway is in the symmetrical position against Canada.

Unfortunately, the game between Canada and Norway is on Sheet D, meaning I won't see much of it at the far end. Argh. Oh well, you folks can probably see it better on tv anyway.

End 1: Korea splits the rings against Switzerland and is in a position to score two with the hammer, but SU hits and rolls forcing KO to take only one.
France has the house jammed full of their rocks, and the US will struggle to score even one with the hammer; indeed, FR steals one.

End 2: France is gaining position, but just as I type that, the US has a run-back triple to remove all the French stones. At skips' stones, there is a cluster of six rocks to the side of the rings. The US removes a bunch and is lying a doubtful two, but FR removes only one, with a thin double for two left for the US, but Fenson misses the shot: steal of another one by FR.

SU and KO have all six of their initial rocks in play with five clustered near the button and a KO guard out front. after a few more shots, there is no guard and six in the rings. Each shot nudges stones closer and closer to the pin. It's tight. SU shakes 'em up a bit but also opens up their own.
After more shake-ups, Lee draws frozen to a SU rock in the back 4'. Schwaller (SU skip) picks it out and scores 3.

But this is frickn ridiculous. I can't see a thing on Sheet D. I'm going to stop blogging and move to where I can see the action over there.

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More on tie-breaking

If there is a 3-way tie between Sweden, France, and Norway, then Sweden gets the bye because they averaged being closest to the pin with their ten best draws.

Updating Doc's Attendance Model through Draw 16

Drw PdAtt 50-50 Cumul C 8am?
#01 05595 10935 05595 *
#02 05748 10515 11343 *
#03 03948 01818 15219 - *
#04 05633 10765 20924 *
#05 04497 05635 25421
#06 02513 02280 27934 * *
#07 02585 03318 30519
#08 04185 09470 34704 *
#09 02431 01638 37135 - *
#10 03505 06173 40640 *
#11 05580 14780 46220 *
#12 03083 02918 49303 * *
#13 04554 09623 53857 *
#14 03131 05008 56988
#15 03059 04025 60047 * *
#16 02832 04343 62879


Since Canada is playing Norway this evening in a game that, before the event began, was touted as being a pre-gold-medal game, ticket sales have been brisk. But now that Canada has clinched first place, I wonder how many fans will actually show up.

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The Tie-Breaker Situation

Going into the last draw of the round robin at the 2011 Men's World Curling Championship, the situation is not terribly complex:
  • If both Norway and France win this evening, they and Sweden will all have 7-4 records, and there will be one tie-breaker.
  • If both Norway and France lose this evening, they will be tied with Germany at 6-5, and if Switzerland wins, it will also have a 6-5 record.
  • If only one of Norway and France wins and the other loses, there will be no tie-breaker games. Whoever wins is in the playoffs, and all the others are out.
All those draws to the button at the end of each formal practice session may come into play in determining who plays and who has a bye if there are three-way ties, but I can't find the data for those results.

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Draw #16: Do Or Die? (Part IV)
maybe just do or hope

Things aren't over yet. As I already noted, Germany scored 4 in the 7th against the Czech Republic to tie their game. Also, Switzerland scored two in the 8th and stole one in the 9th to trail Sweden "only" 6-4. Meanwhile Norway has blanked 4 ends in a row against China and still leads 2-1 with the hammer. What an unusual game!

CZ played the 8th end wide open, blanking the end, carrying the hammer into the 9th end. Expect more wide open play there. [update: was I ever wrong about that...again.]

CH is trying lots of different tactics to try to force NO to take a point, but they aren't having any luck so far.

It goes down to the last rock between SW-SU as Schwaller makes a gentle double to lie two, forcing Edin to hit for the win. SW 7 , SU 4

Conclusions:
Norway finally took one in the 9th and leads China 3-1 without the hammer going into the 10th end. Meanwhile, Scotland scored two, stole 2, and then stole 1 and is tied in the 9th with the US. And then, as Fenson's last rock rubs on a guard, Scotland steals yet another and wins 7-6.

As expected, China has troubles getting anything going in the 10th, but they do start with two corner guards, and Norway has a rock top 8'. China has the hammer, which makes the end interesting since they can tie it with a deuce. Norway kept the end fairly clean, but in the end was lying two and China had to concede without throwing their last stone. NO 3, CH 1.

The game between CZ and GE has been almost a comedy of errors with both teams missing big shots in the 9th end. The final miss by Snitil gives GE a steal of one, but CZ has the hammer coming home. In the tenth, GE has had shot rocks most of the time, but CZ still seems to be in decent position to score at least one (to tie and force an extra end) or possibly two for the win. Great freeze by Kapp forces Snitil to make a tight draw to the button for two, and he makes the shot, dropping GE to five losses.

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Draw #16: Do Or Die? (Part III)
maybe just do or hope

Intermission time. Meanwhile I notice that several people on the media bench are watching The Masters (golf) on their laptops. Jon Mead (3rd, Canada) mentioned in one of his interviews that he, too, likes to watch the Masters; I wonder if that's what he is doing with their time off this afternoon.

The attendance model says there are 2000 fans in the audience. Maybe. But again there were no classes of school children here either this afternoon or this morning. I still don't understand why the schools weren't offered more aggressive promotional pricing. That would surely do as much for the sport as that guy who goes to out-of-the-way schools with fake curling games for them to play in their gymnasia.

I can't keep up the play-by-play on three sheets. But in the 6th end, CZ lies 3 with the hammer. And they end up scoring three to lead GE 7-3. Meanwhile Sweden steals yet another from Switzerland and leads that game 6-1 after 7. Unless there are some impressive recoveries, there is a reasonable chance GE and SU could slip to five losses; if they do, they will have to hope for the following:
  • a loss by Norway to China and/or Canada, and
  • a loss by France to the US
Don't hold your breath (but the US really is doing well against Scotland, leading 6-1 after 6 ends).

My how things change. A great shot by Kapp scores four for GE in the 7th end, tying their game with CZ. What a turn-around!

If both Sweden and Germany win, then all teams with 5 losses or more will be eliminated from tie-breaks or the playoffs.

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Draw #16: Do Or Die? (Part II)
or maybe just do or hope

End 5. Norway blanks the 5th end against China and leads 2-1.

In the fifth, SW doubles off two SU rocks to lie one behind a guard. The end is fairly open. SW tries to freeze to the SW rock in the rings, but rubs on the guard, leaving a draw for two for SW, who lead 4-1.

It has been interesting to focus on the CZ-GE game, in part because GE can be so good some times, and in part because CZ has curled very well in the first half of the game. This sheet is well behind the others, though, so I'm not sure I can maintain end-by-end descriptions in the second half. With his last rock, Kapp hits and stays in the rings to score two. CZ 4, GE 3.

End 4.
The Swiss are forced to take one against Sweden in the 4th.

The game between Scotland and the US means nothing for the standings: Scotland is already locked into 2nd place, and the US has been eliminated from the playoffs. But the fans of these two teams have added to the enjoyment for most of the audience.

China managed to blank the 3rd end and is playing it pretty wide open against NO in the 4th end. But a mistake allows NO to split the rings, forcing CH to hit and stick for 1.

CZ had GE on the ropes again in the 4th end, but an attempted hit/roll ended up removing two CZ stones. The end is fairly open and heading toward a blank, but a CZ hit doesn't roll out. 4-1 for CZ.

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Draw #16: Do Or Die? (Part I)
or maybe just do or hope

End 3. CZ is still playing GE tough in the third end with two in the rings behind guards plus a centre-line guard. GE doubles off one guard plus one in the rings. CZ puts a rock top 12' as 2nd shot, behind the centre guard. If they had played like this all the time, they'd be contending to make the playoffs. After another GE half-miss, CZ put a rock in the 8' such that a raise by GE is impossible. Kapp must try a difficult in-off to score even one, and he executes it perfectly CZ 3, GE 1.

NO is setting up to force CH to take one, but Svae's hit-stick rubs a guard, and CH might be able to do better But then Ulsrud doubles off the CH stones and lies partly behind a guard -- fantastic shot. CH peels it off. CH blanks the end (the second end in that game).

SW has an easy hit/stick for 2 against SU in their third end.

End 2. The Swiss and Swedes blanked the second end as well as the first and are well ahead of the other sheets. The Czechs are giving the Germans a hard time, drawing to lie three behind cover and leaving a small port, forcing Kapp to try to draw for one, but he is an inch too deep, yielding yet another steal for CZ. Meanwhile Korea tried to set up a deuce against Norway, but had to settle for a blank .

End #1.
SW-SU blank, and so do SC-US, but the other two games have rocks in play. China can't roll under cover vs Norway, so Norway deuces. And the CZ skip made an amazing run-back triple to lie 3 himself, forcing Kapp to try an in-off double to salvage one, but his shot was thin, and he gave up a steal of 2.

----
There are four teams playing this afternoon with four losses. If they lose this afternoon, they might be eliminated from the playoffs, depending on how many others lose this afternoon or tonight.
  • Germany is 6-4, playing Czech Republic. If Germany wins, they are guaranteed making at least a tie-breaker.
  • Switzerland and Sweden are playing each other this afternoon, and they both have four losses. If Sweden wins, they are guaranteed at least a tie-breaker. If Switzerland wins, they still need a win this evening against Korea to guarantee they'll be able to play some more.
  • Norway, at 5-4, is playing China. This is a must-win game for Norway, who will then face Canada this evening.
As I said, if any of these teams loses one more game they are not automatically eliminated, but they will need other teams to lose, too, to bring about one or more tie-breakers.

Programming note: if there is only one tie-breaker, it will be played at 1:30 CST tomorrow and not at 8:30am as the schedule indicates.

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Doc's Attendance Model, Updated

Here are the data following the 15th Draw at the 2011 Men's World Curling Championship:

Drw PdAtt 50-50 Cumul C 8am?
#01 05595 10935 05595 *
#02 05748 10515 11343 *
#03 03948 01818 15219 - *
#04 05633 10765 20924 *
#05 04497 05635 25421
#06 02513 02280 27934 * *
#07 02585 03318 30519
#08 04185 09470 34704 *
#09 02431 01638 37135 - *
#10 03505 06173 40640 *
#11 05580 14780 46220 *
#12 03083 02918 49303 * *
#13 04554 09623 53857 *
#14 03131 05008 56988
#15 03059 04025 60047 * *

Quite clearly the previously hypothesized model isn't a perfect predictor of actual attendance. Recall that the model suggested that the actual, butts-in-the-seats attendance is roughly equal to half the dollar prize money in the 50-50 lotteries that are held for each draw. That prize for draw 11 predicts the actual attendance was over 7000 when the capacity of the Brandt Arena is only 6500 (or so) and the paid attendance was only 5580. But still it looks like a reasonable predictor for most of the draws. For example the model predicts the attendance at this morning's draw was about 2000, which seemed about right.

Maybe with all the RoughRider fans showing up for Draw 11 on Green Night, and with all the fun and excitement, people just spent more on the 50-50 lottery than usual.

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Draw #15: Across the Sheets, Part V

Whoa. I had it wrong about what happened between China and Canada (the action is at the far end of the sheet). It turns out Stoughton drifted a tad deep and gave up a steal of one. China and Canada are tied at 4 going into the 8th end. Interestingly, the curling percentages are tied at 81%, too. They play the 8th pretty open, with Carruthers and Mead clearing out some of the rocks, Stoughton doing a raise take-out, Ji putting a rock in the rings, and Stoughton peeling it to blank the end.

Germany takes one more in the 9th, and Denmark concedes.... Their 10th loss. But Germany is still in the thick of things with a 6-4 record.

Korea was forced to take just one in the 7th against Sweden and trails that game 6-4 without the hammer. In the 8th end, SW took 2 more, and Korea conceded.

The only game left on the ice is CA-CH tied at 4 in the 9th end. Canada blanked the 9th end. In the 10th, end, China puts up centre-line guards, Gould ticks them to the side, leaving 4 corner guards after leads' stones, but the centre is open for Stoughton still, which is what he wants for his final shot.

But until then.... centre guard from China. Mead peels it and in the process also knocks off a CA corner guard (the fewer guards the better, from CA perspective) AND rolls into the rings behind the remaining CA guard. This poses a problem for CH. Ba (Vice, CH) puts up yet another centre-line guard. No surprise: Mead peels it. With his first shot, Ji draws toward the CA counter, freezes to it with a very slight bump, and might be shot rock. Stoughton and Mead discuss their situation awhile, having plenty of time remaining. They decide to run back the guard, which leaves CA rock in the rings unguarded. Ji draws behind the CH guard to the back 8', leaving a draw to the 4' for the win for CA. Canada remains undefeated, and China is all but out of the running.

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Draw #15: Across the Sheets, Part IV

After a great start, Denmark is fading against Germany, as Germany stole 2 in the 6th end to lead 5-2. And after the 7th end, another steal by Germany. Also in the 6th end, Canada had a few "half-shots", leading to a situation in which the best Canada could do was blank the end. And Scotland deftly curled behind a guard against France, leaving FR with a thin chip out to blank the end, SC 4, FR 1.

Things are interesting, going to skips' stones between KO and SW with 3 SW and 4KO rocks gathered in the centre of the house. Lee (KO skip) tried to angle-raise-double to remove some of the SW rocks, but ended up leaving the SW rocks untouched, removing two KO rocks, and losing his shooter. That could have been the "shot of the game" as the skips each have one stone left to throw. Yup, Lee tried an impossible shot to get to the button and gave up a steal of 4. Sweden leads 6-3.

Mead just whiffed on an attempted tap-back, leaving China in a good position to steal or at least force one, especially after a delicate draw to the button on the first rock from Ji. With his last rock, Stoughton is forced to try to draw to the button to save one. CA 5, CH 3.

Scotland stole 2 from FR in the 7th, and FR conceded at 6-1. That loss drops FR back into a multi-team tie for 4th place in the round robin. It is now the case that every team that finishes with only 4 losses is guaranteed at least a tie-break spot for the play-offs.

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Draw #15: Across the Sheets, Part III

As the games are proceeding at different paces, it is no longer possible to describe the action on an end-by-end basis. So I won't do so much of that.

Denmark scored their deuce in the 4th end and leads Germany 2-1 (and is out-curling Germany in percentages as well). Will this be their first victory? The Danes have had leads in other games, too, though, and Andy Kapp is very good at snatching victories from the jaws of defeats.

Sweden had Korea in trouble with three in the rings and two guards out front, but Lee drew to the button to score one: Kor 3, Swe 1 after 4 ends.

Some fans have come with signs for each of the Canadian team players, much to the delight of the crowd. At one point Stoughton looked up at them, held his arms open as if to say, "Hey, what about me??" Then Mead patted him on the back in an exaggerated consoling gesture, and Stoughton faked a crying gesture. But on his own very good double take-out, the fans held up a sign for him, too. The signs, as I recall them
  • He can't be fooled, Steve Gould
  • There are no others like Carruthers
  • We have a need for Mead
  • No Doubtin' Jeff Stoughton
I want to add "Burma Shave", but I guess that'd be showing my age.

China and Germany each took two in their respective 5th ends. China curled very well that end, developing the split in the rings in such a manner that Canada couldn't double them off. CA 4, CH 3. ... and GE 3, DE 2.

On Sheet A, Brewster barely tapped a FR stone to score 2. SC 4, FR 1 after 5.

Between SW and KO, Edin tried a chip-out with his first rock but moved some SW rocks as well.
Korea tried to clog up the centre a bit and forced SW to draw for one. SW 3, KO 2 after 5.

Intermission and coffee time.

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Draw #15: Across the Sheets, Part II

There's a good-sized crowd here this morning, too many to count. The Scots, Chinese, and Korean teams all have small but very vocal cheering sections; all of them have also attracted some Canadian fans who are helping them out. It's all been great fun. It will be interesting to see how the "attendance-estimator" comes out today. It certainly was off the mark for Draw 11 (update to follow after this draw)

On Sheet D, Denmark rolled behind a guard, forcing Kapp to draw for one. On sheet A the game have been open for two ends between France and Scotland, with Scotland blanking both ends. In the first end, it looked to me as if the Scots were more forced into the blank, but then I guess that is usually the case.

In the middle sheets there are more rocks in play. Edin tried a tap back to roll under cover against Korea, but was open, leaving a hit for two by Korea. And on sheet B, with a few guards out front, the teams have been trying to play into the centre of the house. Canada has one on the button, and China has one in the back 4'. Stoughton freezes to his own rock on the button, leaving only a very difficult draw to the other part of the button for Ji (China Skip) to try to salvage one. Perfect. Canada leads China 2-1 and has the hammer.

For the 3rd end, there are rocks in play everywhere except sheet D, where Denmark blanks the end against Germany. The tension here is actually pretty noticeable as every sheet has a game that counts for more than just the pride of winning. Meanwhile, the house has been nearly emptied between Sweden and Korea, but a hit and roll attempt by Lee remained open, and Edin hits and sticks for 1 rather than rolling out. Kor 2, SW 1.

Between France and Scotland, the FR skip's last stone didn't quite curl behind the guards and is exposed; with the hammer, Brewster ignores it, though, and draws to the side 4' to score 2. SC 2, FR 0.

On sheet B in front of me, the play has developed behind two guards, with rocks in the back of the rings. With his last rock, Ji looked at trying a hit through a VERy narrow port and made the shot perfectly, forcing Canada to take one. CA 3, CH 1.

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Draw #15: Across the Sheets

Going into Draw 15, Canada has clinched the #1 ranking from the round robin. Scotland is the next closest team with a record of 7-2, vs. Canada's undefeated record of 9-0. Even if Canada loses both draws today, by virtue of their victory over Scotland, Canada would have the top spot.

So rather than focus on the Canada-China game, I'll be looking around, commenting on other games. In particular, the game between France and Scotland will have some importance: France is not guaranteed a place in the play-offs, and Scotland's ranking in the round robin is uncertain.

Meanwhile, on sheet C, after their two losses yesterday, Sweden is playing for survival into the playoffs with a record of only 5-4 now. They're playing Korea, who is out of the running for the playoffs. Similarly, on sheet D, Germany with 4 losses is still in the running for a playoff spot, and they are playing the winless Danes.

After the first end, the other three sheets blanked, and after a measurement, Canada took two against China (who, by the way, have not been eliminated yet).

I have never seen Lee, the skip from Korea, take his jacket off. Never. I asked their coach/translator about it, and he told me that Lee keeps it on because he doesn't sweep enough to keep warm. I'm sure he meant that reply as an explanation, not a jibe, but it came out sounding a bit funny.


It is clear that Jon Mead is back on his game (he seemed just a shade off earlier in the round robin). He just made one of his typical run-back doubles, the type of shot that used to seem amazing and now seems so commonplace for him.

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It's a Tough Job, But Someone Has to do it


Doc resting between draws

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Some Difficulties Seeing the Action

Tuesday night, Canada was playing Scotland on Sheet D (a side sheet), and at times I could not see the action, especially not at the far end of the sheet. Here is why:

As you can see (or not see?) The camera operator completely blocks the view of the rings from where we sit.

But that shouldn't be a problem, should it? After all, aren't there monitors for us to watch?

The Brandt Arena doesn't have an overhead JumboTron like those in London, Ontario, or Kitchener (and many other arenas); rather, we are dependent on smaller monitors provided at various points along the media benches. Here is the only monitor we can see:


Perhaps you recognize her. That's Jill Officer.

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Draw #13: Canada and Sweden, Second Half

Team Canada is curling up a storm. Steve Gould (lead, CA) may not be curling 100%, as he did last night against Scotland), but the entire team is curling 93%!! In the 6th end, Mead made a good run-back double, Edin didn't quite roll behind a guard the way he wanted to, and as a result Canada was able to score two more. CA 9, SW 4

Sweden scored two more in the 8th end, but it was at the far end of the ice, and I was finishing up some day-job things, so I missed how that end unfolded. CA 9, SW 6

Coming toward us in the 8th, it's the standard centre opening that Stoughton seems to favour (i.e. no corner guards). Sweden's draws from the second are a bit deep and wide, and Carruthers removes them, in the process doubling off a SW guard, too. Whoa! Stoughton just missed his shot. Sweden is now in a position to maybe force one, but it will still be difficult. Canada has two frozen in the top 8'to4', and Sweden has only one in the back 4'. Edin doubles off the two Canadian stones, and Sweden is lying two. Stoughton doubles those off to score one, and they shake hands. CA 10, SW 6

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Draw #13: Canada and Sweden, First Half

I made it to the arena toward the end of the 4th end. [digression: I stopped for a slice of pizza along the concourse before joining the media bench(es). The middle of an early end is a great time to visit the food concessions, if you don't mind missing the game --- there was no line-up!)

Sweden came into this afternoon's game with curling percentages that were roughly equivalent to those of Canada. As a result, every one in the CHRW sportscasting team was expecting a tightly fought game.

It started out that way: Sweden was forced to take only one point with the hammer in the first end. And after that the teams alternated scoring. The difference was that Canada scored 4 in the second end and 3 in the 4th end (I saw Stoughton's last shot, a terrific bump up through a maze of rocks, right after Edin missed his shot). Meanwhile, Sweden scored just one in the first end and two in the third end.

So after 4 ends, CA 7, SW 3. and in the fifth end, once again Canada put Sweden in position where Edin had no choice but to try to draw to salvage one point.

After five, CA 7, SW 4, and Canada will have the hammer starting the second half.

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Our Day Jobs Are Intruding....

To all our loyal readers, we want to apologize for not being able to cover the 2011 Men's World Curling Championship fully. Unfortunately we both have other obligations, as well, some of which we simply have been unable to shirk or to fob off onto others.

The upshot is that neither of us was at the Brandt Arena in Regina, SK, this morning for Canada's defeat of the Czech Republic, and neither of us will be there this evening. We're hoping that I will be able to cut my afternoon obligations short and then race to the arena to cover the last half of the draw featuring Canada vs. Sweden. I sure hope so because that could prove to be a VERY exciting game. Sweden ranks right behind Canada in curling percentages.

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Toiling in Obscurity

The hotel I am in delivers USA Today every morning. The last two days I have scoured the Sports section and there is not a mention of the World Curling Championship, which includes a US team that has been a contender in the past. Meanwhile, there is a detailed report on the Andalucian Tennis Open, which, as far as I can see, features not a single US player.
It's a good thing the Fenson team have their families!

What Broke in CurlCast? and why you need this Blog

I had to go out and socialize this evening. I desperately wanted to know what had happened in the Men's World Curling while I was out.
I got back and went to CurlCast. The Canada-Scotland game was stuck in the seventh end and the leaderboard had both teams at 6-0. Two hours later now this is still the case.
Meanwhile, this blog, because Doc was manning the bench, has detailed news about the outcome.
Three cheers for the CHRW team! Way better than those who have beclowned themselves with some obscure software failure!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Draw #11: The Battle of the Unbeatens,
Conclusion

End 9. CA is up two with the hammer, a pretty good position. As I look back on the game, the first two ends have made the difference so far, with CA deucing in the 1st end and stealing in the 2nd. After that, it was all exchanges of ones, with one blank. Standard centre opening.

Oh, oh! There's only one game on the ice and the crowd has started doing the wave. I expect the crowd control police to eject them or at least tell them to stop any minute. Surely all that noise must be disturbing to the curlers.

They're on 3rd's stones and there are 4-5 alternating colour stones lined up on the centre line. Then with his second rock, Drummond draws to the top 4', next to their other rock there. Mead taps it back out of the rings and sticks. Can't tell what happened to Brewster's first; it looks as if he tapped Mead's through the rings. Then Stoughton tapped that one back through the rings. Beauty tap by Brewster removed the two CA rocks from the 4' and is now shot rock behind a CA guard. Stoughton makes a terrific double runback to score two. Scotland shakes hands. CA 7, SC 3.

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Draw #11: The Battle of the Unbeatens,
the later ends

End 8. Meanwhile China conceded to France, 10-3 after 7 ends, Denmark conceded to Sweden 9-3 after 7 ends, and Korea conceded to Germany 8-3 after 8 ends. So CA vs SC is the only game still in progress.

This is an odd end. Brewster has the hammer but keeps putting up centre guards, and Stoughton keeps peeling them, a reversal of the usual roles and strategies. Finally SC goes into the rings, but quite deep (back 8'). Double raise by Mead removes the SC rock on the rings and freezes to the SC rock in the back 4'. Drummond draws/freezes a bit heavy and bumps open a bit. Stoughton runs that rock out of the rings nad pushes the other back to the corner 8'. Canada is 1-2-4. Brewster's draw taps the CA rock to the back 4' but is open again. CA is now 1-2-5. With his last rock, Stoughton taps that rock out of the rings and CA is 1-2-3. Brewster decides to try to avoid giving up a steal by drawing to the button, which he does successfully. CA 5, SC 3.


End 7.
Time out for some repairs to the hogline-violation-detection-mechanisms in a couple of SC rocks. According to Curlcast, Steve Gould (lead, CA) is curling 100%!

As happened earlier, there were two SC rocks in front of two CA rocks. Mead doubled them off. This time Drummond peeled one CA rock and nearly froze to the other at the back side of the button. Mead removes all those as well as his shooter, but leaves a SC rock at the back corner of the 12'. Brewster draws to the opposite side, back corner of the 12' to split the rings. Stoughton freezes to that rock and is shot rock. Brewster draws in front of that rock, forcing Stoughton to draw for one. CA 5, SC 2

- - - - - -
As one might have guessed, after five ends, Canada is out-curling Scotland, but only by 89% to 86%, and that is mostly due to Brewsters early misses on his draw attempts. At the same time, Stoughton's percentage is only 80%.

End 6. I've missed a bit of this end because some other members of the media blocked my view for a few stones. Canada has a rock in the rings and two on the side, one biting the 12'. SC has a rock in the 12', too. Mead inadvertently empties them all aside from a CA rock back of the button. Drummond freezes to it, but Mead removes them both, along with his shooter. The house is now empty, with essentially no guards. SC is set up to blank the end again. Drummond guards, and Stoughton hits and sticks on the guard by mistake. Brewster draws around the guard but slides to the back 12'. Stoughton corner freezes to that rock to be shot rock. Brewster isn't even considering a draw for one. Well, maybe a draw down to the corner of the CA rock, using it as backing... Oops, he wrecks on the guard, but rolls into the rings and barely hangs around to score one. CA 4, SC 2

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Draw #11: The Battle of the Unbeatens,
the early ends, part II

End 5. There is a LOT of green in the crowd, but not quite as much as one would see at a RoughRider game. One reason, of course, is that some people are wearing red Team Canada garb.
Standard centre opening again. This time CA rocks are in front of the t-line. Andrews taps the rocks around a bit and leaves everything exposed. Mead taps out a SC rock, leaving three CA rocks in the 8', along with one SC rock. Drummond draws down in front of all those rocks, but still in the 8'. Mead removes one of each and sticks as a guard, leaving the SC rock exposed. Drummond doubles out the guard and one other CA rock and rolls over to guard the SC rock. CA is 1st and 2nd shot in the 4' but unguarded. Stoughton removes the guard and pushes the remaining SC rock to the back of the house. Brewster doubles off the two CA rocks. SC is 1-2 with rocks in top 8' and back 12'. Stoughton doubles them out, leaving only his shooter in the rings. Brewster blanks. CA 4, SC 1.



End 4.
I couldn't figure out for several draws why every once in awhile some fan would make a cock-a-doodle-doo sound. Finally tonight I got it: it's a Scot fan who does it whenever (well, often) it is Brewster's turn to throw his first rock. He shouted out, Brewster Rooster!

Standard centre-line opening, which makes for pretty exciting curling, as there are centre-line guards and rocks in the rings right from the start. Canada has a rock on the button and one in front of it; SC has three in front of those. Mead (vice, CA) deftly removes two of the SC rocks. That opens the way for Drummond to nearly freeze to the CA rock on the button. Mead slams into that, removing it AND the CA rock on the button. CA now has the house split. Brewster hits the open CA rock and rolls behind the guards, but just a bit too deep to be shot rock. Stoughton tries to draw to the button but is narrow and wrecks on the guard. The rocks in front of the button are lined up for what Linda Moore has called a jam sandwich, but once again Brewster opts to try to draw to the button but comes up a bit light again despite the best sweeping efforts of his front end. Stoughton has a difficult draw to the side of the 4' for two. I don't know.... measurement time. Scotland's rock is second shot. CA 4, SC 1.

-----
Judging from the way the fans here react to the Scots fans, I'm surprised there isn't more singing and chanting by the Canadians, too.

End 3. Brewster wasn't just light on that draw attempt. He was short of the rings.
Standard corner opening. Canada's first rock drifted behind the button, and that will affect the general direction of the end, as Scotland froze to it smack dab on the button. And Carruthers flashed (missed) with his second shot. Mead froze to the SC rock on the button. Drummond (vice, SC) moved that one and removed the backing. Stoughton removed an SC rock, but SC is still shot. Brewster removes the CA rock that is 2nd shot to lie two. Stoughton doubles off those two, and Canada now has first and second shot with the rings almost split. With the hammer, Brewster draws down to the CA shot rock, almost bounces through, but scores one. CA 3, SC 1

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Draw #11: The Battle of the Unbeatens,
the early ends

Draw 11 features Canada vs. Scotland. Both teams come into the game with perfect 6-0 records. But they are very different teams. It will be fun to see how the play evolves between these two teams with their different styles and backgrounds.

Through their first six games, Canada has curled 85% (ranked 1st) and Scotland has curled 81% (ranked 5th). Also, if Scotland finds itself needing precise draws from their skip, Brewster, they may have a bit more trouble if his draw percentages (64%) are any indication.

It was fun to see Scotland come into the arena wearing RoughRider jerseys. And Team Canada had their Green and White jackets on.

End 1. Standard corner guard opening; Canada has the hammer. Canada has a rock on the button, Scotland has two in the 4', and there are others in play, too. Mead (vice, CA) is a couple of inches short with his draw to the button, but Brewster is a touch short, too. Stoughton's a bit wide with his tap, leaving Canada shot but Scotland second shot, all around the button. Brewster double taps, raising a SC rock into the shot rock and moving it back off the button. CA may be shot, and they might have a chance to score a few. But at the same time, they could give up a steal. Stought opts for a runback of Scotland's centre-line guard. He makes it and scores two. CA 2, SC 0.

End 2. It is fascinating to watch Stoughton and Brewster chatting together at the back of the house. We don't see that often. What a crowd! About as many as were here for the opening draw. Add to that the general rip-roaring spirit inspired by all the green (makes me think of Rider games) plus the fun from the Scots fans who enjoy singing and chanting (reminiscent of European soccer games), and there's lots of good fun and noise.

Canada has three rocks on the centre line in the top of the house; Scotland has one in the side 12'. Andrews (2nd, SC) removes one CA rock and rolls to the side, but not far enough to guard their rock in the rings, which Carruthers (2nd, CA) removes with a hit and stick. But then Andrews doubles off the other two CA rocks in the rings.

Through it all, Canada splits the rings leading up to skips' stones. But Stoughton lets SC off the hook when he hits and rolls out with his first stone. In turn, Brewster hit and rolled out, too, leaving an opportunity for Stoughton to draw behind a corner guard, but he is mostly open, so Brewster can hit and roll out to blank the end. Instead, he decides to draw (Oops, remember what I wrote above) and comes up light. Steal of one for Canada. CA 3, SC 0

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More on Shirts

In the afternoon draw, two players from Korea (T. Kim and S. Kim) had their shirt tails out. Svae of Norway started with his tucked in but it was out by the end of the first end. And so far as I could tell, the entire French team plays with their shirt tails not tucked in. All the players of Denmark, US, Canada, Germany, and Switzerland play with their shirt tails tucked in. I'll have ask about the differences.

Too bad Team Canada didn't have shirts with green on them this afternoon. Maybe this evening?

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Updating Doc's Attendance Model after Draw #10

Here are the data following the 10th Draw at the 2011 Men's World Curling Championship:

Drw PdAtt 50-50 Cumul C 8am?
#01 05595 10935 05595 *
#02 05748 10515 11343 *
#03 03948 01818 15219 - *
#04 05633 10765 20924 *
#05 04497 05635 25421
#06 02513 02280 27934 * *
#07 02585 03318 30519
#08 04185 09470 34704 *
#09 02431 01638 37135 - *
#10 03505 06173 40640 *


The implication from the 50-50 prize size is that there were slightly over 3000 fans in the arena this afternoon. It didn't look that way to me, but it might have been close. Also, I expect some of the fans spent a good deal of time in "Keith's Patch", a huge party room with music, alcohol sales, food, and visits from the Saskatchewan RoughRiders expected between draws. So maybe there were more people who bought 50-50 tickets but who didn't show up in the arena.

More likely, there are many omitted variables that are important, and the relationship between the 50-50 prize and actual attendance isn't perfectly linear.

We definitely need a grant to estimate the full model.

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The Pants, Again

In the media scrum after Norway's narrow victory over the US in Draw 10, I mentioned to Ulsrud, "You know, you've won every game wearing those pants...."

He clapped me on the shoulder, smiled broadly, and said, "I know. Which pants do you think we're wearing tomorrow?!" and laughed.

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Draw #10: Canada vs. France

This afternoon's draw features a game between two of the top teams (so far) in the tournament. Canada is unbeaten at 5-0, and France has a 4-1 record. I may not be watching the other sheets much.

As the team entered the arena, the crowd went wild with appreciation. Here's why:


It is "Green Day" at the arena, honouring the Saskatchewan RoughRiders CFL team. I'd guess that well over half the crowd is wearing something green, and it is typically a jacket or jersey with a RoughRider logo on it.

End 9. After a bit of miss by Mead let FR set up a force of one, FR made a poor shot, followed by a run-back double by Stoughton to split the rings. FR tries to draw around the CA stone in the top 4' and ends up shot in the back 4'. Stoughton runs back a CA stone for 3. CA 11, FR 5 and handshakes, as Stoughton puts the green jacket back on.

End 8. Do you think maybe Canada let up a bit in the 6th and 7th ends? It sure looks that way. Once again, the play is in the centre. That makes for exciting curling. Carruthers doubles off a couple of FR rocks, so all the play is now in the rings. Mead now doubles off two more FR rocks, leaving his shooter as a guard. CA has three rocks in the top of the house, but with FR hits and CA misses, Stoughton is facing two FR rocks in the top 4' and must double them off to blank the end. CA 8, FR 5

End 7. As the 7th end begins, every player for the Canadian team is curling in the 90s, and every curler for the French team is curling in the 70s. Yet I wonder if I was hasty in thinking this game might end quickly. More play up the middle, but this time FR has a rock on the button and seems to be protecting it rather well. Attempts to double it off have failed, and Stoughton misses an angle take-out (I didn't understand why he was trying that). FR steals one. CA 8, FR 5. It ain't over 'til it's over...

End 6. I doubt this game will last long, so I'll just continue here without beginning a new post. Canada starts with two in the rings, and FR has one top12 and side 8. After more play, Mead slams into the pile, leaving Canada shot with a FR rock on the side. FR could hit and stick to split the rings, but they need more than a deuce, so they freeze. But Stoughton hits and sticks on the other FR rock to lie two. FR has a tough cross-rings double attempt but rolls the other way to the side 12. Stoughton hit, but didn't roll to the 8', leaving a hit for two by FR. CA 8, FR 4

End 5. The curling scores reflect what is going on. After four ends, the two middle curlers for France are each curling only 59%. Again, most of the rocks are along the centre line, but there are fewer in play than in the third end. Stoughton is amazing. He doubled off two FR stones to lie two (it wasn't an easy double). FR hit, but rolled out, leaving an open draw for two. CA 8, FR2

End 4. Canada has two in the top 8', and France has one frozen to them; with their next rock, FR tries to draw around them, but drifts back to the back 12'. With his first rock, Stoughton tries to freeze to the FR rock in the back, but bounces a bit open. FR slams into the rocks in the top of the house, but leaves CA shot. FR must hit and stick for one. CA 6, FR 2

End 3.
Standard opening #2, with CA rocks in the rings and no corner guards with the result that tones of rocks are lined up along the centre line. France did a nice job of removing a bunch of Canadian stones, but left a tap out by Stoughton for three more. CA 6, FR 1

End 2. As the end progressed, Canada had quite a few rocks in play, but not behind guards. Neverthess, French errors allowed Canada to split the rings with one rock behind a corner guard, forcing France to draw for one. CA 3, FR 1

End 1. Canada has the hammer and by the time they get to vice rocks, Canada has the rings split. Several mistakes by France let Canada leave four counters in the rings after Mead's second stone. Angiboust (vice, but throws skip's stones for France) removes one and rolls over to freeze against Canada's shot rock. Stoughton somehow picks it out and lies three. Angiboust tries for double but gets only one, leaving an open draw for three for Canada. CA 3, FR 0
[note: at the conclusion of the first end, every player on Team Canada was curling 100%]

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The CHRW Sports Broadcast Team

One of the reasons Alan and I are attending all the draws of the 2011 Men's World Curling Championship in Regina, Saskatchewan, is that we are filing reports with CHRW-FM Radio in London (94.9 FM, also available on the internet). When we file our reports, we make reference to the CHRW Sports Crew, implying there is a truckload of support here. And in a way there is. The media bench(es) are filled with people who are helpful. Here are two whom we have declared to be members of the crew:

Jorg Leuenberger, Swiss Curling Federation

Jill Officer, Global Regina

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Draw #9: Additional Commentary

The US scored another two against Czech Republic in the 6th end. My guess is that if the US steals in the 7th, that will be the end of the game. Meanwhile, SU stole one from Norway in the 6th and forced Norway to take one in the 7th as the Norway team continues its skid.

On Sheet D, the Czechs scored only one against the US but still shook hands, conceding an 8-4 victory by the US. That just doesn't seem right to me. Only 4, with two ends to go. I guess I can understand it, given they hadn't been curling very well and given they didn't have the hammer going into the 9th end, but it still seemed like less of a gimme for the US than the Czechs were conceding.

Norway scored only one in the 9th and conceded. Not surprising, the way they've been playing. SU 7, NO 4.

At one point Germany was up 6-3 over Sweden, but then SW scored two and stole another to tie it up going into the ninth end.

Scotland blanked the 8th end against China, but they won't be able to do so in the 9th end; the rings are loaded with rocks at the far end of the ice. As you might readily imagine, I am so intrigued that China can be playing Scotland so tough when their curling percentages are considerably lower. One explanation might be that Ji (Skip, China) is curling okay, and Brewster (Skip, Scotland) is curling about the same, which is not so good as he usually curls.

But in the 9th, Ji couldn't quite tick/tap a rock up and rather than risk a mistake, Brewster threw his own last rock away, scoring two (eschewing a draw for three).

Another exciting time-clock situation for China: they have only 5:19 remaining, going into the 10th end, and they need slow rocks to set up guards. And to start things off, the China lead chewed up lots of time with a very slow rock that the sweepers couldn't drag across the hog line. So now Scotland will just keep the ice clean and run China out of rocks. It was a good game and close, right up through the 9th end.

On Sheet C, Sweden made life very difficult for Germany such that Kapp had to throw his last rock through the rings, hoping that a measurement would show Germany scored one. He was right, so we move to an extra end in that game.

An easy draw for one for Sweden with the hammer. What a letdown for Germany. It's almost fortuitous, but fortunately neither Sweden nor Germany is playing this afternoon --- the afternoon draw begins in less than two hours!

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Updating Doc's Attendance Model

As of now [updated below to include the official stats from the ninth draw] the data are as follows:

Drw PdAtt 50-50 Cumul C 8am?
#01 05595 10935 05595 *
#02 05748 10515 11343 *
#03 03948 01818 15219 - *
#04 05633 10765 20924 *
#05 04497 05635 25421
#06 02513 02280 27934 * *
#07 02585 03318 30519
#08 04185 09470 34704 *
#09 02431 01638 37135 - *

The model would imply there were about 800 - 850 fans here this morning (not counting the students in the upper deck, who, presumably would not be allowed to purchase 50-50 tickets), no matter what the paid attendance figures are. As I looked around the arena, it looked as if more folks arrived as the draw proceded, and so that figure may not be far off. I expect many of them had day passes or week-long passes and didn't bother to show up until later in the draw. Too bad. They missed some pretty exciting curling.

Let's face it: morning draws are not big draws even if Canada is playing; but they're even worse when Canada is NOT playing. Time for the CCA to plan to sell or give more tickets to school classes for draws like these in the future.

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Draw #9: Commentary

As is readily apparent, I find it difficult to keep up with even sketchy play-by-play descriptions. So far, into the third end on all sheets, Norway is still struggling, this time against Switzerland, and China is being only slightly out-played by Scotland. Meanwhile on the other two sheets, Sweden is still looking very strong against Germany, whose performance seems more variable than most teams other than, perhaps, the US. ... speaking of whom, their matchup against the Czech Republic is shaping up to be a fairly evenly matched game so far.

After four ends, China is playing Scotland very tight, forcing them to take one in the second and fourth ends, with the score only 2-1. The curling percentages indicate that Scotland is seriously out-curling China, but it doesn't look that way from where I sit. Maybe it's just that I have seen some excellent shots from China and some not-so-excellent shots from Scotland.

One problem with trying to watch so many games at once: I completely missed what happened when the US scored 5 against Czech.

At the midway point, China is still curling very well against Scotland; the percentages may not show that, but they are tied at two not just as a result of luck.

Norway is still struggling against the Swiss, who deuced twice and stole one. The back end of SU is curling consistently well this morning.

And the US is having an up day against Czech, leading 6-3 with the hammer after 5 ends. The back end of the US team isn't doing all that well, but back end of Czech is considerably worse.

Finally, the game between Germany and Sweden is well behind the others. Edin (SW) just made an exciting angle raise take-out to lie four, forcing Andy Kapp (GE) to draw for one; GE leads 5-3 without the hammer.

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Interesting Developments on the Cathy O Front

A Loder! (Go see our Scott coverage from 2006, though that Loder was Cherie-Ann.)
And a Howard! (Can Russ really comment fairly? Well, he's done a good job with the younger brother so I suspect so.)
In place of Wilson and Westcott, Overton-Clapham has recruited two-time Canadian junior champion Jenna Loder and Ashley Howard, the daughter of three-time world champion and TSN curling analyst Russ Howard.
Breanne Meakin -- who played third for Overton-Clapham for most of the 2010-11 season, but not at the provincials because she was representing Manitoba at the Canadian Juniors at the time -- will be back with Overton-Clapham again next winter.
Next year's Manitoba playdowns should be more, or maybe less, interesting.

UPDATE: I forgot that Jones is no longer Team Canada. Next year's Manitoba playdowns might be worth attending!

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More Fashion News from the World of Curling

It appears during this morning's draw that three of the four players from Sweden are wearing their shirts without the tails tucked in. So are one player from Scotland and at least one from China. The rest of the 32 players on the ice all have their shirt tails tucked in, though Svae's (Norway) is slowly coming out.

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Draw #9: Sad Turnout

As the piper leads the teams onto the ice, there must be no more 200-300 people here, and that's including four noticeable groups of students. But then, it is 8:30am, and Canada isn't playing.

As Alan and I have suggested before, the organizers should be selling tickets to student groups for $1 or maybe even less, just to pack the upper deck. I guess they missed those classes on price discrimination in bizskool.

Update: By the time the third end has rolled around, an exhaustive head count reveals that there are roughly 300 people here in addition to about 150 students. Some of the groups of students brought posters and signs, supporting teams from different countries.... fun and a nice gesture of hospitality.

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The Pants: Inquiring Minds Want to Know....

Which pants will the Norwegians wear this morning in the 9th draw of the 2011 Men's World Curling Championship?

Will they wear the red & white pants with the repeating motif that is reminiscent of some of the creative artistry of M.C. Escher [e.g. see below]? The only time the team has won has been while wearing those pants.

Or will they wear the recently debuted pants based on the Norwegian flag?

Or will they wear the blue argyle pants they wore last night (which is unlikely, since they presumably rotate through their outfits, having them laundered in the meantime)?

And the answer is....

The flag motif, which is consistent with a three-way rotation through their outfits.

An example of M.C. Escher's recursions:

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