In hopes of providing a simple explanation
for how the great game of curling is played, the following (simplified)
explanation is provided. Watching a curling event is truly the best
way to fully understand the game, particularly if having it explained
by a curler as well!
ICE: A sheet of curling ice is dimensioned at 138 ft x 14 ft.
Unlike hockey ice, the curling surface is carefully groomed by frequent
shaving to keep it perfectly level. Before each game, a light spray
of water droplets is applied to the surface and immediately freezes
in place as a fine pebble. It is on this pebble that curling stones
ride easily and react predictably to a player's delivery.
CURLING STONES: Curling stones are made from a shock-absorbing
granite. Each piece of granite is carefully machined and balanced,
and a goose-neck handle is added for the player's convenience. The
result is a standard 42 to 44 pound rock, with a diameter of one
foot, and a height of 4.5 inches, not including the handle.
SWEEPING: Sweeping in front of a running stone accomplishes
several things. First, it cleans the path of any debris that may
be on the ice that could otherwise alter the stones travel. Secondly,
by applying pressure to the broom while sweeping in front of the
stone, the ice is slightly warmed, creating less friction between
the ice and the stone - this can help the stone travel further than
it would have, and it can also affect the curl of the stone.
THE TEAM: A curling team consists of four players: the first
player of the group is called the Lead, the second player is appropriately
known as the Second, and the third is called (you guessed it) the
Third, or the Vice-Skip. The Fourth, known as the Skip, is the captain
of the team. He / she directs the strategy of the game and calls
the shots. Though the order that stones are delivered typically
follows this sequence, there are teams that play with the Skip throwing
in a different position.
PLAY: A curling game is played according to the following
- The Skips of Teams A and B position themselves at the far end
of the ice.
- At the near end, the Vices of Teams A and B flip a coin to determine
which foursome will start first.
Let's say Team A loses the toss ...
- Team A's Skip moves into the house (circles, rings) at the
far end, and calls for the first stone from Lead A.
- Lead A throws from the hack at the near end of the ice with
the intent that the rock will come to rest at the far end position
called by the Skip.
- The stone must be released by the Lead before it crosses the
nearest hog line, and be allowed to run freely on its path.
- Team A's Second and Vice may help to control the path of the
stone by sweeping, in front of it.
After Lead A's first rock comes to a halt ...
- Team B's Skip takes over in the house and calls Lead B's first
When Lead B's stone comes to rest ...
- Skip A takes the house again to call Lead A's second rock.
Play continues in this alternating manner, until all members of
both teams have delivered their two rocks.
At this point, the first "end" of play has been completed and the
score is tallied (See OBJECT of the GAME, below). The team that
posts a score in the end must then throw the first rock of the next
end. The next and subsequent ends are played by simply delivering
back to the opposite house.
An end of play normally takes about 15 minutes. The number of
ends per game has varied greatly since the inception of the sport.
Nowadays, a regular game, played for enjoyment and sociability,
has eight ends. A competitive game, played for titles and prizes,
normally has ten. Extra ends are added to break ties that may exist
after regulation play.
OBJECT of the GAME: The object of the game is to complete
each end with as many of your team's rocks closer to the button
than the nearest of your opponent's stones. Scores are awarded as
one point for each such rock.
It isn't as complicated as it may seem! To get a better
idea of the game, talk with curlers at a club near you, or come
to the club during a bonspiel or other event watch a game - curlers
are always glad to explain the intricacies of the sport to newcomers.