Curling between the lines

The "playing field" in Curling is a sheet of ice between 14 feet 2 inches and 15 feet 7 inches in width, and a total of 146 feet from hack to hack.

The dimensions are the same at each end of the sheet.

You start throwing from the hack at one end, toward the house (the target) at the other end, when eight stones have been thrown by each team, you turn around and play another "end" in the other direction.

In our league, we play 8 ends in a match.  Some leagues and most "important" bonspeils play 10 ends.

Using the diagram on the right, picture playing from the top of your screen to the bottom.

The two black dots represent the "hack" -- a rubberized foot-rest for the player to push out of delivering the rock.  We can ignore the back line (next) and the tee line (through the middle of the house) at the throwing end.

The first important line is the hog line, 33 feet from the hack.  When delivering a rock, the player must let go of the handle on the rock before the hog line.

Gliding along with the rock after you push out of the hack and slide toward the hog line gives better accuracy.  I need to work on that.

If you're delivering the stone, your teammates will start sweeping near the hog line, after you've released the stone.

The next hog line (labelled "HL"), 72 feet away, is also important.  If you don't deliver the stone past the far hog line, it is removed from play.

A stone that passes the hog lines, but is in front of the house is a "guard" and the Free Guard Zone (Labelled "FGZ") rule says that if any of the first four rocks in an end cannot be removed by the opponents until the fifth rock in an end.

I like the Free Guard rule.  Without it, better curlers can play an entire match just "swapping rocks" -- my team puts one in the house, the other team takes it out.  If they throw a good hit-and-roll, we then take their stone out (hoping for the same) and which ever team throws last probably wins a point.

Of course, the team that does not score gets the last rock (the hammer) in the next end, and the scoreboard ends up with each team scoring 1 in alternating ends, and the match is dull. 

For the first six rocks in an end, the Skips for each team stand in the house.

If I'm throwing, my Skip decides where she wants the rock to go, and tells me where to aim (holding the broom as the target) and which way she wants the rock to curl (by holding one hand out to the side).  She'll then tell the other players how to sweep.

At the Tee line (Labelled "TL"), the opposing Skip is allowed to sweep our rock.

If we're throwing a draw, our Skip wants the rock to stop on the Tee line, as near the button (where the tee line and center line cross) as possible, and she'll sweep to lengthen the shot if it isn't going to make it all the way.  If it hasn't stopped by the Tee line, the opposing Skip will do everything he can to keep the rock moving through the house, and if possible, past the back line (labelled "BL").

(The only rule about the hack at the other end is don't knock it loose from the ice, or everyone waits while it is reattached.)

Each player (Lead, Second, Vice-Skip and Skip) throws two rocks.  The Skip calls strategy for the first six rocks by her team, and the Vice steps up for the last two.

When all rocks are thrown, the Vice-Skips agree on the score for that end, the rocks are arranged on either side of the hack, and we play another end.

Unless of course, we've played 8 ends -- then we shake hands, say the traditional "Good Curling!" and it's time for Broomstacking.

Posted June 8, 2010, Updated July 21, 2010