As the Winter Olympics 2018 breeze through, every so often we get a glimpse of a sport that makes you wonder if it can be called a sport. The sport in question is curling, which at first looks like a sport about sweeping the ice while ice bowling but without the pins.
It turns out in fact that curling is a unique sport and it has deep strategies and playstyles as well. The objective of the game is simple, the sliding object that you see on TV, called stones, have to be placed as close as possible to the designated bullseye. To do so, however, takes a mix of teamwork, strategy and from what we have seen, a lot of shouting.
So how does curling work, and how do you play it? To start off, you need to have a team of 4 curlers and there are a total of 10 teams within the Men and Women’s category. Each team has eight stones to play with and they have to score the most points with it by the end of the round.For each stone that is closer to the target than the opponent, the team is awarded a single point. A game usually consists of ten ends, but if the points lead to a draw, there will be a tiebreaker to decide the winner.
Matches are played on rinks and contested by four players on each side:
Lead: Throws the first two rocks of the end and then sweeps the next six. They must be very good at throwing guards (stones that stop in front of the house) and be a strong sweeper.
Second: Throws the third and fourth stones of the end and should be strong at making take-outs (hitting an opponent’s stone off the sheet). They sweep the first two stones and then the final four of the end and usually have a good sweeping relationship with the skip.
Third (or vice-skip): Throws the fifth and sixth rocks of the end, must be good at all shots but especially draws (stones that stop in the house). It is the third’s job to set up the shots that will be thrown by the skip and to help the skip discuss the strategy of the final two stones of the end.
Skip: Captain of the team and decides strategy. It’s their job to tell the other players where to throw their shots and when to sweep. The skip also delivers the last two shots of the end so they must be good at all types of shots.
The strategy comes to play when the sweepers have to determine how much they have to sweep the ice in order to either increase the distance of the travelling stone or slow it down. This is where its nickname “Chess on Ice” comes into play, as these teams have to think of the best approach to score the most points.