Thursday, June 2, 2011

This Is How It Ends...

My second calendar year of curling commenced with the 2011 Spring League. It was fun and I loved my new teammates, but I'm glad that this wasn't my first curling league.

Spring League is short and meant to be fun more than anything, which makes it a great time for experiments. Last year, my league had a slightly odd system where league standings took into account not only who won games, but who won ends. This led to people playing out games that would have otherwise ended in concessions, but it wasn't that big a deal.

This year's league manager had a very different vision than what I was expecting though. Different enough that I never really figured out what it was. It had something to do with drawing as many allegories to baseball as possible.

It didn't really matter. So what if I was put on a team named for a baseball team I dislike while the league manager was on one named for his favorite team? So what if he kept referring to the AL and NL? So what if he kept talking about playoffs rather than playdowns? It didn't change the curling.

But he sent an email with the rules for what to do if a "playoff" game was tied after eight ends that was just so very WTF? that I felt it gave me an opportunity to blog.

Tie Breaker Scenario
A tie will resolved by having the teams perform the following challenge.
1. Each team member throws 1 stone with sweeping
2. All stones stay in play
3. Points are determined only after all 4 stones have been thrown (rocks may be moved into or out of position by other rocks)
4. No practice throws
5. You earn points on the following scale

Distance ............. Points
Not in house .............-5
Biting 12 .................... 1
Full 12 ....................... 2
Biting 8 ..................... 3
Full 8 ........................ 4
Biting 4 ..................... 5
Full 4 ........................ 6
Biting button ............. 7
Fully covering pin ... 10

The maximum at team may score is 31 points (1 rock covering pin, other 3 stones biting button). It is not possible to have 2 stones covering the pin; only 1 stone can occupy an area at one time.

If a tie still exists any one player from each team throws one rock for closest to the button with sweepers. The team that shot last in the 4 rock tie breaker throws first.

When I got this email, I sat there staring at it for several minutes.

I have no idea where the league manager got this or how it fits into his baseball theme. If the World Series were tied after nine, they wouldn't settle the game by assigning points to different areas of the field and seeing which team could hit balls into the most valuable areas. They would play extra innings.

That's what usually happens in curling too. If you're tied after your regulation ends in a game where you can't just call it a tie and go have drinks, you play on until you're not. The hammer (last rock thrown) goes to whoever didn't score last and you play on just like it was any other end. I've seen mention of clubs who play shortened extra ends where they throw fewer than all eight rocks, and I'm told it's fairly common for there to be some sort of skip-vs-skip draw where the winner is whichever team's skip gets a single rock closest to the button, but I'd never heard of anyone changing the scoring rules like this.

When I emailed my go-to girl for curling info, she said that one of our club's spiels used something similar last year for determining who advanced in the case of a tied bracket. In that case, it was a time-saver though since it prevented the teams from having to play an entire game to settle the tie like they would have ideally done. In this case though... Between the time taken to throw, the time taken to score, the time to move the rocks around, and the time spent going, "What the heck are we supposed to be doing?" this will not take less time than playing an extra end.

But, hey, whatever, right? I mean, it's Friday Spring League. That's about as social a league as you can get. And, like I said, if there's a time for curling experiments, this is it.

So take this post not as a complaint, but as a demonstration of this crazy thing I just saw. And, please, if you have any stories of tournaments or leagues with weird rules, comment. You never know, it might be crazy enough to inspire a new novel. :)


Jimmy said...

If the game end in a tie, the teams shall engage in a curling deathmatch!

Andy Brokaw said...

Um... I think I'd concede. Loosing would mean death and winning would mean having to clean the blood off the ice. What a bother!

E. LeBeau said...

Just saw the replies :) There's a short film called "Deadspiel" that involves Zombie curling. I saw it at a Halloween themed spiel a couple of years - one of the scenes involved a bunch of blood on the ice.

All the curlers cringed at that moment - not at the sight of blood, but the idea of messing up such nice curling ice :)

Andy Brokaw said...

Lol. Yeah, blood would totally wreck the ice! It would be a complete nightmare! So, I think we should only have death matches that don't result in blood shed. ;)