Strategy In Curling

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The game of curling is known for its strategy, tactics and skill. The strategy is dependent on the team’s skill, the opponent’s skill, ice conditions, the game score, number of remaining ends and the hammer.

Hammer can be described as the team scoring the advantage of the last stone. Strategies can be either aggressive or defensive. An aggressive game would be when a lot of stones are used by throwing draws mostly. This strategy is risky but can be very rewarding in the end if the game is played with expertise. An aggressive game is more exciting to watch as the suspense of who is going to be the winner is maintained for longer.

On the other hand, defensive playing teams will generally make several hits, keeping the number of stones involved in the game on a check. A defensive game involves lower excitement and is also associated with a lower level of risk. A team good at drawing will usually give an aggressive game while a good hitting team will play defensively.

When a team does not have the hammer in the end, it tries to clog up the four-foot zone in the house, blocking the opposing team’s access to the button. This is possible if “centre line” guards are thrown in front of the house on the centre line. The team that has the hammer will try to keep the four-foot zone free so that they have easy access to the button area at all times. The hammer team usually throws a corner guard as their first stone of an end that is placed in front of the house but outside the four foot zone, so that the free guard zone can be utilized.

Two points are scored by the team in the end with the help of the corner guards because of their favorable position. The ideal strategy for a team with the hammer is to score two points at the end, as a one point score is often an opportunity that has been wasted. This is because it leads to the loss of the last rock opportunity in the successive end. If the team is unable to score two points their aim would be to blank an end. Generally the hammerless team would either want the opposition to score just once or would try to steal the end by scoring one or more points for themselves.

Normally the larger the lead for a team is, the more defensive should be its play. Hitting all of the opponent’s stones removes their opportunities of getting multiple points and hence defends the lead. A comfortable attitude by the leading team can be dangerous too. As it gives the other team an opportunity to draw guards that can help tap back stones in the house. When a stone comes in front of the opponent’s stone and touches it, it becomes “frozen” and is a challenge to be removed. At this point, a team shall opt for “peels”. Peels are when stones are thrown not only to hit their opposing stones but also to ensure that they are out of the play completely. Peels are the most forceful shots.

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