A game played by Canadians, Scots and the Swiss ... or anyone else who spends half the year in a climate featuring weather cold enough to keep ice around.
The game consists two teams of four, who compete by sliding polished, vaguely pumpkin shaped rocks down a sheet of ice, aiming at a big bull's-eye. One player shoots, and then yells at two others who are furiously sweeping the already smooth ice surface with little brooms. The leader, or skip mostly stands about but also directs the shots. The ice sheet measures about 14 by 138 feet.
The Scots invented the game¹, but Canada rules it.
Each team starts with eight (8) 40-pound granite rocks. Teams alternate shots, with each player throwing two of their team's eight rocks. The aim is to get one or more rocks closest to the "button" - the centre of the bull's-eye. Knocking the opposing team's rocks out is allowed², and indeed this is a key strategy.
What makes curling challenging is that the rocks "curl," that is, change direction, as they run down the ice based on the rock's speed, rotation, the makeup of the ice, changing ice conditions, how the team sweeps and the whims of the capricious curling gods.
There are no referees or judges other than the players themselves. Enforcement of the rules depends on the honor system and the goodwill and sportsmanship of both teams. Points are counted after each round or "end." After ten (sometimes eight) ends the team with the most points wins. Everyone goes for beverages, especially during bonspiels.
It's part golf, part billiards and part chess ... and part bowling. The participants are not necessarily athletes in the traditional sense. Beer is served at the facilities, if you take my meaning.
It's a sport almost anyone can try ... without the risk of bone-crushing injury that comes with hockey. And did I mention the beer? Okay, good.
Curling terms include:
- Types of shots or rock positions: Come around, Freeze, Hit and Roll, In-turn, Out-turn, Peel, Pick, Raise, Take-out, Tap back, Wreck
- Rock positions: Biter, Guard, Port.
- Parts of the playing surface: Button, Hack, Hog Line, House, Pebble, Rings
- Curling play: Blank an end, Burn, Handle, the Hammer, a Steal, Sweep, Weight
- The team: A Lead, Second, Vice, and Skip make up a Rink.
- Handy phrases: Hurry hard!, Right off!, Whoa!
Curling sheet diagram
| --------- Rings ------------- |
7 H t b M
'7 H ,12+12+12+12+12 b M
7 H ,12 t '12 b M
'7 H 12 ,88888, 12 b M
'7 H 12 ,888' t '888, 12 b M
'7 H +' 88 t '8, + b M
7 H 12 ,8 44444 8, 12b M
7 H + 8 44; t ,44 8 +b M
'7 H 12 ,8 44 B a4 ,8 + H M
,7..........H............................12 .. 8 . 4 BBB 4 . 8 . + ......... A M
7 H 12 88 44 B r4 8 + C M
7 H + 8 44 t 44 8 +b K M
,7 H +, '8 .44444 88 12b M
,7 H 12 '88 t ,88 + b M
7 H 12 '88, t ,888 12 b M
'7 H 12 '88888' 12 b M
'7 H '12, t ,12' b M
,7 H 12+12+12+12+12+ b M
7 H t b M
| | |
v v v
Hog line Tee line Back line
- kto9 says curling was apparently invented on the continent and brought to Scotland. earliest references are actually in Dutch 16th century paintings.
- Except for the "free guard" rule, which prohibits takeout shots of guards before the fourth stone is thrown.