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What a Waste of Time

What a waste of time

By Alan Stanfield

The previous session has finished, and the ice-master has the ice cleaned and pebbled ready for the next session. The ice is clear, players wait in the bar, at the side of the ice pad or get changed after arriving with minutes to spare. The bell goes and everyone makes there way onto the ice, shake hands with their opposition before wandering down the ice to where the stones are, have a few practice slides and toss the coin. Preparations complete, the game gets under way.

Now let's move the clock on. The game is in the seventh end with just the skips' stones to come when the bell goes to signal the last end. The end is completed and the teams retire to the bar to enjoy the important social side of the game. The conversation gets round to the game just played and enjoyed by all but one of the leads bemoans the fact they just missed getting an eight end. Spot the real problem? From the starting bell ringing to the first stone being thrown took over almost five minutes : plenty of time to have completed the seventh end and had the eighth under way. A familiar situation to you?

Strangely enough, it was whilst acting as a time clock umpire at one Scottish Championship where the players are very much aware that every second could count, that I wondered what time might be saved if club curlers had to play under the same conditions. a nice thought but totally unrealistic!

As an experiment I decided to time a Province KO final one year (the astute reader will have worked out that our rink had been shown the door in an earlier round!). I noted the time from the bell to first stone being thrown, any time in  excess of 30 seconds betweeen ends ( the time allowed when time-clocks are used) and times when players were not ready in the hack when the skip had decided the next shot. A staggering seven minutes and fify four seconds had been wasted and that was without making any judgements on 'Committee Meetings'! You will not be surprised to learn only seven ends were played and the bell went whilst the thirds were throwing.

Section D: Rule 5(b) (iii) states "Each player shall be ready when his turn comes and shall not take more than a reasonable time to play."

So what about all curlers, experienced as well as new, making the following New Year resolution for 2005?

  • If the ice is ready, make your way to your allocated sheet, perform the formalities and have your practice slides so you are ready to throw the first stone when the bell goes.
  • When an end is completed the lead throwing first leaves sorting the teams' stones to the second and third and concentrates on getting his stone ready in the hack. If you are a team who likes to play the same stones throughout the game, skips can make this easier if, when one of their own stones goes out of play during an end, they arrange them in roughly the right order at the back of the house. How many skips do this?
  • If you use a slider, don't wait until the opposition stone has come to rest before deciding to put it on, or, even worse, find then that you have left it at the other end!

The above may only save a few seconds each time but it all soon adds up. However, before you think our top players are perfect    here, I have observed over a number of years that the leads are usually    ready within the prescribed 30 seconds before their team's clock is restarted,    but the skips manage to take an additional 11-12 seconds deciding whether    to ask for a stone short or one in the house.


All curlers can do better - so are you just a time waster?