2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Curling 101 – Game Play

Published: February 10, 2014, 4:31 am, by Dena Rosenberry

what's the score?How many times do you throw stones down the ice in a game?
Each game, or match, in national or international competition consists of 10 ends (like innings in baseball). Each team delivers 8 stones from one end of the ice sheet to the other in each end. The score is tallied after each end.

What’s the player lineup?
Each team alternates delivering stones toward the opposite house until all 16 stones (8 per team, 2 per team member) are in play. In general, the player lineup is lead, second, vice-skip, skip. But it’s fairly common for the vice, or third player, to throw last stones, or for a lead or second to act as vice-skip but not throw third stones. I’ve even seen teams in which the lead throws his or her stones and then acts as skip for the rest of the game. Consistency is key. Teams must focus on and play toward each player’s strengths and not worry about what is the “norm.”

How long is a game?
Games are timed, with each end lasting about 15 minutes. A 10-end game lasts about 2 1/2 hours. Teams often designate a player to keep track of time. Early in a game, ends often pass quickly. It is important to make sure you have time to consider and execute difficult shots, so teams usually play somewhat quickly when they can.

What happens if you run out of time?You lose. Your last rock must cross the T-line in the near house before the clock hits 0:00. If you run out of time, you lose the game, no matter what the score on the scoreboard.

(The photo shows the four sheets of the Capital Curling Club in Bismark, N.D., the home club of many top-level curlers.)