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About the Game


Most modern sports were invented in the last century, but curling goes back at least as far as the 1500s. No one knows who cast the first stone, but it was most likely thrown on a frozen loch in Scotland. Scottish soldiers brought the game to North America during the French and Indian War.

There are currently about 1.5 million curlers from 35 nations around the world. Of these countries, the majority of the curlers are in Canada, which boasts over one million of this total number. The only other four countries that have over 10,000 curlers are Japan, Scotland, Switzerland and the USA.

Rough guide to curling

Curling is a sport played on ice with two teams of four players. Click here for a diagram of the playing surface. The purpose of the game is to put your stones (made out of granite and about 42 lb in weight) closer to the centre of the house (the target area defined by circles drawn on the ice surface) than the other team.

After all stones have been played, the team with the stones closest to the centre of the house scores points for that end. There are typically eight ends in a curling game. The points total is equal to the number of stones closer to the centre than the nearest stone of the opposing team. After the ends (game time about two hours) the team with the most points wins the game.

The stones do not move in a straight line. They are thrown with a turning motion and due to the friction with the ice they move along a curved path. While the stone is travelling down the ice, the delivering team's players are allowed to sweep in front of the stone as a method of controlling the stone's speed and direction.

Sweeping is done with a broom designed for curling. The sweeping action very slightly melts the surface of the ice creating a thin water film, which lowers the friction between stone and ice. This has two effects: the stone does not slow down as quickly and runs further before it stops and the curved path becomes straighter. Therefore the place where the stone stops and its direction can be changed while it is running without touching it. When players aren't throwing, they sweep the stones for their teammates.

At the highest-level curling is a skilful game of precision (inches over a distance of 40 yards) and physical endurance (for the sweeping). On a lower level curling is, however, a game that can be enjoyed by men and women from the young to the old.

The Spirit of Curling

Curling is a game of skill and traditions. A shot well executed is a delight to see and so, too, it is a fine thing to observe the time-honored tradition of curling being applied in the true spirit of the game. Curlers play to win but never to humble their opponents. A true curler would prefer to lose rather than win unfairly.

A good curler never attempts to distract an opponent or otherwise prevent him/her from playing his/her best.

No curler ever deliberately breaks a rule of the game or any of its traditions. But, if he/she should do so inadvertently and be aware of it, he/she is the first to divulge the breach.

While the main object of curling is to determine the relative skills of the players, the spirit of the game demands good sportsmanship, kindly feeling, and honorable conduct. This spirit should influence both the interpretation and application of the rules of the game, and also the conduct of all participants on and off the ice.

A-Z of Curling - Curling Terminology

Back Ring
The portion of the eight-foot and twelve-foot rings behind the tee line.
A rock that barely touches the outer edge of the twelve-foot ring.
Blank End
A scoreless end with no rocks in the rings.
Blanking An End
Deliberately creating a blank end for the purposes of retaining the last rock advantage for the next end of play.
Board Weight
A stone thrown with sufficient momentum or force to reach the back boards of the curling sheet.
A curling competition.
Bumper Weight
Sometimes referred to as board weight.
Burned Stone
A stone in motion that is touched by a member of either team, or any part or portion of their equipment. A burned stone is immediately removed from play by the party who burned it.
The small circle in the center of the house.
To hit only a slight portion of a stone.
When a moving stone chips another stone and moves (rolls) to rest at a different position.
A rock in the house that is in a scoring position.
a twist of the stone's handle, upon release, which makes the stone curl, like a "hook" in bowling. The curl is the direction of the twist. A stone will seldom travel along the sheet in a straight line, unless it travels along a run or a fall in the ice. Generally stones curl more with less weight and less with more weight.
all four members of the team sweep for their teammates' shots.
Dead Handle
A stone that loses its turn after delivery or, which is thrown without a turn.
the body motion of a curler as the rock is being shot.
a slow stone, which arrives in the house.
Draw Weight
The weight required to deliver a stone so that it comes to rest in the house at the distant end.
similar to an inning in baseball. A game is usually 8 ends, or roughly two hours. There are 16 stones per end. After each end, the score is determined.
A section of the curling sheet that is sloped, which can cause a moving stone to curl in the opposite direction than intended.
Free Guard Zone ("FGZ")
the area from hog line to the tee line excluding the house. No stones in this area (often called 'guards') may be removed from play until after the 4th stone of the end comes to rest.
this stone stops directly in front of another stone. They touch each other, but the stone that was already in the house isn't moved. This stone has the advantage, as the front stone can't be shot out of the game without also taking the back stone out. Normally, the back stone is a stone of the opponent.
A stone that is placed in a position so that it can protect another stone from being hit.
starting line for throwing stones, also known as a foothold. It is about 125 feet from the scoring area.
Hack Weight
The weight required to deliver a stone in order that it travels to the hack at the distant end.
the last rock of each end
A stone delivered with more weight than required to successfully achieve the desired shot.
Heavy Ice
Ice that for one of many reasons requires more than the normal weight to slide the stone.
Hit Weight
Another term for take-out weight.
Hog Line
The wide black line 33 feet from the hack. A stone must completely cross the distant hog line to be in play.
Hogged Rock
A rock that fails to slide over the distant hog line after delivery and must be removed from play.
The four colored rings at each end of the sheet.
a command shouted by the skip or shooter to tell the sweepers to sweep.
The distance between where a delivered rock must be aimed (the skip's broom at the distant end) and the intended target or it's final resting place, in order to successfully achieve the desired shot. The amount of curl for the type of shot determines the required amount of ice.
Ice conditions
vary and affect the amount of curl and the delivery effort needed to get the stone to stop in, or in front of, the scoring area or remove an opponent's stone.
The rotation imparted on a stone during delivery that causes it to spin in a clockwise direction for a right hander, and a counter-clockwise direction for a left hander.
Keen Ice
Ice that for one of many reasons requires less than the normal weight to slide the stone.
Lead and Second
players who deliver two stones each per end, and who are the primary sweepers. Players are involved in every shot, with one shooting, one holding the broom and two sweeping.
A stone delivered with less weight than required to successfully achieve the desired shot.
Lost Turn
A stone that has no turn on the handle and thus, does not curl.
Delivering a stone to the inside of the skip's broom. (also refer to Off The Broom)
Off The Broom
A stone delivered narrow or wide of the skip's broom. The skip's broom is the point of aim during delivery.
Another term for wide.
The rotation imparted on a stone during delivery that causes it to spin in a counter-clockwise direction for a right hander, and a clockwise direction for a left hander.
A fine spray of water droplets applied to the sheet before the start of each game. Curling stones slide along the frozen pebble, not on smooth ice.
Peel Weight
A stone delivered with heavy take-out weight.
An opening between two stones that is wide enough for another stone to pass through.
When one stone is bumped ahead by another.
A team of four curlers. Players have specific jobs, and are known as the skip, the third (or vice skip), the second and the lead. Also, the building in which the game is played.
The direction a moving stone takes after it hits another stationary stone.
When a moving stone barely touches another stationary stone. (Less contact than a chip)
A section of the curling sheet that is dipped or troughed that can prevent a stone to curl or draw down its normal path of travel.
the team with the stone closest to the centre of the house scores one point and then one additional point for every stone nearer the centre than the nearest opponent's stone. The team with the highest score at the game's end wins, with the maximum score in each end being eight points. Typically, one to three points are scored per end. A score of eight in one end is more rare than a hole-in-one in golf.
Second and lead
players who deliver two stones each per end, and who are the primary sweepers. Players are involved in every shot, with one shooting, one holding the broom and two sweeping.
The strip of ice upon which the game is being played. Its design allows play in both directions. A curling club will have several sheets of ice to play on.
specially made and available, but not mandatory. Shoes should be flat-soled and clean and should grip the ice well for walking. In a typical game, a curler walks about two miles.
the object is to get the stone to come to rest at a predetermined place (a draw or guard), or to move another stone (a takeout or raise). Players shoot alternately with their counterpart on the opposing team.
Shot Rock
The stone closest to the button at any time during an end.
Player who holds the broom as a target for shots by the other three players. Skips are team strategists and team captains and must study the ice, judge the amount of ice curl and speed and select the shots. Skips usually throw the last two stones of each end. Strategy is a major factor in curling, even as important as shooting skill. Curling often is called "chess on ice". Top teams must develop considerable mental toughness.
worn on the sliding foot, in delivery of a stone. To allow for long, smooth-sliding follow-through
also known as rocks, made of dense, polished granite and quarried in Scotland. Each rock weighs 42 pounds. The granite is rare. To score, each player delivers two stones, or rocks, down a sheet of ice 146 feet in length.
Straight Ice
when the ice conditions do not allow the stones to curl much.
players sweep to make the stone travel further and move straight (less curl). Sweeping can increase the distance a stone travels by as much as 15 feet. The key is vigour. Two sweepers guide each shot. Sweeping polishes the ice. Vigorous sweeping requires fitness. The brooms, or brushes, are specially made.
through sweeping, ice gets warm and a little (VERY little) bit of water results from sweeping. Sweeping has two effects:
1. A stone that is played too short (= too slow) can be made longer through sweeping (but not faster). One example: a stone should be played into the house, but the player delivers it with the length (weight) of a guard. The two sweepers sweep the stone, and if they do that well, the stone arrives in the house.
2. The curl can be suppressed. When a stone gets swept it curls less than it would without sweeping.
Swingy Ice
Ice that for one of many reasons has a more than normal draw.
a fast stone shoots another stone out of the game. Some other variants include: Double-Take-Out - two stones get shot out and Triple-Take-Out - three stones get shot out and so on.
Take-out Weight
The weight required when delivering a stone in order to make a take-out.
Tap back
aka Promotion. This stone pushes a guard into the house and stays in front of the house as a guard.
centre of the house.
The line that passes through the button of the house across the width of the sheet.
player who holds broom for the skip, and who assists the skip with game strategy. Also known as a vice-skip. Shoots two stones per end.
Another term for narrow.
The direction of rotation imparted on a stone during delivery that determines the curl of the stone. The two turns used in curling are the in-turn and out-turn.
Vice, Vice-Skip
Another term for the third.
The force or momentum transferred to a curling stone during delivery.
Another term for chip.
Delivering a stone to the outside of the skip's broom. (also refer to off the broom)
Wrecked Shot
A missed shot caused by an accidental chip or wick off of another stationary stone.

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