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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Brier Day 4: Blow-outs and Bubbles

The 2013 Brier (like the Scotties) changed schedules by removing morning draws on Monday through Wednesday, pushing a full day of draws to Friday and compressing the weekend.  I like the structure so far, though Thursday night won't be the same party it has been before (I suppose it'll move to Friday night).  Only 6 draws will be played over these three weekdays and because less has happened, it feels like more teams are still in the hunt and nothing has really been decided yet.  Not sure I like Sunday's schedule.  A semi-final played early morning, the finals pushed to the evening, and the prime time slot of Sunday afternoon is filled with the ever popular Bronze Medal Game.  I'd prefer to have everything wrapped up earlier in the day but we shall see how the TV audience responds.  Numbers were fantastic for the Scotties I understand, despite being opposite the Oscars.

One team still in the hunt but balancing gently on the bubble with 4 losses is 12 time competitor and 4 time Champion Kevin Martin of Alberta.  They still have a chance to matter at the end of this week but they will need to run the table and get some help from the 7 teams ahead of them.  Team Martin rebounded from their afternoon 6-5 loss to New Brunswick with their first dominant performance of the week against Nova Scotia (9-3 in 8 ends).  The next two days are manageable, but the final Friday includes battles with Gushue and Howard, currently the only two undefeated rinks.

Looking at Newfoundland's opening games, it appeared they could rattle off several wins and get on a roll.  They did just that, avoiding an extra end loss to New Brunswick Sunday night then surviving to win 9-8 in an extra end against Northern Ontario yesterday.  The path gets rockier starting tomorrow with the Territories (at 3-3) in the afternoon then 4 straight against Manitoba, Ontario, Alberta and Quebec.  

Tuesday included 6 of 8 games with handshakes before all the rocks were thrown.  It also included 7 of 8 games Under the 12.5 point totals (with the lone Over game a 7-6 Manitoba win).  

A couple of interesting decisions from the evening:

Draw 9: Glenn Howard - Ontario vs Brad Jacobs - Northern Ontario

The battle of Ontario was anything but.  After an opening 3 by Howard, Jacobs was held to 1 and needed to get aggressive to attempt a come back.  Howard was able to steal 4 points in ends 4 through 6 and it was over before it really started.  One decision Brad may second guess was in that pivotal first end.  

Howard is Yellow

On second E.J. Harnden's first second shot, Northern Ontario chose to attempt a freeze on shot rock rather than a hit and roll off the Ontario stone.  This is a very agressive call and Howard ultimately scores three (it was nearly four with the stone counting five having spun a half turn too far).  

Draw 9: Jeff Stoughton - Manitoba vs Brock Virtue - Saskatchewan

Tied 4-4 in the 8th end, Stoughton has the option to draw the four foot for his single or to attempt this raise double to score tow points:

Stoughton is Red

There is some discussion by the team but ultimately Jeff seems very confident in the shot, calls it, and makes it to score his deuce.  How confident should Jeff be to make this call?

A single puts Manitoba at 63.4% chance to win.  By scoring 2 they increased their probability to 85%.  A significant improvement.  Even attempting the raise double, Manitoba may score a single some of the time.  A steal by Virtue would have dropped Manitoba to 36.6%, a big mistake.  

It appeared most likely either a deuce or a steal (too full and the yellow might miss the back rock, too narrow and it might jam) - let's estimate it at 10%.  Jeff would need to make the deuce about 50% of the time for it to be the correct call.  

Until tomorrow (or maybe the next day)...

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