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Thursday, November 14, 2013

On the Road at the Road to the Roar

I was fortunate to be live for the final game of the 2013 version of the pre-qualifier to the qualifier for the Olympics.  

Here is the view from my seat.  Notice the overhead jumbotron is NOT showing TSN.  Apparently the sponsors wanted that space for themselves.  I would not have given in to this type of request and tried to appease them some other way.   Having an overhead view of the house is great for the fan and not having it makes me want to watch at home.

The final was an entertaining and well played contest.  Jacobs was in good position early with a deuce, then surrendered two steals to go down, rebounded with a three and then held out for the win.  Something I noticed from Gushue in the morning draw reminded me of his tendancy to call difficult shots for himself when it isn't always necessary.    

Against Laycock in the 7th end and holding a 4 to 1 lead without hammer, Gushue faces this with his first shot:

Gushue is Yellow

He chooses to play a peel on the red rock sitting second stone.  A much easier shot would be to hit the rock in the top twelve foot.  Gushue makes the shot, pushing his shot yellow stone to the back button.  Laycock is then left with another freeze attempt.  He comes a foot heavy and Gushue then plays a straight back double for two, and makes it.  The result is a blank, the best outcome possible other than a steal.  Gushue's chance to win goes from 90% at the start of the end to 93%. If Laycock had scored two, Gushue would have dropped to 83%, still a dominant position.  If Gushue had missed or just clipped the top rock, leaving it in the rings, and brought 3 in to play, his odds could have dropped to 64%.  The chance of this happening is, granted, very small, but why introduce the risk?  Even making the shot, if Laycock had thrown a better freeze, Gushue would have been forced to peel the top and surrender a deuce, or possibly risk jamming the run back and giving up three (wonder which shot he would have called).  The shot called didn't appear to improve Gushue's chances enough to justify the risk he was introducing, even though the outcome still was favorable. Fortunately for Brad, he is a great player and makes a lot of shots, but this scenario reminded me that he sometimes makes it harder on himself than he needs to.

In the final game against Jacobs, Gushue made a call in the 9th end that backfired.  Down two points with hammer and three rocks to come, Gushue faces this with his first shot:

Gushue is Red

Note, this graphic has not been confirmed as correct.  I was at the far end of the rink and did not recall the exact position of the house. I had a Tivo malfunction, the game was not recorded and the soon to follow analysis is subject to scrutiny if the location of the rocks are different than shown.  If you recorded the game please send me a more accurate diagram. 

Gushue decides to draw and freeze for third shot (green line).  He makes a great shot. Jacobs then places a guard in front of the rock Gushue just threw and Gushue is left with no choice but to draw for a single.  Perhaps he thought Jacobs would try a peel on the red rock, maybe even try to make a difficult double.  Gushue needs to take chances.  Even a deuce only puts him tied coming home without hammer, a 20% proposition.  Maybe he was trying to entice Jacobs into something and hope for a miss and possble three.  If Gushue had chosen to draw for shot stone (blue line), he forces Jacobs to make a play on the rock.  When deciding what to do with the 14th rock of the end, skips must always consider the risk of not being shot stone and what options that leaves their opponent. I wonder what Brad was thinking on that shot decision.


Naturally, I had no idea what I was looking at and in fact the above analysis, though possibly interesting, does not reflect the actual situation.  The rocks were as follows:

Gushue is, um, ah, Yellow

Not only did I screw up the house, I didn't even have the correct colour of the rocks!  Clearly I was not paying enough attention at this stage of the game.  Much more understandable now why Gushue would choose to freeze to that rock.  I'd like to blame the event and their lack of overhead camerawork, but more likely this is simply a mistake on my part. 

Some part of my analysis however still holds true.  Gushue threw a freeze and was second shot.  As I stated, consideration must be made of what the opponent might do if you choose not to be shot stone.

Jacobs could have tried to pick out the yellow rock that was frozen, though he would likely loose his shot stone and Gushue could hit for two. He could also choose to hit the open red stone but then Gushue would have a simple shot for two.  By guarding, Jacobs made it impossible for Gushue to get two with a made shot and his only risk in missing was leaving a shot for two, not for three.  Possibly Gushue was trying to line up his freeze differently so that a shot for three would be in play if the guard was attempted and missed.  If Gushue had been more on the high side of the rock, some chance this could come in to play, but in all likelyhood Jacobs would see the potential and peel the rock out, possibly leaving himself first and second and still forcing Gushue to one, or even playing a double on the two yellow stones.

As difficult as it looks, Gushue may have been better to attempt a soft weight double on the red stones with his first shot, roll to the side of the rings sitting two and hope Jacobs is not left with a double.  Another option could have been to hit and stick on the back stone, leaving a possible double but chance for two if missed.  If Jacobs attempted to hit and stick for two, he would likely leave a double for Gushue.  In any case, the shot called and made left them with no chance at two.

Note: I am attempting to complete a curling e-book in time for the 2014 Olympics. This may reduce the number of words and amount of analysis I am able to generate for next few months.  Hopefully my dozen of fans won't mind and it will all be worth it.

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