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Monday, September 11, 2017

Tour Challenge Decisions

Hello again.  Trust you had a math free summer.  Plenty coming up this curling season, including another edition of Canada's Olympic Trials.  I will be there the whole week and can only hope that  CCA Curling Canada has lost the licensing rights to Katy Perry's "Roar".  (If you've been to one of these events you might still have nightmares as they play it constantly between draws).

Curling Legends Podcast is back with weekly episodes starting around the end of October.  I was hoping to finish an update to my e-book "End Game" ahead of the Olympics, including a print version, but that may have to wait another 4 years.  

I am hoping to increase the output of CWM analysis for this Olympic year, starting with the first Grand Slam of the season, the Tour Challenge.  Without further ado...

Womens Final: Val Sweeting vs Anna Hasselborg
7th End, Tied 5-5, Hasselborg with hammer.

Val makes a strange decision on her last shot of the end.  After Anna hits and rolls out, Kevin Martin immediately comments that this will leave a freeze for Sweeting, allowing her to force Hasselborg to a single point. 

Sweeting is Yellow

Val is heard saying she doesn't know the path for the draw, so they instead choose to remove the Hasselborg stone and leave Anna with a blank.  Very surprising decision that I can only assume meant she had very little confidence to make the freeze.  I'll refrain from asking the perhaps obvious questions, like "why didn't they know the draw path in the 7th end?" and "if these conditions are too difficult to ice the broom in the 7th end, how would these players read ice in the 1970's?".

If you're a regular reader of CWM, you might suspect that this is a questionable call (if conditions are ideal).  A blank leaves Val a 30% chance (on average) and 41% chance if she can hold Anna to a single.  If you're wondering where to find these numbers, Curlingzone  has a new web page on their new and improved website where you can look this up.

It's fair to say Hasselborg is a better than average team at closing out tied games with hammer.  (She's actually 23-7 or 76.7% since 2014).  So let's say Val's chances drop to 25% to steal a win in the last end.

I'll save the calculations, but if we assume a missed freeze attempt will always result in a deuce, she needs to make the freeze greater than 43% of the time for it to be the correct call. Though the call is questionable, it's not as clear a decision as we may have first thought,

8th End: Tied (again)

On her first skip stone in the final end, Hasselborg chooses to draw around two Sweeting stones, rather than peel (or double peel).

Val does a decent job of hiding her poker face, but it's certain she's thrilled by Anna's decision.  This situation occurs often in final ends of tied games and though we don't have imperial data to justify a decision to peel or draw, a skip may want to consider what their opponent wants them to do...and then do the opposite.  

Anna came deep, then Val actually slipped a little too far as well, but the final stone by Hasselborg was even heavier and left Sweeting with a steal and the win.

Until next time...