Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What Do I Do With My Lead Stones?

It's the last end and you have control of the game, in fact "definite control" but it's never over 'til it's over and you don't have last rock. What are your possible opening moves with your lead's two shots? This is another "table top & salt shaker" dilemma. Do I ask my lead to throw his/her stones through the house or do I strategically place one or both somewhere in the house? Let's examine both theories starting with throwing them both into the curling lounge.

Proponents of this strategy espouse that any stones you place may come back to haunt you. You should win the game because the score differential is such that only a catastrophic collapse would change that (but that IS on your resume). If you throw both lead stones through the house you're allowing your opponent to place stones with absolutely no regard for you. You need to know that and if that's OK with you then toss them through! On your second's first stone you can begin the peel process with no fear of jamming an enemy boulder on a stone you had positioned in the house.

If that's not your cup of tea then where might you place your lead stones?

Very popular among teams of late is what I call the one-in-one-through ruse (one on the top 4' and the second in the aforementioned curling club lounge). The theory here being that the stone on the top 4' forces the opposition to come to you at some point in he end. In essence it's the antithesis of the downside of the "throw them both through" strategy outlined above. The opposition cannot place stones with no regard for you! With the second stone thrown through, you at least recognize the potential difficulty in helping your opponent by placing stones in the house that he/she can use or that create complications for you when you start to clear what most certainly are opposition stones in the FGZ (free guard zone).

Less popular, for many of the reasons just stated, is the placement of both your lead stones in the vicinity of the 4'.* The upside is obvious. Can the opposition ignore TWO stones in scoring position? The downside is equally obvious. Now there are two stones the opposition might use and two stones you must avoid in the peel phase of your end plan.

Well, there you have the options but which one to choose?

Let's start with the skill level of your lead 'cause after all, that's who you're asking to make the shots if the selection is either of the latter two. If it's less than likely he/she is capable of placing the shot(s) precisely (recognizing the contribution of the brushers) then duh, I'd call for the double throw through

But the real determining factor, in my mind, should be history (assuming your team has had the prudence to experiment). What has been the result when the three options have been employed? Which seems to be most successful in your team's competitive environment?  But there's the rub eh! Have you tried each of them and if so have you used each one often enough to draw a sound conclusion? And, did you record the results in your "Team Bible"?

I realize that this post has been interrogative in nature. That was by design. I can't tell you what to do on this issue. I will tell you that I tend to favour the one-in-one-through option because my "competitive data" shows that works best. What does your competitive data tell you?

As I'm giving this post a final editing, I'm watching Team Canada v Team Manitoba with MB having a three point lead with two ends to play. Jennifer Jones asked her lead, Dawn Askin for two in the four foot so that tells you how JJ feels about this issue. We're right in the middle of The Season of Champions so you'll be able to see how other teams feel about this. By the way, Team Canada scored two on the end.

* This gambit cost Team Ferbey a Brier win v Team Dacey when Team Ferbey's two "in house" stones got overlapped. Dacey used them to his advantage by drawing around which heralded the championship winning three spot in the end.


  1. I ask my lead to throw the first one in the 4 foot. If it's in a good spot, throw the second one through. If the first one ends up in a bad spot (behind the tee, or top 12) I peel it with the second stone.

    1. I like that approach a lot! You have the best of both worlds. Even if the attempt at a top 4' shot should come up so short it's in the FGZ, the rule allows the peel as it's your stone, not one belonging to the opposition. Excellent strategy & tactics!

  2. Thanks!

    Not all rocks in the house are good (see Ferbey vs Dacey, as you mention above). You can't be afraid to get rid of it just because it's yours.

    On the other side of the coin, I've won several games I probably had no business winning by taking advantage of a half-miss on that first lead stone. If my opposition tries to put it top 4' and misses either short or deep, I will usually put my first guard in front of their stone to keep them from peeling it out. That way even if they make every peel, eventually I'll have that rock in the house to freeze on or draw around (of course, I have the luxury of playing at a club that will generally let you use a rock top 8' as a guard).

    1. Another great comment! This topic has generated many really good ideas as to how to make and respond to opening moves. Good stuff!