Chess on Ice: NBC24 Series on Curling

Angie Jones curls at the Black Swamp Curling Center in Bowling Green (WNWO)

It's athletically challenging; Requiring perfect balance. A sport that demands focus.

Curling is often referred to as chess on ice.

According to seasoned curler, Scott Helle, “you can get good enough and competitive very quickly, but to master it is a different story.”

A different story, indeed. This human-sized shuffle board game has its roots in 16th century Scotland.

Angie Jones of the Black Swamp Curling Center says, “it’s played with 4 people vs 4 people,” [with] a modern curling stone, or a ‘rock’, made of solid granite that weighs around 42 pounds.

Wearing comfortable shoes, you’ll slip into a set of rubber grippers which help improve your traction on the ice.

Each of the 8 players involved in a single game will take turns throwing rocks.

To deliver a draw, one foot braces in a rubber foot-hold, known as the hack.

Jones offers, “I think what surprises people the most about when they get off the couch and come try it is the balance factor when you’re sliding out of the hack.”

One hand grips the stone handle while the other balances using the boom. The player pushes off with the hack foot while strategically releasing the stone—often done with a curve, or ‘curl’-- to accurately land the rock in the scoring area, known as the house.

Player 1 is the lead. Their job tends to be to set up guards in the front of the house.

Player 2 is the second. This person could set up guards, draw in and try to get a point or they could be throwing take-outs.

Player 3 is the third, or vice-skip. The vice usually throws take-outs of some kind.

Player 4 is the skip. The skip is the person standing at the opposite end calling the shots for the team.

"Whatever your skip says, you’re supposed to do," according to Jones.

The final step to complete your team’s complex strategy requires a lot of strength and endurance.

Sweeping allows the stone to travel along a straight path and can often add up to 15 feet of distance to a rock’s draw.

Angie Jones says, “you’ve got to play to your own team’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Points are earned when your team’s stones are closer to the center of the house than your opponent’s.

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