Friday, December 14, 2012

And now the end.......of many things.

The B Division medal games finally panned out as Finland v Latvia for gold and silver and England v Netherlands for bronze in the men's and Norway v Latvia for gold and silver and Austria v Estonia for bronze in the women's.

The results were:

Finland 7 Latvia 4
Netherlands 10 England 5

Latvia 7 Norway 4
Austria 8 Estonia 5

Finland will now challenge France for the last place in the World Men's Championship while there will be no challenge to Germany for last place in the World Women's Championship as Latvia are the hosts and therefore automatically qualify and there is nothing in the rules which allows the runners-up in that situation to challenge for the last World position.

So of the 4 teams that came down from the A Division last year only the Italian men have failed to go straight back up again - replaced by Finland. Looking in the reverse direction, only the Russian men have stayed up in the A Division after promotion last year. Their place in the B Division will surprisingly be taken by Germany who for the first time in the men's European Championships will not be in the top flight next year.

At the European Curling Federation's AGM the process to begin winding up the ECF began.

·         The ECF will not operate in 2013 though it will still exist in legal terms, but there will be no subscriptions collected. The WCF will take over the running of the European Championships and the European Mixed Championships which means that there will be no entry fees. The next ECF meeting will be at the 2013 Europeans in Stavanger, Norway and the final meeting will be at the 2014 Europeans in Champery, Switzerland. It was decided that basically it was not sensible to fully dissolve the ECF before the final WCF constitutional changes are known.

There were elections, however, to form a new Board to take the ECF through these final two years. Olle Riisanen of Finland was re-elected as President with Karel Kubeska of Czech Republic as Vice President. The elected regional reps are: Gerrit-Jan Scholten (NED), Bjorn Rudstrom (SWE), Hew Chalmers (SCO) and Marjan Petric (SLO) with the members at large being Edith Loudon (SCO), Andras Rokusfalvy (HUN) and Robert Susanj (SLO).


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Play off time at Karlstad

After England's defeat of Italy in last night's tie-breaker they were back on the ice for the first of the play-off games today against Netherlands in the meeting of the second place teams in the different groups. The winner would have a rest until the bronze medal game on Friday while the winner would have a chance of getting to the Final and to the A Division against the loser of the game between the two group leaders, Finland and Latvia.

The equivalent women's games were Latvia v Austria (3 v 4) and Norway v Estonia (1 v 2).

Men: The England v Netherlands game was close after 5 ends with the Dutch on top by 3-2 though they then scored a 3 and a stolen single to stretch their lead to 7-2. England hit back with a 2 at the 8th end, but the Dutch then hit their way home to win by 7-4. The Dutch will now face Finland who lost a close game to Latvia 5-6. Latvia return to the A Division and will face Finland or Netherland in the B Division final

Women: Norway and Estonia were tied at 3-3 after 5 ends but Norway then broke the deadlock with a 5 and eventually ran out winners at 10-5. Austria took an early 3-0 lead against Latvia who then scored 6 over three ends without reply and further stretched their lead to 9-4 after 9 ends, when Austria conceded. So Norway are back in the A Division next year and will face either Estonia or Latvia in the final of the B Division.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Karlstad B Division Summary

Now that the final games have been played in the B Division group, it is time to reflect and summarise who goes up and who goes down.

The first group to be decided was the Blue Group for the men where the teams that were to qualify for the play-offs had been decided before the last round of games - Netherlands and Latvia then finished with wins over Poland and Lithuania respectively and because Latvia had beaten the Netherlands in their match earlier in the week they finished top of the group with 6 wins and 1 loss, the same record as the Netherlands. Third in the group were Croatia on 4 wins, then Belgium (4 wins), Poland (3 wins), Austria (2 wins), Lithuania (2 wins) and finally Ireland (1 win).The Irish win ironically came over Group winners Latvia but the final ranking relegates them to the C Division next year.

They were followed by the women where Norway were already clear group winners on 8 points. Estonia had also qualified on 6 points before the last session and faced Turkey who had to win to get themselves into a tie break situation. Austria and Latvia were both on 5 wins at this stage and were playing against each other, the winner would qualify and the loser could face a tie breaker if Turkey won.

At the bottom there were a number of possibilities, depending on Belarus' fate against Poland combined with England's result against Norway. Basically if Belarus lost then they would be relegated to division C along with the loser of the Spain v Slovakia game. If Belarus beat Poland and England lost to Norway then there would be 4 teams tied on 3 wins from which one would need to be found for the second relegation place. The 4 teams would be England, Belarus, Poland and the winner of Spain v Slovakia.If England beat Norway then it would be the other 3 teams going for one place.

For England this was an improvement on the position going into the last end of the previous (penultimate) session when they were losing to Turkey and Belarus were up on Latvia. If that had stayed as the situation then England were doomed along with the loser of the Spain v Slovakia game today. Fortunately for England the Turkish skip hogged both her draws at the last end and Latvia also scored 2 to beat Belarus, thus setting up the situation described above.

The first issue to be decided today was Slovakia's relegation to the C Division when they lost to Spain by 8-3. England then lost to Norway by 4-9 and they and Spain had to sit and sweat for 2 ends while Belarus came back against Poland. In the end Poland held on to win 7-4, Belarus were relegated to the C group and, as so often happens in these situations, when it all settled down there were no tie breakers needed after all.

At the top Estonia beat Turkey 12-5 to finish second and will play Norway in the Page 1v2 play-off while Austria and Latvia will repeat their game from today, (when Latvia won at an extra end) in the 3 v 4 play-off.

In the Red Group for the men, Finland finished on top with just the one defeat by England who finished tied for second with Italy and will play a tie break. At the bottom of the Group, the unfortunate Welsh team will join Ireland in the C Group. With the relegation of the Welsh and Irish women last year, it means that just the English teams are still in the B Group.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Karlstad Update 3

Further to the last post, the 7th round of women's games in the B Division at the European Championships saw Norway guaranteed a play-off place with their 7th consecutive win, 7-6 against Estonia - a game which looked to be heading Estonia's way until the last few stones. Austria increased their chances of progress by beating Spain 7-4, while the Turkish team overcame a running down time clock to defeat Poland 11-10 with the last stone of the game.

Belarus doubled their win tally with a 7-5 defeat of England while the last game came to a bizarre end. The score is recorded on the website as 8-7 to Latvia but it was in fact awarded to Latvia when Slovakia ran out of time in the extra end. The software package being used has no facility to record a game as a W or L when this happens.

It would appear that no one had noticed that the Slovakian time clock had run down as Latvia continued to play their last stone before the umpire intervened. Ironically Slovakia were lying shot and it appears to be incredible that nobody in the team had noticed that time was running out - at 9 minutes for an extra end this is surely enough time to play your 8 stones.

The current standings and games remaining are:

Norway 7 (ENG, ESP)
Austria 5 (LAT, EST)
Estonia 5 (AUT, TUR)
Turkey 4 (EST, ENG)
Latvia 4 (AUT, BLR)
Poland 3 (SVK, BLR)
England 2 (NOR, TUR)
Spain 2 (NOR, SVK)
Belarus 2 (LAT, POL)
Slovakia 1 (POL, ESP)

Karlstad Update 2

As the group games progress here in the B arena in Karlstad the various possible outcomes are becoming clear.

In the women's competition, Norway remain undefeated after 6 games and one more win from their last three games will see them in the play-offs. Their nearest challengers are Estonia who have recovered from their surprise first session defeat by England to put together a run of 5 victories, while Austria have also bounced back and lie third on 4 wins.

At the other end of the table Belarus and Slovakia have just one win each with England and Spain on 2 wins. Which leaves the middle ground where Poland, Turkey and Latvia have three wins each.The top 4 teams qualify for the play-offs while the bottom two are relegated to the C Division.

The men's teams are in two groups. In the red group it looks like the two qualifiers will come from Italy, England and Finland who are all on 4 wins and 1 loss. They have all played each other and since Italy have beaten England who beat Finland who beat Italy, if they all win their last two games then the rankings based on the Draw Shot Challenge will decide who finishes top and who will then play -off for the second qualifying place. Italy's remaining games are against Turkey (2 wins and 3 losses) and Slovakia (1 win and 4 losses) while both Finland and England have to play Spain (2 wins and 3 losses) and Wales (1 win and 4 losses). The other team in the section, Estonia, are also on 2 wins and 3 losses.

At his 18th Europeans, Adrian Meikle is finding the going tough this year and Wales are staring relegation in the face with difficult games to come against Finland and then England.

In the blue group, the other home country, Ireland, is propping up the table with the new team, skipped by Alan Mitchell and with John Furey playing last stones, being unable to capitalise on their first session victory over Latvia. They have just one game to play against Belgium which is a must win, as the teams immediately above them, Lithuania and Austria, both have at least one more victory.

Latvia and Netherlands have 4 victories and 1 loss at the top of the table with Belgium their nearest challenger on 3 wins and 2 losses. While Poland and Croatia also have 3 wins, they have both lost 3 games and have only game left.

On the ice at the moment are the women and a further update will follow this afternoon.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Update from Karlstad - 1

Hello from Karlstad where I am attending the European Championships and apologies that we are day 2 without an update but slight hiccup with the date on my laptop meant it would not let me access this blog as according to the date it had not yet been created!

The Karlstad Curling Club where the B Division games are being played has 8 sheets in two separate halls of 4 divided by a wall with round windows at eye level.While there is a common bar area, it is not possible to see the scoreboards in the other hall from the one in which one is sitting. This means a lot of walking back and forth to see the scores across the full 6 sheets that are being used (3 in each hall). It is a super brand new facility with great viewing from upstairs which is especially good for the coaches who do not need to sit outside in the rink freezing their whatnots.

With 4 sessions a day the umpires and icemen are very busy and also for those who are supporting a team in both genders, the days are long with first sessions at 0800 and last ones beginning at 2000.

The restriction to a regular 16 men's teams and 10 women's teams has produced a standardised draw for the B Division compared to previous years when the draw depended on the number of entries, but the unfortunate thing for the men is that their sessions are always at 0800 and 1600 while the women are on at 1200 and 2000. So England men for example have just had two consecutive 0800 starts with one more to come tomorrow - Tuesday will bring a welcome relief with a 1600 start.

So what of the games. The 10 women's teams include Latvia and Norway who came down from the A Division and Belarus and Turkey who came up from the C Division. The first shock was Turkey's win over Latvia at an extra end in the first session, and this was followed by another defeat for Latvia from neighbours Estonia before they settled themselves with a win over England. Norway had fairly straightforward wins over Slovakia and Belarus before a comprehensive 7-1 win over Poland. Poland themselves had started off in great style with a 14-3 demolition of Austria, which included a 6 at the 4th end.

After 3 sessions Norway are the only undefeated team while at the other end Slovakia have failed to win a game. England won a tense game 6-4 against Estonia with singles being scored at each of the ten ends, and then lost 4-11 to both Austria and Latvia.

No other home nation is involved in the women's B Division, with Wales and Ireland not entering at all this year and Scotland, of course, in the A Division, but in the men, England and Wales are in the Red Group and Ireland in the B Group. England began by losing 5-7 to a new young Italian team while Wales defeated Spain by 10-9 after a game of high scoring ends.Ireland were surprise winners by 6-5 over newly relegated Latvia and were 3-0 up against Croatia in their second game before losing by 7-3.

Wales have since lost 2 further games to Slovakia (2-9) and Italy (7-8) while England defeated a very promising Turkey team by 7-4. As I write England are back on the ice against Estonia while Ireland are playing Austria. Then at 2000 England's women are on against Spain.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wales win the I'Anson for the first time

The First English Province's I'Anson Trophy had never been won by a team from Wales and so the victory by Adrian Meikle and his team of James Pougher, Andrew Tanner and Chris Wells was a milestone for the Trophy, of which the first winners were Carlisle in 1897. A peel of 5-5 in their last game against the holder John Sharp was enough to leave them top of the standings after 4 games, while in a typical Schenkel moment, John and his team dropped to 4th overall.

John had started his campaign with a 5-5 result as well, against John Brown, who also peeled his second game by the same score!!

A full house of 16 teams included 2 teams warming up for their European Championship campaign, the winners and Fiona Hawker's English ladies, whose team member Angharad Ward was sporting the scars on her knees from a close encounter with a netball court at school. As luck would have it the two teams were drawn together in the first round and the eventual winners showed the ladies no favours and won all but the last end. Later results for the ladies got them back into the top half of the field.

The Welsh team had been a late replacement for a team which withdrew, and the second place team at the end of the weekend was an even later replacement skipped by Robert Anderson of Galston Haymouth who had been recruited at the European Invitation Seniors at Greenacres just the week before. His team of Anne Anderson, Murray Stevenson and Gail Thomson had been supplemented on the Saturday by Lyndsay Cumming when Robert had been unavailable and ended the weekend with 3 wins.

Also on 3 wins and in third place was the team skipped by James Carswell with Richard Stevenson, Stew Sutherland and John McDermott who had first got involved with English curling as members of the rebel Scottish team which went to the 4 Nations in Kent in 2011.

Entry forms for the 2013 event were waiting on the bar tables as teams came off the ice after the last game and I am sure that next year this great weekend of curling and quizzes will be fully subscribed again.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Shedden and Sloan win Braehead Mixed Doubles

The Braehead Mixed Doubles concluded last night with an exciting final which went all the way to the last stone. Graham Shedden and Claire Sloan triumphed in the end over Lindsay Gray and Lauren Gray by 5 shots to 3.

Lindsay was substituting for brother Logan who had topped section C with 3 wins out of 4 and he made his presence felt in the semi-final almost immediately when he and Lauren took a full house of 6 off the holders, Hannah Fleming and Billy Morton, at the second end! However, Hannah and Billy responded well and with a pair of 3s they took the game to the end only to lose by 7-9, which is not a bad total of stones for a 6 end game!!

In the other semi-final Graham and Claire defeated Scottish Champions Judith McFarlane and Lee McCleary by 8-3, and a bad day continued for the latter when they then lost the 3rd / 4th place play-off to Hannah and Billy by 9-1.

While the High Road, as described above, consisted of the three section winners and the highest up second place team from the three sections, the Low Road consisted of the bottom team in each section and was played as a semi-final between the worst performing two teams with the best team waiting for the winners in a final. John Brown and Dawn Watson defeated John Laverty and Linda Moffat 10-2 in the semi-final and then lost 5-4 to the Dutch pairing of Shari Leibbrandt and Carlo Glasbergen in the final, the Netherlanders extending their stay after the Edinburgh International for a bit of extra competition.

And what of the other 8 teams in the middle of the sections? Well their results from the Round Robin were carried forward and they were ranked into one big Schenkel table in which they played two further games. At the end of all that Gary Macfarlane and Sarah Reid emerged on top with Cathryn Guthrie and Alan Guthrie second.

Thanks at the prizegiving were given to all involved in organising the competition and to Leslie Ingram-Brown who has sponsored the event for the last three years and announced that he would continue to do so for another three years for which many thanks are given to Leslie.

And now for me it is on to Stranraer for the I'Anson Trophy, organised by the Preston Curling Club.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Braehead just for a change

I nearly missed the turn-off to Braehead last night as I have been heading on to Greenacres so often in the last month, but I remembered just in time and in the pouring rain turned into the Braehead car park last night ready for some Mixed Doubles.

This is the second year I have participated in this event, paired with Dawn Watson from Carmunnock and Rutherglen, and I was looking forward to some close games with delicate draws and tap backs being the name of the game (though do not tell that to John Sharp and Gary MacFarlane who managed to blank an end in their game last night)!!

The quality of the entry was high with Scottish Champions, Lee McCleary and Judith McFarlane, holders Hannah Fleming and Billy Morton and a number of other teams practising this rarely played discipline before the Scottish Championships. The only overseas representation came from Holland after the late withdrawal of the Estonian entry.

The 15 teams were drawn into 3 sections of 5 to play a round robin. One unlucky team in each section played all 4 of their 5-end games last night while the other 4 teams will play their final game tonight (Wednesday) before the teams are divided into High, Middle and Low Roads - I shall explain how that is done once I have seen it in action and will post details of winners etc tomorrow. But if you are not doing anything this evening and you fancy seeing something unusual why not pop down to Braehead for a couple of hours - play starts at 6 pm.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New blog

I have now started an additional blog to deal with English Curling Association matters - can be found here and also in the list of links to the right. This will be a regular information space for all matters to do with the ECA and will complement our Facebook page and our currently 'Under Re- Construction' ECA website.

Monday, November 12, 2012

And yet again, back to Greenacres

The third stage of my Scottish Curling Tour took me back to Greenacres at the weekend for the Gormac International where a full field of 24 teams took to the ice over the weekend. The teams were from all parts and of all ages and the quality was high.

From Ireland there were the World Senior Champions, though they were missing Bill Gray this weekend and skip JohnJo Kenny was also not available full time, and also there was the team which will be going to the European Championships next month.

From England there were two of the teams who would be playing in the National Championships in February trying out their new line-ups, plus our Senior team skipped by John Sharp, having its last warm-up before the English Senior Championships in three weeks' time.

From Poland we had a team of ladies joined by honorary Pole, Mark Callan, and from Scotland we had a whole host of teams getting in some ice time before their various Championships - Graeme Adam and Ken Horton's senior men, Christine Cannon's senior (and not quite senior) women, Ross McCleary's men and Gina Aitken's juniors, plus loads of local and not-so-local well kent faces such as Graham McIntyre, Graham Shedden, Alan Hannah, Fergus Corbett, Kate Adams, John McCall et al and apologies if I have missed your name off the list.

Action began on the Friday night with the first games at 1815 followed by stovies for all and the Calcutta bidding. Over £2500 was bid for the 24 teams with the highest price going on Ken Horton's team which went for £280 to Gordon McIntyre. I was pleased that our team went for £100 and thanks to John Summers for bidding so high - since we then won him some money by finishing 6th, I reckon that is worth a drink or two when we meet up again!!!

There were 4 games played across a Schenkel and then the top three in each won through to a final. Both sections were close in the end. The Blue section saw Ken Horton come out on top, but only by a matter of shots as the top 4 teams all finished on 3 wins and 18 ends!! It was a sensational finish as it looked for all the world that Ken would beat Graham Shedden in their last round match but a mistake by Kenny gave the win to Graham and brought him back into the reckoning, dropping Greg Dunn from London down to 4th and out of the money, much to the chagrin of Graeame Adam who had bought his team in the Calcutta.

Graham Shedden thus finished second with Graham McIntyre third and Greg Dunn 4th.

In the Red Section John Sharp was top after 3 games but Ross McCleary and Graeme Adam had tied their Saturday game and so were lurking on 5 points (separated by 1 end) with 3 other teams on 4 points who could also qualify by winning their last game. Graeme Adam eliminated one of them. Matthew McConnell, by winning while Ross McCleary defeated John Sharp to put himself top of the section with Graeme second. John Sharp did enough to qualify third by winning three ends in this defeat as in the match between the other contenders Peter Dagen and Fergus Corbett, Peter and his team (who had fewer ends than Fergus) produced an astounding performance of shot play to win but they did not have quite enough ends from previous games to go above John Sharp.

The main final between Ken Horton and Ross McCleary had a storming start as Ross scored a 4 at the first end to set Ken onto the back foot but how well Ken and his team of Bob Kelly, Tom Pendreigh and Greig Henderson responded and by 4 ends they were all square. The tense game went down to the last couple of stones in the 8th end but Ken held on to win narrowly to cap a great comeback and to earn for his "owner", Gordon McIntyre, a little over £600. Gordon had also bought Graeme Adam in the Calcutta and so saw his winnings increased as Graeme won the B final, while Graeme himself had bought Graham McIntyre's team who won the C Final, defeating yours truly (skipping while John Sharp had a game out).

Another great weekend of competition at Greenacres. well organised and run by Richard, Elma and her team who have now got the Province Championships to look forward to this weekend! It has been a really busy time for them all since the end of October and it is only when you go back there regularly for weekend competitions or events like the European Invitation Seniors that you really see how hard they all work to make it a great time for the participants and supporters. I will be back there again in late November for the ECA Seniors but tomorrow sees the start of leg 4 of my tour with the Braehead Mixed Doubles at ........Braehead (not Greenacres!!)

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Tomorrow never comes - until today that is

Promises promises I can hear you say - at the end of my last blog on 1st November I promised you more information the following day and yet here we are 5 days later and you have been patiently waiting for the rest of the story.......

I had hoped to do a bit of a live blog from Greenacres last Saturday during the Finals of the European Invitation Seniors, but Internet connections were off and on all weekend and so you will have to make do with this report on what happened - some of which you probably already know from Christine Stewart's report on "Theviewfromthehack"

In my last blog I gave you some information about the origins of the EIS (as I will call it from now on), and then I left you hanging waiting for the rest of the story. Since the first year continental attendance has steadily increased with entries this year from Switzerland, Latvia, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Russia, Italy, Netherlands and Slovakia joining the Scottish, English and Irish teams.

Both the finals were all Continental affairs with Finland’s Timo Kauste (the holder) taking on Karl Grossman of Switzerland in the men and Sweden’s Ingrid Meldahl (going for a hat-trick of wins) against Susanne Affeltranger of Switzerland in the women’s. Home country interest had disappeared at the semi-finals following defeats for Scottish Champions Keith Prentice and Barbara Watt. Two other Scottish teams had reached the men’s quarter-finals but both Gary MacFarlane, who had topped a tough group with 5 wins, and Willie Jamieson, who by contrast qualified with 2 wins and a peel, were eliminated. In addition the World Champions from Ireland also fell at this stage.

Karl Grossman became the first Swiss winner of the men's event and Ingrid did indeed win her third title in a row but only after she had to put her professional skills as a surgeon to good use when her opposite number Susanne Affeltranger fell and broke her wrist. The Swiss 5th player came on to the ice and the team forced Ingrid to an extra end before succumbing. In the 8 ends of normal play the Swiss girls scored 6 singles while the Swedes took a 4 and a 2 - contrasting ways to reach the same total.

The presentation of the trophies took place at the closing banquet at the Holiday Inn at the Airport where after dinner we were 'entertained' by various team members singing and dancing in the traditions of their countries.

So another successful EIS drew to a close with the promise that it would happen again next year.

Winners of the EIS:

2008 - Claes Roxin (SWE) and Kay Gibb (SCO)
2009 - Karl Nordlund (SWE) and Isobel Waddell (SCO)
2010 - Keith Prentice (SCO) and Ingrid Meldahl (SWE)
2011 - Timo Kauste (FIN) and Ingrid Meldahl (SWE)
2012 - Karl Grossman (SWI) and Ingrid Meldahl (SWE)

After my involvement in the EIS had finished I was asked to play in a couple of club games and so on Friday I turned out for Carmunnock and Rutherglen and on Sunday for Reform - unfortunately my team was on the losing side in both games but I now have a rest before the Gormac International at Greenacres at the weekend where our Senior team skipped by John Sharp will be getting in further practice before the ECA Senior Championships in early December.

After that I am playing in the Braehead Mixed Doubles and then the following weekend at the I'Anson Trophy in Stranraer before heading South after my little curling holiday up here in Scotland. So if you see me in an ice rink near you in the next 2 weeks don't be surprised.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Still here at Greenacres

After the Welsh Bonspiel I had a couple of days with family before it was back to Greenacres for the European Senior Invitation, now in its fifth year. The round robin stages are currently drawing to a close with the final games tomorrow before the men's quarter finals tomorrow evening.

The competition began in 2008 using funds which were left over from the 2005 Women's Worlds held in Paisley at the now defunct Lagoon Centre.The aim has always been to have 18 men's teams and 12 women's teams playing in sections of 6. In the first year there was a very Scottish flavour to the competition with 7 of the men's teams and 8 of the 11 women's teams being Scottish (and two more of the women's teams were Irish teams based in Scotland).

This has gradually changed and there is a much more European flavour to the competition with just 4 Scottish teams in each competition though we still also have the Scottish based Irish teams and a smattering of Scottish based England players.

I shall have to continue with this particular blog tomorrow but for the moment you can anticipate the rest of what I have to say!!!!

And now on to Greenacres

Since my last blog from Dumfries and the Duncan Stewart Trophy I have been home to Bedford for a few days and am now back up in Scotland where last weekend I participated in the Welsh Bonspiel at Greenacres. Lots of familiar faces there including my old school team mates, Graeme Adam and Ken Horton, both of whom I was destined to meet and to lose to!!!

The Welsh Bonspiel has been going since 1978 and was originally based in the Deesside ice rink in North Wales where the Welsh CA continue to hold curling on a Monday, though I hear that the ice this year is deteriorating and numbers are falling, which is a shame as the Welsh CA have built up a good body of curlers there with many who have been dedicated to the cause of Welsh Curling for a long time.

The Bonspiel was played at Deesside until 1989 before moving to Scotland and Forest Hills for 8 years and Letham Grange for 2. Since 2003 it has found a home at Greenacres.

In 1979 the afore-mentioned Graeme Adam and Ken Horton had won the Bonspiel in Deesside and while Graeme has been back and won all of the various trophies on offer many times, Ken reckoned that this was his first return to the Bonspiel since 1980.

Twenty teams participated this year with many former winners appearing.and as usual the competition was keen. In the Red Group, Andrew Woolston (who had won the B Final last year) came thorough undefeated with David Robertson (skipping Andy Carr's entry) in second place and Michael Yuille third. The green group had no 100 per-centers after Graeme Adam and Ken Horton had peeled their game but they both won their other 3 games to finish first and second with Ken getting the number one spot by one end. Colin Martin, who had lost the main final for the past two years qualified in third position.

The C final for the Stan Williams Trophy was the least exciting of the the three finals for the spectators with Michael Yuille, Delphine How, Gordon Nicholl and Lyn Black beating Colin Martin 9-4 in 7 ends. The B final went all the way, and, thanks to some spectacular in-wicks in the last two ends, Graeme Adam, Liz Jamieson, Jim Jamieson and Julia Adams scraped past David Robertson by 6-4.

In the A final it looked as though Ken Horton was on his way to victory being 2 up going into the last end with last stone, but two uncharacteristic misses saw the extra end being played in which Andrew Woolston and his team left Ken with a raised double for victory, but a narrow miss gave the victory to Andrew, Lesley Gregory, Martin Gregory and Lauren Baxter.

And now I am back here at Greenacres for the 5th European Seniors Invitation, which will be the subject of the next blog.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Duncan Stewart Trophy at Dumfries

The ECA held the third Duncan Stewart Trophy at Dumfries Ice Bowl at the weekend with 4 teams competing. Unfortunately Duncan's widow, Mary, could not be with us this year owing to illness. The competition is open to individuals who are then drawn into teams at the start of the weekend after they have been graded by a competitions committee to make sure that 4 skips do not play together.

The original idea for the competition came from current ECA President, Alison Arthur, who was there as the solitary spectator throughout the weekend and presented the prizes of unique individual wooden curling stones to each member of the winning team.

The 4 skips this year were John Sharp, John Brown, Phil Barton and Doug Andrews and there were 4 games to be played - firstly a complete round robin and then the top two would play off, and the bottom two, with ranking based on wins, ends, shots up and shots.

Results were varied with some pretty high scores and not that many close games in the end:

John Sharp 10 Phil Barton 4
Doug Andrews 13 John Brown 4
John Sharp 9 Doug Andrews 3
Phil Barton 8 John Brown 4
John Brown 14 John Sharp 4
Doug Andrews 6 Phil Barton 4
John Sharp 7 Doug Andrews 4
John Brown 8 Phil Barton 3

Overall winners on 3 wins were John Sharp, Phil Slater, Graham Stanley and James Gibb.
Second were Doug Andrews, Richard Hills (Sunday only), Martin Gregory, Iain Jamieson (Saturday only) and Jim Marmont.
Third were John Brown, Jean Robinson, Harvey Curle (Sunday only), Alison Barr and Doris McQueen (Saturday only).
Fourth were Phil Barton, Ross Barr, Charles Murphy, Susan Young

Quite an eclectic mix of nationalities in fact with Canadians and Scots living in England, English living in Scotland, Welsh living in England and also a few English living in England. This photo was taken on Saturday and shows those who were playing then (with thanks to Iain Jamieson for this and other photos).

Left to right - Doris McQueen, John Sharp, Jim Marmont, Doug Andrews, Graham Stanley, Jean Robinson, John Brown, James Gibb, Martin Gregory, Phil Barton, Alison Barr, Ross Barr, Susan Young, Charles Murphy, Phil Slater

It was the first time that the ECA have visited Dumfries Ice Bowl and we were made very welcome with signs welcoming us and an England flag prominent by the rinks we were playing on. It was quite a surprise to see how quiet it was as well as over the whole of the weekend there were no other games going on, just one person practising on Saturday and 3 of our wheelchair curlers practising on the Sunday.

When we found ourselves two players short on Saturday morning we were lucky to find Iain Jamieson in the ice rink cafeteria talking to Susan Young whom he had met on the RCCC Adult course. He was available for both sessions on Saturday and he got hold of another local player, Doris McQueen for the second session on Saturday. We invited the local players out for dinner and Doris brought her husband Duncan with her. During dinner we discovered that Duncan had been the manager at Streatham Ice Rink in 1982 who had arranged with Duncan Stewart for there to be curling after the ice hockey on a Sunday night. Quite an amazing coincidence that circumstances led to him being there on Saturday night as we toasted Duncan Stewart for the work he did for curling in London and England.

So Duncan Stewart - Susan Young - Ian Jamieson - Doris McQueen - Duncan McQueen - Duncan Stewart - 5 degrees of separation - Amazing!

And here are a few more pictures of the action at Dumfries:

Finally many thanks to Graham Sloan for helping us at the weekend and we hope to return to Dumfries some time soon - it is actually where I was born and lived for 4 years - and the house we lived in is approximately 5 minutes walk from the rink - now that would be bliss these days!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Turnberry - Rounds 2 and 3

Apologies for lack of updates from the Ayrshire Coast but it has been a busy couple of days since my last report. The meetings finished today with the WCF Annual General Assembly which tends to be these days a run through of a set list of agenda items in the form of reports from various Board Members, the main meat of the discussion having taken place at the Open Meetings earlier in the week.

The second last item is the approval of new member nations, and you may remember that the application from Kosovo was deferred to this meeting from the one in Basel in April so that member associations could sound out their members and satisfy themselves of the situation behind Serbia's protest that, because Kosovo is not a country recognised by the United Nations, then it could not become a member of the WCF. The Serbia-Kosovo conflict is one of the many wars that have taken place in the Balkans in recent years and Kosovo broke away from Serbia in 2008 and declared itself an independent nation. Kosovo is recognised by all the countries in Europe except Serbia and, bizarrely, Spain.

After a presentation by the representative of the Kosovan Curling Federation, the floor was thrown open to comments and for 30 minutes, Marko Stojanovic of the Serbian Curling Federation presented the case why, in Serbia's opinion, Kosovo should not be recognised by being given membership of the WCF. As there were no more questions, the resolution would normally have gone to a show of hands vote, but, at the request of the RCCC, seconded by Holland and supported by Japan and other countries, a secret ballot was called. The WCF had obviously expected this as the secret ballot papers were ready for distribution and once they were all counted, Kosovo was admitted by a count of 80-16 with one abstention.

The secret ballot had been called for because, apparently, at least one delegate had received vicious emails after the Basel decision to delay the decision making process.

It remains to be seen what Serbia's reaction will be to this decision.

In other news, Flims in Switzerland was announced as the host for the 2014 World Junior Championships, the third time it will have held this competition since 2003.

As the rain teems down outside Ailsa Craig is invisible from my window at the moment and the last few bedraggled delegates stream in quite literally from the golf course. The Congress has been a great success and will be a regular event in the WCF calendar - the 2013 version will take place at the end of August at a venue still to be announced, though the decision is near.

There were many other things discussed during the week and I will try to find the time to tell you all about them in future blogs. In the meantime I go off to Dumfries tomorrow to play in the ECA's Duncan Stewart Trophy this weekend.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Turnberry - Round one - level par

And so at 2330 your lonely blogger finds time to review the first day's play here at the Turnberry resort.When play began at 0900 in front of a full house of delegates the decision to set up this new WCF congress seemed to have paid off with some nations represented in full for the first time for many years and others making a rare appearance. There were a lot of new delegates to get to know and therefore some interesting news about developments in far -off countries, e.g. Brazil who hope to have their first curling rink operational within 2 years.

But the business began with further developments on the new Constitution being put together by a Commission chaired by Graham Prouse of Canada. Comments received in Basel had been incorporated into the latest thinking and delegates were fed a number of recommendations which the WCF would like to have views on, plus a number of straightforward questions.

At this time of night my notes appear a bit blurred in front of me, but at times I felt sorry for Graham as the responses from the congregation of delegates were not forthcoming in any great number, either in agreement or in opposition to the proposals. Further discussion tomorrow will see the commission conducting a number of straw polls to gauge the mood of delegates, so that a draft Constitution can be prepared for voting on at next year's congress.

I will try and sum up at the end of the week what these proposals might be.

After lunch WCF Director of Finance, Andy Anderson, led the delegates through a number of spreadsheets which indicated that the finances of the WCF remain in good health with approximately $14million spread around various bank accounts.Current projections indicate that by the end of the current Olympic quadrennial period the WCF should have achieved one of their financial aims in having enough money in the bank to enable it to operate for at least one year with no large pot of Olympic or any other income being available.

After the official business of the day was completed the delegates were then taken on a number of tours - one bus load went to the Kay's stone factory at Mauchline via the Electric Brae and Rabbie Burns country while others went on a whisky tasting trip or went direct to Ayr Ice Rink for the first WCF Congress Bonspiel where they were joined later by the rest of the delegates for an evening of curling and a meal.

I joined the tour of the Kays factory where Mark Callan and Donald McRae welcomed us to see how curling stones are made - I have photos on my phone which I will add here later. As I said in my last blog the appearance of the factory surprised a number of delegates who were obviously expecting a modern industrial unit with computer driven machine tools producing these millimetre perfect curling stones. The reality of course is a small unpretentious little factory in the back streets of Mauchline where 50 year old machines, lovingly tended and modified to suit the processes involved, produce millimetre perfect curling stones. The main issue is the outcome of the process and nobody can say that the methods used do not produce the outcome required.

Then it was on to Ayr Ice Rink where the delegates, who wished to participate, played 4 ends of curling without a major international incident. My Anglo - Croatian - Chinese - Austrian conglomerate were not so successful against the might of Germany-Estonia-Denmark-Lithuania losing by 2-6, but the eventual winners won by 13-3 (in just 4 ends!!) by scoring a 6 and a 7 - so close to an 8 - and proved that when it comes to playing in Scotland, the RCCC always win!!. The winning team was skipped by RCCC President Bill Duncan with help from New Zealand and Netherlands and Germany.

So day one passed and  a few birdies were neutralised by a few bogies along the way and so level par was a fair score. Here's hoping that tomorrow will see us getting into red figures.

Monday, October 15, 2012

In full view of Ailsa Craig

This may be the first post of many this week as I am off tomorrow to the Turnberry Resort where the World Curling Federation is holding the first World Curling Congress from Tuesday evening until Saturday morning. A very nice place for a junket you may think - and you would probably be right!! But as you can see below a thrill packed agenda awaits myself and the other hundred plus representatives from the curling nations of the World.

This is the first of what will be an annual event and will replace the 2 sets of meetings which the WCF have previously held at the European and World Championships. It does of course mean that "going to see my team play curling" will no longer be an acceptable excuse for not appearing at a meeting!!!

Tuesday 16th October

PM Delegates Arrive / Free Afternoon
1930  Pre Dinner Drinks and Opening Dinner supported by Event Scotland / Scottish Government

Wednesday 17th October
0900 Open Meetings -  Governance Discussions - Further discussion on the proposed new Constitution for the World Curling Federation
1200 Lunch
1300 Open Meetings - Finance and Budget - Discussion on the Financial Reports 2011/12 and the Budget for the 2013/14 Financial Period
1500 Leave for Visit to the Kays Factory
1600 Leave for Ayr Rink from Hotel for those not visiting Kays Factory
1700 Leave Kays for Ayr Ice Rink
1815 Curling Games and Evening Meal at Ayr Ice Rink

Thursday 18th October

0900 Open Meetings - Competitions and Development (inc Rules) - Presentations from and discussions with the new Competitions and Development team
1300 Lunch
1400 Break-Out Meetings - Zonal Commission Meetings - An opportunity for each Zonal Commission to meet and discuss and proposed future structure and methods of working to be included in the new constitution.
1545 Open Meeting - Membership Applications - An opportunity to meet and discuss applicants for membership of the WCF
1730 Buses depart for County Halls for South Ayrshire Council and Royal Caledonian Curling Club Reception
1900 Civic Reception (drinks and Evening Meal)

Friday 19th October

0830 Annual General Assembly
Lunch @ Hotel Time to be confirmed
PM Golf or visit to Kays for those who did not go on Wednesday or other sightseeing trip for non-golfers
1930 Pre Dinner Drinks sponsored by sportscotland
2000 Closing Dinner and Dance

Saturday 20th October
Departure for Congress Guests

So the major hot topic is likely to be the new constitution of the WCF which proposes the setting up of Continental Commissions and which will probably lead to the demise of the European Curling Federation as previously discussed in this blog back in April when we were in Basel.

An interesting session is planned for 1545 on Thursday which is blandly titled "Membership Applications - An opportunity to meet and discuss applicants for membership of the WCF." but which is principally concerned with resolving the issue raised in Basel by Serbia when Kosovo applied to join the WCF and the issue was set aside to be discussed this week.

Having visited the Kay's factory at Mauchline, I know what to expect but I have not yet taken anybody there who has failed to be astonished by the appearance of the place - and it will be interesting to hear what the delegates have to say about it.

It is a shame that visiting Ailsa Craig is not on the agenda but its status as a bird sanctuary makes that impossible I believe, but at least we will be able to look across at it from the hotel every day and reflect on its importance in the development of the "beautiful game" - at least we deserve it more than that other abomination that calls itself that!!! - Discuss!!!!.

So if I can find the time in the packed schedule I will sit down and pass on my thoughts on the happenings at Turnberry this week while others brave the gale force winds and lashing rain to hit a wee ball around a field!!!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

And off we go again

As September comes to an end, then the new curling season must be beginning - and so a welcome back to all my readers and I hope I can maintain your interest over the next 8 months as I travel the world of curling, or indeed just travel the World. This will just be a short introduction - a kind of an opening bonspiel type of posting just to get your muscles back in shape and let yourself see what kind of a season you might have ahead of you. Cannot have you straining those hamstrings too soon.

Already however the first International competition has begun in Turkey - the European Mixed Championships - link is here and all the home countries except Wales are represented. The English team this year is skipped by Bryan Zacahary and is a mixture of youth and experience with Bryan being joined by Kerr Alexander (inevitably it seems called Alexander Kerr by the organisers on the website - they must have thought I got muddled up when I sent the team names in!!) and Ken Maxwell plus three of our junior girls - Lauren Pearce, Angharad Ward and Naomi Robinson.

The good news is that they won their first game against the Neelemans of the Netherlands by 7-3.

We can also claim an interest in the Scotland team as lead, Karen Barthelemy (ex - Strang) is a regular player down at Fenton's as she works in London.

More results will appear in this blog and also check out the ECA Facebook page (our website is currently being updated you will be glad to hear) while for more news you should catch Louise Kerr's blog on the Irish CA's website here

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Funny where curling pops up....

On a roll tonight and so here is my second blog of the evening.

Those who know me well know that I am a transport planner by profession and in connection with that I have come across a number of interesting websites. One such is the website of a group called SABRE - The Society for All British and Irish Road Enthusiasts - a sort of road-spotting group as opposed to train spotting. While flicking through the forum I came across the following thread and thought you might be interested in it.

I have also sent the reference to Lindsay Scotland at the RCCC who has been putting together a database of historical curling sites in Scotland and he did not have it on his list and so it has now become number 2838 on that database.

He has also started a historical curling site database for England and it can be found here.

If anybody can add any more information to this website he will be very pleased to hear from you.

Street Curling

Further to my previous blog please have a look at this news item on the WCF website - looks like 'street' curling is taking off!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summer Curling in the Park

It all started back in February with one of the many similar enquiries I get through the ECA website Contact page – “I live in West Wiltshire and I am looking for a local curling team please.”

My response to this was my usual standard one of: “Afraid there is no local curling team or club in Wiltshire. The only curling rink in England is at Tunbridge Wells in Kent”. (followed by weblink).

But the reply that came back was different and totally unexpected!!

“I am arranging an Olympic Play Day and I have hired in an ice outdoor Curling rink and I am looking for someone who can run workshops on the day and it’s not something I have ever played.”

This was beginning to get interesting – raised so many questions. Was it going to be like one of the skating rinks that spring up around the country just before Christmas? What equipment would we need to gather together? Who could I get to go down and lend them a hand?

So my reply was fairly straightforward:

“Well we may be able to help as you will obviously need some equipment as well. What date are you doing this?”

And back came a further surprise:

"The date is the 26th May in Trowbridge in Wiltshire and the idea is to inspire the community into different sports. I have attached the curling rink I have hired for the day which comes with the equipment as well, so I would be looking for people to engage the community and teach them how to play."

And there was a website link included in the message. There I found out what it was all about:

Our synthetic rinks are manufactured from a strong 100% ultra density polyethylene which will not warp, crack, splinter or corrode. The rink floor is made up of 18mm thick 1-meter square slabs, which connect together using the latest tongue and grove technology. Within each 1-meter section a 1-meter tongue is inserted to form a connection between the two slabs to stop the slabs moving apart and to create a smooth, seamless surface with no joints or ridges. Due to the versatility of our mobile ice rinks we can build them any size or shape to fit even the most demanding venue.

Of course most of their website talks about the use for skating but there was one little bit about curling:

Curling is a sport that except for the lucky few is only available to view via your television. At ice magic we have a custom made curling arena which is fantastic for all events including team building and exhibitions to give your guests the opportunity to try something new.

And there is also a picture of it in use as part of an Aquafresh toothpaste promotion:

This was looking interesting, if a bit curious - was that a giant toothbrush? And what were the little yellow things looking like ice hockey pucks?

The only way to find out was to get down there on the 26th May and see for myself - so along with President Alison Arthur (who lives just 40 minutes from Trowbridge), James Gibb and Charles Murphy and his partner, Linda, I turned up to Trowbridge Park on a baking hot Saturday to find the men from Ice-Magic setting up the skating rink before tackling the smaller task of fitting the panels together for the curling rink - and when they had finished it looked a bit less spectacular than the Aquafresh promotion in the picture above, but still quite realistic.

You will immediately notice that if the panels are 1 metre square then the rings are just over 1 metre in diameter and so not quite the full size of the real thing and it was only 6 metres from the 'hack' to the house. And so what about the stones - well they were quite ingenious - full size, made of plastic, weighing about 5-7 kilos and with three metal feet as the following pictures show:

There were only 6 - 3 of each colour, but as the above picture shows that was all about you could probably get into the house without covering every square inch.

So was that it then - did it work and was it realistic? There was one final ingredient to be added to the mix - a spray of glycol on the surface of the 'ice' to make it slippy and yes it did work and we had lots of delighted children challenging their parents and their siblings.

There were no hacks but a rubber mesh mat was laid at the throwing end and we taught people to throw in the old crampit style

Major problem was that we got lots of people literally throwing the stones on to the ice from a height of a couple of feet rather than sliding it along from the edge of the plastic - good job it was not real ice as the cracks would have been quite impressive!!

Here are a couple more pictures from the day.

So was it worth it - well many people had a lot of fun and if we have managed to get one person interested in asking at their local ice rink then maybe in 2 years time around about Olympic time we will get a rise in interest in the Wiltshire area. One mother said she was going to talk to Bristol Ice Rink as her two sons had enjoyed it so much so we shall see what happens.

As far as the ice rink people were concerned it is definitely 'work in progress' as they would like to increase the realism in some way - maybe by adding a pebble to the plastic. The stones did curl, but very late in their travel and quite abruptly, but it was possible to get around behind a guard and show people the way that stones curl on ice. At the moment they have not really had much interest, but I notice that the paragraph about curling has appeared on their website since I first looked at it and so maybe they will be getting more clients in the future. The rink can of course be as long as you want just by adding more squares of plastic and they will need to test to see what length is most suitable for different markets.

Aquafresh had been the instigators of the idea - but I still have no idea what the small yellow 'pucks' are in the picture - I forgot to ask!!

So at the end of a long day in the sun we all went our own separate ways and I headed off to Scotland - but that is another story, not much to do with curling but may well appear her in the near future............