Following the approval at the World Curling Federation Annual General Assembly by the Member Associations to authorise the World Curling Federation Board to take a final decision on the trial rules, three papers have been drafted to begin the consultation process.
These three documents outline the basis of the trial rules, updates to the initial proposals based on feedback received to date, rationale, benefits, challenges to overcome (concerns heard to date) and evidence base for the proposals.
Below you will find the paper for the trial rule of “Removal of Extra Ends in the Round Robin”. The papers for the other rules are available on the following links:
Trial Rule Three — No Extra End in the Round-Robin Stage
Annual General Assembly Motion
A team winning a game will receive three points for the win. If a game is tied, each team will select one player to play a draw to the button; the team closest to the button will receive two points and the other team will receive one point.
The standings for the round robin will be calculated first on the total number of points gained by the teams. If two or more teams have the same number of points, the team with the greater number of wins within ten ends will be ranked higher, if the teams are still tied then the normal World Curling Federation ranking rules will apply.
To be considered given feedback so far: Nil
Improvements in play over the last number of years have seen extra ends become increasingly predictable, with the team with the hammer winning in excess of 80% of the extra ends.
If a game is eight or ten ends long and the teams are tied at the end of that period, is it fair to give one team such an overwhelming advantage to win the game?
Additionally extra ends are challenging for broadcasters requiring them to potentially change schedules with no notice, something many are reluctant to do.
- Reduces outcome predictability – 85% of extra-end games won by team with hammer in men’s world championships (2017- 2021)
- Draw Shot Challenge has an element of excitement versus leaving games tied
- Places a premium on winning a game in “regulation time”
- Maintains the principle of declaring a winner in each game
- Provides better certainty for overall time required to play a game
- Increases likelihood of completing games consistently within the allotted broadcast schedule
- Consistently meeting the allotted broadcast time makes curling more attractive to broadcasters, especially new or non-traditional broadcast partners
- Reduces the likelihood of broadcasters moving on to other scheduled programming before games are completed during round robin play
- Broadcasters less likely to leave an extra-end playoff game
- Better time-consistency allows broadcast production features to be enhanced
- More opportunities to profile athletes or include feature pieces
Challenges to overcome
Concerns have been raised about the significant change to the game strategy that could result from the removal of extra ends. One comment received, was that teams currently play to have the last stone in the extra end. However, it would seem to be far more common for teams to look to have the last stone in the tenth end to control the win or loss.
Concerns have been expressed that a skip may not have thrown a draw for many ends and then have to face throwing one to win the game in a draw shot. This argument is no different to a skip potentially facing a match winning draw in the tenth end having played hits for the previous few shots. Additionally, there is nothing to say a team could not get another player to play the draw shot if they felt they were better placed to do it at that time.
There are also concerns that the draw shot is not a “team” effort to win the game and that removing the extra end removes an exciting addition to the game. Regarding the team effort one option would be to look at the time taken for two people to play the draw shot.
In terms of the extra end excitement, for it to be really exciting reducing the predictability of the end would be required.
Another issued raised, is the use of the world championships and whether it is appropriate to trial rules at these events. This has been discussed carefully and whilst it is recognised it is not the perfect solution, there are very few ten end events with an elite level field and top officials that would allow these rules to be trialled effectively.
All have been trialled in one form or another at eight end events and trialling them at the world championships will give a full set of data to evaluate the benefits or otherwise of the impact.
Elements of these systems have been used at the Curling World Cup and Curling Night in America with no significant issues.
Input has been taken from the 2015 and 2019 Athlete Surveys, feedback reports from the Curling World Cup and Curling Night in America, the World Curling Federation Fan Survey conducted in April 2021, social media feedback on the trial rules, comments from the Competition and Rules Commission and Athlete Commission, comments from World Curling Federation Member Associations, discussions with selected broadcasters and both World Curling Federation Marketing Agents as well as the Maximising The Value Working Group themselves.
Maximising The Value Working Group
The Maximising The Value Working Group was set up following the World Curling Federation Annual General Assembly in 2019, with the aim of looking at how to increase the interest in curling beyond the current traditional audiences both on and offline. This included not only looking at the length of the game but issues such as pace of play and understandability.
The Maximising The Value Working Group includes a broad range of voices from within the sport including those involved in playing, administering, hosting, marketing, broadcasting and officiating.
As athletes those involved have been to ten Olympic Games winning four medals and on the wider world stage have represented their countries almost 1,300 times in World Curling Federation Events winning more than 60 medals.
The Maximising The Value Working Group is chaired by World Curling Federation Vice-President (Americas), Graham Prouse.
If you would like to submit any feedback on this or any of the other proposed trial rules you can email your comments to [email protected]