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Friday, December 19, 2014

To tank or not to tank?

The Regional playdowns are going on this weekend at Glenmore and Dolbeau to determine the last 6 qualifiers for Quebec Men’s Provincials, and amazingly I am not there!!!
My team qualified via the cash we won this year, finishing a close second in the province behind Jean-Michel. (we were only about 20,000$ behind them). Robert Desjardins has qualified via cash as well, and Steven Munroe won the Circuit Provincial spot a few weeks ago. 
I cannot tell you how ridiculously happy I am to not be driving 7 hours alone in my car to Dolbeau to play an extremely tough triple knockout regional the weekend before Christmas.
The final 6 will be determined in 2 regional playdowns that are usually brutal weekends of curling. The draws can be found via the Curling Quebec Website. Here is a link:  http://www.curling.ca/quebecscores/#/
My picks (Although playdowns never work out as predicted):
East: Ferly, Richard and Robichaud. Maybe Caron.
West: Gagnon, Doyon and Wharry.
I would say the West is a big tossup – lots of teams can be in the mix: Benoit (with the Trepannier brothers), Kennerknect, Max Dufresne and others can easily provide a few upsets.
Also interesting: Felix Asselin with Lawren Steventon playing 3rd, Possibly the only Junior-Masters combination team in the history of the Quebec tankard.  They will be tough to beat playing on their home ice.


To tank or not to tank – that is the question.

Here is a hypothetical situation:
You are signed up in a round robin bonspiel. You have won your first two games, and are assured of qualifying for the playoffs. You are the last game to be played. You look at the draw, and realize that if you lose, you fall into an easier section of the draw, and have a better chance of winning the tournament. The team you are playing is eliminated from the playoffs either way.
So do you tank the game?
In case you have not guessed, this situation happened recently in a non-hypothetical way, to a team I will not name here. I will say that the team in question lost the game where they were heavily favored, and made some ridiculously bad calls and threw some very bad rocks in doing so. I will not go as far as to say they tanked the game, but to those watching, it was an entertaining spectacle, with one team trying to win and the other trying to lose without appearing as if they were trying to lose. At very least, it was a very strange game, with some very weird calls and one of the funniest measures I have ever seen.
So is it wrong to lose on purpose? I am not sure. I can honestly say that I have never tanked a game. It is just not in my DNA to do so. But was the skip is question wrong for throwing the game? Or was it just intelligent draw management….like giving the other team a point in the seventh end to keep the hammer in 8. Honestly – I am not sure. If I had been in his spot, how motivated would I have been to win? How would that have affected my concentration? What if the other team had caught on to what was happening and just decided to shake? I think this is not as clear cut as many make it out to be.
Anyway – feel free to comment below. Curious to get some opinions on this. But if you name names – I will delete your comment!!!
Lesson to be learned here: Never run a round robin where one game is played after all the other games are completed! This is why FIFA starting playing the final 2 games of its round robin stage of the World Cup simultaneously.


Where are all the women gone?

The Scotties playdowns are also this weekend. In an exciting turn of events, 6 teams filled out the form, and qualify directly for provincials.
6 teams. Out of all the curling clubs, out of all the female curlers in Quebec, only 6 teams decided it was worthwhile trying out. Wow.
Where is everybody? I know a lot of competitive curlers have dropped out because of pregnancy, families, life, etc. I guess the question is why do women stop curling when they have families, whereas men seem to keep playing? (not that the number of men’s teams is not also in decline!)
So how do we get more teams out? Should we offer free daycare during the provincials? Should curling clubs make more of an effort to be more family friendly? (like offering free babysitting during certain leagues – which some clubs in the West already do).
Not sure what the solution is– but the lack of teams reflects badly on the sport. The six teams that have signed up are all working hard and practicing, but they would all benefit from having more local competition to make them better.


  1. Point 1: Congratulations on qualifying, Mike. I had a front row seat for the two very good shots you made in the eighth to win the game that qualified you without having to go through regionals. I hate to lose any game but if I have to, that's the best scenario.

    Point 2: Round robin draws have a lot of drawbacks, especially with out of town teams wanting to start late. (Hello! Merci!) But I have not looked at how well a triple would have worked in this particular case and I believe the organizer was doing their best for this situation not to occur... The three-point-game system used in the open event at the Chateau Cartier spiel in Gatineau (and in Charlevoix?) improves slightly on the standard round robin + shootout. Our team would always prefer a triple though if the schedule allows for it.

    Point 3: It is the same all over. There are more activities available than ever before for people to spend their fixed money and time on. Combine that with the fact that there is a greater disparity than ever before between the average club curlers and the top dedicated curlers, and it becomes relatively simple to see why the competition is sparse at provincials. Clubs, bonspiels and competitions all need ways to make their events more attractive, and it will take an organization (the CCA? Provincial organizations?) with an aggressive vision for a multipronged approach to identify and mitigate the factors and to provide incentive for people to dedicate themselves to the competitive side of the game. And it will definitely take money and planning and marketing.

  2. I wonder why the tanking team cannot be identified but I will respect your decision.
    Call tanking a game smart bonspiel management if you want to. To me, curling is a special and wonderful game because it is played with camaraderie, honor and integrity. Enough said.

  3. It is my understanding the offending team would clinch a prov cash spot with a favourable match up in the playoff round of that spiel. This calls into question the logic of giving 40% of the prov entries to cash spots(Let's face it the circuit winner is a glorified cash spot).

    In theory teams that slog it on the road deserve the rest from the regionals for the provs. The best teams are the top cash winners.. ect. . However this calls into question the integrety of the cash spots