Anatomy of an end: Steve Laycock’s five-ender vs. Brad Jacobs
Setting the scene: this was the fifth end of the 2016 Canada Cup tiebreaker — the first of two tiebreakers. Winner played in another tiebreak, just to get into the three-team playoffs.
Brad Jacobs had just stolen a point in the fourth. They came out aggressive again — two center guards by Ryan Harnden. Laycock called for the corner yellow. The second lead stone by Dallan Muyres was supposed to come around the yellow corner but rubbed the guard and spilled into the 12-foot.
E.J. Harnden’s first stone was supposed to hit and roll behind center, but it ran a bit heavy and straight and landed pretty much nowhere good.
Colton Flasch, with his first, drew behind cover. Really good spot to set up the end. It made the call difficult for Jacobs — freeze to it (that high up?) or try to go for shot. Jacobs ultimately called for the freeze to the just-thrown yellow.
Another miss by Harnden, but hey, at least it’s light, and now the center line is all junked up. So Laycock is in good position, but what do you call? I’d have gone back into the center and try to hold for two, but he went with an odd trajectory, center to left, trying to freeze-tap that back red one.
And they almost had it. It curled a bit too much on them after the hogline and couldn’t hold it for second shot, but it is another clump of rocks to possibly worry about. Still, the right call is to try and go around everything. Fry elected go in-turn (the right side).
Another one that overcurled. The ice conditions became a factor here, admittedly, but Team Jacobs is now on three straight misses, crashing on shot stone and leaving theirs basically a sitting duck. Time to hit and take cover.
Rolling to the outside might have been a cooler shot, but this one was easier and you’re still getting behind cover. The other yellow one there moved probably a couple inches, if anything — but it brought it that much more into play on the out-turn side. Chekhov’s Stones.
“We’re toast,” said Jacobs, referring to any chance of making this a good end for them — force or better — and was with three stones left, was just looking toward damage control, or set up a hero shot. Ryan Fry called his own shot, which spoke to that: tap the yellow back to just behind the tee-line, giving them a usable stone and possibly something to draw/freeze toward.
1: It feels really good for a non-skip to call a tough shot out of thin air in a bit spot and make it exactly as you envisioned it. 2: they’re still royally screwed. But at least shot stone is exposed and they appear to have one of two shots for Jacobs’ first throw.
And Kirk Muyres saw the exact same potential: a hit and roll on the red, but roll enough just to move that yellow in the white circle over a foot and guard shot rock.
Not exactly what they wanted, but certainly a Plan B result. There’s some clutter in the top-eight but shot stone is totally accessible and he can roll behind those yellows to possibly save his own bacon. The call was for “back 12” weight so that Laycock’s shot stone would act as backing.
Another half-miss. He replaced shot stone with his, but basically threw too heavy (closer to hack, it looks like) and left an easy(ier) one for Laycock to tap away, and at the very least roll away.
Exactly what he wanted. Now Jacobs has very little except a pressure draw. Looking back, he could have tried to thrown parking lot weight at Laycock’s just-thrown stone and try to roll into the back eight possibly for shot, but it’s so hard to be precise on hit and rolls, and I fall into the trap of thinking “oh, just call a hit and roll and you’ll be great.” Of course you will. But none of us on Thursday night rec league are Brier champions.
So they chose the out-turn draw, thinking that it would bury better on that side. And man, did it ever.
The Harndens did what they do best and saved a crucial stone with their muscle. But some of it was still poking out for Laycock to pick out and maybe score their three.
It was a really poor end for Jacobs, especially halfway through, hence all the yellow in the house. But the end result before hammer looked decent; they made Laycock earn this one. They were looking at two or three the entire end and a made shot — the pick — was probably going to get them four points no matter what. It was there, but it was a side of the sheet that was giving both teams fits, especially given how rocks were just jumping on them at the end. That’s curling.
No, wait, this is curling:
Curling ends are endless butterfly effects. What if E.J. had made that hit and roll? What if he missed worse, causing a rollout — what does Flasch do with his second throw? Maybe it’s an end that looks bad but never has the potential for disaster. Or, what if Jacobs buried his stone and stole the point, and won the game, and went onto win three more games? We’ll never know but it’s fun as hell to point out.