On occasion the curling gods will smile upon thee and provide a situation about which skips dream. You have last rock advantage and you have stones counting on either side of the house and your team is shooting. Now what do I do?
The dilemma is caused by the precept that with last stone advantage you did what you were urged to do by people like yours truly and got play to the sides of the sheet but now putting another stone on either side might just let the opposition off the hook by setting up some sort of pocket to which they can draw or make a double takeout. If that’s your sentiment, you’re absolutely correct. Another stone to either side might not be the wisest choice.
So, what is the obvious choice? Right, put it in the middle! You want to draw the attention of your opponent away from the sides at this point. By placing a stone in the middle, especially if it’s later in the end which it quite likely is, the opposing skip pretty much has to make a play on your “middle stone” and to maximize the shot, he/she must hit-and-roll to the side where he/she really wants to play. To force a club skip to make a hit-and-roll as the shot you leave I feel is sound reasoning. There’s a time honoured axiom in curling about which all experienced curlers are aware. It’s not the shot you make. It’s the shot you leave!
Sometimes in an end where your team has played exceptionally well and perhaps your opponent, not so well, you are counting three, four or even five shots. It’s no longer about where you want to play a shot. It’s much more about where the opposing skip hopes you will play so he/she can make an end saving shot. In other words, it’s no longer about you. It’s about him/her. You need to place a stone that provides the least possible chance that they will cut you down substantially or even steal the end away. That can be devastating and I see it happen much too often when a team that should score a multiple end falls victim because they failed to realize the point just made. Don’t let that be you!
Remember, put it in the middle!
A corollary to this situation is when you don’t have last rock advantage and your opponent, who obviously does, gets play to the side of the sheet, exactly where you don’t want play to be. But, through some misfortune on the part of your opponent, or a great shot or two by your team, you get shot rock in that mess at the side of the house and it’s your shot. Again, now what do I do? Well, you seemed to have escaped the “danger zone” so get away from that area. Generally the best place to put a stone is on the tee line at the edge of the 4′ opposite from that aforementioned danger zone. Your opponent cannot ignore your shot as it’s, well, shot, and to get back to the danger zone, a hit-and-roll must be executed. What did we say about the shot you leave? Right, for a club curler, a hit-and-roll is in the higher degree of difficulty range.
Remember, get away from the danger zone as soon as possible and the edge of the 4′ is a safe haven!