Bonspiel Etiquette

Bonspiels are great fun and they can be even more fun if the participants follow a few simple “unspoken” rules about game play and behavior.  With that in mind, here’s a few things to keep in mind when you’re playing in your next bonspiel:

1) Remember the simple courtesies – always wish your opponents  “Good Curling” and a handshake at the beginning and at the end of the game.

2) If the opposition makes a good shot, don’t hesitate to congratulate them on a “nice shot” (whether they do it for you or not.)

3) Curling tradition dictates that the winners of the game offer the losers a drink at the bar. This highlights the social aspect of the game.  Not all teams will do this and if they don’t they don’t – no worries.  But if you are the winners, you should consider offering to buy the other team a drink (often the second round is then picked up by them.)   And, it’s not unusual to have your lead buy their lead a drink, your second buy their second, etc.

4) Tradition also has it that club pins are often exchanged after a game.  We have Las Vegas Curling pins (very snazzy by the way) for sale –  a minimum of three would get you through your three games in a weekend.    So, again, if the lead exchanges with the lead, second with the second, etc.   you will be all set to exchange pins with your three opponents in a typical bonspiel weekend.

5) Stay off your cell phone while on the ice.  It’s not safe to be calling/texting and it’s distracting.

6) If you touch a stone while sweeping, be sure to declare it burned.  For more information on what to do if a stone is burned, see the newsletter from September 9, 2014.  If you are unsure about sweeping nuances (when you can , when you can’t, etc.) you might want to review this newsletter October 10, 2014.

7) You may also want to brush up on the Free Guard Zone rules in case the issue comes up. They are discussed in the newsletter of September 25, 2014

8) There are rules that refine the game a bit which we often don’t adhere to when playing in our leagues but which you should try to adhere to in bonspiel play.   Some move the game along quicker (so that all 8 ends can be completed) while some are simply courtesies:

  • Although it’s not a set rule, you usually should NOT move the other team’s stone up to the hack in preparation for their shot.   It’s considered a nice thing to do in league, but some teams coming from around the country play more traditionally and prefer their stones not be touched.   So, safer to not do it.  If they do it for you, go ahead and do it if you like.
  • However, you SHOULD move your own stones up for your next shooter to speed up the game.  And, your next shooter should be ready to move in to the hack as soon as your opponent releases their stone.   That way you are ready to go as soon as your skip gives you the signal.
  • Having said that, do NOT be in such a hurry to get to the hack that you stand behind or near the opponent who is throwing.  Rather,  If the opponent is “up” and throwing, you (the next thrower and your sweepers) should be standing, without moving, between the hog lines.  If you are the shooter, as soon as the opponent releases and slides by you, then move from “between the hog lines”, to the hack.  As mentioned above one of the sweepers can grab your stone and move it in while you get positioned.  All of the above avoids significant delay in the game play and will make everyone happier as more curling time will result.
  • After you have delivered your stone, move out of the way (and back between the hog lines) so that your opponent can prepare to deliver their stone.  Try not to linger in the middle of the sheet discussing what went wrong (or even admiring your beautiful takeout!)
  • In the spirit of moving the game along, skips and vice-skips, who often consult and discuss critical last shots in an end, should try to keep those discussions abbreviated.  Have them if you need them but don’t draw them out.
  • When an end completes everyone, except the vice-skips, should move rocks that are not in the house back behind the hack in preparation for starting the next end.  Vice-skips – ONLY – should meet in the house and determine the score.  Once the score is agreed upon, move the remaining rocks off.   If you’re team scored, get your Lead in to position with their first rock and be ready to throw to start the next end.
  • When clearing the house and moving the stones back in preparation for the next end, do NOT be concerned with placing the stones in numerical order.  There is no rule that they have to be in order and it’s easy for any player to identify “their” stones to throw out of a group of eight.  It just wastes time tyring to line them all up.
  • If a measure is needed to determine points, again only the vice-skips should be in the house to conduct the measure.   They’ll figure it out and let everyone know what the result was.  Skips this means you – let your vice-skip handle it!
  • Skips – when your opponent is throwing, be sure to stay still (especially since you are, presumably, somewhere behind their skip) so their thrower can see their target.  And, keep your broom off the ice so that it does not distract from their skip’s target.

Remember that this is friendly competition and it’s a game.   If you disagree with a measurement, a call, or something else that happened, discuss it briefly, keep the atmosphere light, and move on (whatever the result.)  In the end, be a good sport and —

Good Curling!