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Chess on Ice: The Precision Sport of Curling
Few precision sports are as exciting as that of curling, in which players slide polished stones across a sheet of ice towards a faraway circular target. A distant cousin of shuffleboard, curling is believed to have originated in Scotland sometime in the early 16th century.
This blog is devoted to this unique sport, which became an Olympic event in 1998, and the talented athletes – both men and women – who play it. Here, curling fans will find countless posts on the subject, from articles on the sport’s medieval origins to the bios and stats of celebrated curlers.
The rules of the game are relatively straightforward. Two teams of four players each take turns sliding the stones across the ice (known as the ‘sheet’) in an effort to place them inside the target (or 'house'), which consists of four concentric circles.
At the end of each round, points are awarded based on the number of stones (which can weigh up to 44 pounds each) resting closest to the target’s center.
As the stone slides across the sheet, its path can be influenced by two ‘sweepers’ who sweep the ice in front of it with curling brooms. This serves to reduce friction, allowing the curling stone to maintain its trajectory and travel significantly farther than it would otherwise.
This unique ‘sweeping’ component means curling requires considerable strategy (not to mention teamwork), thereby earning it the nickname ‘chess on ice.’