November 28, 2011

The Winners

L-R: Tom Brewster, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow pose with the famous old 'Worlds Championships' trophy, first played for in 1922.

The runners-up, Sandy Reid, Moray Combe, Neil Macarthur and Dave Soutar, pose with the Berne Bear.

Photos by Robin Copland

Edinburgh International Senior Championship 2011

The Winners of the Edinburgh International Senior Championship. L-R: Alastair Galloway (lead), Trevor Dodds (Chair of the Edinburgh International organising committee and third player), Mike Dick (skip), sponsor John Dignan (Managing Director of the Best Western Braid Hills Hotel, and Colin Baxter (second). Mike skipped Colin Hamilton’s entry in the semifinal and final of the competition in Colin’s absence.

David Clydesdale, Billy Johnston, Alistair Wood and Dougie Rodger lost a hard-fought final.

Alan Durno, John Paul, Ronnie Wilson and Mike Watt, were winners of the consolation event. They scored a two in their final end against ...

... Gary Macfarlane, Douglas Ratcliffe, Stewart Philp and Alan Guthrie to overhaul the Braehead team and win the competition by one shot.

Photos by Robin Copland

Sunday at Murrayfield

Sunday threw up a feast of curling in the quarterfinals with three games pitching Scottish teams against overseas opposition and one all-Scotland match involving teams Brewster and Gray. Logan took an early lead in this match in end four when he scored a big 3. To their credit, David Edwards and his team took things down the last end with the scores tied at four-all. Logan nailed his four-foot draw with the hammer and for David, it was over and out – their first loss of the weekend.

A three in the first end helped Sandy Reid to a 6-1 lead by the fifth end of their match against Joel Retornaz. Joel will be happy with his Edinburgh workout before representing Italy in the upcoming European Championships in Moscow at the beginning of December – a quarterfinal finish in the Champions Tour event earns him some more points after his semifinal appearance in an earlier competition.

It was the same story in the other two quarters with both Scottish teams prevailing. David Smith scored a three in the sixth end to secure his win over Team Hauser and Tom Brewster was just too strong for the Swiss team skipped by Pascal Hess. It was a tight game until a big four in end seven secured Tom’s semifinal place.

In the Gray versus Reid semifinal, Logan, Al Guthrie, Steve Mitchell and Sandy Gilmour never really got to grips with things and constantly found themselves up against it. Sandy Reid and his team were clinical and a four in the fourth end secured the win. Logan was 1-7 down at that point and realised that it wasn’t his day. Their semifinal place will earn them valuable points in the Champions Tour league table and move them into the top ten.

A really tight semifinal in the webcast game between Tom Brewster and David Smith was no surprise. Many of the ends were enthralling, as you would expect from two teams at the very top of their game. Warwick and David Smith are not related but they share a talent. Craig Wilson may hardly have thrown a stone this season, but he came out firing on all cylinders and his front-end mate Ross Hepburn demonstrated why he is a three-time Scottish champion. It went to the eighth end; Warwick had it in his grasp to make Tom’s life very difficult indeed but – and this is rare – draw weight deserted him. A Brewster versus Reid final was on the cards – a repeat of the Scottish Championship final at the end of last season.

Sandy’s team, with Moray Combe throwing last stones, Neil MacArthur replacing Scott Macleod from last season and Dave Soutar at lead, started off with a nicely-crafted two in the very first end and held onto that advantage for the next few ends. At the fifth end the scores were tied 3-all. To write it like that, it seems as if the game was boring; anything but! It ebbed; it flowed. One minute, the advantage seemed to be with Team Reid and the next it swung the other way.

In end six, Tom flashed an outturn hit with his first stone and Moray played a raise. Tom eyed up a treble to keep him in the game, slid down to the other end and played it. A big, big end was suddenly turned into a blank! That was one of two stones that sealed the game for Team Brewster. End 7 saw Team Reid take a single, which took things down the last end. Things looked good for Tom, but there was a guard covering the corner of the four foot. Sandy and Moray were left with a choice: freeze a Brewster counter at the back of the house, or take on an outturn draw down some rough ice. Moray played a clinker and thought that he had secured at least an extra end. Tom had other ideas though and played a big weight angled raise onto the Reid counter. To make matters worse from Team Reid’s point of view, he hung around as well.

Game over and a first-time win in the competition for Tom Brewster, Greg Drummond (whose brother Kerr had won the competition last season), Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow. Moray Combe and Neil MacArthur are previous winners of the competition. They, skip Sandy Reid and lead Dave Soutar can be proud of their competition and they gave the big crowd an entertaining and high quality game in the final.

For Tom and his team, this was the fifth final of the season and their first win, as Tom ruefully admitted during the presentation ceremony in the Edinburgh Curling Club rooms. The win moves them up from third place in the Champions Tour league and may even put them into top spot – depending on the exchange rate with the Canadian Dollar!

Robin Copland

November 27, 2011

Photos of the Day

Here is a selection of favourite Bob Kelly photos from yesterday!

"Referee, referee!"

"Does Loudmouth not do matching beanie hats?"

"And then the alligator said.... ?"

"Ross Paterson. Son of Patter!"

"Fashion Wars!"

"Concentration." Joel Retornaz, Italy.

"Blue eyes. My favourite."

"The best sweepers are the ones who say, 'This stone is too heavy', and it stops on the tee."

Photos by Bob Kelly, captions by Bob Cowan. Alternate captions welcomed!

Round Robin Report

Robin Copland writes:

The round-robin sections at this year’s Edinburgh International are now over and have thrown up some interesting results and quarterfinals.

In section A Thomas Ulsrud and Sandy Reid looked like the class of the field. Ulsrud was taking the competition seriously enough, bringing with him long-term coach Ole Ingvaldsen and fifth man Thomas Løvold. They rotated their team to ensure that Thomas got some competitive curling under his belt and were using the event as final competitive practice before the European Championships in Moscow at the beginning of December. A mixed competition when all said and done and I don’t suppose Thomas necessarily wants to meet Lee McCleary, James Stark, Neil Joss or Gavin Fleming anytime soon! Lee had the better of the Norwegians not only in their round-robin game, but crucially in the four-end play-off game as well. Still and all, five games of curling in a competitive environment and three wins under their belt will not be seen as a complete disaster for the red-trousered Norwegian outfit.

Sandy Reid has had a good competition to date and he and Moray Combe look to be throwing the stone well enough. After a first round set back against Ulsrud, they went undefeated and progressed through to Sunday morning’s quarterfinals as winners of their section. Lee McCleary’s win over Ulsrud in the first of the section play-off games set up a play-off for second place against Pascal Hess’s strong-looking Swiss team of Yves Hess, Florian Meister and Stefan Meienberg. A tight game, this one with McCleary lying three after his last stone in the first end. Hess attempted a come around draw to the face of a McCleary stone that had gone maybe a foot too far onto the tee line. Frantic Swiss sweeping kept Hess’s last stone straight enough to just skiff a tight guard and end up in second shot spot to lose only a one against the head. McCleary so nearly stole a three. The last end was where it all went wrong for Lee. A lovely early-in-the-end split left the Swiss lying the two shots they needed and, try as they might, Lee’s team could not get the crucial roll behind some promising cover. When Lee’s last stone ended up a tad light and crashed a guard, that was it and Hess progressed through in second place to the quarterfinals.

In section B, reigning Scottish champions, Tom Brewster, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow sailed through undefeated; they had already qualified in an unassailable first place before they met Markku Uusipaavalniemi in their last round-robin game. Markku was relying on beating Tom and Joel Retornaz losing his game for a play-off spot. Neither happened, so he returns to Finland with two wins under his belt. Graeme Black and John Hamilton had forgettable weekends and although they ran other teams close, they could not finish them off. In the end, they did not need to play their last game. Joel Retornaz will be pleased with his round-robin competition and the Italians did well to come out of a difficult looking group with four wins out of five, including a stuffy win over Swiss favourites, the Berne team skipped by Stefan Hässler.

Section C was always going to be difficult for any of the teams without someone called Smith in them! True to form, veterans David and Warwick, ably aided and abetted by perhaps the most experienced front end in the business, Craig Wilson and Ross Hepburn, went through the section undefeated. Stranraer’s Frazer Hare ran them close and local boy Paul Stevenson found himself four up early on in their game. That just got the Smith rollercoaster upset! They went on to score a couple of big ends in the latter part of their game and ran out 6-4 winners. After a heavy first-round defeat at the hands of Smith, big Logan Gray took the section by the scruff of the neck. He, Al Guthrie, Steve Mitchell and Sandy Gilmour were run close a couple of times, notably by Frazer Hare, who can count himself unlucky not to have taken Logan down an extra end when his last stone did more damage than good and ended up gifting a steal of two to the grateful Stirling skip; Team Gray weathered that particular storm and made the quarterfinals with a 4-1 record.

Finally, a tough looking D section had the two Davids, Murdoch and Edwards, along with Hauser, Graham Shedden, reigning champions Graham Shaw (with David Hay skipping and throwing last stones) and the Czech Republic’s European representatives, Jiri Snitil, making up the six. David Murdoch had a lacklustre campaign by his high standards, ending up on two wins out of five. His Moscow alternate David Edwards skipped his new team of Scottish junior champion skip John Penny, the newly transferred second from Team Sandy Reid, Scott Macleod and lead Colin Campbell to an impressive five straight wins. This team looked the part and faced Jiri Snitil’s Czech team in their last game. The Snitil team played a tight defensive game against David and maybe didn’t go attacking until too late in the game. A sweeping error on Snitil’s last stone in the seventh end sealed their fate and let David hit for home in the eighth. A shame for Snitil – he and his team were another team using the competition as a final staging post before Moscow. They needed to win their last game to set up a potential play-off for a quarterfinal spot with Switzerland’s team Hauser – assuming Hauser lost to the Shaw team. It wasn’t to be; Hauser sneaked a two in the last end of their game versus Shaw and Snitil, as we have seen, lost to Edwards in a game that was webcast on the Saturday night and picked up as far away as Florida by Hugh Craigie – there on holiday and soaking up the sun.

So, where before there were twenty four, now there are but eight. The quarterfinals start at 8.30 Sunday and pit Sandy Reid against Joel Retornaz, David Smith against Jan Hauser, David Edwards against Logan Gray and finally Tom Brewster against Pascal Hess. We will webcast one of the semifinals at 11.30 and the final at 2.30. What price an all-Scottish semi-final line up? Well – it could happen and we shall have to wait and see what transpires.

The seniors return to Edinburgh on Sunday for their semifinals and finals, played at 11.30 and 2.30. The presentation of prizes will be in the club rooms around 5.00pm.

Written by Robin Copland

November 26, 2011

Saturday at Murrayfield

Murrayfield, Edinburgh International Championship, Day 2. The main website for results and link to live webcasts is here.

Bob Kelly has contributed these photos for today's blog post.

Team Ulsrud

Captions invited for this photo of the Norwegians!

Tom Brewster!

The others in the Tom Brewster team. Scott Andrews delivers. Michael Goodfellow and Greg Drummond are the sweepers.

"Hey guys, it's over here!" The Lee McCleary team.

Logan Gray delivers, with Steven Mitchell and Sandy Gilmour his sweepers.

Logan contemplates what might have been!

Paul Stevenson needing a hug!

Moray Combe

Joel Retornaz, Italy.

Tom Brewster is in the head in his game against the Italians.

David Hay

David Murdoch

Captions by Bob Cowan. Photos by Bob Kelly!

November 25, 2011

Edinburgh International 2011

Play in the 2011 Edinburgh International Curling Championship got underway today at the Murrayfield Rink. All the scores can be found here.

Here are a few photos from today's play.

David Edwards, who will be the David Murdoch's team alternate at the European Championship in Moscow, skipped his own team to a win over Team Murdoch this morning.

David delivers. Colin Campbell and Scott Macleod are the sweepers. John Penny is in the head.

Richard Woods and Ross Paterson work on Glen Muirhead's stone.

Royal Club Head Men's Coach Soren Gran was watching all the action.

Michael Goodfellow and Scott Andrews work on Greg Drummond's stone.

Finland's Markku Uusipaavalniemi

Graeme Copland and Jamie Dick on Philip Garden's stone. Skip John Hamilton in the head.

Team Shedden - Andrew Ballantyne and Chay Telfer.

Italy's Joel Retornaz

Joel's team.

Event chairman, Trevor Dodds, is interviewed by a local reporter.

Photos by Bob Cowan