November 28, 2011

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

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