Airdate: Oct 25, 2002
Scientist: Geoffrey Broadhurst (away unitl Nov. 26)
What does a 42 pound granite stone have in common with the game of chess?
ambience: general curling sounds, sweeping, shouts from team members
It's a bit like shuffleboard on ice with some brooms added in to keep things interesting. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Curling is a sport that combines teamwork, skill and strategy. We'll hear more the brooms later. Peter McEwan is a member of the Ardsley Curling Club in New York.
"Well, a curling rink, the playing surface --146 feet long. There's what's called a house at each end, which is the scoring area. It's like a bullseye or target area, and the objective of the game is to slide this 42 pound granite stone from one end of the ice to the other."
Each of the two teams has four players, and every player takes two shots each round. When all of the stones have been shot, the score is tallied up and the ice is cleared. Points are given based on which team has landed its stones closest to the center of the target. When a player isn't shooting he may one of the two sweepers who guide the moving stone, not by touching it, but by sweeping in front of it. Curler Peter Murphy.
"When you release a curling stone, it's either going to bend from left to right or right to left, and if you come out inside the target, your sweepers can correct that by sweeping. The sweeping action warms the ice so that the stone will go straighter, and so the stone will then hit where it's supposed to hit instead of bending off and missing the shot."
Strategy comes into play when one team aims to knock their opponent's stone out of the target area. Offensive and defensive shots are planned a few turns ahead of time, and for this reason Curling has also earned the nickname "Chess on Ice".
Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.