The 2020-21 compendium

Here are all the posts I made during the 2020-21 curling season for handy reference if you’re new here. I have rated each one of them Will Leitch-style for quality and their amount of analytic content.

1. Let’s talk curling. Who am I? Why am I here? This is an introduction explaining why I started the site. Quality: 4/5. Analytic content: 0/5.

2. The ratings. An explanation of my ratings system and the doors it opens to better understanding the world curling landscape. Quality: 4/5. Analytic content: 3/5.

3. Concession culture. If football allowed a team to concede when the game got out of hand, there would be more aggressive strategic decisions made late in the game. Well, curling does allow you to concede. In fact, it demands it, and nobody punts on fourth down when they’re way behind. Quality: 5/5. Analytic content: 2/5.

4. About Tabitha Peterson. Team Peterson was ranked very high in the first cut of the ratings. Here, we discuss the potential for them to make an impact on the world stage like few US teams before them. (Sure, it was a weird year but Team Peterson would go on to win bronze at the world’s, the first US medal since 2006.) Quality: 4/5. Analytic content: 1/5.

5. The transactional blank I. Rachel Homan loves to blank the first end with hammer more than curling itself. (Or at least used to. More on that someday.) But is it an effective strategy? Quality: 4/5. Analytic content: 4/5.

6. The transactional blank II. In part 2 of our thrilling series, we try to figure out the answer to the above question. At this point, I don’t have the courage to make a hot take on the situation. Quality: 3/5. Analytic content: 5/5.

7. Shuster’s chance of gold. Let’s use my ratings to examine some of the greatest upsets in curling. Quality: 3/5. Analytic content: 3/5.

8. The Andrin Schnider saga. At this point we were knee-deep into the pandemic and with many events being cancelled I was left with no choice but to analyze bonspiels from Switzerland for my own amusement. Quality: 1/5. Analytic content: 3/5.

9. A measure of game dominance. The final score of a curling game is often not a great representation of the competitiveness of the game. I try to come up with a way to measure the dominance of the winner based on end scores. I fail miserably and I beg you to not read this one. Quality: 0/5. Analytic content: 4/5.

10. The Tirinzoni puzzle. I wade into the difficult topic of how the best women’s teams would do against the men mainly by looking at how well teams convert when tied with hammer int he final end. Looking back, I may have underestimated the women a wee bit, but based on the performance of women’s teams who played against the men in various events over the last year, my estimate was pretty close! Quality: 4/5. Analytic content: 4/5.

11. The most exciting end in curling. Which end of curling typically has the biggest swing in win probability? I answer that in this post, which is not very interesting. (At this point, I was really expecting there would be a bunch of actual curling to talk about.) Quality: 1/5. Analytic content: 4/5.

12. Probing for the deuce. If you love graphs, this is for you. It’s an examination of how curling changes as skill level increases. What are good measures of skill and what events are more due to luck? This post will tell you, but it’s a data-heavy journey. Quality: 3/5. Analytic content: 5/5.

13. Down 1 with or up 1 without. It’s been long established that it’s better to be up one without hammer than down one with hammer going into the final end, but has the math changed in recent seasons and how does the five-rock affect the decision? Quality: 4/5. Analytic content: 4/5.

14. Ban the tick shot. It seems like the tick shot is on its last legs, destined for extinction in the rules update after the upcoming Olympics. Here, I make my own case for it. A tied game in the final end should be exciting. But increasingly it is not, and that’s because elite curlers are so good at the tick. Quality: 5/5. Analytic content: 4/5.

15. The case for 8 ends. Another looming change is the elimination of 10-end games. Traditionalists push back on this, but the data shows there’s virtually no difference between 8 and 10 end-games in terms of correctly identifying the superior team. Quality: 5/5. Analytic content: 4/5.

16. Down 2 with or tied without? Most elite teams (especially on the men’s side) seem to prefer being down 2 with hammer going into the final end as opposed to be tied without. Well, we have enough data to test whether this makes sense and it really does not. Quality: 4/5. Analytic content: 5/5.

17. Even end theory. Elite teams are obsessed about getting hammer in the sixth end. Some even value getting hammer in the second and fourth ends. The data doesn’t really provide any evidence that this should be the case, though. Really, you should play to get hammer in the seventh. Let’s start valuing the odd ends. Quality: 3/5. Analytic content: 4/5.

18. 2021 STOH Preview. By spring, big-time curling was back and this was the first in a series of posts using my ratings along with a Monte Carlo simulation to provide some insight on what to expect. Oddsmakers were disrespecting Team Homan for some reason. Quality: 4/5. Analytic content: 3/5.

19. 2021 Brier Preview. The Brier figured to be more wide open than the Scotties. Bonus Scotties review included! Quality: 4/5. Analytic content: 3/5.

20. 2021 Brier review. There was some down time on the schedule and the Brier provided a couple of interesting things to talk about: First, the down 2 without or tied with debate. And second, Brad Jacobs very aggressive use of the tick shot, to the detriment of interesting viewing in one notable case. Quality: 4/5. Analytic content: 1/5.

21. 2021 Men’s worlds preview. I spend a lot of words fading Sweden in this one, and I paid the price. But I had good reasons. Quality: 5/5. Analytic content: 2/5.

22. Champions Cup preview. Where I jump on the Bruce Mouat bandwagon before he sweeps the slams. Quality: 4/5. Analytic content: 1/5.

24. Women’s worlds preview. Where I warn you that the rest of the world has a better shot to beat Team Canada than oddsmakers think. Quality: 3/5. Analytic content: 1/5.

25. Exploring shot data. I got my hands on some shot data and introduce my effort at adjusting scoring percentages based on shot difficulty. Mid-event analysis of the women’s worlds turns out to be pretty insightful. Quality: 5/5. Analytic content: 4/5.

26. Women’s worlds review. A hodgepodge of analytical content in here powered by the adjusted shot data, mostly. The future of curling analysis! Maybe. Quality: 4/5. Analytic content: 4/5.