Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chess on Ice

It started over a glass of whiskey and a cigar. Most crazy ideas do, don't they? An idle conversation about sports in general led to a discovery about more than a passing interest in an unusual sport...or at least one that is unusual to me.  One must remember this is a rather genteel group of people, who have generally passed the age where a pickup game of basketball or (heaven forbid) soccer is on the docket and find more satisfaction savoring a good Macanudo and conversation.  Does that mean we don't like sports?  Of course not!  We will watch as avidly as anyone.

Yet...participation becomes the big question.  Into this profound topic enters one Neal Naigus, conversationalist, cigar afficionado and curling fan.  Over the years we have gathered for our monthly smokeout, the occasional invitation to at least see what the game is all about largely went ignored.  Not because we don't like Neal...far from it!  It's just we are all busy with the stuff of life and...lets face it, most are like me who don't have enough time for the hobbies we have and are thus reluctant to pursue any new ones. 

Of course, if I could combine something like this with a current hobby, like photography and perhaps a little writing, my interest perks up.  So thus I find myself at Lloyd Center this evening, watching a curling event. 

Most of us in Portland don't realize curling is popular in areas other than Canada or Scotland, but seeing 30-some people of all age groups gathered at the Lloyd Center Ice Rink convinced me.  Tonight was the first evening of the 2011 Curling season, and these fans will compete every Tuesday and Sunday evening for the next 10 weeks. 

What is curling?  Basically it is a sport in which players slide stones across a frozen surface towards a target area with the intent of getting as close to the target and perhaps knocking the opponent's stone away. 

In the above photo, the light blue circle in the ice is part of the target.  The teams have stones with either red or blue tops to differentiate them. 

As the stone slides toward the target, team members use brushes or brooms to control the speed and or direction of the stone. 

Believe it or not, there is a lot of strategy involved in curling, and has also been called "Chess on Ice".  The stones are made of polished granite weighing between 38 and 44 pounds and come with a handle that allows for some "english" in causing the stone to curve its path.  Traditionally the stones come from a couple of specific locations in Scotland or Wales. 

A very satisfied Neal, holding his curling broom.

If you are interested, you can watch this sport Tuesdays and Sunday evenings at 6:30, at the Lloyd Center Ice Rink.  Here is a link to more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curling

1 comment:

Bill Prows said...

Curling is a great sport, Neal and I went and watched the Bronze Medal round of the Vanc. BC Olympics and it was great! I tried it when they had an open house and found it fun but not easy! like anything else it takes practice but the Lloyd Center club is very patient and will help you even compete. Bill P