How Does Scoring Work In Curling?

curling scoring rules

Curling is played by sliding stones across a sheet of ice towards the “House,” which is a bullseye made up of three concentric circles. Points are scored by throwing (sliding) stones into the bullseye, aka the House.

Two teams of four players face off against one another to see who can score the most points. Every player throws two stones for a total of 16 stones being thrown. Throws alternate between teams. One player throws a stone and then a player on the other team throws a stone. Once the 16 stones have been thrown, the round, which is referred to as an end, is over and the points are tallied.


House Scoring

Curling House

In an end, only one team will score points. The team with the stone, or stones, closest to the center of the house (the button) will be awarded the points for that end. A point is scored for each stone in or touching the house that is closer to the center than any of the opposing team’s stones. Each stone can only be worth one point, so getting closer to the center of the house doesn't necessarily result in more points.

A team can score a maximum of eight points in an end. Scoring the maximum eight points is often referred to as an eight-ender or a snowman. If by the end there is only one stone in the house, only one point will be scored, regardless of its location. Even if one team has all eight of their stones in the house, their opponent will win the end if they have a stone closer to the center.

One more example is when one team has four stones in the house, and the other team has just one, if that one stone is closer to the center of the house than two of the four stones, the opposing team will only be awarded two points.

If an end is finished and no stones are in the house, this is called a “blank end” and zero points will be scored.

Ends

Curling Ends

Points are cumulative throughout the entire match, so the points scored by a team in one end are added to the points scored in the previous ends. This means that if a team scores one point in the first end then two in the second, their point total will be three. Matches last eight to ten ends, and the team with the most points after the tenth end wins. Teams are allowed to surrender before the tenth end if it seems unlikely they can come back. 

Last Stone Advantage

Teams alternate throws, so stones are continuously knocked in and out of the house. This is why points are only tallied after the end. Due to this, the team with the last throw has a major scoring advantage. This last stone is referred to as the “hammer” and it is typically expected that the team with the hammer will win the end. After each end, the hammer switches to the team that didn't score, and if it was a blank end (no points) the hammer does not change teams.

Determining The Score

After an end is complete (each team throws eight stones), the vices from each team will work together to agree upon the score. Here are the general rules to know about scoring in curling:

  • Only one team can score points in the end.
  • Any stone that is touching some part of the house can earn their team a point.
  • Each stone, regardless of its location in the house, is worth only one point.
  • The team with the stone closest to the button (The Shot Rock) will win the end, and receive one point for that stone.
  • The team that wins the end will earn additional points for any other stones closer to the button than their opponent’s closest stone.

The Maximum Number of Points

Only stones that are touching some part of the house can earn their team points. No matter what, each stone is only worth one point. If Team A has one stone in the house, they can score up to one point. If Team B has three stones in the house, they can score up to three points.

The Shot Rock

Curling Button

In curling, the stone that is closest to the button is called the “shot rock” or “shot stone.” The team with the stone closest to the button will win the end, and receive 1 point for that stone.

Calculating Additional Points

When determining if additional stones score points, we find the stone that is second closest to the button or the “second shot” rock. The team that wins the end will earn additional points for any other stones closer to the button than their opponent’s closest stone. Determining the second shot rock is important because if it is the other team’s stone, it will reduce the number of points the winning team of the end gets.

Measuring Devices

curling measuring device

In some cases, it may be difficult to tell which of two stones is closest to the button. In this case, there is a measuring device for the vices to use, known as the micrometer. On the micrometer, a pressure gauge measures which stone produces the higher reading (and is closer to the button). After measuring, the closer stone gets moved to the button, and the stone that is farther gets removed from the house.

Another measuring device available is a biter bar, which measures a stone that may be biting the 12 foot circle. The biter bar is six feet long, precisely the radius of the 12 foot circle in the house. If the edge of the biter bar makes contact with the stone, then it is in the house. By applying the second rule from above, a biter can be considered for scoring because it is touching some portion of the house. All scoring rules apply to a biter, just like all other stones in the house.

Scoring Examples

Yellow Team Wins End - 1 point

Curling Yellow Team Wins End 1 point

In the example above, the yellow team’s stone is closest to the center of the house (the button). Therefore, they get 1 point automatically. The second shot rock is the red team’s stone, since it is the next stone that is closest to the button. The yellow team’s remaining stones in the house do not count. The Yellow Team earns 1 point this end.

Yellow Team Wins End - 3 points

Curling Yellow Team Wins End 3 points

In the example above, the yellow team has the closest stone to the button, also called the shot rock. The next stone closest to the button, or second shot rock, is another yellow stone. Therefore, the yellow team earns 3 points for this end.

FAQ

How does a team win in curling?

A team wins in curling by scoring more points than the other team. Points are earned by throwing stones into the house and earning the shot rock. The team with the highest cumulative score after ten ends is the winner. In certain cases, teams that are losing by a lot late in the game may concede the match or lose due to a mercy rule.

How do you score points in curling?

In order to score points in curling, a team must have the closest stone to the center of the house, also called the button, in a given end. Whichever team’s stone is the closest to the button will receive one point for that stone. Any additional stones that are in the house can also be considered for points. If the team who had the closest stone to the button has any additional stones closer to the button than the other team's nearest stone, each stone that is closer will receive an additional point. For example, if team A has three stones closer to the button than team B’s closest stone, team A will receive three points for the end.

How do you keep score in curling?

Typically the score is just kept by the players, but during events a scoreboard will be used. Once all the stones have been thrown and the end is finished, the score will be tallied using the shot rock (the stone closest to the button). Throughout the curling match, the score for each team is the sum of the points they have scored in each end. 

What is an end in curling?

In curling there are no rounds, instead they use ends. An end in curling lasts as long as it takes for each team to throw all eight of their stones. After that, the score is tallied and the end is over. A curling match lasts 8-10 ends with the occasional extra end in the event of a tie. 

How does a curling scoreboard work?

There are two different ways the score can be displayed. The most common method has three rows with the middle row displaying numbers 1-16 in ascending order. The middle row represents a team's point total and the rows above and below are for each team to keep track. After an end, if a team's point total has changed, they will put the number of the end in the spot corresponding to their total score. With the other method the ends (1-10) are displayed at the top and the points scored in each end are listed below. 

What is the last stone draw?

The last stone draw is how teams determine who gets the first hammer. Before the game begins, one player from each team throws a stone, and whichever team is closer to the center of the house gets the last stone advantage. The hammer, or last stone advantage, is a major edge because it can be used to get the best position in the house or knock the opposing team out.