Curling Stealing Strategy
During some games, your team may be losing by a few points. Your team scores 2 points with the hammer, but you still need to score another point before the last few ends. One strategy your team may want to consider is to play an end in which you try to steal a point from your opponent.
Stealing an End
If your team is trying to steal an end, you will need to play more aggressively than you normally would. Traditionally, teams without the hammer will take more of a defensive stance throughout the end. However, if you are trying to steal an end, your team must act both offensively and defensively.
The main goal of the end is to always have one of your team’s stones in/near the Top 4 Foot. By doing this, you are blocking your opponent’s path to the Button and forcing your opponent to make the difficult shots to score.
Beginning of the End
The beginning of the end resembles what your team would do if you didn’t have the hammer, but is a bit different. Instead of throwing a center guard, the stone should be thrown in the Top 12 Foot. This stone will act like a center guard, but count for scoring. Then, if your opponent does not takeout that stone, you can make a draw to the Top 4 Foot on your next shot. It’s okay if a little bit of the stone is not covered by the guard. After your first two shots, the sheet may look similar to this.
Another option is to throw two stones into the 4 Foot, and not have any stones in front of the house. These stones should be nose frozen to each other.
By setting your shots like this, it should entice your opponent to remove either of your two stones in the scoring area. By leaving little space between the two stones, it makes it more difficult for your opponent to perform a well executed double takeout. Then, the sheet may look like this.
As we move on to the middle of the end, it is important to have a stone near the 4 Foot at all times. Before you keep reading, think about the shots that can be played to ensure that one of your team’s stones is in the 4 Foot, but removes your opponent’s stone.
Middle of the End
The next shot we need to throw is a hit and roll shot. This will remove your opponent’s stone from play, and will allow your stone to be protected in the 4 Foot. Most likely, this will continue on for a few shots. Therefore, you will be able to continuously block your opponent’s path to the Button. Thus, your rock will be able to count. As long as your team is able to hit and roll behind your stone in the 12 Foot, the chances of stealing a point are fairly good, and can carry such shots/strategy to the later parts of the end.
However, there may be a time in which your opponent decides to play aggressively and perform a double takeout on your stones in the house. In this case, you might need to figure out how your team will steal a point.
REMEMBER: If your team wants to steal a point, it is best to have stones in the 4 Foot.
Now, it is later in the end, so your team may not be able to guard your stones, but you can utilize your opponent’s stones to try and score 1 point.
Finishing the End - First Outcome
If your opponent never removes your stone from the house (which is unlikely), you can now begin to throw a center guard, or any other shot that will prevent your opponent from reaching your stone in the Top 4 Foot. By doing this, you are complicating your opponent’s paths to the Button and 4 Foot.
Should the end continue like this, it is not necessary to throw more stones in the house. You could also reduce your opponent’s shot options by beginning to taking out some of their stones that could disrupt your team’s stone on the Button or 4 Foot. However, there is always a chance for error in these types of shots, which could affect your team’s ability to steal the end. If you can see more than three-quarters of the stone from the hack, then your team can remove it from play.
Ultimately, your opponent will have very few to no available shots that will result in them scoring a 2 or more points (or even 1 point). Therefore, your team will most likely steal the end, and score a point.
Finishing the End - Second Outcome
If your opponent was playing aggressively and threw a double takeout on your two stones in the house, your team now needs another method of stealing the end. As you begin to look around the house, you notice that there are a few rocks in-play, but none of them belong to your team.
Therefore, you need to utilize your opponent’s stones to your advantage. Since the opponent executed the double takeout, there is a stone biting the Top 12 Foot that can act as a guard, just like what our strategy was earlier. Therefore, you still have access to the Button or 4 Foot. Instead of utilizing your own stone to guard your shot, you are utilizing your opponent’s stone, which a little more risky.
Another, safer option would be to freeze to your opponent’s shot rock. This option guarantees that your stone will be the shot rock, but also leaves the majority of the 4 Foot and Button area open for your opponent to score. Thus, it is better to throw a stone into the 4 Foot or Button so that your team has a chance of stealing the end.
Since we are in the later portion of the end, your opponent may acknowledge that they will be forced to one.
REMEMBER: You are trying to steal the end because you are losing by a point. Therefore, your opponent will be trying to score 2 or more points. We now see why stealing an end requires offensive and defensive shots to be made.
Therefore, your opponent will probably draw to the button. After they make their draw, your team can throw a Back 4 Foot weight to try and displace their stone from the button. By doing this, you keep your stone on the button, and will create backing (stones behind a given stone that will prevent it from travelling farther).
Since your stone will be behind the stone in the Top 12 Foot, your opponent’s skip will likely perform the same shot that you did. However, since there is backing on your stone, it will hit your opponent’s stone and remain in the Back Button or beginning of the Back 4 Foot. Now, you can freeze to your own stone, or draw to the button and steal a point. You can now draw to the button because the your team’s stone that was moved by the opponent can act as backing for your draw to the button.
Now, your opponent has no shot to be able to score 1 point. Thus, your team will steal the end and score. Your team is on the way to reaching your opponent’s score, and possibly attempt to win the game.
This is one hypothetical example of how a team can steal an end. There are numerous methods of stealing an end from your opponent, and one strategy cannot determine the exact course of action teams will take when they are trying to steal an end. Other times, your team may not be intending to steal an end, but your opponent misses a shot and your team steals the end. Therefore, use this section to get an idea of ways to steal an end from your opponent.