January 28, 2009

The ABCs of Curling - B

illum_b is for Bonspiel, a curling tournament. The word is apparently of Scottish origin (go figure), meaning a contest or match between different clubs or parishes. Traditionally, a bonspiel is a series of games played over several days, most commonly Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday. In today's fast paced world, many bonspiels have now been reduced to a single day, although there are some notable exceptions.

The annual Toronto Curling Association Single Rink Championship Bonspiel begins on a Saturday, and concludes on the following Saturday, with successful teams playing two games the first day, as many as four weeknight games, and two games the final Saturday. This TCA bonspiel is the oldest continuous curling event in Canada, having been played every year since 1896. The title sponsor for its first decade was was Hiram Walker. In 1906, Canada Life Assurance took over, and continued to sponsor the tournament for an unbroken run of eighty years. More recent title sponsors include Investors Group, Brick Brewing, Johnson Controls (Energizer Batteries), and Goldline Curling Supplies, but many participants still refer to it as, "The Canada Life."

The Manitoba Curling Association annual men's bonspiel is the world's largest, hosting 512 teams in 2009, each guaranteed a minimum of six games. The top five (local) finishers are granted a spot in the Manitoba provincial championships.

And what would any discussion of bonspiels be without mention of curling's most important 'B': The Brier, Canada's national championship, and the world's most challenging bonspiel. The Brier is a unique national championship, highlighting curling's grass-roots, community centric nature. Every team competing in The Brier had to first qualify by winning a playdown in their local club before moving on to zone, regional, and provincial competitions. Competition at The Brier is so stiff that the winners (and therefore Canadian Champions) have gone on to claim the World Championship title thirty four times since 1959. The next best showing at the world level is by Sweden, with six wins in that time.

The Bs of curling also include the "button," or the center of the rings on a sheet of curling ice, and the broom, with which curling rocks are swept.

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Simon said...

Probably just a minor oversight that you failed to mention "beer". Because I KNOW that goes hand in hand with curling.