Next week, at the Capital One World Men's Curling Championship at Cortina, delegates of the World Curling Federation will meet to discuss and vote on new regulations, designed to expedite how major championships should be run. The objective is to shorten matches and reduce the length of time it takes to run world championships.
Several changes are being considered:
1) Reducing games from ten to eight ends.
2) Eliminating timeouts.
3) Scrapping extra ends and awarding teams three points for a win, one for a tie, none for a loss.
4) Doing away with tiebreakers. The WCF has several world events and removing the day set aside for tiebreakers would allow it to save on per diems, hotel rooms and the booking of facilities.
5) Introducing the 'one stone' rule.
I must admit that I did not understand exactly what was meant by this last proposal. I thought it meant that teams would play with just four stones, and each player would throw just one an end. No, nothing so daft! I just misunderstood.
No, what will happen is that two counties drawn to play against each other in the round robin will practise for five minutes on adjacent sheets. Then, in the manner of the Draw Shot Distance stone which is currently used in place of a coin toss, both teams will play their one stone simultaneously, at the Chief Umpire's command - a whistle or starting pistol has been suggested. It is expected that the fans will get quite excited by watching the stones run down the sheets parallel to each other. One stone may finish nearer the centre than the other. If both cover the tee, then the process is repeated.
Once one stone has been declared nearer the centre that the opposition, that decides the result of the game! The teams shake hands, and the next draw begins immediately on sheets three and four. It all means of course that an entire round robin can get completed in two days, with the playoffs scheduled for the evening of the second day.
For the playoffs, it gets a little more complicated. Instead of one stone played by one player deciding each game, all four players would get their turn to play one stone, again running on a sheet parallel to the opposition, to keep up the fans' excitement. The team with the lowest aggregate measurement of nearest to the button wins the gold medals.
The big advantage to all this is that the major championships are completed in just two days, with huge savings in time and costs. WCF representatives will surely vote for this one.
Any of the approved changes will be added to the WCF rule book on April 1 next year and would be effective for the 2011-12 season. The rules will remain in place until April 1, 2014.