April 17, 2008

World Curling Federation: A stranger to logic

"Logic is the cement of our civilization, with which we ascend from chaos, using reason as our guide."

I've just learned that the World Curling Federation has rejoined the civilised peoples of the Universe. And I'm really happy to report that fact today.

Those of you who read my editorial in the April Scottish Curler magazine will know already that I despaired that the WCF Executive understood the concept of logic. My concerns were over how countries were ranked during a competition, and the consequencies of this towards relegation and Olympic representation. The major international curling events follow a similar format these days. There is a round robin, followed by playoffs. Who goes forward to the playoffs is determined by the ranking of the teams after everyone has played everyone else. Let’s assume that two teams are tied for the fourth place in the rankings, each having won five games and lost four. Now, one of these teams will have beaten the other. But in this case the past record is forgotten about, and a tiebreaker is played, the winner moving forward to the playoffs. Why? Because the WCF rulebook says: (8a) A team tied for a place in the playoffs is not eliminated in any way other than by losing an extra game. All well and good.

But let’s go down to the bottom of the table now where two European teams are tied for eighth spot at the World Juniors. At stake here is relegation, and being faced with competing in the European Junior Challenge to try to get back in to the top ten again. One team (team A) will have beaten the other (team B). Team B must have beaten a team which finished higher up the rankings for them to finish tied with team A, but that's not taken into consideration. No tiebreaker is played. The record between the two teams decides that one stays up, the other is relegated. Quite different from the top of the table. Illogical? Certainly. Wrong? I thought so.

It was not always so. Twenty years ago in Lausanne the International Curling Federation confirmed that no country could be eliminated without losing on the ice. But this rule was dropped from the recent WCF rulebook.

And as for the Draw Shot Challenge being used to decide ranking when three or more teams are tied on games won, and the record of who beat who does not provide a solution! That was a travesty, that you could be relegated on the basis of a pickup! Nonsense.

But wait! The World Curling Federation Annual General Meeting took place on April 9 during the 2008 World Men's Curling Championship in Grand Forks. After that meeting the WCF issued a press release which said, amongst other things, "Following the first full season of competition under the new WCF Rulebook, the Rulebook was revisited as per the scheduled time and with the approval of the Membership was further modified. The new WCF Rulebook will be available to Member Associations by end of June 2008, and also available via download from the WCF website."

Any intelligent curler might want to know what 'modifications' have been made to the rules which govern our sport in international competitions, but I guess the WCF wants you all to wait for a couple of months! I wonder why. What does make me happy though is to hear that WCF delegates at Grand Forks threw out the illogical rule and everyone agreed that if teams at the bottom of the table are tied, there should be a playoff before anyone is relegated.

I call that a result! Thank you to those delegates who raised the issue and who voted for the change. WCF, welcome back to the real universe!

If anyone has more details of the rule changes, and whether, for example, the re-introduced tiebreaker rule will apply at the Europeans, then perhaps these might be posted. I understand that the Draw Shot Challenge has been done away with? I suggest the Scottish Curling Forum might be the place to continue this discussion.

Have a great summer!

(The quotation is attributed, as all Star Trek fans will know, to T'Plana-Hath, Matron of Vulcan Philosophy. The T'plana-hath, the Vulcan survey ship which made official first contact with Earth in the film Star Trek: First Contact, was named in her honor.)

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