Once again tonight, we get to witness the biggest flaw in championship curling – the page playoff system. This confusing playoff structure was brought into use in 1995 and the reason was to ensure there was a Friday night playoff game. In years gone by, with just a semi and a final, unless there were tiebreakers, the arenas were dark on Friday night, when organizers and television wanted bums in the seats and viewers on the tube.
But for a curler, it doesn’t make any sense. Because of the system, Shannon Kleibrink’s only advantage for finishing a game up on Sherry Middaugh and for beating her in the round robin is choice of rocks in the One-Two game. (the fact I can write one-two game and 99.9 per cent of readers know what I mean shows you that this has become ingrained in curling circles.)
The system was developed for use in softball when there are two divisions with no play between the divisions. In that case, it makes sense. In a round robin format, it makes no sense.
If you suggest to organizers that a better format might be third-vs.-fourth, winner plays two, winner plays one, they don’t bite. The argument against that is that no team can be put two games up on another team.
But isn’t that what happens in the round robin? Doesn’t Kleinbrink’s record show she’s already two games better than Quebec and three up on the tiebreaker teams?
I know a great many curlers are not fans of the system (except, of course, if they finish first or second and lose the one-two game). Glenn Howard has told me point blank that he hates it.
But on it goes.
Predictions for today: Manitoba over Newfoundland, Quebec over Manitoba, Ontario over Alberta.