In September 2017, the World Curling Federation membership voted overwhelmingly to change the Free Guard Zone (FGZ) rule as of the 2018-19 season to the five-rock FGZ rule, a change from the four-rock rule that has been in place in Canada since 2002, and the rest of the WCF since 1993. No club is obligated to play under the new rule but if any club members enter any playdown that leads to a Curling Canada-operated championship, the five-rock rule will be in effect starting this season.
The change demonstrates an advancement in the sport of curling; one that is predicted to make the game more exciting for spectators and more thought provoking for players. By allowing both teams to throw two guards that the other team can’t peel off immediately, there should be an increase in offence and a decrease in blank ends as well as fewer early finishes. Nolan Thiessen suggests there will be a change in strategy when a team has hammer and is down two or more points. That team will have an opportunity to throw two corner guards that cannot be fully removed from play immediately which in turn will often mean the team without hammer will have its first three stones in play. And we all know what can happen with too many rocks in play! For any team, the five-rock free guard zone will mean a whole new way to strategize and it will be exciting to see what transpires.
The Rose City Curling Club will be adopting the five-rock free guard zone for this curling season. For more information on how to strategize for the five-rock rule, have a look at Emma Miskew’s commentary, “Miskew: 5-rock rule strategy guide”.
Taken from Curling Canada’s website – “Thiessen Blog: Five-Rock FGZ a Positive Change for Curling”, June 15, 2018.