House Call: Bonspiel Bound

Beginner or not, one of the best parts of curling is playing in bonspiels. This is where you get to meet other teams, play at different clubs, and sometimes even travel. Most recreational bonspiels are inexpensive and lots of fun. Some things to look for would be as follows:
  • Is the bonspiel for Ladies or Men only or does it say Mixed or perhaps Open. If the spiel is for only men or only ladies those guidelines are quite straight forward. If a bonspiel has a mixed format you will need a team with two guys and two girls. Keep in mind that in mixed play your team must always go girl, guy, girl, guy or guy, girl, guy, girl. You cannot have the two women play skip and third and the two men play lead and second. The genders must alternate. This also applies if a spare needs to be brought in. If you are missing a girl, you must bring in a female spare. If you decide to enter an Open format spiel any combination of the genders will be acceptable. You could have all women, or one girl and three guys. You can also bring in spares of any gender if needed. It’s always best to check with the bonspiel coordinator though, to ensure the spiel doesn’t have special rules.
  • Something else to look at is the entry fee and prize payout. Generally if the entry fee is more than about $100 per team member you may find the competition to be a little more than you had in mind. Having said that; be sure you also take a look at what’s included. If the spiel is $200 per person and everyone gets a prize, there’s a steak and lobster dinner and a dance to follow, and you’re guaranteed three or four games that sounds like a pretty good deal. You can also look for the word competitive on the poster is this may tip you off as to what type of teams will be entering.
  • If a bonspiel is listed as a Cash-Spiel don’t write it off but do watch the cost. These are generally expensive and attract a high number of competitive curlers. If this is your first spiel I would avoid it or give the coordinator a call to see what their opinion is… you never know. Also there are some Cash-Spiels out there that won’t break the bank, you just have to look.
  • Last of all when considering a bonspiel take into account location, location, location! While it’s fun to travel for bonspiels you need to make sure everyone on your team is willing to pay the price. You will likely need to pay for gas or flight as well as hotel, meals, and the cost of the spiel itself. It is a tonne of fun to do this just make sure your whole team is on board and you understand the budgetary ramifications.
Now you’re probably wondering how to find one of these fabulous bonspiel things. My suggestion is to check out the bulletin board at your curling club. Generally this time of year it will be jam packed with upcoming spiels. You can also have a look on you provincial or regional curling association website. Now, get out there and find a spiel! Watch next week for more beginner tips.