Willie Jamieson and Gordie Kennedy from Ballindalloch Curling Club, ably assisted by Dave Kelly (Aberdeen) and Simon Elder (Perth), started their now annual quest for the Scottish Seniors title. Drawn in the only 6 team group of the competition their first game of the campaign was against Alastair Galloway's rink from Murrayfield in deepest darkest Ayrshire last Friday. After coming through a nervy first end, where a one was forced, they settled into the game with a well constructed six. Steals in the following two and a big four in the 6th ensured an early shake of the hand.
In the second game against Alastair McIntyre from the Waterfront the ends were exceptionally tight. Mcintyre stole in the first with a lovely freeze but Jamieson countered with a two and then forced the opposition to draw for the single, against 3, in the third. The fourth saw Jamieson in trouble throughout the end but a tap to the button set up a two which was quickly followed with a stolen two at the next. McIntyre stayed in contention with a single in the sixth but the game was closed out with another deuce in the 7th. Good first days work and only one other team undefeated in the section, Ron Caithness.
Saturday's first game saw a top of the table clash against Ron Caithness of Forfar. Jamieson came out of the blocks quickly and by the close of end three the score was 4-0. A big miss in end four on last stone, after a perfectly played end, left a simple draw for two for Caithness. This was followed by a fluked removal of two Team Jamieson counters by Kennedy's first to leave their opponents lying 5. Damage limitation saw this reduced to a two and the game was level after 5. Two singles saw Jamieson take a two shot lead into the last but a guard that never made it into play gave Caithness the chance to level the game and it was gratefully accepted. Four misses from the Jamieson front end saw the team in another pile of trouble in the extra. Caithness lay guarded and on the back four and it was decided to play a tapped raise with the second last Jamieson stone, instead of clearing, due to the quarry of granite that lay out front. This was executed perfectly and Caithness's reply missed by inches and hands were gratefully shaken!
Game two on Saturday was equal to the first in quality ends, except the first! On very slow "strike for a draw" ice Kennedy utilised his Elgin experience of such conditions to set up four in the house, which was then defended, a single in two gave a 5-0 lead. This time around though the front end kept things clean and although two's were exchanged the other ends were kept clear and blanked. Not pretty curling but effective in that they ensured a victory and with it certain qualification the way other results had gone.
The final game saw a match up against David Hardie's Dumfries rink who were on three wins and desperate to clinch their own qualification with a win. Singles were exchanged in the first two ends with the skips having to make shots to save 3 shot reverses. Jamieson swung from hero to villain in the third when a well played clear end turned into a loss of two after back to back silent strikes. Spurred on by that reversal of fortunes Jamieson's rink constructed a superb fourth end with some stunning hit a rolls forcing errors from Hardie. This excellent play left Jamieson a simple draw for three and the lead, which was gratefully accepted. The fifth was blanked. In the sixth another well played end saw Hardie facing four counters through a slim port. The port was negotiated successfully but the stone travelled inches too far and a steal of four was recorded. Hands were shaken and five wins were on the board.
So team Jamieson have qualified as group winners. Through to the Scottish Seniors Finals in Hamilton for the fourth year in a row. A strong field awaits them but they will be looking to go at least one better than in the past, as they have lost three semi-finals in a row. Hopefully they will be able to utilise those years of disappointment to ensure it is fourth time lucky. Winning the title would see them represent Scotland at the World Seniors which this year is being held in Dumfries in April.