Defending champion nation Canada, Ireland, Japan and Scotland were all winners in Saturday morning’s opening session of round-robin play at the World Senior Curling Championships 2015, being staged in Sochi, Russia.
Canada found themselves down by 0-3 to Latvia after three ends, but fought back to level at 3-3 with a steal of two points in the sixth end.
Another steal of two in the seventh gave them a 5-3 lead for their win.
Scotland scored five points in the opening end and their Czech opponents never really recovered.
A further score of three points in the sixth end gave the Scots an 8-2 lead and, although the Czech Republic scored one in the seventh end to reduce Scotland’s lead to 8-4, they ran out of stones in the eighth end.
It was one-way traffic for Ireland for most of their game against Kazakhstan – they opened with four points in the first end, and then had single-point steals in the second, fourth and fifth ends for a 7-0 lead.
Kazakhstan got onto the scoreboard with one point in the sixth end but Ireland sealed their 9-1 win with two more points in the seventh end.
Japan faced Italy in this session.
With Japan 4-2 up at the fourth-end break, the game’s real turning point came in the fifth when Japan scored three points to take a 7-2 lead. Steals in the next two ends gave them their eventual 10-2 win.
Turkey had a baptism by fire when they made their first-ever appearance in this Championship, losing by 20-1 to Norway in just six ends.
The other men’s game in the second session between Denmark and New Zealand was a much tighter affair.
The Danes moved to a 4-0 lead after three ends, which eventually became 5-2 after six ends.
New Zealand closed the gap to 5-3 in Denmark’s favour in the seventh but eventually, despite giving up a steal of one point in the eighth end, Denmark won by 5-4.
It took an extra end, but Hungary eventually beat Sweden by 8-6 in their opening round-robin game.
Hungary scored the vital two points when Sweden’s Anders Westerberg was long with his final draw.
Hosts Russia also opened their campaign in this session, but went down by 5-10 to England.
In this game, England took a 7-0 led into the fourth-end break, but Russia came back with a score of four points in the fifth end and then had a single-point steal in the sixth end.
However, England scored three more points in the seventh end to seal their victory.
The Czech Republic had steals in three ends – two points in the third end, four in the fourth end and another two points in the seventh end for a 10-3 win over Italy, who have now suffered two losses.
Scotland had their second win – by 9-3 over Japan and this puts them in a clear lead in Group A.
The Finnish men beat Slovakia by 12-2 in the first session for the men’s Group C.
They finished with a flourish, scoring four points in the seventh end, when Slovakia conceded.
USA were also comfortable winners in their opener, beating France by 10-2, thanks largely to a score of five in the fourth end, followed up by three points in the seventh end.
Germany opened their campaign with a 9-4 win over Poland.
The Poles took the early lead, taking two points from the first end and then moving ahead again – to 3-2 – with a single point in the third end.
But Germany scored three points in the fourth end to go into the break 5-3 up and never looked back.
A further three points in the seventh end were enough to give them their win.
Australia faced Switzerland in the fourth game of this session, and it was the Swiss who emerged as 6-2 winners, thanks to a series of single point steals in the fifth, sixth and seventh ends.
Finland played Switzerland in the only women’s game of the opening session.
The Swiss took an early lead, scoring three points in the second end for 3-1, but Finland responded with a score of four in the fifth end for a 7-4 lead and eventually their skip Kirsti Kauste hit out a Swiss stone with the final shot of the game to score one point for an 8-7 win.
After a tight start, which saw them hold a 2-1 lead after three ends, Canada eventually proved stronger than Italy in the second half of their opening game of the Championships.
They stole a single point in the fourth end and then stole a further six points in the fifth end to give themselves a 9-1 lead that changed the game entirely.
A further steal of two points by Canada in the sixth end for 11-1 was enough to make the Italians decide to concede.
USA made a strong start in their game against New Zealand, holding a 6-0 lead at the fourth end break.
New Zealand then scored three points in the fifth end for a brief revival, but USA responded with four points in the sixth end to take a 10-3 lead.
New Zealand closed the gap to 10-5 by scoring two points in the seventh end, but eventually ran out of stones in the eighth end.
England faced Slovakia in their opener.
They scored one point in the first end and then stole one point in the second end for a 2-0 lead.
But Slovakia levelled the game in the third end, scoring two points for 2-2.
A score of three points in the sixth end brought Slovakia back into contention as they pulled England’s lead back to 6-5.
England then scored two points in the seventh end and, when Slovakia could only score one point in the eighth end, England won by 8-6.
There was one women’s game in the third session of play – Japan against Scotland.
Japan opened the scoring with one point in the first end and then the Scots scored two points in the second end to take a 2-1 lead.
But they suffered a bad patch after this, with Japan scoring two points in the third end and then stealing two points in the fourth end and a single point in the fifth end to put the Scots 2-6 behind.
Japan went on to win by 7-3.
Russia and Sweden both played their first games in Saturday’s fourth session.
It was Sweden who started the better, taking a score of five points from the first end.
The Russians never really recovered from this blow, and when the Swedes scored two points in the seventh end, the game was over, with Sweden winning by 9-4.