Understanding the Free Guard Zone rule

During Bantam practice yesterday, a number of situations arose where properly utilizing the Free Guard Zone would change both the strategy of play and the tactics used at the beginning of the end. So here’s a brief explanation of the Free Guard Zone rule, re-printed here from the Elmira and District Curling Club website.

The Free Guard Zone (FGZ) rule was invented to encourage more aggressive play by ensuring that, if a team desires, a lead’s two stones could be in play (and not removed by the opposing team) at the beginning of each end. The FGZ can be used effectively by a team without last rock to place guards on or near the center line, in front of the rings, that can be used to promote or draw behind.

Free Guard Zone Defined

The free guard zone is the area between the hog line and the tee line, excluding the house. A rock that comes to rest past the hog line, but entirely outside the house and entirely ahead of the tee line is in the free guard zone. A rock that comes to rest biting or ahead of the hog line after making contact with a stone in the free guard zone is considered to be in the free guard zone. A rock that comes to rest biting the house is not in the free guard zone. A rock that comes to rest outside the house but biting the tee line is not in the free guard zone.

Free Guard Zone Rule

Any stationary rock located within the free guard zone may not be removed from play by the opposing team until after the fourth rock of the end has been delivered and all rocks have either come to rest or gone out of play.

Violations of the Free Guard Zone Rule and Remedies

If a rock in the free guard zone is removed from play by the opposing team prior to the delivery of the fifth rock of the end, the non-offending team may either:

  • allow the play to stand, or
  • remove the rock just delivered from play and replace the displaced stationary rocks in their original positions.

If the delivered fourth rock of an end initially hits a rock not in the free guard zone and, as a result, a rock of the opposing team in the free guard zone is removed from play, the non-offending team may:

  • allow the play to stand, or
  • remove the rock just delivered from play and replace the rock removed from the free guard zone in its original position. The rock that was initially hit remains where it finally came to rest.

For an animated illustration of the Free Guard Zone rule, see the Curling Basics website.

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