When writing earlier about varying the length of the jack, or the position of the mat (which may be the same thing), I gave some general advice about not letting on to the opposition if they change things in a way you don’t really like.
It seems to me to stand to reason that you won’t want to give the opponents an advantage. Yet I’ve heard people in our club complain audibly, in a league match, about the fact that the opponents have shortened the ends. “Huh, all these short jacks, that’s not a game!” Well, guess what the opponent will do next time.
It’s not just our club. Indeed, the reason for my inserting this short post into the series is something that happened just last week at an indoor match where I was playing lead.
In truth we should have been beating the opposition quite easily, but we found ourselves struggling because one of the three, usually the skip, was producing one good bowl on each end, scoring one or two each time. Our lead of 11-4 was gradually whittled away until a loss of three shots made it 11-11 after ten ends of the fifteen.
When we finally regained the jack I knew we had to do something to change things, but also knew our skip wouldn’t want a massive change, as we weren’t playing badly. So I took the mat up by about a yard and a half, or maybe two at most, and to my relief found that my opposite number immediately lost the line and length with all three bowls.
We won the end, and so I kept the new length. When we won that next end as well the lady said “It’s your fault, changing the mat like that” and I knew we were on to a good thing. So we won the next, and the next – at which point (to my amazement) she said: “Now I thought you were a nice man. Can you put that mat back on the T?”
You’ll gather that this match wasn’t exactly county standard. But you’ll also gather that I was almost tempted to take the mat even further, since she had so clearly revealed she was upset by the change of length. In the event we were already home and dry, so I kept to the new length which was suiting us so well and we won the last end for a comfortable win.
Now the point of this short story is not to claim that I have any great insight or skill. I simply want to show how pointless it is to draw attention to the fact that you don’t like a certain length. Pointless in that it will influence nothing – and may mean you score no more points!