1. a curling tournament.

A bonspiel is a great chance to travel with your team to a curling club and compete.  Although, your home club could host a bonspiel as well … You might compete or you might even help volunteer to keep everything rolling.

If you’re new to curling, you shouldn’t be scared of serious competition. With more bonspiels, you can actually lose a couple games and still take home some hardware.  OK, so I haven’t taken home any hardware yet – shut up Phil. 

How does a bonspiel work?

Most bonspiels are multiple event tournaments.  Basically … imagine a giant tournament bracket.  Everyone starts out in the first event.  Win, you stay in the first event.  Lose, you drop down at least one event.  In this example, we’re going to say that you drop down to the 2nd event.

Win that game in the second event … you stay.  Lose, and you drop down again.

The number of events usually depends on the number of teams in the competition, and the number of “guarenteed games.”  For example, I participated in the first The Big Spiel in Minnesota which had over 84 teams and eight events.

So, in theory — you could lose your first couple games and win the rest … meaning you’re a “Fourth Event Winner.”  Below is just page one of The Big Spiel Bracket.

Page 1 of the Big Spiel Bracket – from

I’ve also competed in four event, 16 team bonspiels here locally.  These are a little more common.

Enjoy the travel

Bonspiels are a great chance to get out, check out some new cities, meet some new people, and if you ever get the chance to curl in St. Paul – have some great poutine.

Yes, I took a picture of the poutine.

Main photo:  Dan, Phil, Greg T and Nate B taking part in the Big Spiel at Frogtown Curling Club.