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Sochi 2014: the rules of curling explained

As Team GB's men are set to play for a gold and the women have just wo a bronze at the Sochi Winter Olympics, we look at how the game is played.

Curling is played by two teams of four players each. Each member of the team has their own title - a lead, a second, a vice skip and a skip.

The ice on which a curling competition is played is known as a sheet, with a 'hog line' from side line to side line running underneath the ice.

Each game is divided into eight or ten 'ends', with points added up at the conclusion of each.

Team GB men must win against Canada to claim the gold Credit: PA

The teams take alternate throws towards a circular target, known as 'the house'. The goal is to have more stones closer to the centre than the opposing team once all sixteen stones are thrown.

Two stones are thrown by each member in order. The last two, which are the most important, are thrown by the skip.

The final shot - known as the hammer - can have a strong bearing on the outcome of a match since it can knock other stones out of the way.

The ladies had the hammer in the final end of their bronze medal winning game Credit: PA

The skip - the most experienced player - takes responsibility for strategy. A stone is thrown by a player sliding forward whilst kneeling on one knee, releasing the stone before crossing the hog line.

David Murdoch, from Lockerbie, is the skip for the men's team Credit: PA

Some stones will be directly aimed towards the house, whilst others might be aimed to knock the opposing teams stone out of the way.

Stones within the house Credit: PA

The teams are not allowed to touch the stone once moving, but can sweep the ice ahead of it to make it move smoothly. Greater sweeping speed limits the stone from turning and lets it travel further.

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