Column #HR27 A Bountiful Buffet of Darts, with “Whine”

Friday, October 15, 2010
Column HR27
A Bountiful Buffet of Darts, with “Whine”

The recently concluded World Grand Prix was for some a Mickey D’s Happy Meal without the toy. For others – those addicted to delicious delights from the oche – it was a bountiful buffet of delectable morsels.

All are correct, with the ODC opting for a 7-course meal constructed to tempt the palette. Like the gourmet meal when finished, a connoisseur would said “no mas” or, as Irene Maude Reed would say, “My God the bridge” – which is the ODC’s Mom-talk for “no mas.”

The “Horse’s ovaries,” the first 4-courses, were delivered Monday-Thursday and teased the taste buds leaving the crowd crying for more. On Friday, the main course came in the form of the “greatest match ever” (in the eyes of the Sage from SoCal, Bill Specht, and many others) – when the match between Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor took place.

There is an old axiom (no new axiom’s have surfaced lately) in Show Biz that you never want to take the stage after a dog act or little kids. The semi-finals on Saturday faced that type of daunting task as the quarters were indeed a tough or maybe an impossible act to follow. In the words of The Sage from SoCal “Lewis vs. Taylor”… well in the words of somebody… “that wasn’t too Chablis” either!” No it wasn’t too “Chablis.” Anyone wanting to get their names in Toeing the Oche should always quote the ODC. The Taylor-Lewis match was like a nice port wine, directly from Portugal, served after the main meal.

If there were no Friday (Taylor-Anderson) at the World Grand Prix then the Saturday match between Adrian Lewis and Phil Taylor would have grabbed the headlines around the tungsten world. It was noted here and will be recorded for prosperity. Setting the table, James Wade had his way with a disinterested or maybe disengaged Raymond van Barneveld 5-1 (3-2, 3-2, 3-0, 2-3, 3-1, 3-2) in a match that was in never in doubt after the first set. Van Barneveld had the darts, up 2-1 in the first set, but couldn’t start with three in legs 4 and 5. Wade had no trouble getting out of the blocks with starts of T20 and T60. The decider in the first set was a thing of beauty from Wade’s standpoint: T60-T-T to leave 141 which became 40 which then became nothing which became the first set. PDC official and TV commentator, Rod Harrington, called Barneveld’s performance “un professional.” That’s a code phrase. To put it delicately “It was the meal with a side of fava beans with a nice Chianti, but no meat.”

Following Wade’s final double the two did the man hugs deal and it seemed to go on forever. “What did Barney say to you?” asked the TV talk guy whose name didn’t escape ODC because he never knew it. “He wanted to apologize for the way the crowd treated me,” answered Wade. The drunken Irish louts booed Wade at almost every step for no reason other than Phil Taylor wasn’t on the stage. They did cheer Anderson, van Barneveld and Lewis. They also wanted to cheer good soccer results but the Republic of Ireland lost 3-2 to Russia while Northern Ireland drew with Italy. For Northern Ireland and Italy that was a good result as in their cases a tie is a win. Go figure.

LEWIS-TAYLOR

“Jackpot” Adrian Lewis eliminated defending champion Phil Taylor 5-4 in a match that may have been less than it seemed. The line score was 3-2, 0-3, 3-2, 0-3, 1-3, 1-3, 3-0, 3-2 – which if you take time to add up the legs will show that in legs Taylor won 19-17. In addition Taylor outscored Lewis 92.88 to 91.76 which validates the old saying that “You score for show and finish for dough.” Lewis, who came from 4-2 down to win, scorched the sisal for 16 maximums and with off’s of 102, 106, 120 and 121. Both players wobbled a bit when it came to routine doubles with Taylor paying the most severe penalty: the match. Taylor was up 2-0 in the sudden death leg when he missed double tops, opening the door for Lewis to convert double 2 after missing four previous darts at a double in the leg. Still up 2-1, Taylor missed a bull on the end of a 92-check handing the leg to Lewis. Against the darts Taylor missed with four of the worst looking darts in the history of the sport handing Lewis a 143 point lead. After 15 darts Lewis needed 106 with Taylor way back at 198. Lewis stepped up to the oche with 60-6-double 20. Leg. Set. Match.

For Taylor there’s just a tad of “Déjà vu” in play here. In 2004, Adrian Lewis became a practice partner of Taylors – much the way that Taylor was taken in by the then big name Eric Bristow in the late 1980’s. Taylor would repay the favor by defeating Bristow 6-1 in what was then the premier tournament in the world held at the Lakeside. Twenty years later Lewis returned the favor to Taylor. For some time, Lewis has been touted as “the next best thing” by those who are supposed to know. Now tutored by Keith Deller, this win could be a chance for Lewis to take the next step. His nickname: Jackpot? This comes from an “alleged” incident in Las Vegas a few years ago. An underage Lewis “allegedly” hit a BIG jackpot at an “alleged” casino named after a movie studio. He never collected.

There was an ugly end to Lewis-Taylor. It’s a given that the psyche of a dart player is as fragile as that of a diva from the opera, a ballet dancer or a wide receiver in the NFL. Taylor for the most part has overcome this condition. During the match Lewis whined about either imagined or real slights or dirty tricks by Taylor. Taylor, always a class act, declined to do a post match interview and ducked the question the next day. He played the entire match before a booing crowd of drunken louts.

THE FINAL

The final was indeed the desert that finished off a gourmet meal. When someone first starts to play darts they are usually instructed to remember “You are playing the board not the person.” Good advice but seldom does the advice hold sway in the long run. James Wade, of today’s pros, probably best exemplifies that theory in practice. During his 6-3 win over Adrian Lewis, Wade played the board about as well as a dart player could. Prior to the match the players, in the warm up room, throw for the bull. To state the obvious, to win and go first is an advantage. DUH. Wade won the bull so started with a big advantage in a best of 11 throwing first in legs 1-3-5-7-9 and 11.

All Wade had to do was hold serve and win 6-5. Wade broke through in the 6th set going up 4-2 when Lewis missed the bull on the end of a 120 finish. Lewis fired back in the 7th leg to narrow the gap to 4-3 with a nifty set, against the darts, winning the first leg in 11 darts and following with a pair of 14-darters. Wade broke right back to move to within one of the win. In what proved to be the final set Lewis actually took the lead 2-1 with a leg against the darts of T60-T-T31 and then out. Lewis started well to win the next leg with a 60 away. Wade though answered with a “double-double” maximum T60 which Lewis negated with a T80 that gave him the first shot at a double which he missed. Wade took advantage of his T60-on with T-81-140 to leave 16. At 16, an 8 followed by double 4 leveled the set at 2. In what proved to be the final leg Lewis missed three to start which gave Wade a 9 dart head start. Wade needed 80 with 3 while Lewis was sitting on 178. Wade’s favorite number is double 10 which he reached with triple 20. Leg. Set. Match. Championship.

CLEARING THE TABLE

James Wade would reign as World Grand Prix champion as he did in 2007. This one though was special for the Portsider from Aldershot. “I’ve won five majors now but this means maybe more for me. I was desperate to win tonight because my Nan isn’t too well and I was determined to do something to cheer her up, so this is dedicated to her.”

When Wade hit the winning dart he laid face first toward the board for a moment of private thanks. As expected Lewis, to some degree whined and made excuses. “I was really up for playing Phil and although I didn’t feel physically tired I did feel mentally tired.” The ODC questions this statement as he’s never heard of a tired vacuum. “It took a lot out of me in the semis and it did take its toll because I hit 16 180s against Phil and only eight against James, and I missed a few stupid shots.” During the match Lewis had some words with Wade which appeared to be complaints. Asked about this after the match Wade refused to comment. Not Lewis who just had to blame someone other than himself. “He was moving his feet while I was throwing.” Asked about Lewis’s specific comments Wade said, “Look at the video. My feet did not move.”

Maybe professional darts’ Major Domo, Barry Hearn, will next market a wine and call it the “Lewis Special” to compliment his bountiful buffet of darts, which is the PDC.

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Howie Reed
The one and only Howie Reed (the Old Dart Coach) goes back decades with the legends of our sport - he knows where the skeletons are buried. Just ask any of the ADO and WDF old-timers! His widely popular column, Toeing the Oche, is a must-read.

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