Column #HR48 2011 World Matchplay – Round One Review

Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Column HR48
2011 World Matchplay – Round One Review

Sid Waddell described the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, home of the £400,000 Sky Bet World Matchplay Championships, as a cross between Lenin’s Tomb and an Italian Art Gallery. Old Sidney was spot on this time around. For 16 of the best dart players in the world it would be their burial grounds for the 2011 Matchplay. Some went out kicking and screaming while others just laid down, crossed their hands and collected £5,000. On the winner’s side some of those players painted, if not masterpieces, at the very least pictures above a five year old’s finger paintings. Some were Picasso, some Norman Rockwell and some really ugly but then beauty is always in the eye of the beer holder. With that as a template what follows is a brief glance at first round matches. But first…

The best thing about darts TV announcer John Gwynn comes if you’re quick enough to hit the mute button. Fail and you get the following words of wisdom… “It’s better to win in 19 darts than to loose in 12.” No shit Dick Tracy or in this case “no shit John Gwynn.” Before the first dart was tossed Paul “The Mouth That Roars” Nicholson had been giving the mickey to Phil Taylor. It’s understood that Nicholson is a jerk. Some would call him as “ass” but then they’d have to go around apologizing to donkeys the world over. Just after Taylor had bested Mark Hylton 10-8 he spoke on camera about Nicholson’s having a go at him. “Yes it bothers me a little. He’s just trying to get a place in the Premier League. If I retired today people would notice. If he retired no one would care. That’s it.”

A bunch of surprises… a lot of great darts and camera shots of guys and gals drinking beer and wearing silly costumes… Now who couldn’t get their hand around that pint of lager? Some of the really good players left Blackpool early this year. In the opening match Steve Beaton neutered “The Bull” Terry Jenkins 10-3. Beaton won the bull but chose to let Jenkins go first. Jenkins missed doubles and never recovered. Mark Webster faces Beaton in round 2 after he sent John Part packing 10-7. The ODC along with Eric Bristow and Rod Harrington were tipping Part as a dark horse. Yes cue “Send in the clowns.” Part just couldn’t score, falling behind 7-1 and 7-3. After the second break Part painted a “masterpiece” of 180-180 then 60-57 and double 12. That ladies and gentlemen is a 9-darter worth £10,000, if it’s the only one. Part now joins Barney and Phil Taylor with Matchplay perfect games.

It was no surprise when Vincent van der Voot took down Alan Tabern 10-7. As with most of the winners van der Voot built leads 3-0 and 7-3 and then held on. By far the best of Day 1 matches was World Champion Adrian Lewis against Kevin “The Artist” Painter. If Painter was an artist in this match he went from early Vinny “One Ear” van Gough to old Crazy “I Can’t Hear You” van Gough. The match was there for the taking 10-6 but Painter missed three at the double top. It was there for the taking again at 12-10 when one at the bull and two at double 8 missed. Lewis in fact had packed up his darts and was probably working on his “I though I played well and Kevin is a great player” speech. Tied at 11 Lewis finished 80 for a 12-11 lead. Lewis would then miss bull on a 121-closeout to allow Painter to level at 12. Painter missed two at double 16 while Lewis hit double 10 to move ahead 13-12. The World Champion worked off a T80 to set up a 90 finish with a bull for the win.

Colin Osborne, like Kevin Painter, had a chance to win against Paul Nicholson. Osborne missed five darts to win the match after getting off to a quick start. They would be tied at 10 when Nicholson tossed his 7th T80 and 76-check for an 11-10 lead. In the 22nd leg Nicholson again landed a T80, then closed the deal with double 10. Before Nicholson gets a chance to see if his darts can cash the check his mouth writes he’s got Mr. Raymond van Barneveld to conquer…

It’s no wonder that Barney is probably the second most popular player in the PDC. He’s everyman. He’s way too laid back to be called “laid back.” He’s the guy that show’s up for his own wedding on the wrong day at the wrong place. He’d show up for a “major” darts tournament with no darts. Yep. Just hour’s before his first round match Barney discovered “I have no darts.” His darts were still in his car in Holland. “Geen problem,” as the say in the land of wooden shoes and window shopping. A dart shoppe in St. Helens brought a set of Raymond van Barneveld Unicorn’s (how’s that for a plug about how to get something for free Mr. Lowy?) so “het probleem nog opgelost,” which either means either “problem solved” or “I’ll take the one with the red bustier” in Dutch. Oh yes, Barney rolled 10-3 over Steve Brown.

Mark Walsh will meet James Wade in the second round. Mark cruised 10-3 over “rookie” Dave Chisnall who never looked comfortable as he missed 15 doubles that allowed Walsh to build a 9-1 lead on the way to a 10-3 win. James Wade’s whitewash of Jamie Caven 10-0 was not as impressive as the score may indicate. Caven missed 12 doubles during the match with Wade going 10 of 23. Caven was never able to pressure Wade. The “snyder” was sealed with a 136. The whitewash at the MatchPlay. That takes care of one half of the draw…

Being a rookie is never easy. Scott Rand found that out when he tangled with Wayne Jones. Rand did lead 3-2 only to see Jones take 4 of the next 5 for a 6-3 lead he would never relinquish. The 10-6 win sends Jones into round 2 against Philip Taylor. The ODC thinks that “maybe” Taylor is there for the taking. His 10-8 win over a really tough “portsider” in Mark Hylton wasn’t “awe inspiring.” Hylton, another rookie, led 3-1 only to find himself down 9-5. Then “holy monkey butts” this turned into a nail bitter. Hylton could have folded his tent like Ahab but didn’t. At 9-5 he took out 108, 61 and 119 to move to 9-8 down. In an effort to draw level Hylton opened with a T80 but couldn’t erase 121. Taylor took out 68 for the win.

The TV guys (what, no girls?) keep referring to “rookies” as debutants. Naw, naw and where the hell is Sid Waddell when you need him. A “debutant is “a young women making a formal debut into society.” None of them here mate.
One “rook” that prevailed was Justin “Concrete” Pipe. The ODC came up with the nickname in an effort to assist the PDC department in charge of nicknames. He toyed with “meerschaum.” Then he figured that not many knew what a “meerschaum” was.

Pipe took out Mervyn King 10-6. Prior to the match it was disclosed that King had been suffering from tennis elbow. “That’s not a common injury in darts,” opined Rod Harrington. The ODC pointed out that during his Darting Hall of Fame career he suffered from the same injury. Did you get tennis elbow from too much practicing?” Always honest to a fault the ODC answered, “Maybe. But I think it more a result of lifting pints of aiming fluid. I switched to group tighter (shots of schnapps) and the problem went away.” Pipe will now face Wes Newton who was simply great. Newton, now managed by Peter Manley, served up a delectable meal topped off by devouring “The Pie Man” Andy Smith 10-2 for desert.

Two of the ODC’s pals met to kick off the final night of round one. For Denis “The Heat’ Ovens it was a virtuoso performance defeating Ronnie Baxter 10-8 in a match that wasn’t that close. Ovens build an early 4-1 lead during which he closed 121 with 20-51-bull. The next leg Ovens tossed 59-180-92 to leave 170. His first two darts hit the triple 20 to leave bull for a 170-check. Checking the score he saw that Baxter was way back at 222. The crowd waited breathlessly. Ovens passed up the bull for a fat 18 to leave 32. The crowd booed. Ovens, arms out with palms up, seemed to say, “Whaddya want, blood?” Of course they would have answered “yes!” He took out the 32. “He who smiles last smiles best.” Up 6-2 Ovens got a little wobbly when Baxter took out 146 with 60-60-double 13. Baxter would take the next two legs also as his scoring returned a little. They would tie at 7 with Baxter moving ahead when Ovens missed 4 to win. At 8-7 up Baxter missed and they were level at 8. At 9-8 up Ovens got to the double first as Baxter couldn’t close from 70. In the end Baxter never found his scoring stroke – being out scored with ton plus marking of 40 to 27.

Maybe it was first round jitters but Simon Whitlock wasn’t Simon Whitlock. Usually a doubling machine he scored on only 10 of 30 but 10 is what he needed to win 10-7 over Peter Wright. The tale of this encounter was that Whitlock had 19 scores of 140 or more. Wright had 8. Game over.

The other quarter will find rookie John Henderson facing Andy Hamilton. Hamilton pulled the upset of the first round eliminating second choice betting favorite Gary Anderson 10-6. Anderson’s Achilles heel in darts had always been finishing. It jumped up and got him again as he hit only 6 of 21 chances. Surprisingly enough, Hamilton also outscored Anderson 98.04 to 95.97 while connecting on 10 of 17 doubles. Andy Hamilton will get “rookie’ John Henderson who disposed of Colin Lloyd 10-7. Henderson had the perfect game plan. Outscore Lloyd (91.11 to 84.92) and then hit more doubles. Henderson connected on 10 of 21 while Lloyd went a paltry 7 of 23.

Remember the start time is Las Vegas Time ‘cause that’s were the ODC is. Go to Justin TV to watch the World Match Play live and in living color.

Wednesday July 20 (11 AM)
Steve Beaton v Mark Webster
Adrian Lewis v Vincent van der Voort
Raymond van Barneveld v Paul Nicholson
James Wade v Mark Walsh

Thursday July 21 (11 AM)
Simon Whitlock v Denis Ovens
Andy Hamilton v John Henderson
Phil Taylor v Wayne Jones
Wes Newton v Justin Pipe

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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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