Column #CM44 World Matchplay – the third pier

Monday, August 6, 2018
Column CM44
World Matchplay – the third pier

Blackpool is a seaside resort which offers not one or two but three piers, which is quite unusual. The oldest of the piers is the North Pier, which was built in the 1860s. At first it was not planned as a real pier but rather as a promenade – but to fight competition it was broadened and attractions like clubs and theaters were added. Unlike the two other piers which are working class piers the North Pier, with concerts and respectable comedians, attracts the more middle-class holiday maker. Until 2011, it was the only pier in Blackpool with an admission fee.

Today, the North Pier is very much alive though she has had to survive fires and storms. At the seaside end, at the beginning, there is a pavilion which before the Winter Gardens was built housed all indoor events. Over the years, several ships have run aground and into the pier. The pier was rebuilt often, and ownership changed several times. In 1939, upon hearing of the start of World War II, Charlie Cairoli, a well-known clown who appeared for 40 years in the Tower Circus in Blackpool, stood on the pier and threw into the Irish Sea a watch presented to him by Adolf Hitler during a guest appearance in Munich’s Circus Krone.

The first night of the second round turned out to be a stormy one and several players ran aground.

The round started with the match between Michael Smith and Dave Chisnall and before the match to be sure Smith was the favorite – and he played in the first few legs like the favorite as well, steamrolling Chisnall to move into a 7-1 lead. But then Chisnall had enough and turned up the heat. Smith seemed to be surprised and couldn’t find a way to stop Chisnall who caught up leg by leg until he drew even and then moved in front. Smith managed to win only one more leg while Chisnall won the match 11-8. So, Dave Chisnall dumped one of the favorites and was also the first player in the tournament to average more than 100.

The second match was surprising as well because it was a rather one-sided affair. Joe Cullen played against a very tired Daryl Gurney who only could keep up until the first break. Cullen won the match with a good performance and without a problem 11-3. His average was just below 100 and he hit 50 percent of his doubles with his first attempt. The unseeded Joe Cullen not only showed he could win against an injured Gerwyn Price but to be sure he gave Daryl Gurney a pitch-black day.

As unimpressed by seeded players as Daryl Gurney performed Jeffrey de Zwaan in the third match against Adrian Lewis was quite the opposite. Lewis to be sure is at the moment stronger than Gurney and he was certainly not steamrolled, winning his share of legs. He looked very relaxed. When he moved closer and closer near the end of the match it looked for a few moments that de Zwaan would falter, that he was impressed by Lewis darts. But his lead was big enough and Lewis couldn’t find the darts to draw. de Zwaan won 11- 9.

So, two unseeded players no one would have imagined having a chance moved into the quarterfinals while Adrian Lewis, the dark horse of the event, was eliminated.

After all these thrilling and high class matches the clash between Raymond van Barneveld and Gary Anderson, the crowning match followed. While van Barneveld’s walk-on was like a bath in the crowd Anderson spent no time coming on stage. He looked much less nervous then in his first match, very down-to earth. It looked early on that Anderson – now the favorite to win – would be eliminated by the Dutchman, especially when the Scotsman once again had a slow start into the match. But all in all, van Barneveld didn’t play consistent enough and from time to time was light on the gas pedal letting his average dip from over 100 to 95 during. Once he arrived in the match, Anderson showed a great performance. By the end it was evident that the very determined Dutchman was in over his head – and we saw a celebrating Anderson as the winner while van Barneveld quickly, and to be sure deeply disappointed, left the stage.

It had been a high-class evening of darts with the best matches of the tournament. Dave Chisnall impressed, and the two unseeded players presented themselves well. In the last match Anderson once again showed why he has already won two World Championship titles and this year the UK Open as well – when he moves into gear he is very heard to stop.

What a pity Daryl Gurney had such an off day. It might be that his first round win, which he more or less wrestle from Steve West, took it out of him.

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Charis Mutschler
The founder of Global Darts, darts journalist Charis Mutschler hails from Marbach, near Stuttgart, Germany. A regular at most major PDC tournaments, a lover of literature, dance and music and cats, Charis' popular writings about darts and its players often transcend the usual. She brings something unique to the chroniclers of the sport we all love.