Author Archives: Charis Mutschler

Column #CM83 Charis interviews Canada’s Matt Campbell

Tuesday, December 24, 2019
Column CM83
Charis interviews Canada’s Matt Campbell

You know what they say about mice, men and their best-laid plans – they often go awry. Such (obviously) was the case with the following interview, which was intended to be shared before the start of the world championships. Campbell fell 3-1 in the first round to England’s Mark McGeeney – although were it not for a couple of untimely missed doubles the result could have been different.


Matt, you reached four of the CDC finals and won two of those and as the highest ranked Canadian player qualified for the PDC World Championship. What were your thoughts when you realised it?

Going into the last CDC event I knew I was ahead and what I had to do to make it a for sure thing that I would be the top ranked Canadian player. In the first event I put a lot of pressure on myself to accomplish that and it didn’t work out the best. losing in my first round. The next day I just tried to forget about the points and what was on the line and just play and was fortunate enough to do so and come away with the spot.

And how do you feel now such a short time before the event – unsure, tense or just looking forward to it?

I feel great about the tournament and am not nervous or anything yet. I am just looking forward to being on the stage and in front of the crowd.

For how long have you been competing on the CDC Tour?

I’ve played the CDC tour for almost 2 years now. I did have to start off as a qualifier, then my performances got me the chance to have a tour card for the CDC.

How popular is the CDC circuit in Canada?

In Canada the CDC tour’s popularity is growing rapidly. A lot more Canadians came out this past year and with more events in Canada now I think they will see a lot more of Canada’s talent.

What about the standard on the CDC circuit? Do you feel you improved by playing on the CDC circuit?

The CDC is a very tough room to play in. There are a lot of talented players, so I do believe playing in it has made my game improve and it makes me want to improve even more.

How much experience playing on stage do you have, and do you look forward to playing on the stage of the Alexandra Palace?

I don’t really have any stage experience. I have played on the live stream for the CDC – I guess that is stage play but nothing can compare to world championship stage.

You know Jim Long – did he have advice for your world championship appearance?

Yeah, Jim Long is a good friend. We practice together and he has given me advice and some insight on what to expect. It’s great to have someone like him to be able to talk to and clear some concerns if there were any.

Do you follow PDC tournaments on TV or stream?

I do watch some PDC tournaments through their website. I don’t get to watch them all, but I do enjoy watching the darts the players on the tour produce.

Do you know some of the PDC players and have you played against some of them?

I have played John Part a couple times, but I have not played any of the PDC stars of now.

You will play against Mark McGeeney in your first match, who is a former BDO number 1. Do you know anything about him?

I know Mark is the former BDO number 1. I know he has had a good year with the PDC and that he’s a good scorer and good finisher, so it will be a good first round match which ever way it goes.

Does it matter to you if you know the player against whom you play?

I don’t think it matters if I know who I am playing or not. I can just keep my mind set clear on what I am doing. Then I will be happy with the way I play no matter who it is.

How do you assess your chances? And what do you hope to achieve?

I believe my chances are good, just like everyone else’s. It will just come down to who is the better player that day.

Do you prepare in some special way for the world championship?

No, haven’t prepared specifically for the world championships. I’ve just prepared like I have done for every other tournament.

For how long have you played darts and how did you begin with the sport?

I have been playing darts for about 12 years now. I was introduced to the game by one of my close friend’s parents – they taught me my finishes and may math. They taught me the game.

Like Jim Long and John Part you come from Ontario – is Ontario a hotbed of darts? How widespread is the sport in Ontario?  And how does the dart scene look where you live?

There are a lot of great players in Ontario just like the rest of Canada. I believe the sport is big in Ontario – a lot of players and a lot of tournaments make for good players all around the province.

Do you play in a league?

I don’t really get time to play in the league because I work a night shift.

You also qualified this year for the World Masters – does this mean you play ADO or NDFC tournaments as well?

Yes, I play whatever tournaments I can get to so whether they are ADO or NDFC I will go to them.

Was it the first time you qualified for the World Masters? And did stop by Alexandra Palace to take a look when you were in London?

It was my first time at the World Masters and no, I didn’t go and check out the Alexandra Palace. I figured I’d be closer – right there – for the world championship.

One could read in social media that the start to the World Masters was rather chaotic – did you feel the same?

I believe it was very chaotic with the re-draws and contract signing and not knowing what the prize pool was – yes, it was very chaotic.

Was that your first time in London or have you been there before?

This will be my first time in London for the world championships.

With your qualification for both the World Masters and the world championship you had a very successful darting year – was there any special reason for that?

Yeah, there is always a special reason for success – putting the time and effort travelling to the tournaments that can get you to these types of places and going to the qualifiers. My wife, Emma, has been amazing with planning the trips and even coming (even though it may be boring to just watch). Without her support wouldn’t be where I am.

What do you think was you biggest achievement in darts so far?

My biggest achievement would be qualifying for the PDC would championships. Other than that, it has been winning two CDC events in a tough field – I believe that is a big achievement.

Do you practice a lot?

I practice enough to not tire myself out and to keep me interested in a practice routine – rather than to wear myself down and get bored with the practice routine.

How does your practice look? Do you have some kind of practice plan?

I practice my doubles and triples and then finishes with games like 121 and around the board and then finish up with some games of 501 and cricket.

Do you practice alone or with a practice partner?

I practice alone and meet up with some players to get practice games going.

Do you prepare in some special way for the world championship? More often than usual? Does your practice routine include mental preparation as well?

I just do the same preparation that has gotten me to where I am today. I try to practice in the same mindset as I would be playing any match. That way the mental part gets worked on just like the mechanics do.

Will somebody accompany you to London to support you? And is this sort of support important for you?

My wife will be attending and there are two other North American players – Danny Baggish and Darin Young. I believe they will be there to support me just like I will be for them. And a lot of people back home from the United States and Canada are sending me messages of support.

As I know almost nothing at all about you – how would you describe yourself?

I don’t know how I would describe myself. I am just a down to earth “whatever happens, happens” type of person.

What is your occupation?

I am a welder.

What do you think is your weakness and what is your strength?

My weakness I believe is being too hard on myself and my strength is that I am able to just shut my brain off and tune out everything – and just throw.

Have you thought of taking part in Qualifying School and maybe becoming a professional darts player in the PDC?

I would love to give Q-School a shot and see if I am able to earn a tour card and then see how it goes. But the first thing is to see how I do at the world championships and go from there.

What fascinates you most in darts?

I like the competitiveness in the sport when you get to the line and then when you walk away everything is just back to normal joking around, being friendly with everyone – until you get to the line again. Then they’re your worst enemy. Also, I like that darts can be played until any age so it’s a lifetime game that I can enjoy. You meet a ton of amazing people and get to experience a bunch of different places as well.

Are you interested in other sports? Do you have you got other interests and hobbies outside of darts?

I don’t really have any other hobbies – just work, family, kids and darts.

Column #CM82 2020 World Championship – “I wish you a Merry Christmas”

Thursday, December 19, 2019
Column CM82
2020 World Championship – “I wish you a Merry Christmas”

Fortunately, one of the two German players survived his first-round match last night, but it was not the player most expected. Gabriel Clemens lost 2-3 to Benito van de Pas but Nico Kurz advanced by defeating James Wilson 3-1.

All in all, it was not a great day of darts. There were many one-sided contests and especially the afternoon session was not high class. In both sessions the second-round matches were the most decent ones and both seeded players – Stephen Bunting and an, at the start of the match, very nervous James Wade – progressed into the second round.

Today is my last day at the world championship and I think I found the fitting Christmas song to mark the occasion – one you can hear everywhere in the world and which looks ahead. After all it does not only wish you a Merry Christmas but also a Happy New Year.

It is a so-called “traditional” English Christmas song, known since 1935. Arthur Warrell, a composer from Bristol, arranged it for his own choir – the Bristol Madrigal Singers. In the same year it was published as well.

It is often called a traditional song though one cannot definitively mark the history of the song. The wish “a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” phraseology had been in use since the early 18th century and is connected to several Christmas customs. The song was sung by carol singers who went door-to-door on Christmas and New Year ‘s Eve and were rewarded with sweets. One of the sweets (which is mentioned in the song as well) is “figgy pudding” – a pudding with figs which probably was very sweet. Today, the song is usually sung at New Year. The song made the jump across the Channel and is popular in Germany as well though only the first verse is used.

And so it is with “a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” to you that I now bow out from in-person attendance at this year’s world championship in London and will return to my sofa at home for the rest of the tournament!

Today, the last two first round matches will be played – both in the afternoon session – and six second round matches.

The afternoon will begin with Justin Pipe vs. Benjamin Pratnemer. I don’t know Pratnemer at all. All I have heard is that he plays slower than Pipe. But I can imagine he could have some problems with the big stage. So, I would think it is likely Pipe will emerge the winner, especially as he started to improve again this year.

In the last first round match Ryan Joyce will play against Jan Dekker. This is another contest where it is difficult to assess how good the players are currently. When one considers how they qualified it seems Joyce is the better player as he managed to qualify by the Pro Tour Order of Merit whereas Dekker had to play the qualifier and only twice this year reached the quarterfinals of a Players Championship. So, advantage would seem to be slightly in Joyce’s favour (plus he also stood last year in the quarterfinals of the world championship).

The next match will be the second-round match between John Henderson and James Richardson. As Henderson often surprises us with very good performances and doesn’t seem to get easily worked up, he has a good chance to win this match despite Richardson’s good performance against Mikuru Suzuki.

The last match of the afternoon will see Steve Beaton and Kyle Anderson take the stage. It could be an evenly matched game, but Anderson already has a win under his belt so – advantage Anderson.

After the break between the session we’ll see Chris Dobey vs Rob Meulenkamp first. Dobey is not yet a really finished player, but a quite promising one, and it always seems he feels at home on the big stage. So, that speaks in his favour.

The next match is far more difficult to predict. Danny Noppert played quite well during the Grand Slam recently though he didn’t survive the group phase. Callan Rydz had a very close first round match against Steve Lennon, which he won. So Rydz will be full of confidence and it will not be easy to prevail against him. It will all depend on whether Rydz will be able to keep up his first-round standard.

Dave Chisnall against Vincent van der Voort is next. This is a match that will depend on the players form on the day and an in form Chisnall is stronger than an in form van der Voort. This suggests a wafer-thin advantage for Chisnall.

My last live match of this world championship will be Gerwyn Price against William O’Connor – a potentially terrific match to be sure! Price has shown that he can celebrate and play great – he’s demonstrated this often now. And he is a stronger player then O’Connor.

But sometimes Price seems to try too hard. And O’Connor can play. This second-round match tonight could well turn out to be one of those contests that surprise.

Column #CM81 2020 World Championship – “O Tannenbaum”

Wednesday, December 18, 2019
Column CM81
2020 World Championship – “O Tannenbaum”

It was a very long and very exciting day of darts yesterday!

Of course, Fallon Sherrock’s win over Ted Evetts was the spectacular highlight – she is now the first woman to ever win a match in a PDC World Championship. And she played well too – winning 3-2 with a 91.48 average (and at one point hitting six triple twenties, bringing the crowd to the edge of their seats in anticipation of a possible perfect game).

We also saw a few one sided 3-0 wins by Damon Heta and Noel Malicdem and three hard fought matches which were won by Ryan Searle, Jeffrey de Zwaan und Cristo Reyes – all exhausting and fascinating! And – both seeded players survived their matches!

Today, the evening session is firmly in German hands – Nico Kurz and Gabriel Clemens will stand on stage. For their walk-on songs one might recommend the “O Tannenbaum” – or more precisely the melody of the song which has been used many times.

In 1824, the choirmaster of the Leipziger Neukirche searched for a children’s song for Christmas in his archive and found this song which originally was a sad love song, in which the fir tree was used as contrast to the disloyal lover. It was changed into a declaration of love for the, at this time, already used Christmas tree. It took some time – until after the Second World War – before the song was popularized and then became known in English and French as well. As the melody was so simple and recognizable around the world it was not only used for the Christmas song – though the text of “O Tannenbaum” was often spoofed.

For example, in some countries the melody was used with the text “The Red Flag” as the song of the international labour movement and as the hymn of the British labour party. With the text “Maryland, My Maryland” it was the battle song of the Confederate states in the American Civil war – and eventually became the state song of the State of Maryland (and despite considerable opposition it remains so to this day).

The seeded players today are Stephen Bunting in the afternoon session and James Wade in the evening session. The range of unseeded players reaches from New Zealand to Japan, Europe and South America.

Ron Meulenkamp will open the afternoon session against the debutant Ben Robb from New Zealand. All I know about Robb is that he is the DPNZ qualifier – which doesn’t really help when you want to predict a match result. So, I will have a cup of tea and wait and see.

After that, Mickey Mansell will play against Seigo Asada. Asada is a strong Asian player – so probably Mansell will get into trouble even though he sometimes shows great performances.

Harry Ward against Madars Razma is another match which is difficult to predict. Razma plays with success on the Nordic and Baltic Tour but outside this he hasn’t produced anything outstanding. Ward plays at a level like Ron Meulenkamp, who opened the afternoon session, and is rather inconsistent. For both players it will be their world championship debut. Razma has more experience – it might be that can help him. On the other hand, Ward looks like he is a pretty cool customer – that could help him.

In the last match of the afternoon, seeded player Stephen Bunting will take the stage and probably he will not have too many problems with his opponent. But I don’t dare to commit myself to this after all the surprising second round results so far.

In the first match of the evening Nico Kurz, the first of three German players and the least experienced, will stand of stage. James Wilson probably will not be unbeatable but Kurz has never played on such a stage, before such a crowd and never in a tournament so big – it will not be easy for him.

The second match is England vs. South America or Josh Payne vs. Diogo Portela. Both have stood on this stage before and both had unremarkable darting seasons. I myself think Payne is the stronger player but it is one of the attractions of these first-round matches – the result often surprises!

With Gabriel Clemens a strong and, this year, quite successful German player takes the stage next. He recently impressed in the Grand Slam. He will play against Benito van de Pas who had a disappointing year and had to qualify by the Tour Card Holders Qualifier for the tournament. One would think Clemens will have no problems winning this match.

The seeded player of the night will be James Wade and the same applies to him as to Stephen Bunting – he should have no problem moving to the next round – though I almost don’t dare to say such a thing!

Column #CM80 2020 World Championship – “Bog sie Rodzi”

Tuesday, December 17, 2019
Column CM80
2020 World Championship – “Bog sie Rodzi”

Yesterday didn’t go well for the Irish players. Except for William O’Connor all lost their matches – though Keane Barry impressed despite his defeat by Vincent van der Voort. Callan Rydz, who defeated Steve Lennon, is yet another of those strong upcoming players and he will certainly be a problem to other players as well. In the final match of the evening Brendan Dolan had little chance against Gary Anderson.

After the short day on Monday, we have another long day of darts today. In fact, until final two days of the event (with the semi-finals and the final) there will now be only long days of darts.

Today is another day of rather mixed nationalities – an Englishmen, a female English player, a Russian, two Australians, two players from Asia, a Spaniard, a couple Dutch, one or two Austrian players and one from Poland.

Appropriate to Polish player Krzysztof Ratajski I chose a Christmas song from Poland for the day – the best loved Christmas song in Poland which almost became the national anthem. In Polish it is called “Bog sie Rodzi” (and, no, I cannot pronounce it!). In English it would be “Christ is Borne.” The text is from Frantisek Karpinski who wrote it in 1792; the melody is much older and was once the coronation polonaise of the Polish kings. It is probably from the 16th century. Many Polish artists recorded the song which is a combination of piety and patriotism.

Although it has nothing to do with his home country Ratajskis walks on to “We like to Party” by the Dutch group Vengaboys. Ratajski will play in the last match of the afternoon as the seeded player against Zoran Lerchbacher. Lerchbacher played well against Jamie Hughes but will it be enough to win against Ratajski?

Before this match we’ll see three more first round matches which are all difficult to predict.

The first match pits Ryan Searle against Robbie King. King is a kind of dark horse. He is a young Australian player who won the Oceanic Masters and thereby qualified for the PDC world championship. He took part four times without success in the PDC Unicorn World Youth Championship. The PDC invited him to the Melbourne Darts Masters but Rob Cross was just too much for him. This time of course he will not play Rob Cross but Ryan Searle – who didn’t have a great year in 2019. But stage experience will give Searle an advantage.

In the second match Cristo Reyes will play against Lourence Ilagan. Reyes also did not have a good year while Ilagan impressed already impresses during the last world championship. I would say advantage Ilagan.

Match number three will be Rowby-John Rodriguez against another Filipino, Noel Malicdem – and the same applies to this match as the match before. Rodriguez had a terrible year. Malicdem played well during the last world championship and was one of the best players on this year’s Asian Tour.

Like the afternoon session the evening session, at first view, doesn’t appear likely to present high class contests. It starts which Ritchie Edhouse vs. Boris Koltsov. Last year, Koltsov played one of the weakest matches of the tournament. Edhouse played on the Challenge Tour which means he has no Tour Card – this will be his world championship debut. So, it is not completely unlikely that Koltsov will win the match.

Jose de Sousa and Damon Heta will come on stage for the second match. Heta this year won the Brisbane Darts Masters while de Sousa had some success on the Pro Tour. And de Sousa has been to the Alexandra Palace before, in 2012. It could be an evenly matched contest but there might be a slight advantage for the Portuguese.

The next match could be an interesting one – Ted Evetts will face Fallon Sherrock. To a certain degree Sherrock is used to playing against male players while Evetts has probably not often played against female opponents. I would not think Sherrock will be easily intimidated but Evetts might be a little bit unsecure. We’ll see whether Sherrock will be able to take the chance.

The last match of the evening could have been be an all Dutch affair – a legend meets an up and coming player. But Darin Young was too good for Raymond van Barneveld – and as de Zwaan has not been in top form in the past few months the American could be too much for him as well.

Column #CM79 2020 World Championship – “Fairy-tale of New York”

Monday, December 16, 2019
Column CM79
2020 World Championship – “Fairy-tale of New York”

Well, yesterday was, with a few exceptions, not really a high-class affair. There were only a few averages over 90 and only one over 100 – and that was recorded by a losing player. There were quite a few very one-sided matches as well. But, as always is the case, what will linger in one’s memory are the hard-fought matches and the upsets.

We had one hard-fought match in the afternoon which was won by Kyle Anderson and two in the evening – one which was won by American Danny Baggish and the other lost, only just, by Japan’s Mikuru Suzuki. And there were two more big upsets – as with Ian White and Michael Smith two more seeded players were eliminated from the event. The only player who has survived his second-round match so far is Michael van Gerwen.

Monday is a short day with only an evening session, and it is the Irish day of the event as probably in all four matches an Irish player will stand on stage. The Irish sing some different Christmas songs than the English and the oldest is the Wexford Carol, which is from the Middle Ages and comes – as you’ve probably guessed – from County Wexford. The song was rediscovered last century and published in 1928. Since then it is a must in Ireland at Christmas.

Even more popular is a song of the British folk-punk band, The Pogues, from the year 1987 – “Fairy-tale of New York.” The song is about an Irish migrant who sleeps it off in a prison cell. For 52 weeks the single – a mix of Irish folk and Christmas music – was in the charts. In 2005, it was televised for the first time. Besides The Pogues countless other singers and bands have performed the song, among them Sinead O’Connor, Coldplay and Angelo Branduardi. Under the title “Weihnachtsnaach” there exist a German version with BAP and Nina Hagen as well. Here the link to the original version:   Wouldn’t that be a nice walk-on song?

It could well be an interesting evening tonight. The first Irishman on stage will be Steve Lennon who will play against Callen Rydz, who has been a quite successful BDO youth player. During his play on the PDC Development Tour he has improved a lot. Nevertheless, I think Steve Lennon will be the favourite to win as Rydz has very little experience on the big stage.

Next on will be William O’Connor against Marko Kantele. I see O’Connor as the favourite. He played a good year in 2019 and reached, together with Lennon, the final of the PDC World Cup. Sometimes he lacks consistency, but I feel he is the stronger player in this match.

Third match, third Irishman – Keane Barry. I first saw Barry a few years ago in the youth tournament of the World Masters – he lost in the final, but I was nevertheless very impressed. This year, he won the event and he won the Irish Matchplay – by which he qualified for the world championship and the JDC International Open. During the world championship he will stand on the stage in the final of the JDC world championship and, during the BDO world championship, he will play in the final of the BDO world youth championship against Leighton Bennett. Here on the fourth day of the world championship he will play against Vincent van der Voort. Will he have a real chance? Van der Voort is not an easy opponent and, in contrast to Barry’s other opponents, a well-established rather than upcoming player. It will be a tough match for Barry to be sure.

The last match of the night will be the second-round match. Gary Anderson will play against Brendan Dolan who demolished Nitin Kumar in the first round. Nobody knows how well Anderson will play. He played only a few tournaments this year. Some of his matches were good and it seemed he was back – but often they were followed by weak performances.

Of course, an in-form Anderson will beat Dolan and I hope he will – not because I would like to see Dolan defeated, to be sure that is certainly not the case. it when Dolan is beaten – to be sure not. It’s just that an in-form Anderson would be a gain for the tournament.

Column #CM78 2020 World Championship – “Good King Wenceslas”

Sunday, December 15, 2019
Column CM78
2020 World Championship – “Good King Wenceslas”

As Sunday is another very international day of darts but since both seeded players are from England my Christmas song of the day is “Good King Wenceslas.”

I always wondered how a King Wenceslas made it into an English Christmas song (by the way, this Wenceslas was not really a king; he was only a duke). Readers who know the film Love, Actually will remember that the British prime minister (Hugh Grant) is forced by three small girls to sing the song together with his chauffeur. As an aside – Boris Johnson used a scene from the film in his campaign as well – though he had to admit he had never really seen the complete film.

Well, back to the song. Wenceslas was a Bohemian duke who lived in the 9th century and did a lot to fight poverty in his country. There is no real connection between Wenceslas and Christmas except for the legend that Wenceslas helped a poor peasant on Boxing Day.

In 1850, an English poet wrote the text. For the melody he used an English spring song from the 13th century. It was due to the song’s popularity that Wenceslas was revered not just in Bohemia but in England too. He was the model of a king who got his power from piety and not only by birth right. There were many critical voices who didn’t like the combination of religious poetry and a worldly dance song, but they couldn’t stop the triumph of the song. Love, Actually is not the only English film in which the song is featured. Outside of England it never got as popular.

One doesn’t see kings in the crowd during the darts world championship, but Prince Harry has attended the tournament at Alexandra Palace.

Sunday is yet another long darts day with two sessions – the seeded players will be Ian White in the afternoon and Michael Smith in the evening.

The afternoon will start with Australia against China – Kyle Anderson against Xiaochen Zong. It has not been a great year for Kyle Anderson, but nevertheless I think he will be too much for the young Zong who has limited experience on the big stage.

In the second match Ross Smith will meet Irishman Ciaran Teehan. Smith had a really hard time at the Grand Slam, nothing at all came together. Teehan just qualified by the Development Tour Order of Merit and has not much experience on stage. I predict Smith will be the winner.

The next match will be Brendan Dolan against Nitin Kumar. Kumar played in the world championship last year as well but lost to Jeffrey de Zwaan. I fear he will lose again this year despite Dolan’s inconsistency.

As always, the second-round match will end the session – this time it will be Ian White against Darius Labanauskas who showed a very convincing performance against Matthew Edgar, losing only two legs. Should Labanauskas have a good day he will make White sweat.

The afternoon starts with Aaron Monk facing Jose Justicia. One didn’t see Monk often this year, but he managed to qualify by the Pro Tour Order of Merit. Spaniard Jose Justica had some good results on the Pro Tour as well but Monk is much more at home on the big stage – definitely an advantage. But it is one of the matches where I can’t make out a real favourite.

The next match is difficult for me to predict as well since I’ve never seen American Danny Baggish play and I haven’t seen Andy Boulton recently. So, I will wait and see.

After this, Mikuru Suzuki comes on stage – she played well at the Grand Slam. She will meet James Richardson. Richardson is player who sometimes shows a strong performance but not regularly. During the Grand Slam one could see it is not easy for the men to play against a female player. Should Richardson play one of his great matches Suzuki probably will not be able to beat him. But should he not – Suzuki will have a chance to progress.

The final match of the third day will be Michael Smith against the winner of the Luke Woodhouse vs. Paul Lim match – in other words: Woodhouse. It would be an upset should Smith lose the match, to be sure he will outscore Woodhouse, but it could be his sometimes-shaky doubles will be a problem.

Column #CM77 2020 World Championship – “White Christmas”

Saturday, December 14, 2019
Column CM77
2020 World Championship – “White Christmas”

At this time of year in London one hears Christmas music everywhere. And what one hears is as international and colourful as the world championship. So, I have decided to feature a holiday song for each day I am in London for the tournament. Since today two players from North America will stand at the oche my song of the day is “White Christmas.”  It’s a shame there is not yet a bit of snow except for what you can find in the shop windows of Selfridge’s. I am sure a lot of people would prefer a white Christmas to the wet Christmas with rain that is forecast.

The composer of “White Christmas” was American Irving Berlin – who, unknown to many, was unable to read or write music. So, his secretary Helmy Kresa had to write the song down. From the start Berlin was sure the song would be a success and his chosen singer Bing Crosby was delighted to be selected. On Christmas day in 1941 Crosby sang White Christmas for the first time ever in a radio show.

The following year it was recorded together with other Berlin songs for the film Holiday Inn. However, it did not really fit – the film got into the cinemas in August 1942 and both the film and the song struggled. But in October the song the top position of the pop hit parade chart and for many years thereafter remained among the top 30. It is not quite clear how often “White Christmas” has sold but it is estimated the number is more than 100 million singles in multiple languages. Today it stands uncontested as the most valuable song ever authored.

With Crosby another “White Christmas” film was produced which came into the cinemas in 1954 under the title “White Christmas.” Frank Sinatra recorded the title as well and in 1957 Crosby and Sinatra together sang the song during Sinatra’s TV show. In 1975, the song initiated the evacuation of the US soldiers from Saigon – more evidence of how significant the song is in the culture of the USA.

But I am nevertheless sure neither Matt Campbell nor Darin Young will walk-on to “White Christmas” – though that would be quite a nice idea during the world championship…

The second day of the tournament is the first of many long days of darts to come. There will be two sessions both with three first round – and one second round match at the end of the session. Jermaine Wattimena and Rob Cross will be the two seeded players. We we’ll see several of the international qualifiers.

The afternoon session looks at first view to not likely be as high class as the evening session, but you never know! First, Darius Labanauskas meets Matthew Edgar – we had the same combination last year. Labanauskas played well in the last world championship but after that one didn’t see much of him, though he was rather good on the Nordic and Baltic Tour. Nevertheless, I think he has a better chance to win than Edgar. He defeated him last year which always is an advantage.

After that Ryan Meikle will play against Japan’s Yuki Yamada. I haven’t seen Yamada often, but in his home country he is successful. Ryan Meikle developed quite well during the past year. Were it possible in the world championship I would say this match will end in a draw!

Luke Woodhouse faces Paul Lim is the next match – another one of those contests either player could win. Lim to be sure will again be supported by the crowd and he is, despite his now 65 years, still a force in darts in Asia. A small advantage for Lim – I would say. I am sure we all would love to see him produce a nine-darter!

In the last match of the afternoon Jermaine Wattimena will play against Luke Humphries who on Friday was never in danger against Devon Petersen. It will be an easy match for Wattimena but one he will likely win.

In the evening session we will see two former BDO players and… Raymond van Barneveld.

In the first match Mark McGeeney will play against Canadian Matt Campbell about whom I don’t know anything – only that he was stronger than Jim Long on this year’s CDC Tour. Jim Long last year represented Canada in the world championship and impressed. Campbell could be just as impressive against McGeeney who is far from settled in the PDC, yet.

Next, Jamie Hughes will meet Zoran Lerchbacher. Hughes this year has displayed some magic on stage while Lerchbacher has won very few matches on the Pro Tour. Should Hughes get off to a good start in the match Lerbacher will have no chance at all.

In the third match a Dutchman and an American legend will step to the stage – Raymond van Barneveld competes in his last world championship against Darin Young. This year, Young was once again the dominant player in America, but he has, so far, failed to show the Alexandra Palace fans what he really can do. For van Barneveld it was a very patchy year, but he showed some signs of improvement during the last few months but often he just didn’t get into his stride. We’ll see what will happens…

The last match of the day will be between Rob Cross and Kim Huybrechts (who had to fight hard to beat Geert Nentjes). And well, what you can say about Rob Cross. It was a year with ups and downs for him – he is not very consistent. But you never can write him off and he could well become one of the favourites to win the title. We’ll have to wait and see – this very first match could be crucial.