Author Archives: Dartoid

July 2020 Double Out Shot: Yanet Garcia




Column #589 Johnny

Monday, June 8, 2020
Column 589
Johnny

Mark Twain once described India as a “land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendor and rags, of palaces and hovels… of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps.” Rudyard Kipling wrote of India’s “heat and smells and oils and spices and puffs of temple incense.” The India I experienced was all of this, I suppose. And more. It just wasn’t so damn romantic.

In Bombay I confronted a puzzling, and very troubling, mix of contradictions — a city, they say, that “slams you in the face with heat, spice and dirt and then seduces you with color and sensual pleasure.” I was slammed but I wasn’t seduced. It just wasn’t possible after meeting Johnny.

I was about to hail a taxi when this dirty little boy approached with his sisters begging for money for milk. We struck a quick deal. In return for five cartons of powdered milk Johnny would serve as my guide for the day. After a quick walk to a grocery we hopped into a cab together. I showed Johnny my darts as we sat in the back of the cab and explained what I was looking for. Johnny held them in his hand. I showed him how to aim them and he pretended to throw at an imaginary board. I then tucked them carefully back into their case.

We talked as we cruised the city. I learned that Johnny had no home — that he lived with his family in cardboard boxes in a vacant lot. I learned that his mother was dead and that his father drank and was unemployed. I learned that Johnny hadn’t attended school for years because he had to earn money for food.

We went to the zoo and to the circus. We made our way to the top of a cliff to gaze at the Bombay skyline. We toured the glitzy high-rise buildings at Nariman Point and ate samosas at the five-star Taj Hotel across from the famous Gateway to India monument. We watched snake charmers coax cobras out of their baskets on the waterfront. For hours, perhaps for the longest stretch of time in years, not once did the thought of throwing a dart cross my mind. The same could not be said for Johnny.

As night began to fall Johnny took charge. The taxi driver began to hit the bars, one after another. We’d stop. I’d run in. I’d locate a snooker table and a couple of drunks. I’d dash out. But Johnny was undaunted. He insisted he knew where I could get a game in Bombay.

I found myself at the end of a dark alley. As we approached, Johnny, the taxi driver and me, I could hear Hindi voices and the familiar rhythmic thunking of a game in progress. As we drew close and moved into the dim light, I could not possibly have been more astounded at the sight before me. There, laying in the dust, was a huge, ringed, tree stump. Dangling from it was a knife. And standing about ten feet in front of it were four guys holding more knives. Darts. Bombay style.

My visit to India was brief but special. I observed the contrasts of which Twain wrote. I experienced the exotic sensual pleasures Kipling described long ago. But I also made a friend — a homeless kid with a limited future who reminded me that, sometimes anyway, there’s a little bit more to life than darts.

From the Field,

Dartoid

June 2020 Double Out Shot: Zoe Klopfer




Column #588 Diddling Miss Powell

Sunday, May 24, 2020
Column 588
Diddling Miss Powell

If you’re at all like me the reason you took French in high school was because the teacher was a hot little number with a sexy voice named Miss Powell. Watching Miss Powell scribble cute little verbs on the black board was pretty special to me and my buddies, easily one of the most incredible sights at Michigan’s Flint Central High School in 1969.

And, if you’re at all like me, the reason you can’t speak a word of useful French 51 years later is because you spent your entire high school career making a fool of yourself trying to impress Miss Powell. I remember quite clearly the time I asked her to go to bed with me, politely mind you (s’il-vous-plait) and in proper French, in front of the whole class. I spent that afternoon, one of many, in the principal’s office. If he’d had a dartboard on his wall, I’d have been a pro by the time I turned 18.

It’s not that I learned absolutely nothing in high school French. I just didn’t absorb much of the stuff you need to actually function in a real-life French city. I can say my name (“Je m’appelle Dartoid”) but I can’t say “diddle for middle” – though I imagine if I thought about it a bit I could come up with a phrase that closely resembled “diddle Miss Powell.” Other extremely important phrases like “Where’s the toilet?” and “I’ll have another beer” were either never taught to me or were lost amidst my fascination for cute little verbs years and years ago.

Getting from De Gaulle Airport to Le Tango du Chat (6 rue Ste-Severin), the one and only darts pub listed in Darts Player magazine, is like taking a trip through history. You’ll pass the Arc de Triomphe (which commemorates the victories of the Revolution and of Napoleon), the Eiffel Tower (which up close resembles what a child might construct with a giant erector set), Notre Dame Cathedral and the Sorbonne.

Unfortunately, “getting there” was the only enjoyable part of this first leg of my search for a darts bar in Paris.

Le Tango du Chat has a very nice wooden darts cabinet but when I arrived it was missing a board. My attempts to find out if there might be one set aside in a back room somewhere were met with disdain. I suppose it’s possible the bartender just didn’t want to go to bed with me (“Voulez-vous coucher avec moi, si’l-vous-plait?”) but that’s just about all the French I know, thank you very much Miss Powell. So much for Le Tango du Chat.

So, I headed off to do a little bit of what one is supposed to do in the City of Lights, this center of so much that is chic in the western world. I had a miserable, overpriced lunch at a little restaurant on the Champs Elysees. I stopped by the Louvre to confirm for a friend that Whistler’s portrait of his mother is indeed uglier than the Mona Lisa. I checked out some famous graves – Voltaire’s and Rousseau’s at the Pantheon and Napoleon’s at the gilt-domed Hotel des Invalides military museum.

Eventually, I found my way to a raggedly little bar near the Seine and the Ile de la Cite called the Le Cloitre (19 rue Ste-Jacques). Hung just to left inside the door is a battered up electronic board. I threw a few sloppy games with some guy from Italy and then, fed up, spent the next hour trying to hail a cab back to my hotel. What a city.

They say that one needs a good four days to take in the full sophistication of Paris – it’s shops, it’s chefs, it’s history and romance. Perhaps they’re right. But when it comes to darts, at least in my brief experience, Paris offers even less than I got from Miss Powell.

C’est la vie!

From the Field,

Dartoid

Column #CM87 Corona Darts!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Column CM87
Corona Darts!

I had no idea when I returned home from the UK Open in Minehead how radically in a very short time the darts scene all over the world would change. Well, I had a queasy feeling…

I already had that queasy feeling on my journey to Minehead. But never would I have predicted that the virus would spread so fast and all over the world and that, as a result, all live sport events would be cancelled. No football, no Olympics, no handball, no rugby, cricket, no Tour de France – though that was only postponed, not cancelled – and of course no darts.

First all organisations tried to postpone events, to shift them from one month to the another. But soon it was clear the corona crisis would not be over quickly and it was clear as well all kinds of sport mass gathering events would be the last events which would be allowed to take place again – at least those indoors, because the danger to catch the virus at those events just was too high.

In some ways, based on what we know now about the virus it’s unbelievable that the UK Open or the last Premier League event that took place didn’t lead to a big onset of the disease – or if it did we never heard about it.

So, we were all suddenly stranded at home with a lot of leisure time but no darts to watch… a shocking thought, though perhaps not really the most urgent problem (except of course for all those who earn their living from darts) – but all in all compared to other things not really a disaster.

But I missed the darts!

It seems I was not the only one who missed it – as a solution to the problem was found soon, much sooner to be sure than a solution to the problem of a medication or vaccination against the disease which will take a lot of time and work to solve.

But the dart problem turned out to be solved quite easily and within a limited amount of time.

One of the reasons is that most people have a dartboard at home and most also have some kind of camera – even if it is only a smart phone – and it’s possible to connect our dartboards with our cameras. Don’t ask me much about the technical side of it – though I am fairly well able to install Skype and such things and use them without having any technical knowledge. And so, voila! We can compete from home with other people playing from their homes. Easy, isn’t it?

And so, suddenly everywhere online darts can be found – whether from Target, where one could see a win from reactivated Raymond van Barneveld over reactivated Phil Taylor or Modus Darts with its own league, CDC online matches and the PDC Home Tour.

With the exception of the Barneveld vs. Taylor match I only watch the PDC Home Tour. As it is on at the moment every night for 32 nights there is not much time to watch anything else. It is a simple concept – four Tour Card holders play in round robin format six matches, all six best of nine legs and the winner heads the table and progresses. Well, so far, we don’t know where he progresses to, but I am sure we will be told as soon as the PDC has decided what will happen with the group winners.

Dan Dawson acts as the moderator and he’s doing a good job – in fact, I can’t imagine anybody else doing the job as good as Dan Dawson. That is a great praise from me as I am not generally a fan of Dan Dawson as a darts commentator…

The charm of the concept lies in many of the details – you get to know the more private side of the players; you can see their set-up and parts of their home and nothing is really perfect.

I have learned that a lot of players play on Unicorn boards while most surrounds are from other brands, all kinds of lightings are used, lots play from their kitchen, several from their bedrooms. For me, rather astonishing is the fact that only very few of the “professional players” have their own “darts room” – the practice arrangements are definitely not professional. Scott Waites, for example, practices at home on his landing and every bouncer requires him to run down several stairs to retrieve his darts. Those who practice in the kitchen have, of course, to share the room with the whole family. Some, like the astonishing Carl Wilkinson, don’t practice at all at home – they go to their pub to practice.

You learn a lot about the quality of the internet in the UK as well. It is not always that good – while most of the players from other countries have got quite strong internet connections whether they are down under like Damon Heta or like Krzysztof Kciuk in Poland.

A lot of players find the experience of online darts “nerve racking” – interesting but perhaps attributable to the need to film oneself while you work. Some have a problem performing – as did Peter Wright, who told Dawson he finds it hard to perform because he can’t see his opponent’s body language. Some play the darts of their life online like the before mentioned Carl Wilkinson, until now not successful at all on the PDC Pro Tour, or Austrian Harald Leitinger, new as well on the Pro Tour and until now an unknown quantity in the world of darts. And let’s not forget Luke Woodhouse who even threw a nine-darter.

Some players turn out to be really entertaining like (not surprisingly) Ricky Evans or the slightly weird Matthew Edgar or (my favourite) Steve Beaton.

Sometimes the connection is really bad. The connection for Keegan Brown broke down completely after his first match and the group ended with only three players and a completely different format – not easy for the players involved. The match between Darren Webster, who played in his conservatory, and Bradley Brooks was interrupted when a downpour hit the conservatory.

This PDC Home Tour has turned out to be quite kind of adventure even when on some evenings the most thrilling is the wallpaper in the players bedrooms!

It is a pity some players don’t take part. Gary Anderson for example explained his internet is too poor (from what we’ve seen so far, I tend to believe him). Daryl Gurney shared that to play on his dartboard at home he has to place one foot in the bathroom and he can’t block that room for several hours for the other members of the household (from what we’ve heard and seen so far I tend to believe him as well).

World #1 Michael van Gerwen’s “excuse” is that he has three dogs (well, Damon Heta has three dogs as well). And who will not remember Kai Fan Leung’s cute poodle who watched him play and was even included in the after-match interview – and he has two small children (I think there were quite a lot of players playing with small children) and players for whom there was not much at stake.

Well, the last point is the one I believe in…

I sometimes wonder whether in van Gerwen’s case the real reason might be that he has something to hide… perhaps the wallpaper in his bedroom is pink with small lilac flowers or he has to play in a cold awful tool shed. What a pity we’ll never know…

May 2020 Double Out Shot: Anri Sugihara

Double Out



Double Out

April 2020 Double Out Shot: Larissa Rochefort




Larissa Rochefort