Author Archives: Howie Reed

Column #HR266 Earthquakes, darts and Vegas – Par Uno

Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Column HR266
Earthquakes, darts and Vegas – Par Uno

WOW, what a week!

The Red Socks played the “Yang Ees” in London at the home of West Ham United.  The President of the USA met the “Boss” of North Korea on the DMZ. The Brits invaded Las Vegas.

Las Vegas felt two earthquakes and the SLS (Silly Little Slogan) Hotel and Casino reverted to the much beloved (by darters) name of the Sahara.

Now, if only some dart entrepreneur (calling for Barry Hearn!) would approach the Sahara and persuade them to bring back the old North American Open. Encourage “weekend players” attendance by running singles and doubles (ladies and gents) on Monday and Tuesday (301 double/double). It would be like Christmas in July. In the old days as many as 2,000 players used to attend the North American Open.  But back to reality, at least for the time being.

The four North American Qualifier winners were Leonard Gates (USA), Jeff Smith (Canada), Elliot Milk (USA) and Danny Baggish (USA). The scores were 4-2, 4-3, 4-0 and 4-0. They were joined (by points) on stage for the North American Championship by Gary Mawson (USA), Jim Long (Canada), Shawn Brenneman (Canada) and Darin “Big Daddy” Young (USA). After Q-3 Senior Lopez told the ODC that “Danny Baggish “will win it all.”  This, after Baggish dismantled Chris Lim (who deserved a better fate) 4-0.

Prior to the North American Championship, the 8 Norte Americanos would face the top 7 from the PDC Order of Merit and a kid named Nathan Aspinall. Last year’s North American champ, Jeff Smith, had a chance to beat Peter Wright but missed doubles to lose 6-5. Overall the PDC outscored the North Americans 48-24. There were chances to break on occasions, but the dastardly double seemed to always get in the way (along added with some “dodgy” play by van Gerwen, Price, Smith and Anderson).

Barely an hour after getting trounced by the PDC the North Americans took the stage for the North American Championship.  USA’s Darin Young escaped with a 6-4 win over Canadian Jim Long in a match that was an “I got it you take it” (Big Daddy grabbed it). Leonard Gates, a former minor league baseball player and one hell of a dancer, took out Shawn Brenneman (6-3), Danny Baggish ruled over Elliot Milk (6-2) and defending North American champ (aka NAC) Jeff Smith had little trouble with Gary Mawson (6-2).

Baggish emerged from a slugfest with Leonard Gates (6-5). At one point, Baggish was down 5-3. The comeback was aided by a T40 check.  Jeff Smith won 6-4 over Darin Young.  Baggish was then up 3-0 against Smith on checks of 71, 97 and 82. Smith got off the snyder with a T40 check but still trailed 4-1, then 5-2. With a bull, d16 Smith avoided a 6-3 loss taking advantage of a missed Baggish double. At 5-5 Smith missed a bull as Baggish took a 3-dart out for $10,000, the North American title and a place in the PDC World Championship.

Baggish returns the title to the USA for the first time since 2017 when “Big Chief” Willie Bruguier got it done. In wining, Baggish was as much of a gentleman as was “Chief Willie.  Heck of a 4th of July present for America (which, by the way, the PDC failed to mention).  Boy, talk about carrying a grudge.

More Senior Lopez: “To be the champ you got to beat the champ.” Baggish did.

A little before the events started, the Old Dart Coach told Las Vegas Review Journal star sports columnist, Ron Kantowski, on Thursday, “Watch the young gun Nathan Aspinall – he could win it all. He’s hungry. The rest of these guys are on a paid holiday.”

Interviewing van Gerwen, Kantowski, asked, “What sights have you seen in Las Vegas?” “None,” the Dutchman responded, “this is a business trip. I’m here to work.”  The ODC checked. van Gerwen had been practicing at the Crown & Anchor one of the only great dart venues in Las Vegas.

Practice, practice, practice didn’t do van Gerwen any good as he would exit stage left 8-6 to Michael Smith (on a 128-check). Also, in the interview with Kantowski, van Gerwen said, “Everyone knowns that Michael is weak mentally. I’m strong.” (The score should have been 8-2 for Smith as he shot a miserable 8/24 on doubles which included 7 on two turns.)

The first round was also unkind to “sleepwalking” Gary Anderson as Gerwyn Price sent him packing 8-6.

(As an aside, the following week the World Series of darts moved to Germany where both van Gerwen and Anderson got the boot in the first round. Martin Schindler won 6-5 over van Gerwen and the ever-popular Nico Kurz eliminated Gary Anderson 6-4. Is it an aberration or a glimpse into the future?)

Nathen Aspinall took out #2 Rob Cross as Peter Wright advanced 8-6 over Daryl Gurney.

On Friday, July 5th, Michael Smith reached the final with an 8-4 defeat of Price. Aspinall came from 2 legs down three times, finishing 161,126 and a missed dart to defeat Peter Wright.

The final was a humdinger!

Aspinall took leg 1 in 10-darts. In leg two he had back-to-back T80s but never got an out shot as Smith erased T30. After being level Aspinall got to 4-2 using checks of 70 and 120.  To this point Aspinall had averaged 111.  Smith would answer to draw even a 4-all with outs of T18 and 87.  Aspinall got to 5-4 and then 7-4 on checks of 85 and 80 – closing the deal with tops for the title and £20,000, averaging 107. Afterwards, a very humble and pleasant Aspinall said, ”7 of the best players and me. I won.”

There was an elephant in the room however as there were an inordinate number of bounce outs that neither hit a wire or another dart.  In addition, after just one match the sisal on some boards looked like the players had been tossing hatchets.

On one occasion a double bull shot hit dead center and didn’t go in.

The “almost official PDC story” is that first the darts hit wires or another darts.

The appearance of the sisal suggests a more believable explanation: the players are using darts with knurled points and when a player pulls out the dart sisal comes with it.

The ODC has the solution: ban knurled dart points!

One would guess that this would anger dart manufactures and sponsors.

How bad did the boards get beat up? They retail at anywhere from $75 to $100 dollars but after just one match they were selling for $10.

To borrow from Hall of Fame sportscaster Barry Tompkins, “Who’s a thunk it?”

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR265 The British are coming! (Paul Revere was a loudmouth!)

Friday, June 28, 2019
Column HR265
The British are coming! (Paul Revere was a loudmouth!)

In just days, the PDC invasion of Las Vegas will be in full swing. The Old Dart Coach’s pals and palettes will be there in all their once remembered glory. On the 4th of July (which may be America’s 243rd birthday depending on the ODC’s math, which is questionable) old timers will be wearing either old darts shirts or just grand old red, white and blue.

DK (Dave Kelly) and the ODC have their outfits picked out.

The fact is that while independence was declared on July 2, 1776, it wasn’t until July 4th that Congress approved the final text – and it wasn’t signed (by 56 delegates, not all of whom were present on the day) until August 2nd. Why then, one might reasonably ask, do we celebrate on the 4th of July and not on July 2nd or even August 2nd?

Indeed, in his writings, “John Adams even noted that July 2nd would be remembered in the annals of American history and would be marked with fireworks and celebrations.”

The answer: the final document was dated July 4th – the date of the final text – and just never changed to the actual date of declaration.

In the days leading up to the North American Championships and U.S. Darts Masters starting July 2 at Mandalay Bay, social media has been alive with opinions about “what’s wrong with the ADO.”   Darts in America was even a subject of an unattributed story in the UK’s Guardian Weekly.

The article stated that, “the ADO has 100,000 players and 700 dedicated (players) with total dart players in the USA at 17 million.” The 17 million figure comes from the National Sporting Goods Association. The number is as phony as Elizabeth Warren being an Indian (feather, not dot).

Then we’re told that “the PDC itself is featured on ESPN.”  That of course is untrue.  ESPN does show Cornhole (an ancient Greek sport) so maybe darts is next. The final “pork pie lie” is that US leagues also generally play cricket, which is true but not so much these days with steel darts.

Back to social media, one person posted, “It’s the old timers that wrecked steel darts.” As a certified “OT” the ODC had to answer…

“If you really want to know when the ADO went south look back to the late 1980s.  At a dart tournament in Schaumburg, Illinois, three or four of the ADO executives took a short morning trip to meet with a soft-tip group (American Darters Association – ADA) in Wisconsin run by a former ADO VP, the late Glenn Remick. Remick had brokered a sponsorship with Anheuser-Busch. He made his pitch that his ADA players join the ADO. The ADO executive answered with the equivalent of ‘Go pound salt!’” They reasoned, ‘Why do we need you?’ The rest is history. What was the ADO executives’ motive?  Prue conjecture, although many opinions are correct.”

With entries still open when this was written, the North American Championships have more than 150 entries for each of the four qualifiers. The total North American prize fund is $60,000. That’s real money.  The entries are an increase over the previous year.  This indicates the increased popularity of the event. Heck, it pays more than most ADO tournaments and there’s no cricket. Each stage winner will pocket $2,000 and the runner-up $1,000. The 8 that make the stage are assured at least $1,250 with the winner taking home $10,000. If you make it to the top 128 in any qualifier you get $100, which is the entry fee for each event.

It gets better for the top 8 Norte Americanos as playing in the U.S Masters assures them of $1,250 even if they lose first round against the PDC professionals. The U.S. Masters winner gets $20,000.  Winner-winner chicken dinner.

Included on the entry list is someone who qualifiers as an old timer – and who is one hell of a dart player. Last July, Larry Butler suffered a heart attack shortly after competition in the PDC World Cup. Recovery has been difficult but that hasn’t deterred Butler.  Facing adversity and overcoming is in his DNA. His competitive spirit has never been questioned. Joining him will be his best friend, fellow Dayton resident Timmy “The Stache” Nicoll. One of America’s top players for several years, in late June Nicoll was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Recently released from the hospital, he begins his toughest fight on July 17 when he begins chemotherapy.  Expect to see a lot of “staches” in the crowd at Mandalay Bay.

With more than 150 entries there are more well-known names than this column has space for.  Notable though are former three-time world champion John Part joined by fellow “hockey puck fans” father-and-son duo Dan Lauby and Danny Lauby. Toss in Chuck Puleo, last year’s winner Jeff Smith, Dawson Murschell and America’s aces Jim Widmayer, Roger Carter and Chris “The Great” White.

Yeah, the ODC knows that White is Canadian. The ODC traded the rights to White for not posting nasty comments on Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. That plus the fact that White lives in the Peoples Republic of California which is also known as “Más alto de California.”

The top 8 have a high hill to climb when they face last year’s winner Gary Anderson, current world champ Michael van Gerwen, Rob Cross, Daryl “The Chin” Gurney, Peter “Snake Bite” Wright, Gerwyn Price, Michael Smith and upcoming star Nathan Aspinall. All but Anderson and Cross have taken a pass on the 2019 Czech Darts Open the penultimate week before the Las Vegas invasion.

There’s always one upset against the professionals. Well, sometimes. Most would point to Aspinall as the weak link in the PDC chain. The ODC’s leans toward either Daryl Gurney, Peter Wright or Michael Smith. All have at times shown the “ICGAS” attitude. Anderson and van Gerwen will approach Las Vegas as a well-paid exhibition while for Aspinall this is a big deal with him coming loaded for North American hides.

A couple final notes…

The 4th of July means red, white and blue. That’s an order, not an option – got that Seaman Deane?

In one of her books mystery writer Tami Hoag has a woman saying, “Men, you can’t live with ’em and you can’t open a pickle jar without them.”  The pickle reference is for pal Timmy Nicoll as he beats the hell out of cancer, just like he does the treble 20.

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR264 The reason the UK celebrates July 4th!

Thursday, June 20, 2019
Column HR264
The reason the UK celebrates July 4th!

As the world is well aware, the Old Dart Coach is an even tempered, mild mannered person never known to fly off the handle. Rumors have him still in the running for this year’s Mother Teresa Award. He likes, in no particular order, college football, most all sports, darts and Popeye’s Chicken on Tuesdays.

And no, cricket isn’t a sport whether with a stick and ball or a set of darts.

The ODC especially likes big time darts. In the past, that meant the WDF World Cup and the Pacific Cup. Then, along came the PDC and their World Cup and yearly visits to the USA.  Nation against nation. That’s good stuff, Maynard.

What sets him off like the fire alarm when his ex-spouse was cooking is when those that write about an event display either their prejudice, stupidity or a combination thereof.  It goes without saying that the ODC issued himself a pass to those rules.

With a week gone since the PDC World Cup the ODC is still feeling the effects of the after-show hangover. Not from aiming fluid or group tighter but from the ending of an exciting event. The tournament was a living and breathing world within its own unique universe. There was no outside world. The event was all consuming.

The ODC watched every minute. For this reason, he got the “RA” when a cretin wrote, I still think from a viewer’s point it is a worthless comp.  The ODC doesn’t share that opinion nor do others that followed each day (although in fairness some of the UK fans may have dumped out after England got their tails snipped by the Republic of Ireland 2-0 in the second round).

The cretin continued: Another 2-bit, non-ranking, glorified expo stared this week, in the World Cup, and normally this cluster***k of an event would or should not warrant more than a line on here.  He rambled on: Yes, I know its Mickey Mouse s**t and the so-called top players don’t give a flying f***.

Of the 32 teams only one team showed up as if they were attending a Saturday afternoon shoot at Mickey’s Bar and Grill, mostly bar.  The #6 Northern Ireland pair of Daryl Gurney and Brendan Dolan were a disgrace not only to their country but to dart players everywhere. Dolan showed up as if he’d slept in the gutter after a losing battle with Mr. Guinness – wearing dirty saggy brown pants, scuffed shoes and a dart shirt that barely covered his ever-expanding belly. Daryl Gurney appeared as if he didn’t give a “monkeys.”  But then again, he always looks like that.  Oh yes, PDC: how about getting some decent looking dart shirts for your premier event.

The point?  It’s nation against nation.  It’s about Singapore (the “Not Brothers Lim”) upsetting #3 Wales (Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton) in the first round… the Republic of Ireland (Steve Lennon and William O’Connor) eliminating #1 England (Rob Cross and Michael Smith) 2-0… or #5 Australia or #4 Netherlands to reach the finals.

The dolt does have one rather humorous line when he refers to England’s Michael Smith as, the guy with more chins than a Chinese phonebook.  That’s a keeper.

Then he asks, “Why the ***k Barry Hearn is picking one St. Helens choker (Michael Smith) after the next to represent England in the world cup is f***ing beyond me.

Knowledge is also a problem it seems. The players were selected by their Order of Merit ranking, local country qualifying or (in North America) via the CDC Order of Merit.  Words of advice to all especially the not named typist: “If you’re 6 rolls short of a baker’s dozen it’s best to shut up and not let anyone know.”

The next big PDC event is the annual invasion of Las Vegas for the World Series of Darts.  It’ll run July 2-5 at the Mandalay Bay Resort/Casino/Shooting Gallery. Players from North America will have four qualifiers on July 2-3 with 8 players heading to stage play in the US Dart Masters on July 4-5.

The PDC is sending its best 7 in former world champion and reigning US Darts Master champ Gary Anderson, current world champion Michael van Gerwen, former world champ Rob Cross, Daryl “The Chin” Gurney, Peter “Snake Bite” Wright, Gerwyn Price and Michael Smith.

One not well-known name joins the invaders…

Nathan Aspinall comes in with a strong resume including the semifinals in the world championship where along the way he defeated Gerwyn Price, Kyle Anderson, Devon Petersen and Brendan Dolan before losing 6-3 to Michael Smith.  He followed that up with a victory in the UK Open.  In that win he defeated former world champ Rob Cross with a T70 checkout to turn out the lights.

The US Dart Masters has also been a stopping place for a reunion for many darts’ players from the Golden Age of U.S. Darts.  It’s a time to tell war stories about days gone by, enjoy a libation, renew acquaintances and maybe meet some new folks.

Last year, the ODC met a lady from Iowa. She did tequila shots with an attorney from San Diego dressed like Big Bird who didn’t know or care for darts but showed up for the party. This year should the attorney from San Diego fail to show up, the ODC will be doing the shots with the lady from Iowa.

What could that lead to? Well, last year on nothing but “aiming fluid” (aka “Golden Elixir”) someone snapped a picture of the old dart coach.

No telling where Tequila could lead.

The ODC was going to float the idea that maybe the old-timers might want to wear their old darts shirts on Friday, July 4 when the 8 North Americans take the stage to battle for the North American Championship and an invite to the 2019/2020 William Hill Championships. It would be especially fitting for those that have represented the USA to wear their shirts as July 4th is our Independence Day. If 10 people agree count the ODC in.

Each year at this time of year the ODC quotes the late, great Barry Twomlow. On a July 4th past while he and the ODC were sharing a pint or 2 the ODC asked, “Is the 4th of July a big holiday in England?”

Twomlow answered, “One of our biggest.”

“Really?”

“Absolutely. We celebrate getting rid of the likes of you.”

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR263 BetVictor PDC World Cup of Darts – Final Day

Sunday, June 9, 2019
Column HR263
BetVictor PDC World Cup of Darts – Final Day

The final day promised much and delivered. It was a day to remember!

Quarter-finals (format: two singles best of 7-501. If tied, doubles best of 7-501. First to 2 points advances to the semi-finals)

The quarter finals saw another seed sent home – Australia, the #8. That left only two seeds remaining. The strategy of playing the number two player first backfired for Austria. Playing Zoran Lerchbache, he lost. In the doubles lead off he played equally as bad.  It was too much to overcome. Canada may have raised a controversy – pronounced CON TRAY VA SEA by the Brits that refuse to believe that us Yanks have improved the language – with the exclusion of John Part from their team. Jim Long was nervous from the start losing his singles, that was there for the taking, to Jermaine Wattimena. Long did provide a light-hearted moment when left 5. He did the 3, stepped back and laugh with the crowd then coolly nailed the double 1.   

Japan 2-0 over New Zealand:  Japan led from start to finish as New Zealand’s #1 Cody Harris was sent packing. Japan will have to improve on doubles when they face Scotland in the semis. 

Recap:

Japan 2-0 (New Zealand)

Seigo Asada 4-1 over Cody Harris.

Haruki Muramatsu 4-3 over Haupai Puha

#2 Scotland 2-0 over Belgium: Workman like, especially Peter Wright, when he found himself down 2-1. He put together a pair of 11 darters for the 4-2 win and a 110 average.

Recap:

#2 Scotland 2-0 (Belgium)

Gary Anderson 4-3 over. Kim Huybrechts

Peter Wright4-2 over Dimitri Van den Bergh

Republic of Ireland 2-1 over #8 Austria:  Steve Lennon leading off for the Republic of Ireland after falling behind nil-1, leveled and then added a 106 check for 2-1 up. He never relinquished the lead winning 4-1. The Mensur Suljovic vs. William O’Connor singles promised to be a barnburner. It wasn’t as the 115 average of yesterday’s William O’Connor turned into the 85+ O’Connor.  This was the first quarter finals match to go to doubles. O’Conner who was horrid in losing his singles found redemption as he took all 4 outs in a 4-0 route over #8 Austria

Recap:  

Republic of Ireland 2-1 (Austria)

Steve Lennon 4-1 over Zoran Lerchbache

Mensur Suljovic 4-0 over William O’Connor

Doubles: Republic 4-1 (Austria)

#4 Netherlands 2-1 over Canada: Michael van Gerwen jumped out to a 3-1 lead that he couldn’t hold as Dawson Murschell came back for the 4-3 win.  van Gerwen was 3 for 22 on doubles. Jim Long laid an egg in his match against Jermaine Wattimena – but he had his chance to hatch it.  Down 2-1 and 3-1 he took 96 to get time 3-2, then missed 3 to extend the game losing 4-2.  The doubles was all Netherlands.

Recap:

Netherlands 2-1 (Canada)

Dawson Murschell 4-3 over. Michael van Gerwen

Jermaine Wattimena 4-2 over Jim Long

Doubles: Netherlands 4-2

Semi-finals (format the same: two singles best of 7-501. If tied, doubles best of 7-501. First to 2 points advances to the final)

#2 Scotland 2-0 over Japan: Gary Anderson led off for Scotland like the 1/6 favorite he was. Then at 3-0 Asada took out 127 which he followed with 48 to narrow it to 3-2. Granted, he got his shot at 48 after Anderson on 105 went 25, double tops and saw his third dart caress the double top dart and hit the d1. Peter Wright was workmanlike in disposing of Haruki Muramatsu 4-1.

Recap:

#2 Scotland 2-0 (Japan)

Gary Anderson 4-2 over Seigo Asada

Peter Wright 4-1 over Haruki Muramatsu

Republic of Ireland 3-1 over #4 Netherlands: Michael van Gerwen, who sometimes plays like a human, struggled to beat Steve Lennon. He did have a 136 check in leg 1. If the Netherlands gets to the final van Gerwen will have to play like van Gerwen.  The 115 average of William O’Connor returned as he had an easy time beating Jermaine Wattimena which included a 13-darter. “Whoa Nelly!,” what an ass-kicking the Republic of Ireland laid on the Netherlands in the doubles!  Steve Lennon (averaged 109) and was brilliant all day, took out 131, 128 and set up William O’Conner with T35 to leave 40 which he erased to win the match. Bye-bye to the 4th seed.

Recap:

Ireland 3-1 (the Netherlands)

Michael vs Gerwen 4-3 over Steve Lennon

William O’Connor 4-1 over Jermaine Wattimena

Doubles: Ireland 4-0

The Final (format: 2 singles best of 7-501. Then, a doubles best of 7-501. If no team reaches 3 points then reverse singles until a team gets 3 points) 

#2 Scotland 3-1 over the Republic of Ireland: So far, Cinderella’s shoe seemed to fit the lads from Ireland. Steve Lennon continued his great play by beating Gary Anderson 4-2. Anderson’s 2 wining legs were both 85 – 15, triple 20 and d5.  Peter Wright took advantage of O’Connor missing 2 that would had given him a 3-2 lead. At 3-2 Wright finished it with a 13-darter. Scotland won a run-away doubles 4-0. It was a team effort as Peter Wright took 3 outs with Gary Anderson finishing it off it a 76 check. Just a win away – a reverse win for Peter Wright over Steve Lennon and Scotland would claim the World Cup. And so it was: Peter Wright with a 4-1 victory over Steve Lennon gave Scotland their first World Cup.

Recap: Scotland 3-1 (Republic of Ireland)

Steve Lennon 4-2 over Gary Anderson

Peter Wright 4-2 over William O’Connor

Doubles: Scotland 4-0

Peter Wright 4-1 over Steve Lennon

FINAL thoughts:  The Republic of Ireland took out #1 seed England and #4 Netherlands. They did GREAT.  But they ran into a Scotland team that rose to the occasion.  The cream is always on top. For the first time in World Cup history the name on the trophy won’t be either England or the Netherlands. Not only does Scotland get their name on the trophy but each player banks a neat £35,000. The lads from the Republic of Ireland can buy lots of Guinness as each player gets £20,000.

The PDC does a great job of tweaking the World Cup to make it better. Walk on girls would be a plus.  Want to bet that next year’s tweak will include the addition of a female to the teams? Will that make it better?

Shirley, you jest!

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR262 BetVictor PDC World Cup of Darts – Day Three

Saturday, June 8, 2019
Column HR262
BetVictor PDC World Cup of Darts – Day Three

As the Old Dart Coach predicted England went out without firing a shot. The Republic of Ireland with William O’Conner averaging 115 advanced to the quarter finals – O’Conner took out Rob Cross 4-3.

For the USA it was another disappointing World Cup; they did nothing and went down to 2-0 to Austria.

North America’s hopes now rest with “Oh, Canada” as they took both singles 4-3 to move to the quarter finals tomorrow.

Singapore had a disappointing showing just two days after eliminating Wales.

Afternoon Session (2 singles (if tied at 1, then a doubles – best of 7-501 decider)

New Zealand 2-1 over South Africa:  South Africa played their second player first. Kiwi Cody Harris romped against Vernon Bouwers* 4-1. That left it up to #1 Devin Peterson to get a win over Kiwi Haupai Puha* to send it to the doubles. Captian Dancing Devin went through Haupai Puha like the wind off the Serengeti winning 4-2 which set up the doubles decider. With Bouwers going first SA* was always in the hole. New Zealand wins and moves on to play Japan.

Recap:

New Zealand 2-1 (South Africa)

Singles One: Cody Harris 4-0 over Vernon Bouwers

Singles Two: Devon Petersen 4-0 over Haupai Puha

Doubles: New Zealand 4-2 South Africa

Japan 2-0 over Singapore: Japan wins the battle for Southeast Asia supremacy, almost without a fight. Japan’s Seigo Asada* using 12 match darts in the final leg won 4-3.  Asada, with 3-T80s, was cruising along, up 2-1, when Paul Lim took out T60 to level. Lim would go up 3-2 but then lose the scoring touch in a very “un Lim” way.  With the darts Harith Lim would win the opening leg.  Haruki Muramatsu was a scoring machine (3-T80s) winning 4-2. Japan to play New Zealand in the quarters.

Recap:

Japan 2-0 (Singapore)

Singles One: Seigo Asada 4-3 over Paul Lim

Singles Two: Haruki Muramatsu 4-2 over Harith Lim

#2 Scotland 2-0 over Sweden:   Gary Anderson led off against farewell player Magnus Caris*.  A 4-0 win for the slimed down Anderson, two stones lighter, who was hitting on all cylinders. A sketchy Peter Wright beat Dennis Nilsson 4-2. Scotland to play Belgium next.

Recap:

#2 Scotland 2-0 (Sweden)

Singles One: Gary Anderson 4-0 over Magnus Caris

Singles Two: Peter Wright 4-2 over Dennis Nilsson

#7 Belgium 2-0 over Germany: Germany had he hometown fans rocking, rolling, drinking and singing. After the match they were mostly drinking, and silent.  Kim Huybrechts faced Germany’s Martin Schindler. “O Nelly” what a match!  At 2-2 Schindler used a pair of T80s for 3-2. He started the next leg T80, T20 but squandered it, losing. At 3-3 Schindler squandered 5 match darts allowing Huybrechts to hit double 5 for the 4-3 win. Germany’s Max Hopp needed a win to advance against Dimitri Van den Bergh. It was a slaughter as Van den Berg laid a 4-zip whipping on Hopp. Down 3-nil, Hopp finally hit a T40 which Van den Burg answered with T80, T34, T39 and out. Belgium will play the Netherlands next in the quarters.

Recap:

#7 Belgium 2-0 (Germany)

Singles One: Kim Huybrechts over 4-3 Martin Schindler

Singles Two: Dimitri Van den Bergh 4-0 over Max Hopp

Evening session

Canada 2-0 over #5 Australia:  Canada’s 23-year-old Dawson Murschell caught Simon Whitlock doing a “walkabout” beating him 4-3. Two of Whitlock’s legs came with 126 checks while Murschell was looking at a double.  Jim Long sent Canada to the quarter finals in a scratchy game defeating Kyle Anderson 4-3. Both players had match darts but Long’s double 5 did the job. Canada next meets #1 Netherlands.

Recap:

Canada 2-0 (#5 Australia)

Dawson Murschell 4-3 over Simon Whitlock

Jim Long 4-3 over Kyle Anderson

#8 Austria 2-0 over the USA: Zoran Lerchbacher opened against Darin Young. It was a finger painting by a 3-year-old – NO style points but Lerchbacher notched the win 4-1. One of the TV commentators mentioned that Mensur Suljovic must have had a table booked for the top of the hour.  Suljovic averaged 114. He went through Chuck Puleo like corn through a seagull.  Puleo didn’t play badly; in fact he played fine – never missed a double abeit he never got to one. Austria will now take on the Cinderella team from the Republic of Ireland.

Recap:

#8 Austria 2-0 (USA)

Zoran Lerchbacher 4-1 over Darin Young

Mensur Suljovic 4-0 over Chuck Puleo

Republic of Ireland 2-0 over #1 England:  A nervous Michael Smith battled but got no breaks from the board. Tied at 3 against Steve Lennon he wanted 82 when the outer bull rejected two darts.  Steve Lennon took advantage for the 4-3 win. William O’Conner, playing maybe the greatest darts of his life, dismantled world #2 Rob Cross 4-1. O’Conner had 4 T80s in 5 legs. First time the Republic of Ireland gets to the semifinals. They will face Austria.

Recap:

Republic of Ireland 2-0 (#1 England)

Steve Lennon 4-3 over Michael Smith

William O’Conner 4-3 over Rob Cross

#4 Netherlands 2-0 over Poland:  Michael van Gerwen had all he could handle with Krzysztof Ratajski. Tied at 2, MvG took out 123 for his first lead. He finished it with a 138 to leave 40 which he erased for the win. It wasn’t vintage van Gerwen but good enough. Tied at 1, Poland’s Tytus Kanik opened with T80, T80 as Jermaine Wattimena sat on 284. When Kanik missed 8 at the double Wattimena stole the leg. “The fat lady was singing.” Netherlands now meets the surprising team from the Great North.

Recap:

#4 Netherlands 2-0 (Poland)

Michael van Gerwen 4-2 over Krzyszt Ratajski

Jermaine Wattimena 4-1 over Tytus Kanik

Tomorrow – the first session (4:00 a.m. west coast and 7:00 a.m. east coast) will be the semifinals with the same format:

New Zealand vs. Japan:  As well as Japan can score, they have a good chance to send the Kiwi’s packing.

#2 Scotland should make short work of Belgium although Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts is playing well. But the team of Anderson and Wright should be too much.

#4 Netherland vs. Canada. Canada plays well but Jim Long has those nervous moments and the Netherlands can take advantage of them. Netherland into the finals.

#8 Austria vs. the Republic of Ireland. Austria will be favored but look for the upset.

Evening Session (10:00 a.m. west coast and 1:00 p.m. east coast)

The finals will be played as two best of seven leg 501 singles matches, with both nations nominating the order in which their players play the first two matches, followed by a best of seven legs 501 doubles match. If no team reaches 3 points, then singles matches will be reversed and played again.

Take #2 Scotland and #4 Netherlands to meet in the finals…

…with the Netherlands coming out on top.

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR261 BetVictor PDC World Cup of Darts – Day Two

Friday, June 7, 2019
Column HR261
BetVictor PDC World Cup of Darts – Day Two

Today saw the end of round one.

The leisurely pace now quickens as all reaming teams see action tomorrow. The format changes from doubles only to singles, and doubles if necessary. We’re told the format change will be fairer for the really good players but that remains to be seen.  Day 1 saw seeds Northern Ireland and Wales exit stage right.  Today’s play was all chalk although there was a chance for an upset with both Austria and Australia vulnerable.

Tomorrow, teams will play two singles (best of 7), each worth a point. If tied, a doubles, best of 7-501 will be the decider.

A shirtless, tieless John McDonald – how casual – introduced the team from the USA at 10:13 a.m. to get the Friday party started.

First round Par Duex (favored team in BOLD type, winner of the bull designated with an asterisk): 

USA – 5* vs. China – 1. Doubles is a team event. The first 4 legs Darin Young played alone. In those legs the USA built a 3-1 lead with Young hitting all doubles and scoring (2 T40s, 2 T37s and a T34).  Chuck Puleo shook off the nerves to toss a neat 90 to leave 32 which Young took for 4-1. Puleo then hit the winning double after Young left him 6. USA will face Austria.

Canada – 5* 5 vs. Italy – 3. By far the best match so far. Both teams averaged over 90 with Canada at 97 and Italy 95. Dawson Murschell and Jim Long clicked like controversy and Canadian PM Justin Pierre James Trudeau.  They’ll face Australia.

Poland – 5* vs. Czech Republic -1. Poland jumped to a 3-nil lead, then 4-1 when Czech Republic’s Karel Sedlacek took T60 to narrow it to 4-2. The rest is history. The winning leg was a 14-darter. Poland will face Netherlands next.

Republic of Ireland –5* vs. Greece – 1. William O’Connor did it all for Ireland in a win that wasn’t as close as the score. Two legs were won on d1 and d2. Greece’s Ioannis Selachoglou throws the worst looking darts since the ODC hung ’em up, which was about 10 years after he should have. O’Conner asked if previous World Cup experience helped. “Not a bit. I was as nervous as my first time.” Next up England.

#1 England – 5* vs. Philippines – 2. England had an easy win, but they’ll be in deep trouble if have to play a doubles as the score is misleading. For a #1 seed they weren’t impressive. The Philippines Noel Malicdemt had a pair of T80’s. Next up for England is the Republic of Ireland.

#8 Austria – 5* vs. Russia – 3. Austria made a comeback from 3-1 down taking the next four legs but they needed some help. At 3-1 Russia had 2 darts for the leg. At 3-2 they had 3 darts for the leg. The friendly giant Mensur Suljovic opened with a T80 and closed it with double 16.  Austria plays the USA next.

#5 Australia – 5* vs. Finland – 4. This was a case of, “I got it, you take it.”  Up 2-1, Australia missed 5 darts for 3-1. It was an okay performance. Australia’s Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson will have to step it up against Canada.

#4Netherlands – 5 vs. Spain – 0*. Spain won the bull. Netherlands won the leg with a 108 finish by   Jermaine Wattimena. The game was capped when MvG took 82, bull and d16. By far the best performance of the year. They will destroy Poland tomorrow night.

Second Round (Saturday) morning matches (favored team in BOLD type):

Singapore and Japan will battle for Southeast Asia supremacy. The players are well acquainted with each other as they’re all top-notch soft-point players. Look for this one to go to the tie breaker where Singapore should prevail as the Japanese team didn’t set up their outs well in first round.

New Zealand vs. South Africa. Have to go with New Zealand here as Cody Harris did the heavy lifting while Haupai Puha was sure and steady. Love South Africa’s Dancing Devon Petersen but he can’t do it alone. Partner Vernon Bouwers left Peterson in some bad spots with his failure to count. He scored but couldn’t finish. See the Kiwi’s moving on 2 – nil.

#7 Belgium against the home team Germany.  This is a pick ’em but leaning towards the guys in lederhosens. Max Hopp and Martin Schindler should have the edge if it goes to a tiebreaker which I’m sure it will.  Kim Huybrechts is playing well with budding super-star Dimitri Van den Bergh. Huybrechts will to have to repeat his opening round play if Belgium is to move on.

#2 Scotland and Sweden should be a 2-0 score. Both Gary Anderson and Peter Wright did nothing wrong in their 5-nil win over Denmark.  They are just cruising. Would like to see Magnus Caris have a great game in his farewell appearance as a professional dart player.  He’s a credit to the game, himself and his country.

Second round (Saturday) “afternoon” matches (10:00 a.m. west coast, 1:00 p.m. east coast):

#8 Austria (Mensur Suljovic and Zoran Lerchbacher) vs. USA (Darin Young and Chuck Puleo). If Mensur Suljovic plays as he did and Lerchbacher fills in the gap they should win. Be interesting to see if USA puts up Puleo first to face Suljovic to force a doubles decider.

#5 Australia (Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson) vs. Canada (Dawson Murschell and Jim Long). This could be a toss-up as Canada won’t let Australia off the hook should they falter – as Simon Whitlock sometime gets the “walkabouts.” If it goes to double take the Maple Leaf team.

#4 Netherlands (Michael van Gerwen and Jermaine Wattimena vs. Poland (Krzysztof Ratajski and Tytus Kanik). This will be a blow out. Take the Netherlands for a 2-0 win.

#1 England (Rob Cross and Michael Smith vs. the Republic of Ireland (Steve Lennon and William O’Connor). Here’s another that could be a nail-biter. The doubts about Michael Smith being off form didn’t show up in their first match. England will survive.

FYI… “Hey Baby” was sung 9 times today.

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR260 BetVictor PDC World Cup of Darts – Day One

Thursday, June 6, 2019
Column HR260
BetVictor PDC World Cup of Darts – Day One

When the sun rose this morning in Hamburg, Germany, at 5:29 a.m. the odds were good that few if any of the 2 million-plus metropolitan area population knew or even cared that in just 15 hours the PDC World Cup X would begin. On the other hand, it’s a good bet that the 64 darters playing for country and £350,000 (in USD that’s $444,946 and an all-important 40 cents) were aware and ready to toe the line.

It was cloudy all day but when the first dart was thrown 8 teams would find sunshine inside the Barclaycard Arena and move on to round 2.

This half of the draw opened up like a service girl on Saturday night in a port of call with the #3 seed (Wales) and #6 (Northern Ireland) out.  Singapore and South Africa stole the show while Scotland was the most impressive. Northern Ireland was a disgrace – they looked like they didn’t want to be there.

Below, the favored team is listed in BOLD type. In addition, the winner of the bull receives an asterisk. Why? Two reasons: in the “DK World Cup Pool” the bull is important just as in darts and writing about darts. The more bull the better.

First Round Par Uno:

Japan – 5 vs. Gibraltar – 4*: The match went with the darts until Japan broke in the 5th. They held to take a 4-2 lead.  Gibraltar’s Anthony evened things at 4 with a pair of double tops. In the decider Gibraltar’s Dyson Parody tossed T04 to leave 42.  Seigo Asada erased 104 to give Japan the win. They will meet Singapore in round 2 for Asian supremacy.

South Africa5 vs. #6 Northern Ireland – 4*:  Dancing Devon Petersen was magnificent – in 9 legs he had 7 T40s and a T80. Forget that South Africa missed 19 darts at a double. Peterson hit the d16 for the win, which is all that counts. Northern Ireland’s Daryl Gurney and Brendan Dolan were horrid. They played as if they didn’t care. They’re out. Meanwhile, South Africa will meet New Zealand.

New Zealand – 5 vs. Lithuania – 1*: Cody Harris, a Kiwi who’s been playing the Challenge Tour in England took all 5 doubles to finish off Lithuania. New Zealand will meet South Africa in round 2.

#7 Belgium – 5* vs. Hong Kong – 1: When Hong Kong busted 9 trailing 3-1 with the darts Belgium took control.  At 4-1 it was Dimitri Van den Bergh who applied the dagger with a T80 and then a T36 out.  Belgium reached the finals in 2013 and will now face Germany in the round of 16.

Sweden – 5 vs. Brazil – 1*: Brazil started the match with a 13-darter with Diogo Portela tossing T80, T40 and double tops. Then, the finishing of Dennis Nilsson got Sweden to 3-1 with partner Magnus Caris taking the final two. Hold the Caris retirement party. When asked he said, “I’ll retire Sunday.”

Singapore – 5* vs. Wales – 3: In 2017, when Paul and Harith Lim defeated Scotland 5-2 it was called the Frankfurt New Chinese Takeout. Now in 2019, let’s call it the Hamburg New Chinese Takeout as they eliminated Wales 5-3. Paul Lim played great as Harith overcame a couple of missed doubles to hit the winner on the third dart. They meet Japan in the next round.

Germany – 5 vs. Hungary – 1*: The crowd came alive when the home folks laid a proper AK on Hungry.  They celebrated by singing “Hay Baby.” It doesn’t get any better than that. Hungary could take some solace as they won the bull.  Germany will face Belgium in round 2.

#2 Scotland – 5* vs. Denmark – 0: One of the questions entering play was “How is Gary Anderson going to play after being away from competitive darts?” Then it was, “Is Peter Wright going to regain his form?” Both questions were answered with a resounding YES.

Play continues tomorrow on the other side of the draw as round 1 comes to a close. America opens it up with a match against China.  A win and they’ll face either Austria or Russia. Canada should be favored against Italy with a win pitting them against Australia.

The first match is at 10:00 a.m. on the west coast and 1:00 p.m. on the east coast.

First round Par Duex – Friday (favored team in BOLD):

USA (Darin Young and Chuck Puleo) vs. China (Xiaochen Zong and Yuajun Liu – Liu who, was a member of the 2016 and 2017 WC teams, replaces Qingyu Zhan who could not attend due to passport issues)

Canada (Dawson Murschell and Jim Long) vs. Italy (Andrea Micheletti and Stefano Tomassetti

Poland (Krzysztof Ratajski and Tytus Kanik) vs. Czech Republic (Pavel Jirkal and Karel Sedlacek)

Republic of Ireland (Steve Lennon and William O’Connor vs. Greece (John Michael and Ioannis Selachoglou)

#1 England (Rob Cross and Michael Smith) vs Philippines (Lourence Ilagan and Noel Malicdem)

#8 Austria (Mensur Suljovic and Zoran Lerchbacher) Vs. Russia (Boris Koltsov and Aleksei Kadochnikov)

#5 Australia (Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson vs. Finland (Marko Kantele and Kim Viljanen)

#4 Netherlands (Michael van Gerwen and Jermaine Wattimena vs. Spain (Cristo Reyes and Toni Alcinas)

Stay thirsty my friends.