Author Archives: Howie Reed

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.

Column #HR259 It’s time again for the BetVictor PDC World Cup of Darts!

Thursday, May 30, 2019
Column HR259
It’s time again for the BetVictor PDC World Cup of Darts!

Have you noticed that none of the wagering sites have female or transgender names? To be fair, shouldn’t there be a “The BetPickles” or “BetBruce/Caitlyn” or even just a “BetVictor/Victoria” World Cup? Walk-on girls were dumped in the name of political correctness. Is it not time for darts to really take the high ground?

Michael van Gerwen proved during the Premier League final that he’s the hegemony that sits atop the darting world. In the Premier League finals, he built a 5-1 lead but then Rob Cross answered back with legs of 13,12 and 14 to draw within one.  That’s as close as Cross would get, losing 11-5. van Gerwen’s fifth PL Championship was worth £250,000.  Ka-ching!

Ivan “Sparkling Diamond” White made it his fourth European final in a row, this time besting van Gerwen 8-7 to win the Dutch Masters. van Gerwen was attempting to win the title for the sixth time. To state the obvious, “White enjoyed his spring in Europe with 4 finals and 2 wins.”  Watching the event one of the Commentators stated, “Sometimes it’s not how you throw the dart but where it lands.”  Moron. It never matters how you throw the dart and always matters where it lands. In darts the end does justify the means.

Here in the Colonies old timers (geezers and geezettes) used to celebrate Memorial weekend in Dallas at a big tournament. Now, the machine guys have taken over with Bullshooter as the only event on the schedule. This year, in the national competition Canada beat the USA 4-0.  Congratulations to the Canadian team of Jayson Barlow, Dave Cameron, Adam Stella, Jeremiah Millar, Jason Rokerand and Corey Tkach.

PDC WORLD CUP X is scheduled June 6-9 in Hamburg, Germany. The total prize fund is £350,000 with £70,000 to the winners.  Of the 32 teams 8 have been seeded. They are England (1), Scotland (2), Wales (3), Netherlands (4), Australia (5), Northern Ireland (6), Belgium (7) and Austria (8). At least one of them will fall in round one. It’s been that way since 2016. The opening round is all doubles best of 9, a format that cries “upset!”

This year, the ODC’s predicting that Russia will defeat the #8 seed Austria as at the last World Cup the same pair, Mensur Suljovic and Zoran Lerchbacher, went out 5-4 to Japan.

Both Hong Kong guys are great machine players with Royden Lam maybe the second-best Asian combo (machine/steel) player behind Paul “The Legend” Lim.

Both the #3 (Wales – Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton) and #6 (Northern Ireland – Daryl Gurney and Brendan Dolan) could find themselves on the precipice of elimination.  Both had good draws last year, not so this year. The Shamrock guys get “Dancing” Devon Petersen and Vernon Bouwers from South Africa.  Wales has to beat a pair of ‘Singapore Slingers” in the “We’re not brothers” Paul and Harith Lim.

The Canadian duo of Dawson Murschell and Jim Long should get by the two rookies from Italy.

The format changes in round 2 to singles best of 7. If the score is tied, it’s double best of 7.

The next round for Canada could be an “either way deal” as they’ll probably face Australia with Simon Whitlock and Kyle Anderson.  A win and Canada would get #4 Netherlands.

USA gets a good draw led by Darin Young making his 9th World Cup and rookie Chuck Puleo who has been playing lights out. They should get by China. In the round 16 they would face either Russia or Austria, both of whom are beatable.  Then, in the round of 8 they’d get #1 England who should have no trouble beating the Philippines and either Iceland or Greece.

The first round is played over two days. Thursday (June 6) play has some interesting matchups…

A veteran Japanese team should win over Gibraltar.

“Dancing “Devon Peterson and South Africa is next up facing #6 Northern Ireland with Daryl Gurney and Brendan Dolan.  Northern Ireland should prevail, but Peterson’s dance is worth the watch.

#7 Belgium should not have much fun against Hong Kong.

Sweden with Magnus Caris making his last professional appearance is a “pick’em” against Brazil.

The most competitive match of the day could be Singapore against #3 Wales. Doubles play is the forte of the “We’re Not Brothers Lim” from Singapore and might not bode well for Gerwyn Price and Jonny Clayton.

Germany returns the youthful veterans Max Hopp and Martin Schindler and with the home crowd that should see them victorious against Hungary.

The evening closes with #2 Scotland having an easy time with Denmark.

BetVictor makes Netherlands and England both 3-1 to capture the World Cup.  Scotland is at 4-1 and Wales 7-1.  As Michael van Gerwen is The Man, the ODC favors the Wooden Shoe Guys to see off all competitors for the win.

Toeing the Oche will provide daily coverage of World Cup X.

EARLY PREDICTIONS:  Pick Netherlands to prevail over England even though the wagering has both teams at 3-1.  Michael van Gerwen will be able to carry Jermaine Wattimena to the Cup. Rob Cross has shown lately that he’s in form. His partner Michael Smith has not shown much lately. The #2 seed Scotland has an off-injured Gary Anderson playing with an out-of-form Peter Wright who he does not care for.  If Wales survives Singapore in round 1, they could well take out Scotland in the semis. That is assuming (always a danger) that Scotland can beat the hometown Germans.

More adventures of the ODC…

Wearing the new popular “jean’s bikini” (and having shed 25 pounds for the summer – which contributes to loose-fitting apparel) the ODC planted a garden of tomatoes, watermelon, strawberries and sweet peppers.

Weeds enjoyed the water and fertilizer and began to grow in force. When the ODC complained his neighbor provided a solution: “Don’t water the weeds.”

The ODC read that cornmeal would eliminate weeds. With the mercury in the high 80s, off to the grocery store he headed, wearing shorts.  Only one item on the agenda: cornmeal. He found it quickly but then saw coffee on sale.

With a bag of cornmeal under one arm and coffee under the other the ODC made his way to the check out. His shorts started to slide…

In the crowded check out one of the store’s most perky employees asked, “How are we today?”

“Well that depends.  I have cornmeal under one arm and coffee under the other.  My pants are falling down. I’m not sure if I’m going commando or not. If they fall would you pull them up?”

Forget Simon and Garfunkel, this was the real “Sound of Silence.”

Stay thirsty my friends.

Column #HR258 This week’s Premier League finals… and a beautiful Latin lady

Monday, May 20, 2019
Column HR258
This week’s Premier League finals… and a beautiful Latin lady

It’s time for the Old Dart Coach to do his spring column cleaning – to bring the dear faithful reader the rest of the news in the darting world that’s fit to print.

The Premier League finals are this Thursday…

Night 16 had “mucho” excitement for the packed house at the First Direct Arena in Leeds. The scenario saw Michael van Gerwen trailing leader Rob Cross by a single point.  Top of the standing includes a healthy £25,000 league leader bonus.

van Gerwen did the business with an 8-5 win over a gritty Mensur Suljovic. The Marvelous One led 5-nil without allowing Suljovic a double.  Then he lost a leg which was followed by 3 more making the match 5-3.  John Part, commentator par excellence, pointed out that during a match van Gerwen is sometimes “so focused on a high average that when he loses that chance, he sometimes forgets the goal is winning the match.”

Rob Cross would fail in his goal to finish top of the table as James Wade broke their 4-all match and took a 6-4. Cross fought back to get within one leg at 6-5 and 7-6.  Wade’s win, predicted by the ODC, allowed the “bald one” to finish level with Jerry Feather in the PL handicapping contest.  Had the ODC lost to Feather he would have been forced to bow towards Colorado three times a day saying, “I’m not worthy.”

The PL win for van Gerwen was his 7th on the trot.  He takes on Daryl Gurney in the final four (Gurney handed van Gerwen two of his three PL league defeats). Wade will face Cross once again at the 02 in London.

With van Gerwen the obvious favorite it should be noted that he lost a Players Championship match 7-2 on Saturday to PDC rookie Glen Durrant in the lead up to PL final.  MvG passed on the Sunday event.

The Premier League is a big hit on TV.  The ODC estimated, as the PDC provided no figures, that an audience of 4 million watched each Thursday. In 16 weeks, the total is 64 million. (In the heyday of Mr. Lowe-Bristow the Embassy drew 9 million viewers.)

Recently, Mr. John Lowe was in China for the China Trophy of Darts. In the final he eked out a 1 leg win over Dennis Priestly.  Reportedly that final drew 37 million viewers.  Now that’s a “WOW.”  The ODC “speed dialed” Guinness to record the match as a world record – the oldest player in Mr. John Lowe at 73 with the largest one-time TV audience.

How about them apples?

The draw for the BetVictor PDC World Cup June 6-9 in Hamburg has been made. Unlike the draws made by the WDF for their World Cups the hometown team didn’t get a sweetheart draw into the finals or even the round of 8.

Germany’s wonder boys, Max Hopp and Martin Schindler, should get by the rookie pair from Hungary of Pal Szekely and Janos Vegso.  A win and Germany will face either #7 ranked Belgium or unseeded Hong Kong. Watch out for Hong Kong with Royden Lam who may be the second-best steel/machine dart player in the world.

Both teams from North America should escape the first round but then trouble looms.  Canada should easily defeat Italy as the USA should China.

The current then gets a lot swifter and the water deeper in the next round when Canada will face #1 England which might struggle in round one against an “under-appreciated” team from the Philippines.

The USA has a chance to make the round of 8 with wins over China and #8 Austria.

The ODC will have a round by round prediction as the event grows closer.

The ODC kind of celebrated May Day but not by dancing around the May Pole wearing flowers where his hair use to be…

Rather, he named the ADO International teams and wrote of the ADO Masters ladies’ team and its inclusion of a lady named Stitches.  And, with a mind that’s still battling the loss of the rotary phone he remembered a lady darter named “Pickles.”

Well, as if by magic (actually, Facebook) he found Pickles.  She is alive and well living what passes for the good in Arizona.  She found a 10-step program to ween her off darts and is living happily ever after. No doubt she’s a sweet Pickles and not a dill. There’s life after darts.

“Barry Hearn’s Challenge to North America,” screamed the headline on Facebook.  Not really…

As happens all too often the “headline writer” put their own spin on a story. What Hearn did was explain that the US Darts Masters was a chance for North America’s best to meet the best of the PDC July 1-2 in Las Vegas.

It’s the PDC which is “challenged” to understand the North America darting culture where 99.9% of steel darters play for the pure enjoyment of the game.

Writing of Facebook, has it ever caused any wonder why just because someone is a Facebook friend that you’d want to know when their birthday is?  Just today, the ODC got an email telling him that “Oswald R. Grabenstanch knows that you’re thinking of him on his birthday.”  Well, Old Oswald is wrong. The ODC not only isn’t thinking of him on his birthday but was reminded that he’d forgotten to unfriend him a long time ago. Thanks Facebook, for helping to cull the herd.

The ODC was a recent podcast guest on a horse racing handicapping show for the Las Vegas newspaper and a local casino.  On the way, fighting nerves, he stopped at the Dollar Store for fortification – red licorice and two packets of Tic Tac. In line he found himself behind a very attractive Latin lady with long black hair, flashing brown eyes, designer jeans and high heels.  The ODC (naturally) thought, “What’s not to like!”

The lady in front of the Latin beauty had a full shopping card so the line was stalled (much to the pleasure of the ODC).

As people do in line, the Latin lady smiled as she checked out the array of 4-packs of gum. She selected a pack of Big Red which caused the ODC to remark “Es Muy Bueno.”  She smiled more.  On a roll he continued, “Es caliente!” Another smile.

As such meetings go it was time to move forward as the lady at the head of the line finally checked out – with bill of $237.85.

At a Dollar Store!

The Latin lady had just a few items, darn it, for a total of $11.36. The ODC’s was $3.00 – he had three bills in hand.

The ODC watched the Latin lady take out several dollar bills and count them. When she handed her money to the cashier, she was $2.00 short.

She then took two more bills out of her purse, saw the ODC looking, and said, “I got them dancing last night. NO, just kidding.”

The ODC looked down at his three singles and replied, “Me too”  and then remarked further, “You did better.”

She left smiling as the ODC saw another opportunity missed.

Stay thirsty my friends.