Column #CM58 UK Open – Day 2
Monday, March 25, 2019
UK Open – Day 2
Rather astonishingly, the second day of the UK Open started quite nice and dry again – an ideal day to walk a few miles on the Coleridge Way. The next destination on route is the small town of Porlock. Again you can find an Iron Age fort nearby. Porlock is not situated in the Quantock Hills but in the Exmoor National Park and is today of ill fame because 40 percent of the inhabitants are in retirement age – more than in any other town in the UK.
At the time of the Saxons it had an important harbor. Later, it got market rights and was well-known for its high-quality spun yarns. As a lot of the villages along the coast smuggling was big. Today, the Miles Company can be found here – which earns its money with coffee and tea but in a legal way and completely without smuggling. Thanks to Coleridge the pretty village undeservedly got a negative reputation. During his time in Nether Stowey he worked on his poem about Kubla Khan and his famous palace Xanadu. Allegedly he was interrupted in his work by a person from Porlock “and never finished the poem.” The terms “person from Porlock,” “man from Porlock,” or just “Porlock” entered the discourse as a literary allusion for an unwelcome visitor who compromises creativity. Now-a-days, research believes that the” person from Porlock” probably didn’t really exist or was the result of an opium intoxication – Coleridge was an opium addict – and he probably at this time already suffered from writer’s block or just lost interest in his project.
My own walk on the second day again ended at Butlin’s and I felt a little bit tired from all the walking around on the first day but nevertheless full of anticipation for what the second day of the tournament would bring. There were still three German players in the event though I had my doubts whether they would survive the day. The draw had not been kind with them and James Wade, Simon Whitlock and Dave Chisnall to be sure were no easy opponents. The Dutch though had fared much worse already on the first day – twenty Dutch players stood at the oche and only one survived.
In the afternoon session the fifth round was played on four boards. In the evening, the sixth round would follow, and this was played only on the main stage and on the second stage…
Max Hopp was first on the first stage against James Wade and though he played quite a good match Wade never looked to be in any danger and won. As play on the main stage started a little bit later than on the other stages, when I marched on to Centre Stage two rather close matches between Steve Beaton and Keegan Brown and Steve Lennon and Mickey Mansell – an all Irish affair – were played. Beaton and Lennon were the 10:8 winners in the end. The first match on the second stage was a rather one-sided one – Nathan Aspinall had finished in almost record time 10:2 against Madars Razma. After that a very cheerful Simon Whitlock came on stage to play against Gabriel Clemens who didn’t share his cheerfulness. Probably he already anticipated it wouldn’t end well for him – he lost 8:10. Clemens had started quite well and for some time he had been in the lead, but Whitlock turned the match around. While I watched this match in Centre Stage, Martin Schindler already had lost to Dave Chisnall and Jonny Clayton against Krzysztof Ratajski.
On the main stage the match between Michael Smith and Daryl Gurney started. Gurney didn’t manage to induce Smith to sing with him – I am sure due to Smiths pain. And he looked like he still was in pain and had no reason at all to sing. He walked most of the time with a limp and didn’t look happy at all. Nevertheless he got in the end a close 10:9 win.
I walked back to the stages three and four in Centre Stage and watched the end of Jermaine Wattimena’s match. And the Dutchman survived another round. I missed the match between Simon Stevenson and Kim Huybrechts which the rather stoic Stevenson won – he played a for him outstanding weekend. But I was in time to watch Ross Smith demolish Steve West and to see the start of the match between Cristo Reyes and Richard North before I walked back to the second match in the by now absolutely packed Reds where Jamie Hughes who until now had played faultlessly lost to a very convincing Gerwyn Price. At the main stage by now the last match had started between Mensur Suljovic and Dimitri van den Bergh. It was a thrilling and dramatic match and I suffered vicariously alternately. In the end, van den Bergh won 10:9 and almost couldn’t believe his luck while Suljovic looked rather thoughtful.
The draw for the next round followed and after that came a well-deserved break, while outside it started to rain.
The sixth round was only played on the main and on the second stage – but that meant for me and all fans and players and other involved parties a run through the rain to get from the main building with the main stage, press room and player’s area to the second stage and back. Around the second stage it was even more packed then in the afternoon and it took some time to get near the stage. Again, the first match on the second stage started before the action on the main stage so I first jogged there and followed a few legs of the Steve Lennon vs. Nathan Aspinall match – another very close match in which more fans cheered Aspinall. Like Daryl Fitton and Tony O’Shea, Aspinall lives in Stockport – might be another hotspot of darts in England. Back to the main stage where James Wade and Ross Smith played… when I arrived Wade was far behind. It looked he had lost momentum since his last match and though he found a way back in this one it was too late, and an unimpressive Smith won. It followed Ratajski against Price and Price was just too much for the not always fair playing Polish Eagle.
The second match on the second stage was close but far from thrilling – and an example that some players are capable to win without a good throwing technique. Stevenson won against Dave Chisnall, and I returned to the main stage and a one-sided match between Jermaine Wattimena and Michael Smith. Wattimena had no chance and all Dutch players were out. Returning to stage two I arrived in the middle of a heartbreaking drama – Steve Beaton defeated Dimitri van den Bergh. It was a hard-fought win for Beaton who missed with three match darts against the fiercely resisting World Youth Champion who lost in the end 8:10 and was close to tears.
For a second time the cheerful Simon Whitlock came on stage but this time he lost his cheerfulness during the match because he was rolled over by Josh Payne. Whitlock looked slightly baffled.
For the last match of the evening Cristo Reyes and Rob Cross walked on the main stage. Cross sent the Spaniard – who acted at times bizarrely during the match – packing.
And so, on the last day of the event only eight players from the UK were still in the tournament and seven players from England and one player from Wales would fight for the title and a new name would stand there. Three of the players reaching the quarterfinals were not a surprise – Price, Cross and Michael Smith. The other five were all dark horses.
The rain had an understanding for us and had stopped. Only the sea rushed. And I still had no idea who would win the tournament…
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