Thursday, 31 October 2013

A TREATISE ON THE ABSTRACT CONCEPT OF BELIEF... AND COMPUTER GAMES




Here's a guest blog from the great Dan Dawson.

I've got a mate who is a nightmare to play FIFA with on Playstation.

If he's losing by a considerable amount, he'll start walking the ball into his own net, smugly saying "it cheapens your victory".

As such, a rule was decided amongst us, that if you lose by five goals or more, you have to write a public apology on your opponent's Facebook page.

If you lose by 10 goals, then you have to write a formal letter of apology to your opponent's parents.

Make no mistake, my mate is a bit of a dick, but having spent some time watching professional darts, I think I now have a degree of sympathy with him - saving face is important for future success.

You see, it's often that a dart player will lose a match and have a ready excuse for why he didn't play as well as he could have:

"It's the crowd - they were too noisy."

"He was slowing me down."

"How's your luck?"

"He was jangling change in his pocket when I was throwing."

(That last one is a genuine complaint one player made, when his opponent didn't have anything in his pocket whatsoever)

It's also gives me an excuse to reference one of my own interviews, when Paul Nicholson essentially blamed his defeat to Kim Huybrechts on Kim's other half Dana being too pretty:





Phil Taylor even gets his excuses in pre-emptively for the rare occasions he loses:

"Well... I am 53 years old, you know."

Some of these are undoubtedly factors in the outcome of matches, but also ones that - if you have serious ambitions on being one of the best darters in the world - you need to just find a way of getting over.

But maybe it's more than that.

On that stage, under that pressure, one on one, with thousands screaming at you, how hard must it be to come away and accept that you weren't the better man?

How do you do that, and come back next time, convinced that you are the best? - that you can, and will, sweep aside all before you?

Michael van Gerwen puts his ludicrous rise from also-ran to second-best player in the world down to one thing: confidence.

To be able to externalise your shortcomings on something else gives a player a chance to still come off stage as a winner, still believing that next time they play they'll produce their A-Game.

That tiny nugget of belief, buried deep in their psyche, is the same thing that can carry them through a tough match - the same reserves they call upon to hit an 83 checkout in the business end of a World Championship quarter-final (see van Gerwen v Lewis 2013 below)





(It's right about now that I should point out that Adrian is probably the most honest darts player I've ever met, and will readily say he was rubbish if he doesn't play well.)

But for some players, every time they're beaten, to admit they weren't the better man in this straight gladiatorial fight, can erode those reserves of belief that they need.

If that little pearl of character, guts, bottle - whatever you want to call it - is whittled away... it can become little more than a speck of grit.

It's like Yoda (probably) said:  "Loss leads to doubt... doubt leads to fear... fear leads to Baaaarney."

We have all seen what self-doubt has done to one of the greatest talents in the world.

Maybe if the five-time World Champion blamed it on something else, instead of constantly beating himself up, he might still be frightening the life out of Taylor on a regular basis.

James Wade entered previously unchartered excuse territory at the Grand Prix, telling The Power that he "gave up" before the end of their match.

If that isn't a way of "cheapening your victory", I don't know what is; but it certainly allowed Wade to walk off stage being able to claim, 'it might've been different if I'd really tried.'

Phil deserves an apology... probably on Facebook.

The formal written one to his parents is reserved for only the most serious of cases.

Dan Dawson is a darts journalist.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

BARNEY – EYE OF THE AMBLYOPSIDAE



This is a guest post from Dan Dawson, sports journalist and darts expert. If you don't follow Dan's work you may have to seriously consider your status as a darts fan. That would be my suggestion. Read and enjoy, it's really good.

“It’s the eye of the tiger,
It’s the thrill of the fight,
Rising up to the challenge of our rival” (Survivor, Eye of the Tiger – Barneveld’s walk-on song)

Yes Barney, but you’ve just lost to Clinton “Tic” Bridge in the first round of the Sydney Darts Masters, and you’ve thrown an 85 average.

That’s not the eye of the tiger. That’s not even the eye of the kitten. It’s the eye of the bat, or snail, or one of those fish that lives in a cave with no light, so it’s just got tiny, useless pits where eyes should be (it’s called an Amblyopsidae – I looked it up).

I appreciate none of those suggestions fit the song as well as “tiger”, but they certainly fit five-time world champion Raymond van Barneveld right now.

This is a man who has someone to peel his bananas for him in the practice room (that’s not a joke); he’s a superstar of darts; he’s done incredible things, and should be swaggering around knowing he’s got the game to beat everyone, rather than fearing that he doesn’t.

It looked, last year, like we had the old Barney back – when he won his first major title for five years, beating Michael van Gerwen in the final of the Grand Slam. Barney told me afterwards:

“A lot of years I was thinking ‘Ray, can I do this?’.

My worst enemy is myself. I am my worst enemy - not believing in myself. It’s all about belief.”

And he believed again, and we believed again, and at the World Championship (after a shocking start) he absolutely terrified the life out of eventual winner Phil Taylor – nearly pulling-off one of the great comeback victories.

But it was another false dawn.

Once again, he made the semi-finals of the Premier League, and once again he could not overcome his old nemesis Taylor.

A run to the semi-finals of the UK Open masked a lucky win over Michael Smith in the third round, and then came the Matchplay, where Barney may have betrayed the reason for his continuing failure to truly recapture his brilliance of old:

“It’s difficult to beat me – not for players like van Gerwen, Taylor, Wade or Whitlock… they’re different class. But players 9-20 [in the rankings], I think I can beat them with my normal game.”

November 2012 – it’s all about belief.

July 2013 – I don’t believe I will beat the best.

Barneveld needs to be arrogant again. He’s the man who came to the PDC to chase Taylor, and then beat him. I miss that Barney and I want him back. So do his army of fans that have stuck by him through the thick and increasingly thin.

If it needs more Caligula-like decadence in the practice room to make him believe he’s the big man again, fine… I’ll peel the grapes for him myself.

Dan Dawson can be found in any self respecting PDC press room, and on twitter: here.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters is Mad



The PDC are doing some sort of World Series event in Dubai. Might be a cool opportunity to promote the sport abroad, might be an excuse for ex-pats to drink outside. 

I’ve got a twitter correspondent over there @onlyfoolsgamble. He says “The wind is...bad. I can see the nations flags and they are really blowing! 6 cans of beer in a cool bag for £40!!! Unreal!”

“Without a cool bag they are £6 for a small can haha.”

See, this is the place for hard hitting darts journalism. It’ll make you laugh, but more importantly, make you think as well.

It’s an odd tournament, for several reasons. 

  1. It’s outside
  2. It’s hot as all hell get out man it’s boiling
  3. It’s on Eurosport

Darts is an odd sport in that environmental conditions are almost never an issue. It might be a bit hot under HD lights, but the environment is so standarised that outside factors usually don’t make a difference. 

In Dubai the players are outside in an arena designed for tennis. They are on a specially built stage, heavy duty curtains are the only things protecting them from the wind. Some of the Eurosport shots show flags fairly rattling about. 

Barney and Aidey Lewis were giving it the full eye-rolling treatment, as far as the wind was concerned. Barney did a bit of schtick where he held his finger aloft like a wind sock; so as to better judge his chuck at madhouse, he missed anyway. He seemed to be doing it mainly to amuse himself. 

Wade was full of praise for the event in his post match interview, Wade can be a bit of a prickly traditionalist at times. Observers could be forgiven for expecting a bit of moaning from him. On the contrary, he seemed to quite like the event. A win always helps, of course.

It’s hot though, boy is it hot. All the players were sweating like baboons. Barney was wetter than Tom Daley fresh out the pool. But these chaps have all played in pubs with the central heating up too high, they know how to chuck when the pits are working over time. Even if Taylor didn’t look exactly fresh as a daisy at times.

More from my man in Dubai, @onlyfoolsgamble, “Never seen security guards look so out of place. One of them, who I assume is Arab and doesn't drink was just sat watching a group of people singing 'shoes up if you love the darts' swinging there shoes in the air then suddenly a woman falls arse over tit almost onto his lap.”

“Chants going up 'its just like Rotherham' which normally wouldn't be funny but the security guys reaction again makes it good.”

To the darts itself. Wade did the Wade thing; he looked out of it then did the minimum required, all his tricky matchplay stuff, peaking when necessary to triumph over Whitlock. You’d have thought the Aussie would have dealt with the heat better. What with him learning his trade in the outback chucking darts into kangaroo pouches, atop a crocodile, from 40 yards. That’s not a dart - this - is a dart. 

Lewis wasn’t that good, Barney was good enough though he milked the wind stuff as much as possible. 

Newton came out surprisingly well, averaged ton plus for much of the early going - outside, remember. MVG looked flustered in the desert heat, his baldy chrome offers little UV protection, the chucking darts accurately sectors of his brain, I believe located in the parietal lobe, were overheated. 

But he quickly remembered he’s a monster and came charging back, at one point threatening an outdoors nine-darter, which would have been cool. 

And the Hammer humped Taylor. Phil never showed up, perhaps the heat troubled him. All match the Eurosport commentator lathered Phil up as some sort of saint. A humble, working class hero. The guy barely knew what to do with himself when Phil took a massive strop after losing. Beaton gently put the needle in, “He should know how to deal with that [losing] by now.”

And Eurosport was weird. The event started late and they kept showing footage of the kind of 90s VHS tapes that Alan Hansen would present, with names like: Wacky Football, the bonkers side of the beautiful game. The kind of depressing stocking fillers you’d have to watch, as a kid, out of a sense of familial responsibility.

It was great to have 80s love god Steve Beaton on the comms though. What he lacks in banter he makes up for in aggressive sex appeal. He has the kind of masculinity that makes red-blooded women weak at the knees, and many a chap too.


Dubai Duty Free Darts Masters
Quarter-Finals
James Wade (3) 10-8 Simon Whitlock
Adrian Lewis (2) 6-10 Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen (4) 10-7 Wes Newton
Phil Taylor (1)  8-10 Andy Hamilton

Semi-Final Draw Bracket
James Wade v Raymond van Barneveld
Michael van Gerwen v Andy Hamilton

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Martin Fitzmaurice Being Racist



Racism is bad. It’s April 9, 2013. Thought everyone pretty much knew that at this point.

Martin Fitzmaurice didn’t get the memo. He thinks it’s still cool to be racist in 2013. For those who don’t know, or may have forgotten, Martin Fitzmaurice is a BDO MC and the man behind the Let’s Play Darts catch phrase. 

A catch phrase almost as bad as that disabled person character on Little Britain. The one with the “I want that one,” or whatever it is, catch phrase. And he points. It’s funny because the guy in the wheelchair is mentally disadvantaged.

Catch phrase humour isn’t particularly clever. But children and the feeble-minded seem to like it. We should have known there was something up with Fitzmaurice with this unlikable propensity for crafting catch phrases, which, as outlined above, are the work of the devil.

You know what else isn’t funny? 

Racism.

You can joke about race if you’re doing it in a Ricky Gervais “I’m actually mocking racism, and racists,” sort of hip ironic way. But you have to know what you’re doing to get away with that. 

Old Fitz doesn’t know what he’s doing. Though of course there is no attempt in his humour for this sort of sophisticated approach to race. Racists aren’t the butt of the joke, ethnic minorities are. That’s when it’s bad; that’s when it is thoroughly nasty and leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

But what do you expect from a man who built a career on a catch phrase.

Racism is bad.

Here he is at some BDO thing being very racist. His career is probably over. Please, no more Let’s Play Darts. (Video starts after 20 seconds)

My buddy @AndyBrowne put this on youtube

UPDATE: Here's the BDO statement on the issue. Full enquiry, disciplinary bla bla bla:

The British Darts Organisation apologises unreservedly for the fact that racially offensive comments were made by MC Martin Fitzmaurice at the BDO British Internationals in Scotland on Sunday, April 7th and streamed over the internet. 

The BDO wishes to make it clear that it does not tolerate racism in any shape or form, and a full enquiry is already taking place into this regrettable incident. 

In accordance with BDO rules on racism, Martin Fitzmaurice has been made fully aware of the seriousness of his actions and will be required to face a disciplinary hearing in front of the BDO Board.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Lenny Boyle Darts Interview



I was interviewed by Tom Brett, a third year sports journalism student at Brighton University. He's a good guy. Here's his twitter- https://twitter.com/BomTrett

He asked me some stuff about darts. Here are my opinionated answers:


What do you think about people's preconceptions of Darts? Do you feel that it's links to a pub still makes people underestimate the potential of Darts as a popular mainstream sport?

People always have preconceptions about darts. It is linked to the pub. It is working class, but it's also transcendent, it is a pub game, but it's also sport in miniature. It is patronised and misunderstood, but that only makes those of us who love the sport appreciate it all the more. It's like being the first to discover a hot new band; there is a sense that it belongs to you.


In terms of it's potential, Do you feel that Darts should ever be considered to be an Olympic sport? What do you feel it would bring to such an event?

Ultimately sport is just a bunch of made up games to amuse ourselves. No one sport is more valid than any other. If tiddlywinks makes your soul sore, that's great. All sport is created equal. Some are more equal than others of course, and darts is the best, obviously. So, yes, anything could be in the Olympics. It's a decision subject to a bunch of sports technocrats who have little imagination.

When new comers watch PDC darts. The response is often, something to the effect of, I cannot believe how entertaining this is. The same would happen at the Olympics and it would quickly replace track and field as the most prestigious event. Or at least it should.


Do you think the stereotypical image of Darts being full of overweight players prevents it from being considered as a 'big' sport?

Most of the uninitiated regard darts as a pub game, a pursuit for the obese and alcoholic, they are locked in a mind set propagated by an awful sketch on a third rate 80s sketch show. Not the Nine O'Clock News' Fat Bellies sketch. In which a couple of rotund darts players downed pints and shots rather than throw darts. It was kind of a one note observation. But the visual is good so it's stuck in people's minds.




Yes, many of the top darts stars are chubby. So are many of the top baseball players. Babe Ruth, famously plump, is the greatest baseball player ever. Basically if you don't like darts you're fatist. If that's a word.

These men can do extraordinary things. It is a shame, though really of no great consequence, that some people will always regard the sport as lesser because some of its practitioners are strangers to salad.


In terms of the BDO/PDC divide, what are your opinions on the matter? Do you think that Darts would thrive if the two organisations were united?

I think it's thriving anyway. The only disadvantage to the divide, at this point, is that many people who don't follow the sport closely are confused by the existence of two world championships. This confuses new comers. The BDO should officially change its World Championship to the Lakeside Championship. It is not a world championship. The BDO has become a fantastic farm system for the PDC, little more.

They have a tried and tested system for producing new talent. But they are not a professional sporting organisation.

Darts would thrive if the organisations were combined only in that it would dispel confusion about the standing of the two organisations' respective World Championships. The PDC is, by some way, the premier organisation in darts. This is just obviously the case. The PDC is America to the BDO's North Korea.

Friday, 1 March 2013

This Is Where I Am


All my Premier League coverage is on the Mirror. Click the big button above for some amazing treats that will stimulate your body and mind.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Lenny Boyle's Darts Podcast Programme


Here's my Mirror Sport Premier League Preview.

Decided to try doing a podcast. There's some sound issues at points but I'll get that sorted for next time. Give it a try, I talk about week one of the Premier League, make some bad jokes, do an awful Sid and an abysmal Sean Connery impression, and generally embarrass myself.

LINK:

https://soundcloud.com/lennyboyle-1/episode-1

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

World Cup Darts Preview: the Year of Newcastle Dundee?



Is Paul Nicholson the only player on the planet who really gives a shit about the World Cup of Darts? 

Yes.

Don’t get me wrong. It is a fun and enjoyable tournament. A twinkling novelty in a darts landscape dominated by one on one selfish competition. In darts, sporting glory is an individual pursuit. 

The World Cup of Darts forces the lone wolves of the tungsten Savannah to work together, or die alone. 

It’s a fun tournament. But do you know how I know no one - besides Nicholson - really gives a shit about it? Because England won it in 2012. Ickle little tiny wee England were champions of the planet earth in 2012. 

As much as England is great: Shakespeare and Churchill and umbrellas and pork pies and reality TV, England has one major character flaw, as a nation; it can’t win anything it truly cares about.

And all it really cares about is football. And England eats jobbies on the international stage. They consume big steamers. Which is a shame because darts is about seven hundred times more entertaining than football, but there you go, life is unfair. Darts should be more popular.

Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis, despite, at times, comedic darts, were able to win the World Cup of Darts in 2012, and declare England - or at least Stoke-on-Trent - the finest tungsten nation on the globe. 

And Paul Nicholson was gutted.

It was a holiday lark for Phil and Adrian, a boozy lads holiday abroad. But when Nicholson lost that final, representing his home land of Australia (that’s not a knife, that’s a knife)



(Can't believe how easy it is to rip Eddie Murphy's jacket. Typical Primark)

Nicholson was almost bereft after last year's final. We’ve had to hear ever since about his man crush on Simon Whitlock, how magnificent he is, representing Team Vegemite, a true Australasian man-god. 

To be fair to Newcastle Dundee, he does raise his game when he teams up with Whitlock, they were the best team in last year’s competition. It was the best of Nicholson. But they just couldn’t cross the line, because it meant too much to Nicho. Lewis and Taylor, meanwhile, could have cared less, despite protestations to the contrary. For them, this is merely a jolly jaunt before the Premier League.

Not so for Nicho. It is pretty obvious why. He has a sincere attachment to Australia, and has chosen to represent them internationally, rather than his native England (though he would be far down the England pecking order, it must be said). 

No one likes Jesus more than the born again; no one is more zealous than the convert. Nicho is a convert to the great Down Under faith. He even liked Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, and that was fucking awful. He finds the dicks in the Foster's ads funny.

So there you go. That’s why no one gives a shit about the World Cup of Darts more than Nicholson. Nicho wants to silence the haters, to prove, once and for all, that his Australianism is sincere, honestly come by. He wants to make this, finally, the year of Newcastle Dundee.



Schedule of Play

Friday Afternoon Session
First Group Games
2.30pm-6pm Local Time (1.30pm-5pm UK Time)
8x Group Matches
Belgium v Hungary
Denmark v South Africa
Spain v Italy
Croatia v New Zealand
Canada v Sweden
Austria v Japan
Gibraltar v Poland
Finland v USA
Friday Evening Session
Seeded Nations v Afternoon Losers
8pm-12am Local Time (7pm-11pm UK Time)
8x Group Matches
Northern Ireland v Belgium/Hungary
Republic of Ireland v Denmark/South Africa
Wales v Spain/Italy
Australia v Croatia/New Zealand
Scotland v Canada/Sweden
England v Austria/Japan
Netherlands v Gibraltar/Poland
Germany v Finland /USA

The Teams are;
Seeded Nations
1. England (Phil Taylor & Adrian Lewis)
2. Netherlands (Michael van Gerwen & Raymond van Barneveld)
3. Australia (Simon Whitlock & Paul Nicholson)
4. Scotland (Gary Anderson & Robert Thornton)
5. Wales (Mark Webster & Richie Burnett)
6. Northern Ireland (Brendan Dolan & Michael Mansell)
7. Germany (Jyhan Artut & Andree Welge)
8. Republic of Ireland (William O’Connor & Connie Finnan)

Pool B
Spain (Antonio Alcinas & Carlos Rodriguez)
Belgium (Kim Huybrechts & Ronny Huybrechts)
Canada (John Part & Jeff Smith)
Finland (Jani Haavisto & Jarkko Komula)
Austria (Mensur Suljovic & Maik Langendorf)
Croatia (Robert Marijanovic & Tonci Restovic)
Gibraltar (Dyson Parody & Dylan Duo)
Denmark (Per Laursen & Jann Hoffmann)

Pool C
Sweden (Magnus Caris & Par Riihonen)
Italy (Daniele Petri & Matteo Dal Monte )
Japan (Haruki Muramatsu & Sho Katsumi)
USA (Darin Young & Larry Butler)
South Africa (Charl Pietersen & Shawn Hogan)
New Zealand (Phil Hazel & Craig Caldwell)
Hungary (Nandor Bezzeg & Meszaros Zsolt)
Poland (Krzysztof Kciuk & Krzysztof Ratajski)

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

PDC World Championship Darts Preview



I've done a bunch of previews including this, firstly, for Mirror Sport: Get Ready For The Greatest Darts Show on the Planet

Breath bated, old ladies drooling at bus stops, weirdos staring at the moon, day-dreamers walking into lamp posts. Just look around. Everyone’s minds are elsewhere. Your body may be behind a desk plugging numbers into a spreadsheet, or shearing sheep, or whatever you do to get money for drink, but between the ears; there is a fantasy of tungsten.

Because:

It’s the worlds! And it’s here! Imminent!

The Greatest Show on Earth.

2012 has been a fantastic year of darts. A thriller of a Premier League, with that ten thousand strong Dublin crowd, Whitlock niner, and plenty of great matches.

Phil’s UK Open final loss to a Robert Thornton chucking blistering heat at the old man, and a nutter storming the stage. 

MVG flowered into a real TV force at the Matchplay, chucking a niner against Newton. But Phil won in Blackpool. 

Mighty Mike scared the bejesus out of everyone at the Grand Prix. 

Raymond van Barney rose from the ashes like a phoenix, or stumbled zombie fashion back into animation, or otherwise somehow went from something inert to something animate. He won the Slam. He’s back, this time it’s for real.

Phil won the Players Championship Finals to remind us all that he is fairly good at darts, relatively speaking, bearing all in mind, and weighing with due diligence etc etc the stuff he’s done. i.e. he is not bad. And he’s going for title 16. Which, as Steve Beaton knows all too well, is the age of consent in the UK.

Taylor is the most amnesia inducing sportsman of all time, if he doesn’t win a major in a month he’s done for, a forgotten man, his achievements wiped from memory banks; only to rise phoenix like from the ashes...oh I’ve done that one; like a zombie from death back into animation. ETC.

(On a side note, has there ever been a Worlds where, seemingly, everyone is coming into form at once? Ando, Phil, Barney, Whitlock, Hammer, Thornton, MVG, Huybrechts, the list goes on. And there’s always the chance someone could do a Kirk Shepherd and come from nowhere, make a serious run.

We’re not going to see a repeat of the 2007 final are we? ARE WE? My head would explode.

For the record, I think MVG will win the lot and usher in a new era where baldy psycho darts rule the tungsten universe.)

That’s some of the stuff that’s happened up to now, in an epic year of incident filled darting carnage. But, as ever, all that crap is merely prologue. The time is now, the worlds are the stage of history, at the Ally Pally; immortality is conferred, or not. 

People may think it’s only darts, it’s ridiculous to talk about the fat boy’s game in terms of immortality, and history, and all the rest of it. But those people are rubbish. They eat poos. The winner of the PDC World Championship is an immortal, he lives forever. History is made at the Ally Pally. That’s the truth.

This isn’t the BDO World Champs, this is the big one; major league tungsten. In a sport that, in many ways, sums us up as a nation - where we are now, and where we’re going - this is the drink sodden, bleary-eyed, main event. 

It’s a competition that should have Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody as its theme song. A six minute baroque pop opera that takes you through a catalogue of murder, phantasmagoria, the pits of hell to the apex of heaven, a dream-quest of weirdness.

You travel a distance, come out the other end, changed, fundamentally, in your nature; having learned something ineradicable.

Scaramouche. Will you do the fandango.



Bismillah! No! We will not let you go! -- Let him go!
Bismillah! We will not let you go! -- Let him go!
Bismillah! We will not let you go! -- Let me go!

And if you think Bohemian Rhapsody is overplayed, and too well loved, for you, as a cool person, to enjoy; then you eats poos as well.

There’s also a fun bit in the middle where you get to bang your head like in Wayne’s World, and go mental. 

The worlds, like Bohemian Rhapsody, is a quest-story. You start with preliminary games involving foreigners and nobodies - but they’re fun too - and, through it all, the weirdness and phantasmagoria, the Bismillahs and Scaramouches, through the first and second rounds, into the business end, you come out the other end. Changed. You’ve learned something, you’ve lived through something significant. Something real.

Three weeks, give or take, seventy two players, game after game. It is a competition that churns out unforgettable moments with more efficiency than any factory, or system of automation, created by Henry Ford.

Beelzebub has the devil put aside for me. You'll be a different person once you've lived through Ally Pally 2012.

And like the poor benighted soul at the centre of Bohemian Rhaposdy, these darts players will go through the ringer, come out the other end, sing:

Nothing really matters
Anyone can see
Nothing really matters
Nothing really matters to me

Except the Worlds, nothing matters except that shot at the Sid Waddell trophy, the Sidney Cup. A chance to dirty up it’s pristine surface with sweaty thumb prints, make it sticky, hold its 25 kgs aloft; join the immortals.


2013 Ladbrokes World Darts Championship
Schedule of Play
Friday December 14 (7pm-12am)
1x Preliminary Round, 4x First Round
7.10pm Robert Thornton v Magnus Caris
8.15pm Andree Welge v Leung Chun Nam (P)
9.00pm Paul Nicholson v Co Stompe
10.00pm Adrian Lewis v Gino Vos
11.00pm Kevin Painter v Welge/Chun Nam

Saturday December 15
Afternoon Session (12pm-5pm)
1x Preliminary Round, 4x First Round
12.10pm Wayne Jones v Jerry Hendriks
1.15pm Daryl Gurney v Robert Marijanovic (P)
2.00pm Richie Burnett v James Hubbard
3.00pm Terry Jenkins v Steve Brown
4.00pm Andy Smith v Gurney/Marijanovic

Evening Session (7pm-12am)
1x Preliminary Round, 4x First Round
7.10pm Dave Chisnall v Shane Tichowitsch
8.15pm Max Hopp v Charl Pietersen (P)
9.00pm John Part v Joe Cullen
10.00pm Phil Taylor v Michael Mansell
11.00pm Denis Ovens v Hopp/Pietersen

Sunday December 16 (7pm-12am)
1x Preliminary Round, 4x First Round
7.10pm Brendan Dolan v Mark Jones
8.15pm Jarkko Komula v Jani Haavisto (P)
9.00pm Andy Hamilton v James Richardson
10.00pm Raymond van Barneveld v Michael Smith
11.00pm Gary Anderson v Komula/Haavisto

Monday December 17 (7pm-12am)
1x Preliminary Round, 4x First Round
7.10pm Peter Wright v Arron Monk
8.15pm Carlos Rodriguez v John Bowles (P)
9.00pm Mark Webster v Ian White
10.00pm James Wade v Peter Hudson
11.00pm Jamie Caven v Rodriguez/Bowles

Tuesday December 18 (7pm-12am)
1x Preliminary Round, 4x First Round
7.10pm Steve Beaton v Kyle Anderson
8.15pm Lourence Ilagan v Jamie Lewis (P)
9.00pm Wes Newton v Johnny Haines
10.00pm Mervyn King v Dean Winstanley
11.00pm Colin Osborne v Ilagan/J Lewis

Wednesday December 19 (7pm-12am)
1x Preliminary Round, 4x First Round
7.10pm Justin Pipe v Andy Jenkins
8.15pm Haruki Muramatsu v Dave Harrington (P)
9.00pm Ronnie Baxter v Dennis Priestley
10.00pm Colin Lloyd v Darin Young
11.00pm Simon Whitlock v Muramatsu/Harrington

Thursday December 20 (7pm-12am)
1x Preliminary Round, 4x First Round
7.10pm Mark Walsh v Darren Webster
8.15pm Paul Lim v Mohd Latif Sapup (P)
9.00pm Kim Huybrechts v Scott Rand
10.00pm Vincent van der Voort v Stuart Kellett
11.00pm Michael van Gerwen v Lim/Sapup

Friday December 21
Afternoon Session (12.30pm-4.30pm)
3x Second Round
12.40pm Hamilton/Richardson v Burnett/Hubbard
2.00pm Chisnall/Tichowitsch v A Smith/Gurney/Marijanovic
3.20pm Anderson/Komula/Haavisto v Caven/Rodriguez/Bowles

Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
3x Second Round
7.10pm T Jenkins/Brown v Part/Cullen
8.30pm Nicholson/Stompe v Thornton/Caris
9.50pm Taylor/Mansell v W Jones/Hendriks

Saturday December 22
Afternoon Session (12.30pm-4.30pm)
3x Second Round
12.40pm Painter/Welge/Chun Nam v Baxter/Priestley
2.00pm M Webster/White v Lloyd/Young
3.20pm van Barneveld/M Smith v Dolan/M Jones

Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
3x Second Round
7.10pm Newton/Haines v Huybrechts/Rand
8.30pm Whitlock/Muramatsu/Harrington v Osborne/Ilagan/J Lewis
9.50pm A Lewis/Vos v Ovens/Hopp/Pietersen

Sunday December 23
Afternoon Session (12.30pm-4.30pm)
3x Second Round
12.40pm Pipe/A Jenkins v Walsh/D Webster
2.00pm King/Winstanley v van der Voort/Kellett
3.20pm Wade/Hudson v Beaton/K Anderson

Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
1x Second Round, 2x Third Round
7.10pm van Gerwen/Lim/Sapup v Wright/Monk
8.30pm Hamilton/Richardson/Burnett/Hubbard v T Jenkins/Brown/Part/Cullen
9.50pm Taylor/Mansell/W Jones/Hendriks v Nicholson/Stompe/Thornton/Caris

Thursday December 27
Afternoon Session (12.30pm-4.30pm)
3x Third Round
12.40pm Whitlock/Muramatsu/Harrington/Osborne/Ilagan/J Lewis v Chisnall/Tichowitsch/A Smith/Gurney/Marijanovic
2.00pm G Anderson/Komula/Haavisto/Caven/Rodriguez/Bowles v van Barneveld/M Smith/Dolan/M Jones
3.20pm Newton/Haines/Huybrechts/Rand v Pipe/A Jenkins/Walsh/D Webster

Evening Session (7pm-11pm)
3x Third Round
7.10pm van Gerwen/Lim/Sapup/Wright/Monk v M Webster/White/Lloyd/Young
8.30pm A Lewis/Vos/Ovens/Hopp/Pietersen v Painter/Welge/Chun Nam/Baxter/Priestley
9.50pm Wade/Hudson/Beaton/K Anderson v King/Winstanley/van der Voort/Kellett

Friday December 28 (7pm-11pm)
2x Quarter-Finals
7.15pm
9.15pm

Saturday December 29 (7pm-11pm)
2x Quarter-Finals
7.15pm
9.15pm

Sunday December 30 (7pm-11pm)
Semi-Finals
7.15pm
9.15pm

Tuesday January 1 (8pm-11pm)
Final
8.15pm

Format
Preliminary Round - Best of Seven Legs (no tie-break)
First Round - Best of Five Sets
Second Round - Best of Seven Sets
Third Round - Best of Seven Sets
Quarter-Finals - Best of Nine Sets
Semi-Finals - Best of 11 Sets
Final - Best of 13 Sets
All Sets are the best of five legs.
For all matches using the Sets format, there will be a tie-break in the deciding set only, where the final set must be won by two clear legs until the score in that set reaches 5-5. Should that situation occur, then a sudden-death leg will be played, before which the players will throw first for the bull to determine who throws first in the sudden-death leg.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Players Championship Finals Darts Preview

My sister (@ArtSawrite) did this for a laugh


In many ways it is the most important tournament in darts. There is no clearer reflection of a year’s hard work and effort than the Players Championship Finals. It’s Order of Merit is not up for interpretation, it’s not the Torah. It’s an accurate reflection of the form chuckers over a year in darts.

In many ways it is the most important tournament. Apart, of course, from the only way that importance is actually measured; public perception. This is only the fifth edition of the tournament, so it may grow into something, but currently it feels like a rather contrived starter to the main meal of the World Championship - starting on December 14. 

But it is on the telly.

And it does have one advantage over other tournaments: It’s now. Right now. A factor that played into Kevin Painter’s hands perfectly last year. Who needs a long memory when deciding Premier League places. This fuckin guy Painter won the last tournament before the World Championship, so got a Prem place. He finished second last in that Premier League by the way. Beating only a Gary Anderson who was was going through some sort of emotional crisis.

So a smart player, not putting all his eggs in the basket of a World Championship run, can win this diddy tournament, stay fresh in the memory, and make a great case for Premier League inclusion. And because this is a relatively new tournament with little personality, a possible Prem spot and the prize money is the only stuff I can bring myself to care about.

I mean it will be a good laugh and all that, if you like darts, and I do like darts. But this is very much a tournament that is a stepping stone to other stuff, rather than a great prize in and of itself. Others will disagree. But until it develops a distinct personality of its own; like the Slam, Grand Prix, Matchplay, etc; this tournament is just money and a jug.

The winner gets 60 grand. 60K. 60 big ones. 60Gs. In this economy you could probably get an island for that. Not in the Caribbean or anything, but maybe off the coast of Wales. Three acres and a hammock. Sounds perfect if you’re looking for somewhere to drink yourself to death. And who isn’t? Hee hee.

The Players Champs Finals are the truth about a year in darts. The top 32 players from the 2012 PDC Players Championship Order of Merit take part. If you turn up on the pro-tour every week, you’ve got more chances of collecting the valuable prize money that goes towards earning your spot at the 2012 Players Championships Finals. It rewards staying power, and hard work. And all that comes with that: like the vital publicity that comes from a weekend of live darts on ITV4; sandwiched between repeats of Quantum Leap and Minder.

The final episode of Quantum Leap is weird. I can’t remember much about it apart from Sam being stuck in some greasy spoon cafe, - it’s supposed to be purgatory or something. Haven’t seen it in fifteen years. But he just sort of hangs around, trying to figure out why he doesn’t have a mission like every other week. He sits there. Waiting to die.

He is emotionally bankrupt, psychologically moribund, empty. 

In fact it’s a lot like the pro-tour. 

I’m sure some of these players have had weekends they’d rather jump off a bridge than turn up for a day of grueling darts at the Barnsley Metrodome.

Madison Square Garden. Yankee Stadium. Barnsley Metrodome. The holy trinity of global sports stadia.

In fact isn’t that a movie starring old jew-hater Mel Freeedum Gibson?

Mad Max Beyond the Barnsley Metrodome.

Oh no. It’s Thunderdome. Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome. Shit. Never mind.

Here’s some actual darts stuff:

Mighty Michael van Gerwen, the unusual baldy guy from the Netherlands, keeps winning these pro-tour thingies, he nabbed his seventh of the year recently. Beating Phil Taylor in a final. And it was actually at the Barnsley Metrodome!

YES!

The Barnsley Metrodome, that crucible of post-apocalyptic ferment, that broiling oven of insurrection. That smelly arena filled with age inappropriate sexual tension between Mel Gibson and Tina Turner.

No, actually, sorry. That’s the Thunderdome again. 

Keep getting the damn Thunderdome and Barnsley Metrodome mixed up. Probably because both make you think about the end of mankind. Both make you crave nuclear annihilation rather than live this life that has conspired to send you to the fucking BARNSLEY METRODOME. Both elicit a yearning for oblivion. I’d rather be in an iron lung than spend a second at the Barnsley Metrodome.

What else?

This tournament should be a laugh, haven’t seen Peter Wright in a while, or the Pieman. They’ll be there. Nice to see old friends. 

This thing isn’t even at the Barnsley Metrodome by the way, that’s just somewhere they do pro-tour events. It’s at Butlins Minehead. Butlins is brilliant. There should be loads of hilarious scumbags in the crowd on their holiday. Hopefully one of them does something mental.

Check out some of the pre-darts Butlins entertainment, the pissed up scumbags love a bit of this:




Cash Converters Players Championship Finals
Schedule of Play
Friday November 30
Afternoon Session
Play Commences 1pm
Live on ITV4 from 12.30pm-5.15pm
First Round
Ian White v Michael Smith
Colin Lloyd v Peter Wright
Justin Pipe v Colin Osborne
Kim Huybrechts v Vincent van der Voort
Robert Thornton v Mark Walsh
Terry Jenkins v Mervyn King
Ronnie Baxter v Paul Nicholson
Andy Hamilton v Andy Smith

Evening Session
Play Commences 7pm
Live on ITV4 from 6.45pm-11.30pm
First Round
Dave Chisnall v Wayne Jones
James Wade v Brendan Dolan
Adrian Lewis v Richie Burnett
Michael van Gerwen v Kevin Painter
Raymond van Barneveld v Steve Beaton
Phil Taylor v Mark Webster
Wes Newton v Gary Anderson
Simon Whitlock v Jamie Caven

Saturday December 1
Afternoon Session
Play Commences 1pm
Live on ITV4 from 12.30pm-5.15pm
Second Round
Pipe/Osborne v Wade/Dolan
Chisnall/Jones v Lloyd/Wright
White/M Smith v Huybrechts/van der Voort
Newton/Anderson v Thornton/Walsh

Evening Session
Play Commences 7pm
Live on ITV4 from 6.45pm-11.30pm
Second Round
van Gerwen/Painter v Hamilton/A Smith
Whitlock/Caven v Baxter/Nicholson
Taylor/Webster v Lewis/Burnett
van Barneveld/Beaton v Jenkins/King

Sunday December 2
Afternoon Session
Play Commences 1pm
Live on ITV4 from 12.30pm-5.15pm
Quarter-Finals
QF1: Chisnall/Jones/Lloyd/Wright v White/M Smith/Huybrechts/van der Voort
QF2: Pipe/Osborne/Wade/Dolan v van Barneveld/Beaton/Jenkins/King
QF3: Whitlock/Caven/Baxter/Nicholson v Newton/Anderson/Thornton/Walsh
QF4: Taylor/Webster/Lewis/Burnett v van Gerwen/Painter/Hamilton/A Smith

Evening Session
Play Commences 7pm
Live on ITV4 from 6.45pm-11.30pm
Semi-Finals
Winner of QF1 v Winner of QF2
Winner of QF3 v Winner of QF4
Followed by
Final

Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Truth About The Truth About Ted



Poor Ted. 

It seems after all the drama, all the speculation, all of the ribbing, the jokes about chest infections actually being a cover for drunkenness -

After I myself penned a column that sought to get to the truth of what Ted Hankey’s bizarre performance against Michael van Gerwen was really about - even having the hubris to call the thing THE TRUTH ABOUT TED.

After all this. The truth really is that Ted Hankey had a stroke.

Poor poor Ted. He’s the lovable rogue of darts, the man with antics for every occasion, a man with the natural showmanship to captivate darts fans for years.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you know I’ve got a huge soft spot for him. 

In fact I wrote this about the great man this week, after his match against Steve Beaton:



“Ted Hankey is not like that. There’s no grey area, you can’t relate to him. He’s a monster, a monster I tell you. He doesn’t like his opponents, he doesn’t like the crowd. He doesn’t like you. You, personally. The person reading this. Mate, Ted Hankey knows who you are and he hates your guts. Don’t shoot the messenger, he does, he just does. 

(Disclaimer: he’s actually very nice, it’s all a stage persona. I think)

At one point when the two council chuckers were going at it, Ted chucked a winning dart,  turned to the crowd - and this was all captured in perfect slow-mo detail - thrust his fists at them in celebration, releasing a roar and a globule of spittle big enough to fill a pint glass. 

It was the scene in Raging Bull where the saliva is knocked out of De Niro’s gob, only more graphic. 

It was minging. 

It was a pretty thrilling and enjoyable match for the old school darts fan. Ted’s first victory over Beaton in 25 years. He won it 5-3, taking the third leg with an otherworldly 161 checkout and refinding, for most of the match, some of the finishing that had abandoned him in his first match versus Robert Thornton, in which the Scot whitewashed the evil Count. 

Ted did his usual routine, he gave it the full treatment - with one exception I’ll come to - the growling, the gurning, the seething, the withering glances, the world-weary disdain. All the good stuff. But he also, at times, chucked some pretty astounding tungsten. Something he is capable of now and again, but not as often as us fans of the other stuff would like. 

Because in order to see him gurn at audience members - one of the most moving sights in sport - he’s got to qualify for tournaments to begin with.

He also shouted the word, “Woohah!” at the end of his post-match interview. 
Ted said in that interview he was going to play his own game, let the chips fall where they may, instead of trying to slow his opponents down, employing gamesmanship to win matches. That was the one thing missing from the full Teddy routine.

He won without the - always amusing - nonsense. But he wasn’t the only winner when Steve met Ted. As corny as it sounds: the audience were the real winners.”




A passage brimming with affection for the great showman, the great technician of tungsten drama.

Ted had a small stroke, and requires 6-8 weeks rest. 

I feel bad, because I love Ted. No one has offered darts fans more entertainment, and mysterious pleasures. He is an utter legend. 

I wrote what I wrote in the previous blog, The Truth About Ted, in an honest effort to tell the truth as I saw it, but if you read the thing you’ll see it was really a search for the truth, not a declaration of it, I was trying to put into words a complicated reaction to a very strange televisual event.

I’ve always made an effort to tell the truth as I see it. Writing The Truth About Ted wasn’t fun, but I felt that to ignore the events of that match, and my own rather involved feelings about the whole thing, would have been a kind of dishonesty in and of itself.

That Ted did drink before the match has been admitted by his management. The issue isn’t whether Ted was drunk or he wasn’t. The issue is about a combination of things - medication, diabetes - newly diagnosed - the stroke, and yes alcohol.

There were a confluence of factors, it seems, that came to a head during that strange match versus van Gerwen.

I love Ted Hankey, and pray he gets the proper rest and care that he needs. 

I apologise for some of the jokes I made on twitter. Unreservedly.

In this case it seems the old image of darts, an image Barry Hearn and co are desperate to remove, has come back and bitten us again. Ted did drink before the match, as has been admitted by his management, but as we’ve seen it wasn’t all that was going on.

We have been trained, as fans of the sport, and even as detractors of the sport - the Daily Mail even included the tired old Fat Bellies sketch from Not the Nine O’Clock news in an article about Ted this week. We’ve been trained to always assume drink is the culprit in darts. And it’s true that the gloss of the PDC hasn’t dismissed an old darting drinking culture. 

But the main take away from all of this is: there’s an old lesson here about rushing to judgement, reading books by their covers. And also a new lesson about the perils of social media. 

This episode was no one's finest hour. But we can, and should, learn from it. Turn it into what Barack Obama calls a "Teachable Moment".

The Truth About Ted was a search for the truth about Ted, and now that the truth has come out, all myself, and anyone else, can do, is offer Ted Hankey every one of our best wishes, and prayers.

So look after yourself Ted. The great entertainer of the game.

Lesson learned.