Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chelmsford 7 – 3 Stanley Masons

It was a fairly off key event tonight, with many of us just not playing as well as last week. At least we secured 7 points on a night where (just as last week) very little separated the two teams.

We won the opening 3 games to take a good lead. Willie and I played well in the Doubles game and I finished on D4 to get the point.

Annoyingly I was the first player to lose a Singles match. I was throwing against the darts against Derek, but I still got three darts at my favourite D20 before missing and letting Derek finish well on 16 to take the point. I won't be doing any more of those practice photos on here, where all of the darts are crammed into the D20 bed ;o)

ark H also lost his Singles game despite some good early scoring, but that and a Doubles defeat were the only low points on a night when most of the team finished reasonably well.

Man Of The Match goes to Peter M, who won every game he was involved with and did well on a night where most of the games were a little under par.

I'll be getting a League table update shortly and I expect to see The Chelmsford in the top third. Quite a change from last season.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Practice night

Pictured : Tonight's practice highlights

I had a great night on the practice board tonight, beating my current averages in 501 legs and getting reasonably close to most things I aimed for.

I've peaked too soon for Tuesday night's return game against Stanley Masons obviously.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Trinis

Thanks to Rose Duff for sending me some great pictures. From left to right we have Rabbit (T&T No 1), Hank (Cayman No1), myself, Rose, and Nannette Brooks (T&T No 1 Ladies player).

They'll all be having a great time at the Caribbean Cup in Trinidad next Summer, but I'll have to wait until October before I see them again in Barbados.

Better balance

Pictured : The new dart config

This picture shows the better balance I'm now getting following the changes described in the earlier post. I's just a steady 60, but the angle of attack is typical of what I'm now getting following the changes.

Of course I still have really poor practice nights where the results aren't good, but this now has absolutely nothing to do with the darts themselves. One more avenue of “excuses” closed off to me then :o)

Changes to the darts

Pictured : The new stems and flights

Since switching to the Harrows Magnums in early November I've need to make changes to the stems and flights to get the balance right.

I noticed with the Short stems that the balance just wasn't right, and I'm now using Medium stems. This corrected the feel of the darts as I threw them, but it then became apparent the the Pear shaped flights were no longer giving enough “lift”. I therefore changed from Pears to Standard. They are the Ruthless Xtra Strong Poly type, which cost marginally more than normal (40p instead of 30p), but are far more durable and keep their shape far better than the old Poly Plains I was using.

I'm also using stem grip springs, and they seem to hold the flights far tighter in the stem, so I no longer need to continually push the flights down into the stem.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Stanley Masons 2 - 8 Chelmsford

Pictured : Practice darts

Yet more valuable points for us on our travels tonight at The Stanley Masons. The scoreline may flatter us on a night where the teams were both evenly matched, but we have become accustomed to sinking the doubles and nabbing the points this season. Not a problem!

I had a slightly uncomfortable time on the oche tonight, but dear me these new darts of mine seem to find their way into the doubles. I finished on 32 in my Doubles game with Alan P (D8, D8), and then 65 in my Singles game (25, D20). Whenever I have problems building scores the doubles seem to go well, and vice versa. No Man Of The Match this week - we just played a good game as a team.

Good hospitality from the Masons as always, and they'll be keen to turn this one around in the return match next Tuesday. Special mention to the Masons' choice of music during the game. Just hearing "Highway To Hell" by AC/DC was a treat, even if it was not the Bon Scott version :o)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Trinidad Guardian

Pictured : Rosemarie Duff

Rose was showing me a portfolio of her reporting work, and has sent me the following link for her write-up on the Barbados Darts Festival 2007.

Thanks to Rose and the rest of the Trini's, who were great hosts at one of their hotel parties after the Solidarity House finale. I look forward to seeing them all again next year, and I'm keeping in touch with a few of them on e-mail.


Thanks to all the people who check this blog from time to time. It's really encouraging to see site stats which show people from the flags on display as having visited over the past few days.

I hope to have a good story on 30th November. I'll be going to Witney (Oxfordshire) again to catch up with my friends down there and also see John Lowe / Eric Bristow / Cliff Lazarenko / Keith Deller in action.

There'll probably be some sort of amateur competition in The Three Pigeons on the Saturday night, so I'll be sure to pack my darts!

It is a made up fact that Witney is twinned with the American town of Witney, Houston TX.

Barbados 4/11/2007 : The Cockspur Mens Singles, Solidarity House

Pictured : (L-R) Jan, Tricia Sime, Ray, Len, Rob Sime

Guess what? Still no glory for me, but this one really rattled me. I was prepared and focused, and probably playing the smoothest darts of the fortnight. I was up against Guyana's Number 2, Fitzgerald in the first round. When bulling up to see who threw first I hit the 50. I then played consistently but suffered with three bounce outs at just the wrong moments in the 2-1 defeat. There were even two bounce outs off the T20 wire in the same throw, meaning I walked back with a score of 20 instead of the 140 I should've had. It's a cruel game.

Glory for the touring party's Rob Sime though. He played the best I've ever seen him play over the last two Bdos tourneys. He battled all the way to the final. By this time I had truly found my place and was marking the final! Rob was just edged out by Rabbit, Trinidad's number 1 player.

Special mention to Karen Lowe and Janice Simpkins, who were runners up in the Ladies' Doubles, and for times during the final seemed to have a hand on the trophy.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Barbados 2/11/2007 : The B&H Mens Pairs, Solidarity House

Pictured : Me, John Lowe, Debs

Les and I again paired up for this doubles game. We beat John Simpkins (touring party) and his Bajan partner 3-1.

In the second round we went out 3-1 against Dave and Terry from the touting party. Les and I played OK, but couldn't quite match them. I hit a nice 87 finish (T17, D18). Les and I both had chances to hit the other winning doubles, so the games were close.

I marked the board on stage in the finals, which saw Winston Coduggan and Anthony Forde (both Bajan) beat Rabbit and his partner (Trinidad) with a convincing 3-0 score.

Barbados 30/10/2007 : The A & T Hideaway

Pictured : Me and Mapp in the doubles

At last a bit better news to report in two great pairs competition at the A & T Hideaway. The pairs are all drawn from a hat in this event, so you can get to play with a Bajan team mate.

In the first competition I partnered Mapp (Bajan). We beat Terry (touring party) and his Bajan partner, with me hitting both winning doubles in the 2-1 result. It was sheer relief to at last get past a first round, but Anthony Forde and his partner (Bajans) beat us 2-0 in the next round. Again, we had looks at winning doubles, so we were kicking ourselves.

Better things happened in the next competition though. This time I was partnered with Compton Bates (Bajan). The first round was shaky for us, but we still got a 2-1 win against two Bajan women. Compton and I really raised our game in the second round against the two alpha males who had won the earlier competition. I hit a D5 to make it 1-1 and take us to a tense final game. At one point Compton and I were looking at an 11 dart finish, but annoyingly failed to finish the game and we lost 2-1. Great excitement though, and it was a real buzz to take part in a battle like that.

Barbados 28/10/2007 : The Right Guard Mens Singles, Almond Bay

Pictured : me and Debs on the caramaran

My lovely girlfriend Deb (look, she reads this!) partnered Karen Lowe in the women's pairs, but sadly they went out 2-0 in the first round.

I played far better this time and pushed the experienced Dave Jenner (touring party) all the way in a close match which ended in a 3-2 defeat for me. I never have any complaints when I raise my game to the opposition and do my best.

As you'll see from the other match summaries I didn't win too many games, but it really wasn't bothering me too much on this great holiday.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Barbados 26/10/2007 : The Warrens Motors Mens Pairs

Pictured : Scum like me and Les - in Barbados!

We played our first competition of the holiday at the Almond Bay venue. My girlfriend Debs had the sternest possible of tests in her Ladies Singles game against Bajan Eloise. Debs hit a nice 123 (T20, T20, T1) and pushed all the way before going out 2-0 in the first round.

My doubles partner Les and I fared no better, losing by the same score, but we both played a strong game with chances to hit winning doubles in both games. In what must be a “first” for me I hit three consecutive tons, but all to no avail as Skinner and his new doubles partner finished in style (Bull finish on the last dart).

Janice seemed to get the furthest of all of us, and told me to mention her superb 65 finish on the blog!

Cup Night – The Commercial

Pictured : Two good markers and a D8 practice shot

We had a night away from the League on Tuesday, and played our Cup games (the Doubles / Pairs Competition) up at The Commercial in Leadgate.

Our Captain Lena was involved in making the draw, and somehow she managed to draw myself and Roger to play against her and Willie in the first round. This turned out to be a lucky move, because all four of us played so badly there was no way we could have beaten decent opposition to get into the next round. We just had to be glad that the draw guaranteed a Chelmsford representative to go through to the next round, to be played in May 2008.

As it turned out Roger and I won 2-0, but the people in the next round will be keen to play us after seeing the badness on display. We just couldn't get going, and the only positives I can take from it are that I hit both finishing doubles when I had the chance. Roger and I will really need to step up a gear to compete with the others we saw winning their games. I remember one leg where any sub 100 shot was almost a disappointment to them. Us four couldn't buy a ton.

The new Harrows Magnum darts are still going well though, and they seem to hit the doubles nicely – even on nights like Tuesday when things aren't going well.

There wasn't any good news from our team mates playing at different venues, and I think Roger and I are the only ones to progress. This is one night where I had very poor focus, and the darts weren't pretty.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Introducing the new hay makers

Pictured : Harrows Magnum 97% tungsten

I did promise myself not to tinker with the darts I have been using for the last two years, but I picked these up as a gift from the organisers in Bdos, and they are superb.

They are the same weight and length as my old ones (Hi-Tec, The Vice), but because of the incredibly high tungsten content (97% as opposed to the old 85%) they are ever so slightly slimmer. I've been using them since I got back, and although the bad shots are just as bad as always, when things go right with these it is incredible. I will definitely give them a full 3 months before even considering going back to the Hi-Tecs – there just seems to be nothing to lose.

The points are very well machined, and the darts spin in the point protector totally true. This is not the case with the cheaper Hi-Tecs, where there is a slight wobble. There are some very slight discrepancies between the three darts when it comes to the knurling, but any difference in the throw would be negligible beyond belief.

When they hit the board they just hit it with such authority. I really hope I can make these work for me. I think the real difference will be psychological though. I just love them so much I feel far more confident with them.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Golden Lion 5 – 3 Chelmsford (Cup, 12-5 on aggregate)

Last week while I was away we lost 7-2 to the Golden Lion in the cup. Tonight's 2nd Leg match was therefore a formality, but we still patched up a team (well, 5 of the required 6 people) to play them in Leadgate on a cold evening.

Players like GL's Chris made this fairly one sided, but we still managed to get a respectable scoreline, enlisting Leadgate Cricket Club's Andy to make the numbers up for us. You may notice the two legs have a different total of points, but we just played the game the best we could with full allowance made by both teams for the need to make up the numbers on a quiet Thursday night and just get on with it.

I won my Singles game to get one of the points, as one of their top players took far too many shots to finish. I was in the high 200's when he took his first shot at a double, and I just rode my luck incredibly to finally get the untidy 26 finish (S4, D11, oh dear!).

So we're out of the cup, but we'd always find it difficult to raise a team on a Thursday night, so maybe it is best for us to exit at this point. Good luck to GL in the next round though, and it was a worthwhile experience to play against this high standard of opposition.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

An Interview With John Lowe

Pictured : John Lowe in the Rostrevor Apartments Hotel Bar, Barbados

John and Karen Lowe were superb hosts as usual, and I was delighted that John agreed to grant me an interview for the blog :

ST : What are the main mistakes you see inexperienced players making?

JL : Too much movement when throwing. If the head moves an inch the darts will err by half an inch. This means a S20 will become a S5 or a S1, and a T20 will become a S20. Right handed players sometimes push their elbows out too far, and that too causes unwanted movement.

If you watch the good players all of them keep their heads straight and still during their throw.

ST : Given just one hour before a competitive match, how would you practice?

JL : I'd spend 45 minutes going around the board on the Doubles only, being sure to include plenty of D20 / D6 / D3 / D11 shots. If you can hit them, the other doubles are similar shots.

The final 15 minutes would be spent concentrating on T20 and the Bull. In the USA the “nearest to the bull” decides who goes first, so it is especially important to include the Bull in practice as this is an important advantage.

Throughout these practice shots it would be a case of fine tuning the co-ordination and rhythm.

ST : What is the single most useful piece of advice you could give to an inexperienced player?

JL: Some people seem to throw with a terrible product. I'm not just pushing Unicorn here, but I've seen people use unco-ordinated flights of different colours, and just generally poor equipment. Get decent darts and try a few changes to stem length etc to get the correct balance. I've seen people use flight protectors [small metal “tips” which attach to the back of the flight] just to put some weight at the back of the dart. It is better to use the barrel shape and stem length to achieve this balance.

There is a psychological side to darts, so it is better to compete with good equipment which you are fully comfortable with.


Many thanks to John for this. He really was enthusiastic to pass his thoughts on to this blog, and there's more : John has revealed details of his new coaching book to be released in December 2008 (yep, a whole year away). It may sound like a plug, but think of this : Darts is one of the few games which doesn't have a recognised form of coaching, so this new offering from JL had me really interested.

The working title is “The Art Of Darts – A Master Class”. Following firm interest from at least four publishers it will be Hodder & Stoughton who will release this important work. The book will include photographs and instructions regarding how to stand / throw / release / grip , as well as “style” and all those other aspects we spend our time on improving.

There were initial discussions on separating the contents into 3 volumes, but JL is fairly sure that this will be what we all want it to be – a single coaching manual from a 3-times World Champion.

Chelmsford 2 - 8 Cricketers

Pictured : Yet more practice darts, all for the Bull probably

We were up against a very strong Cricketers team tonight, and very grateful to grab 2 points against them. Last week while I was away I believe we got 3 points against them, so these 5 points in total are very useful against a team who will be "brushing" our immediate neighbours in The League.

On a night where Cricketers hit two 180's our own Alan Parkin hit one too to make it a night of quick fire games.

We went 0-1 down in the opening Team Game and were looking to be outclassed by a Cricketers team full of big names and more importantly they were "on form".

Alan and Willie won their doubles game to avoid the brush, and Man Of The Match Alan was unlucky not to win his Singles game after scoring 180 / 140 but then fluffing a X4 finish.

I won our only other point in my Singles game against Nev, as he uncharacteristically allowed me in to sink a D16 finish after a few stray shots from him. I'd hit a 140 and a 94 to leave the 32, so I was happy to forget my ordinary form in the Team and Doubles games.

Just two points then, but we really grafted for them, and the scoreline is a fair result on the night.

the Blog's back open

Pictured : Colour co-ordinated practice shots

I'm back from Barbados and I have some great stories to relay over the following days. An interview with John Lowe, and some heroics from Rob Sime and Karen Lowe / Janice Simpkins to report.

My own darts weren't too good, but that's life. i was knocked out in the 1st round in two competitions and then in the 2nd round of three competitions. That was the best I did, but I had some fun and learnt just a little bit more about how to compete. No complaints from me, at another successful Barbados darts Festival. More to follow . . .