Carrom and Darts
While today in Wolverhampton the Grand Slam of Darts starts in nearby Birmingham another sporting highlight will end - the Carrom World Championship. Similar to darts carom - really a recognised sport as well - is only mentioned in a side note in press. Well I have to admit that I am not a carom expert myself and my knowledge is rather superficial. The news there even exists a carom World Championships for me came a surprise. Carrom is a board game played on a wooden board. The board has in all four corners a hole. The game is usually played by two people both with nine gaming pieces in black or white usually made from wood as well. Added are a red gaming piece named Queen and two shooting pieces - the strikers - which are from plastic and much heavier then the other gaming pieces. Beside you need some kind of sliding powder for the board so you can move the gaming pieces more easily. Aim of the game is it to dump the gaming pieces into the corner holes with the striker using the striker from the baseline. When you dump pieces you can collect points. When one of the players has got 25 points the match is over. At most eight boards (innings) will be played.
As the match has some affinity to billiard it is known under the name finger billiard as well and it is believed that the development of the game was influenced when the Englishmen brought billiard over in their colony India. But it could well be the game is much older. Till today it is most popular in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the bordering countries, but is played by now all over the world and participants from around 20 travelled to Birmingham to take part in the event among them teams from Germany, Switzerland and the UK. During the World Championship pairs, singles and team competitions are played beside an event called "Swiss League". Women and men play the game and so most countries are represented by a male and a female team. I've no idea why there are no mixed teams.But till today the best Carrom players come from the originating countries India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
In the sport of darts it had changed a little bit - there are some players around who don't come from the originating country - the United Kingdom and already the first match of the Grand Slam ended with the surprising win of Belgian Dimitri van den Bergh - who was not only the better dancer but the better player on the day over - Welshman Gerwyn Price. It was a quite even match while game number two between Australian Simon Whitlock and Englishman Ted Evetts was rather one sided as the young and without much experience on stage Evetts had no chance at all. And so it was Englishman James Wilson who scored the first point for the originating country which was only a surprise because his fellow country men Dave Chisnall seemed to be unable to hit a double. You could see during the walk-on those two get only really well - hopefully the match result didn't change it. The next match between Danny Noppert and Mensur Suljovic was without an English participant and surprisingly Danny Noppert, a till now not really well-known Dutch BDO player could win it. So it didn't look too well for the originating darts country in the middle of the afternoon session but it got better. Robert Thornton won against a somehow lacklustre Scott Waites. The best performance of the afternoon by Raymond van Barneveld followed - it is a long time the Dutch legend played so convincingly!!! And in the last two matches of the afternoon the British players James Wade and Peter Wright celebrated their first wins.
In the evening the so called "Top Guns" stood on stage and to be sure one noticed it immediately because now the players had individual walk-ons while in the afternoon both players had walked together on stage. The quality of the first three matches though was not much better. All three were slowly matches and more of the weaker kind. Especially the first one between Brendan Dolan and Max Hopp only was interesting in the last leg when Dolan with his last dart managed the win. The second match ended with a surprise win by Nathan Derry who at least entertained with his unusual throwing technique. As neither Ian White nor Darren Webster have got what one might call stage presence it happened that the crowd was more interested in itself then in the action on stage. In the fourth match Benito van de Pas stormed in lead but lost the thread and Chris Dobey managed with some really great legs the 4:4- With some luck the Dutchmen stumbled over the finishing line. And then finally: the Top Guns!! Somehow Sky Sport managed to destroy the atmosphere and the thrill a little bit by analysing each match after the match by Wayne Mardle and Dave Clark, then televising an interview with the winner and let follow a commercial break. Might be it only appeared so to me after such a long day.Three of the Top Guns - Michael van Gerwen, Phil Taylor and Gary Anderson - won their matches. Michael van Gerwen showed the least high class performance of the three as almost every time in a first tournament match. I still wait one of his first round opponents finally uses this chance. The fourth Top Gun - Adrian Lewis - lost to a great Scott Mitchell who played the second highest average of the day.
That to be sure was an interesting first day of an interesting tournament with several surprises. The BDO only scored two wins by Danny Noppert and Scott Mitchell but Glen Durrant played well in his defeat by Gary Anderson. Scott Waites disappointed, Martin Adams to be sure is not in best health and Darryl Fitton had with Phil Taylor a hard to beat opponent.