In St. Martin in the Fields and in Alexandra Palace
My first day in London started dull and a little bit wet. As the World Championship would not begin before the evening I took bus and underground into the City of London. The City is always crowded and even more so such a short time before Christmas. So I concentrated on only a few destinations - one of those the church St.Martin's in the Fields. When you today stand in front of it just across the crowds on Trafalgar Square it is difficult to picture that till into the 16. Century it really was surrounded by fields, but at that time London and Westminster still were two separate cities.
St. Martin has build up a good reputation in the world of classical music as the home of the Academy of St.Martin in the Fields - one of the best chamber orchestras of the world which was founded 1958 by Sir Neville Marriner. Marriner - who only died recently in October 2016 - was a great conductor and was from 1983 - 1989 conductor of the German Radiosinfonie Orchestra Stuttgart. Today his successor in St. Martin's is Joshua Bell.
As many other churches in London this church has special functions - for one it is the church of the royal house as Buckingham Palace belongs to its parish. On the other side it is the church of the admiralty.
Till now I didn't hear the Academy during a concert in St.Martin's but in the church especially before Christmas often free lunchtime concerts take place from around 30 minutes and often with festive music. You can perfectly combine this with a lunch break in the café in the crypt of the church. There you can eat a soup, a salad or a complete meet should you not decide for coffee and a cake. But the café often is crowded and you will not always find a chair. I decided for the soup and then went up back again with underground and bus to Muswell Hill.
The first match of the World Championship 2017 was - as most of those first matches are which open a big tournament - not really a great match and very nervous and scattered. But as the winner Kevin Painter said after the match it is an achievement to qualify at all for the tournament. And when you have not been on the big stage for some time what had happened to him, it is only about surviving the First Round and averages are of no interest at all. In the second match young Welshman Jamie Lewis defeated Irishman Mick McGowan in a close and quite interesting match.
Next up was the first appearance of the reigning champion Gary Anderson against PDPA qualifier and debutant Mark Frost. As the crowd sympathized with the Underdog Anderson not really came into his own. Frost has not played often on a big stage and he looked like he was quite overwhelmed by the situation especially when the crowd started to cheer him. The smile was on his face all the time and several times he had to step back to take a deep breath before he threw his darts. Anderson stayed professional and handled it well - what to be sure was not easy. He looked a little bit tired when he turned up in the press room to answer the questions. The last match if the evening in parts was high class and it was very close. Luck helped Michael Smith a little to get over the finishing line before Ricky Evans. It's a pity Evans was eliminated. He's a player I like to watch.
The first evening was not a really enthralling evening, but you can say often about first evenings of a tournament. The atmosphere in the crowd to be sure was already great.