Really I am back at Wolverhampton. This year I was not really sure it would happen. All this Brexit drama had hindered me to decide what to do. A no deal Brexit on 31. October (which Johnson intended - or might be not) and England during the Grand Slam could turn out to be chaotic. With whom should I book a flight? Who really was prepared for Brexit? Well, in the end I booked a flight from Stuttgart to London with a German airline hoping that even after a no deal Brexit it would be possible to get somehow from Stuttgart to London. From there I would take the bus to Wolverhampton. As probably everybody knows by now the Brexit once again was postponed. Instead the flight attendants of my German airline went on strike. But I arrived here in Wolverhampton somehow and the weather was even better than in Germany as it was not wet and cold but only cold. Well - on Saturday morning the rain had reached Wolverhampton and my way to the shuttle to the Aldersleigh Leisure Village was rather wet. As I would stay all day in the venue it didn't really matter.
In the first match of the tournament with Martin Schindler a German player stood at the oche. Schindler already took part last year in the event and won one of his matches. This year so far had been a rather up- and down year for Schindler and he had with Nathan Aspinall a very strong opponent. And so it took some time for him to settle in the match. In the last and deciding leg of the match both players had a chance to win the leg and both had some problems to hit their doubles. In the end Aspinall found the double 2 and won the match 5:0.
In the second match of the afternnoon the World Series of Darts Final Finalist Danny Noppert played against Ryan Harrington - the son of Rod Harrington. I had awaited that Noppert would be full of confidence after his success but instead it was Harrington who convinced. Till the end it was a rather close match which Harrington won deservedly 5:4.
Gabriel Clemens, another German, and Brendan Dolan came on stage next. Till now Dolan always lost to Clemens and exactly that happened in this match again. Dolan only won a single leg after Clemens had missed his doubles. He looked a little bit shaken afterwards but in the end won 5:1.
Black Country against St. Helens was the next pairing and with Jamie Hughes an almost local player came on stage. His opponent was Dave Chisnall - a very determined player - and Hughes home advantage didn't help. Till the 3:3 it was an evenly matched contest. But then you could almost see how Chisnall pulled himself together and he won 5:2.
By now all four groups had played their first match and with Richard Veenstra the first BDO player came on stage. His opponent was Daryl Gurney. From the start Veenstra looked intimidated and unsure and that's how he played as well. It was definitely not a hard fought win Gurney who won 5:0.
Wayne Warren was the next BDO player on stage and till the 2:2 it was far from easy for an uninspired looking Peter Wright. But than Wright decided not to chuck in his job but to use a higher gear. With success - he won on the end with 5:2. But despite his good average it was not really a convincing performance.
With Lisa Ashton followed one of two female BDO representatives. She played against Rob Cross, who looked like he was not quite sure what to do with a female opponent, especially when this was supported by the crowd. And so Cross was far from his best but still too good for Lisa Ashton though she could win two legs and threw the first 180 of the match in the second leg.
The final match of the afternoon was Michael Smith v Glen Durrant. Durrant in this match was a BDO representative for a last time. But he seemed to be tense and to be sure he didn't play as good as he had hoped while Michael Smith played a great match and almost hit a nine-darter. After eight perfect darts he made a mess of the leg and couldn't find a double. He really was shaken and Durrant managed to win the leg. It took Smith some time to recover but in the end he crossed the finishing line convincingly.
A long, long break followed. No idea why the PDC put such a long break between the sessions. But as my computer had decided to do his updates at the end of the afternoon session I had at least time enough to actualise my homepage.
Than the show finally went on and the group matches of the groups A-D followed. And they followed so
close it looked the long break time should be caught up. William O'Connor played a good match after he
had first been arrear against Darren Webster. Gerwyn Price had some problems with Mikuru Suzuki who
played on the same level. It seems it is not so easy to play against a woman. Ian White had no problems
at all with Steve Lennon. Gary Anderson had thrown sloppy darts but played all in all well - far too well
for BDO player Dave Parletti. Parletti though looked from the start like he believed he had no chance
at all and only wanted to enjoy being on stage.
The BDO players this year all didn't play well in this
first group matches. That showed as well in the next match in which the BDO number 1 Wesley Harms
came on stage to play against James Wade. It was not Harms first time in the Grand Slam. The first
time he was in Wolverhampton in 2012. In the first years he always wore protectice sleeves for the
walk-on and I rememeber well his first Greand Slam interview when he told he would win the tournament.
He still has to improve to achieve that. Might be he'll show more in his next matches. Should he play
on like in his first group match he will not win the event this year and probably will not be the winner
of the next BDO World Championship either. Wade had no problems to beat him.
Next on were Michael van
Gerwen and BDO player Jim Williams. Van Gerwen is not completely fit and was not as confident as
usually. And he was far from clinical on his doubles. But Williams was nevertheless not good enough
for him and van Gerwen's win never was in danger. In the penultimate match Adrian Lewis met Ross Smith
and both players but though both players didn't play well it was a hard fought match. Lewis some
how won it and even deservedly won it because he hit his doubles better. But he is far from his
best. To end the evening we saw a match with a surprising end: Robert Thornton defeated Dimitri
van den Bergh 5:4. Van den Bergh had the higher average but Thornton hit his doubles better and
had that fantastic 160 finish for the 3:3! That really shattered van den Bergh.
It still rained when I made my way back to the shuttle bus into the city centre. The bus was full, the atmosphere great and after the Michael van Gerwen song had been rejected with boos people settled on "The wheels of the bus go round an round". I stil went round and round walking back to the hotel and it still was very wet. Lots of wet leaves were on the footpath. I decided to finish my updates before going to bed and hoped those wheels would finally stop.