Due to a minor disagreement with the chicken who plays tic-tac-toe at the Tropicana and then a major disagreement with casino security this is probably the first column ever about the sport of darts which was conceived, at least partially, while in handcuffs.
Due to an appointment that I think it would be wise to make on time in the morning and also thanks to a pretty fair portion of aiming fluid, this column will been brief. For the record though, let's be clear about one thing: the chicken's a little bastard and he CHEATS!
I don't remember how my hands around it's neck.
Anyway, although I may never be able to return, I'm still here in the City of Entertainment at the Professional Darts Corporation's (PDC) first ever Desert Classic darts tournament. Earlier today I witnessed some of the finest darts action I have ever seen.
Quarter-final play began early and saw three men -- Liverpool's young Lee Palfreyman, Holland's Roland "the Flying Dutchman" Scholten and England's ten-times world champion, Phil "the Power" Taylor -- all advance to the evening's semi-final semi-play. In essentially workman-like efforts each looked strong in two-sets-to-nil wins over their opponents.
Despite being taken to a third set by Canada's John "Darth Maple" Part (who forced the tie-breaking set with back-to-back spectacular closes of 152 and 146), England's Ronnie "the Rocket" Baxter managed to round out the group that would head into the evening's semi-final match-ups.
The draw to determine the semi-final pairings was held and fans dispersed to contemplate the possibilities.
Could the tournament's Cinderella lad shock the darting world and unplug the Power?
Could the fast-shooting Rocket intercept the sharp-shooting Flying Dutchman?
And, for the ladies, which American (Stacy Bromberg or Carolyn Mars) would advance to play which Brit (Deta Hedman or Crissy Howat) in the anticipated international face-off on Sunday?
Well folks, the shoot-out started at 7:00 p.m. and some fireworks boomed at 9:15 p.m. but the first real battle of the tournament did not begin until 11:00 p.m. By this hour all but which of the American ladies would head to war was already determined.
Baxter methodically dispatched Scholten.
Youthful enthusiasm and brilliant darts were not nearly enough for Palfreyman. Talyor allowed him but a couple legs before dispatching him to tip beers with the mass of darters already vanquished. Near it's conclusion, this match was briefly disrupted when what sounded to be a bomb and then gunshots were heard throughout the hall. Relieved to learn that the noise was only fireworks, much of the hall piled into the street behind the MGM to watch the display before the ladies semis got underway.
Hedman threw fine darts to get by Crissy Howat.
But the match of the day -- the battle of the tournament, so far -- saw Mars and Bromberg trade blows in a crowd-thrilling see-saw showdown highlighted, in part, by a twelve-dart effort by Mars. PDC referee, Fred Williams, described this thriller as the "best ladies match" he'd ever seen. Without a doubt, America is sending it's best into the final tomorrow. Yep, Carolyn Mars seems more than ready to give Deta Hedman the match of her life.
So that's the line up darts fan: Baxter vs. Taylor and Hedman vs. Mars. It's gonna be great.
The stage lights up at noon... about the same time I have to do some explaining about a chicken.
From the Field,