Darts returned on Monday night with surprisingly few teething problems. The board had been replaced two inches too high and the new carpet meant that the rubber mat with the oche wouldn't stay put. It didn't take long to reposition the board but we spent some time experimenting with taping the mat in place before resorting to a simple strip of tape on the carpet at the appropriate distance. I'm happy to report that a more permanent solution has been found: two metal strips are now in place at 7' (for the ladies) and 7' 9¼". The lighting in that part of the pub is poor - I couldn't see well enough to fit the flights on my arrows - and we had to appropriate a table from elsewhere, but otherwise it's not a bad location.
Six of us played in this opening knockout, not a bad turnout after the unexpectedly long break. James and Andy were drawn first with Andy hitting some very respectable scores including a 132 but his finishing let him down and James won 2-1. Darren and Ben played next; Ben's darts were all over the place with a 3-dart average that must have been hovering around 20! but when Darren failed time after time to hit double-1 Ben sneaked in a finish to take one of the unlikeliest legs ever. There was no way that was going to be repeated and Darren finished up the winner 2-1, scoring three 133's along the way.
With the preliminary round out of the way it was on with the semis. First up were Ram and Anne who received byes in the draw. After a shaky start by Ram this settled down into a familiar pattern with Anne scoring some decent totals along the way but not able to keep up with Ram's more consistent darts: 2-0 to Ram.
The two qualifiers, James and Darren, completed the semi-final line-up. I don't know whether it was through warming up in the previous round or the effects of the cider but James certainly found his form this time. Darren continued throwing consistently, hitting another 133, but James was ahead all the way, achieving the night's highest score of 140 along the way to a 2-0 victory and a spot in the final.
All James had to do was keep on throwing that consistently and against Ram in the final that was exactly what he did. Ram looked a little rusty after the months away from the oche, as did most of us compared to the heights of last season, but James seemed to find his old form and won convincingly 2-0.
The Christmas Knockout is next Monday, the 17th. Starting between 8 and 8:30 it will be £2.50 per player to enter and is open to everybody. Even if you don't play why not come along and watch?