While wandering around the limited and crappy channels on the television, I came across some games that I have liked but never had the skills to play. Snooker and Darts.
Top players in the world. Astounding skills.
Firstly, lets forget about snooker being played by myself. I will just gawk in astonishment at the world greats. I remember Pierre Mans from South Africa and Ray Reardon from England who won the world championship in 1978. I was in the airforce and watched the world championship there. Obviously there were lots of fellow supporting Pierre. I remember the fancy waistcoats that Pierre wore. The commentator said that Pierre had the best "long pots" in world snooker. Later I remember Stephen Hendry who was the world champion for seven years. I was watching a fellow by the name of Ronnie O'Sullivan. Ridiculous skills, how many times did I see that fellow clean up the board? To me it was how he managed the other balls that he was not directly trying to sink. He had many breaks of over 100 points; when his opponent made a mistake, often it was the last chance he got. One game in particular amazed me, he was 63 points behind and there was a maximum of 69 points available and he sank everything to win the game and eventually the match. I have checked him out on Wikipedia and found him to be quite a character. The highest (and perfect score is 147), once he turned down the chance to get the more difficult black ball shot as the prize money was "only" ten thousand pounds, visibly disappointed he sank the pink rather and scored 146. This particular gent can play both left handed and right handed. The crowd watching is absolutely dead quiet as these geniuses plan and play their shots.
Then on the same channel I saw darts being played. What a contrast. A marker who bellows the score (if over a hundred and forty), needless to say, can you imagine the racket he makes when the players score the perfect 180 with three triple twenties! Then I saw the perfect game using just 9 darts to complete 501 by a Dutch player. Seven triple twenties, one triple 19 and a double twelve to complete the game. Everyone went wild when he got it. There is a pool of fifty thousand pounds for all the 9-darters in the tournament. I think he was the only fellow to get it. The crowd is all dressed up and much ale is flowing. Lots of chanting and cheering. How they can concentrate is beyond me, especially with my chess background where silence is necessary to think. The one fellow that I admired was a chap by the name of Gary Anderson. These professionals use nefarious tactics such as slow play, farting and over exuberant cheering to annoy their opponents. I remember watching darts many years ago and the players would play while holding a pint in their other hand while the commentator would rave about these :athletes". A British television show made such fun of these "athletes" holding their huge beer while besotted made the World Darts body stop the players from drinking while playing a match.
I was all fired up and went and bought some darts to use on my neglected dart board. What the hell? The board looks tiny compared to the huge one on the telly! Maybe I will just watch the game from now on and cheer them on from my lounge. It definitely irritates my wife! (hee hee)
Darts is always a popular game, particularly for those folk who tend to inhabit pubs and clubs more than their places of residence. When I was doing my articles as a young prospective accountant, there was a dart board and all the clerks formed teams and competition was fierce. The most successful pairing was Eric Swanepoel and Des Erasmus. After winning a serious competition, Des puts his hand spread out on the dart board and tells his partner Eric to throw the bull between his open fingers. Eric was very reluctant but the taunts from the rest of us helped Eric decide to throw the darts. The first dart pegged Des in the hand and was hanging there as Des kept insisting Eric throw the other darts. An image that is forever stuck in my mind.
Even now I still get a chuckle from that memory in the early 1980's.