Crikey - the Beard to be Feared got a little bit of a trim last night didn't he?
Dave Chisnall, whose career has generally been drifting in the BDO, his Lakeside World Finals appearance in January notwithstanding, collided with a Simon Whitlock who has been going full speed ahead, and the result was like the Titanic hitting the iceberg.
Chisnall put in a great performance, including 4 maximums, to take down a clearly-rattled Whitlock by 5 legs to 1. If he sustains that level throughout the tournament, the St Helens man is definitely one to watch.
Mervyn King strolled past Stacy Bromberg by the same scoreline; Bromberg was clearly under the kosh, and I hope she'll put in the kind of performance we know she can do in her remaining group matches.
It wasn't a great night for the wild card qualifiers; John Henderson, the rotund and rubicund Scot, fell to Terry Jenkins 5-2, though he showed some good flashes, including a brilliant 12 dart leg and hit a couple of maximums. Justin Pipe succumbed 5-2 to James Wade; it was a confident start from the Machine, and Pipe admitted that nerves had got the better of him. Mark Hylton went out 5-0 in the only whitewash of the evening against a dominant Gary Anderson; let's hope that the wild card lads get over their first night nerves and give us some giant killing, or at least some giant threatening, action.
BDO Big Noise Tony O'Shea overcame an out-of-form looking Vincent van der Voort 5-1, and Robert Thornton overcame Colin Osborne 5-2. The Thorn said that he'd been practising his finshing by having his wife shout out finishes for him to go for; if it works for him as well as it did last night, I wonder if my girlfriend would be willing to do the same... Then again, perhaps not :o)
Local hero Wayne Jones put in a stirling performance to overcome Welshman Mark Webster, also 5-2 which seems to be a popular scoreline, in a match characterised by the crowd getting right behind the Wanderer and right up Webby's nose. Boisterous crowds are to be expected and part of the drama which the PDC does so well, though I do wish people wouldn't boo/cheer individual throws when they hit/miss. Well done to Jones, who made some great finishes (despite a second leg in which both players were struggling to hit double 2, then double 1, in a manner reminiscent of me and a mate in the pub); I hope Webster gets the crowd a bit more on his side in his next matches.
Let's see what Sunday brings us...