Maureen Shepherd was one of only two Barbadian women to advance to the quarter-finals. (FP)
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The 16th Harrows Barbados Darts Festival kicked off in style at Solidarity House on Friday night with the visitors to the Caribbean demonstrating their honed darting skills, game management and mental fortitude.
Both the Appleton Rum men’s and ladies pairs finals were contested by teams from overseas and were exciting, hard fought and high quality.
Bajan representation in the final rounds of the ladies pairs was extremely sparse with only the team of Maureen Shepherd and Thelma Alleyne making it to the quarter-final stage.
The Festival director and many of the top overseas players found it staggering to discover that some of the most talented and experienced Bajan women had not chosen their partners months ago to enable them to practice together and agree on tactics in the tournament. This would have given them a much better chance to play to their full potential in this tournament.
The Bajan men fared a little better than their compatriots with the team of Roger Edwards and Mark Griffith reaching the semi-finals where they faced title-holders from the UK Alan Collins and Gary Tipping.
Playing inspired darts, the Bajans took a 2-0 lead and then had several darts at a double to take the third leg and the match. It was at this stage that lack of regular high-pressure competitive took their toll on the Bajans.
Collins and Tipping came back to level at 2-2 and it was now obvious that the British duo had the stronger mental approach to enable them to snatch the final leg and victory – much to the disappointment of a large partisan crowd.
The other semi-final also went to a deciding fifth leg as the Anglo-Canadian duo of John Downs and Brad Laffin edged out the Celtic pairing of John Roberts and Glen McGrandle by 3-2.
The final was just as exciting with some exceptional darts on show. Maximums, 140s, and tons were commonplace and the finishing was clinical on both sides. The vast majority of legs were completed in 16 darts as neither team could gain a decisive advantage.
Crucially, in the final leg Downs and Laffin had first visit to the oche and, as the teams swapped high scores, Downs was left with a chance to claim the title with a 76 finish. To the obvious admiration of the spectators, Downs calmly hit 20, 16 and then double top to take the match.
In the ladies semi-finals, Canadians Peggy McKay and Dawn Marchand defeated the Trinidadian duo of Nanette Brooks and Petty Messiah 3-1 and the English pair of Wendy Reader and Donna Gleed had a comfortable victory over Canadians Evelyn Bellay and Donna Bisaro 3-0. (PR)