All Set and Rarin' to Go
The much-traveled American stars Chris Barnes and Tommy Jones, completing their odyssey somewhat alike the journeys of Marco Polo, taking in Cyprus, Thailand, France, Austria and here to England, all within a month, now face the annual battle between Europe and the United States for the prestigious 888pokerWeber Cup. Barnes and Jones are joined by Mike Fagan and Bill O'Neill as they confidently expect to defend their 2011 win.
Neither Barnes or Jones have been away from home for such a long period since their days on the earlier PBA Tours. Barnes did see his wife, Lynda, during the Vienna Open in Austria for a few days, but she flew home after that tournament, so Barnes still misses seeing his two boys. We asked them both whether they would go through this punishing schedule again and both replied that they would have to think hard about it.
The Americans face a changed European quartet, Stuart Williams taking the place of popular leftie Paul Moor, with captain Osku Palermaa lining up with Mika Koivuniemi and Dominic Barrett.
This evening's session will be a 'Baker' team and then five singles matches and the line-ups will be decided when the players have enjoyed their practice sessions.
Order of play:
Baker - Team USA: Mike Fagan, Tommy JOnes, Bill O'Neill, Chris Barnes.
Team Europe: Osku Palermaa, Mika Koivuniemi, Dominic Barrett, Stuart Williams
Singles 1. Mike Fagan vs Mika Koivuniemi
Singles 2: Chris Barnes vs Osku Palermaa
Singles 3: Bill O'Neill vs Dominic Barrett
Singles 4: Tommy Jones vs Stuart Williams
Singles 5: Captain's pick.
Team USA posted their first point of the 2013 888poker Weber Cup with a Baker team win over Europe, 197-184.
All went swimmingly well for both teams for the first five frames, then a 7-10 split reared it ugly hed for Koivumiemi in the sixth frame. O'Neill suffered an open in frame 7 to open the door for a European comeback, but that was nullified when Williams also got the 7-10 treatment in frame 8. All looked lost for the Europeans until Jones left the 2-10 in the tenth, meaning Koivuniemi had to at least double in the tenth frame and then take four pins to win. Alas, a 10-pin spoilt that endeavor, so the Europeans suffered yet another Baker defeat, their Achilles heel in the Weber Cup affairs.
Things looked good for Europe in the opening singles match, especially when Fagan left the dreaded 7-10 split in the sixth frame and trailed Koivuniemi by 21 pins, but then the tall Finn chopped the 6-pin off the 10 for an open frame. He followed that with a 7-spare, strike and had to strike with his final ball of the tenth to win the match, shutting Fagan out. That he did, so the points now are 1-1 and all to play for.
Singles Match2 saw thependulum swing back into theAmerican's favor, now 2-1in the points tabl;e, as the clash of the captains saw Barnes reign supreme over Palermaa. Barnes had a trio of spares from frames four to six but otherwise his life was all strikes. Palermaa had a 6-washout in frame three and after that he was out of the race. Advantage USA, 252-221.
Honors even once again as Barrett pulls back a solid point with a convincing win over O'Neill. "It's back to the drawing board for the Americans," said Simon Golding, the TV commentator. Barrett looked as comfortable as a pig in clover and stroked his ball nicely into the 1-3 pocket, despite a hiccup in the fourth frame, leaving a 6-7-10 split. But five strikes in a row settled the issue and now the points are 2-2.
Wow!! What a fourth singles match and a true masterclassof tenpin bowling. Both started with five strikes and then the pressure got to JOnes first, heft the 10-pin in the sixth frame. Williams continued his strikefest and kept that up until the seventh and then he too left a 10-pin. In the ninth frame it was a 219 tie. Jones finished first and posted 279 as the targer for Williams. The Englishman had a truly lucky double in the tenth and then left four pins, finishing four pins behind Jones, 279-275. Scores now 3-2,advantage America.
The fifth and last singles match of this first session is the unique captains' pick, chosing one of the opposing team, and Palermaa has chosen Barnes, Barnes chose Koivuniemi.
We question Palermaa's choice of Barnes as an opponent for Koivuniemi, especially as the American had bowled 252 in his first game. Barnes bettered that with a 268 to destroy the tall Finn and bring the scores to 4-2 in favor of the Americans. "I was surprised Palermaa chose me," commented Barnes. "In fact, I was a little offended, so I made him pay."
The opening session brought all the thrills and spills so prevalent in the Weber Cup and brought a packed house of knowledgeable spectators. Action contines at 13:00 on Saturday, once again opening with a Baker match, then singles and doubles.