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Darts....The Questions and Answers.

Table of Contents:

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How is the board set up?
  2. If the toeline is more than a line wide, do you stand on it or behind it?
  3. How is the game of darts actually played?
  4. What are all those wires?
  5. What kind of board should I buy?
  6. What kind of darts should I buy?
  7. What's all that other stuff they sell?
  8. What are some mail order/internet places?
  9. How do I get better?
  10. Where can I learn more?
  11. What's going on in professional darts?
  12. So who's the world champion?
  13. How do you play the x01 games?
  14. OK. Now I'm ready for a more interesting game.(:-)) How do I play American Cricket?
  15. How are dart boards made?
  16. Dart trivia

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1. How is the board set up?

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The dart board is hung so that the center of the bullseye is 1.74m (5'8") from the floor. The throwing line, which is also referred to as the oche (pronounced "ockey"), the hockey (mostly in America), or the toeline, is generally located 2.37m (7'9.25") from the face of the dartboard measured horizontally. This is the recognized world standard asset by the World Darts Federation and is played as such in most areas. However, there are variations in distance and some people play from 2.29m (7'6"), 2.44m (8') and as far as 2.74m (9').

When hanging the board care must be taken to ensure that the floor does not slope away from the wall. If it does, the height of the bullseye will not be located the correct height from the floor in relationship to where the player is standing. If this is the case, the location of the dart board on the wall will have to be adjusted either up or down whichever the case may be.

When measuring the distance from the dart board to the toe line along the floor from the wall, care must be taken to include the distance from the wall to the front surface of the dartboard in the measurement to ensure proper placement. This procedure can be facilitated by tying a weight such as a large nut to a length of string and using it as a plumb bob by placing the other end of the string on the board's surface and letting the weight dangle near the floor. Place a mark on the floor with a piece of chalk and use this as the starting point for measuring the distance to the toe line.

An easier method is to measure diagonally from the center of the bullseye to the floor 2.931m (115-3/8"). This will reduce the margin of error as long as the bullseye has been placed at the correct height and the floor and the wall make a right angle.

The National Darts Federation Of Canada (NDFC) specifies that the minimum length of the toe line must be 610mm (24") long. Furthermore, a raised oche is specified and must be a minimum of 38mm (1.5") high. Although a raised oche is preferred, in most applications, the toe line is a length of tape place along the floor parallel to the wall the dart board is mounted on.

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2. If the toeline is more than a line wide, do you stand on it or behind it?

Officially, it depends upon what type of line was used. If the toe line is a raised oche, the proper distance is measured to the back side of the oche. The back side is the side furthest from the dart board where the player's foot will rest against it. Players may not stand on the oche.

If the toe line is a length of tape or other flat type of mark on the floor of a noticeable width, the proper distance is measured to the front side of the mark. The front side is the side of the toe line closest to the dart board. In such a case the player may stand on but not over the line.

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3. How is the game of darts actually played?

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Different games have different rules. The two most popular in North America, the x01 games and American Cricket, are discussed in this FAQ, the rules to other games (variants) are provided in part 2 of the FAQ.

In general, each player has a turn or throw consisting of three darts. To determine who will play first, each player (or one player from each team) will throw one dart at the bullseye. The player who's dart is the closest to the center of the board plays first. Often the order of play is determined by a toss of a coin instead. This procedure of throwing at the bull to see who plays first is often called "diddling for the middle" or "one up". In the event of a tie throw, both players must throw or "diddle" again in reverse order. If both darts land in the same area of the bullseye is considered a tie even though one dart may be noticeably closer to the center of the dart board.

In competition, it is common to allow each player a warm up of three throws, taken one throw at a time in series, before a game or "leg" begins.

In a game, darts not landing in the scoring area do not count score but do count as darts thrown and may not be thrown over. However, in the event that a player drops a dart not having made an effort to throw it, he may pick it up and throw it. A dart's score is determined by the point of entry of the dart based on the wire divisions, not necessarily the color.

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4. What are all those wires?

The dartboard is divided into wedge shaped segments numbered non-sequentially 1 through 20. Each wedge is divided by wires which run to the center of the dartboard. The center, or bullseye, is comprised of two parts. The outer portion, often referred to as the large or outer bull, scores 25 points and is a different color than the central portion which is often referred to as inner or double bull and worth 50 points.

The wedges are subdivided by two narrow rings. The outer ring (or "doubles ring") counts as double the number indicated for that segment of the board. The second ring located approximately halfway between the outer ring and the bullseye (the "triples ring") counts as triple the number indicated for that segment of the board.

The organization of wires running to the center and concentrically around the dart board are called the "spider" because of their resemblance to a spider's web.

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5. What kind of board should I buy?

Assuming you are playing steel-tipped darts, you should buy a bristle dart board. While wound paper dart boards are much less expensive, they do not last very long and are not very playable. There are several good makes with the british makers Nodor and Winmau being the best known. These boards use a slotted bracket which is mounted on the backboard or cabined wall. A single screw is inserted in the middle of the back of the dart board and permits the rotation of the dart board when it is hung on the bracket. Rotating the board on a regular basis helps prevent uneven wear. When It is turned, the wire number ring is removed and replaced so that the 20 is always in the 12 o'clock position and is always over a black wedge.

There are two popular misconceptions about bristle dartboards which will be put to rest here. The first is that the boards are made from pig bristles hence the origin of the name "bristle" board. This is absolutely false. The material these boards are made of is sisal. While sisal grows in many countries, Nodor, for example, imports white sisal from Africa because of it's specific qualities.

The second misconception involves softening the board by wetting it. DO NOT WET YOUR BOARD!! The sisal will dry and swell and this will quickly destroy the board. By the same token, when the board is not in use, the lighting used to illuminate it should be turned of to reduce the heating of it's surface and help prevent excessive drying. Properly maintained, a good board should last a long time relative to it's use.

Plastic, automatic scoring dart boards are also available, which require the use of special soft-tip darts. The author of this FAQ does not play soft-tip darts and consequently does not know much about it. (I invite knowledgeable individuals to contact me by email with submissions.)

I have seen a board that does automatic scoring with steel-tip darts, manufactured by Wellow Leisure Products in the UK and distributed in the U.S. by T.O.P.Dart Systems, Inc. of Rochester, New York. It sells for around $3000(US).  From what I understand, it is both accurate and reliable. One Thing I don't know is how it scores a bounce-out or a dart that drops out after it originally stuck into the board. It uses a special sisal dart board impregnated with graphite to make it electrically conductive. Each scoring area of the board is a separate component. If the sensors in a component fail, that component is replaced rather than the board. The biggest problem is that after playing on the board for a time, the graphite tends to stick to the points, turning the player's hands black. The light colored areas of the board also get messed up as the graphite is dragged to the surface when the darts are removed.

It's a brilliant idea, really, but needs a little work to make it more congenial!!!

My view of these boards is much the same as for the plastic boards, not because of accuracy of the equipment, but because they are too mechanical to fit well with the game that I love. Part of it is that scoring is a part of the game. I know from watching some score keepers that it can be a very painful experience to score an '01 game, but to me, it goes with the territory.

Sharpening your score keeping skills helps you to do the quick calculations so that you can adjust after a missed triple and go to the next best choice. The Other point, for me, is something that a few others have made. Pumping coins into a machine all night is a waste as far as I am concerned. I'd rather spend that money on new flights or darts, and have an extra beer or two. While the bars are certainly entitled to make money any way they can, if they waited for me to patronize either kind of machine, they'd lose.

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6. What kind of darts should I buy?

Ah--now there's the question. Generally, people prefer "tungsten" darts, which is a heavier material than the more traditional brass. As a result, darts can be thinner providing tighter grouping. Before buying a new set try several different types of darts. Borrow some from your friends or go to a dart store that has a board mounted and will let you try different darts. Once you've tried several darts at a dart shop, it might be considered rude to walk away without buying anything!

There are maximum lengths and weights for darts: maximum length is stated at twelve inches, maximum weight at 52 grams. (Don't ask us why they mix english and metric measurements!) At first, longer darts may be better aerodynamically. Retractable point darts are available from several different manufacturers - many players like them, claiming fewer bounce backs, some players don't, claiming less control. The original and still most popular retractable point darts are manufactured by the Bottelsen Dart Company under the name Hammerhead because of the way the point moves back into the dart and is hammered off the wire into the dart board by the dart's barrel.

Bounce outs are more a function of the condition of the wires. New boards bounce less than used ones. I've seen the best bounce game shots using Hammerheads. If your dead on the wire, it is coming out, period.

It does help to keep a good point on the dart. However, don't confuse a good point with being sharp. Stones are meant to remove burrs so it does not pull the fibers from the board when you remove the dart. If the tip is too sharp, it will dig into the wire and you will bounce even more. Remove the burrs, but leave the point with a rounded surface so it will 'roll' to one side or the other when you hit a wire with a glancing blow.

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7. What's all that other stuff they sell?

Darts Consist of several parts:
The tip or point
the business end.
The barrel
the body of the dart into which the tip is inserted.
The shaft
the piece that screws into the barrel and holds the flight.
The flights
the little plastic, metal foil, nylon or turkey feather "wings" that give the dart aerodynamic characteristics. Similar in purpose to the feathers on an arrow.
There are several types of flights and shafts available. I use white Jocky Wilson shafts for several reasons. First, these are not plastic but nylon based, thus stronger. They have a little metal ring which prevents the fingers from breaking off when hit by a dart and also serve to secure the flight and prevent it from falling off. I prefer white because the white ones are stronger. The colored doping supposedly weakens the material.

Plastic shafts tend to break more easily thus requiring replacement more often. If you don't like the Jocky Wilson shafts, try some of the other nylon-based shafts. Metal shafts do last longer, but I've found that there are 3 annoying things about them. They are always coming unscrewed. Some come with little rubber washers to help keep them tighter while others have holes drilled through them so you can stick a little tool into them to tighten them up. DON'T use another dart point, you WILL bend your points. Another thing I don't like about metal shafts is that because most are made of aluminum, a soft metal which tends to bend when the dart falls on the floor. The thinner/longer the shaft, the greater the chance of bending. Finally, I don't like them because when you "Robin Hood" them, the fingers get bent out. You can bend them in but they are no longer "true" and unbalance the shaft and dart.

Harrows Makes a product called "Alamo" shafts. They are a combination of plastic/nylon and aluminum. The fingers thread into the shaft and are made of aluminum. I used to use them too, but found that the plastic expanded a little and the aluminum insert would get loose. What I did like is that you could buy replacement fingers. So when they got bent, you could throw them away and plug in new ones. It usually takes a few hits to permanently destroy them, however.

Plastic flight holders break within thirty or forty seconds of use. They are worth nothing.

All metal shafts are expensive.  A set of titanium shafts cost about fifteen bucks in the states, but they some have a 15 year guarantee. Hard to believe...The shafts won't break, however, they will bend if you carry you dart wallet in your back pocket and sit on them. The word "titanium" is a little confusing. It's like "tungsten". The dart barrels are made of tungsten alloy, but the points are still steel. Because titanium is so hard, you can't really do anything fancy with it, like put threads on it.
So, the fitting that goes into the dart barrel is made of aluminum and there's a little fitting that pushes on to the other end to slide your flights in. It's made of aluminum too, like the fitting on the Alamo shafts. If you Robin Hood them, they will bend and/or break too. The advantage of the titanium shafts is that they are pretty rugged and are thin and non-obstructive.

As to flights it used to be, back in the olden days (25 years ago), there were basically three types of flights you could buy for your darts, which were made of brass and equipped with 1/4" threads (instead of 2BA threads common to the tungsten darts). You could buy the feather flights in 2 basic styles and several different lengths, molded plastic flights (like the ones that came and, perhaps, still do come with paper boards) or wooden shafts (referred to as "canes" by the Brits) in which you would stuff paper flights in much the same fashion as our plastic/aluminum, etc. shafts and folded flights we use today.

Of the three, the turkey feather flights were by far the best and, in my opinion, still are. The long arrow feather flights provided the smoothest, most stable flight for your darts. The feather flights fell into disuse mainly because players began buying tungsten darts with leatherette wallets which allowed them to carry their darts safely in a shirt or pants pocket. Feather flights are also easily damaged and spares are bulky and difficult to carry. The darts must be carried in a box to protect the flights. Strangely enough, many players today, prefer not to remove their flights and carry them in a plastic holder which would be ideal for protecting the feather flights. But due to a shortage of suitable turkey feathers, the flights are pretty expensive. Why is there a shortage of suitable turkey feathers when there is no shortage of turkeys? Because today, poultry is speed fed with all kinds of unnatural ingredients to make them grow faster and bigger so the farmer can get them to market faster and make more money. This results in a poor grade of feather. Such is life today!

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8. What are some mail order/internet places?

* Bottelsen Dart Co.
http://www.bottelsendarts.com
1-800-537-2164
 
* Dart World
http://www.dartworld.com
(781)581-6035
 
* Unicorn Darts USA
http://www.unicorndartsusa.com
1-877-602-DART

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9. How do I get better?

Practice. Make a point of setting a goal for each session. Try to develop a consistent stroke. Try to eliminate unnecessary motion of the body or the arm. Followthrough. (Many players end a throw with their fingers pointing at the board.) Compete with friends. Have a good time. Try to get in the "zone" and don't think about your mechanics as you play! (It doesn't matter whether you breath in or out on your throw.)

Here are some ideas to think about:

Is it bad for darts to spin on their way to the dart board?

A slight spin on the dart tends to help it fly straight and true by maintaining stability in flight and reduce lateral wobble.
 I  believe that trying to add spin to your darts (as opposed to acquiring it naturally) can add too much extra motion to your game. If it comes naturally to you, fine. If not, don't worry about it.

Some people tend to align the dart in it's flight path ( point the tip at the desired entry point then throw ) in fact most people I've seen throw, do this. I have always pointed the flight at my entry point then in the recoil , turned it in the right direction then shot.

Some aim by using the flight as a "V" - a sort of sight. Now I don't sight quite that way any more but when I aim, the dart is close to 90 degrees to the board. I guess most people do it that way.

Stance:
I am a firm believer in 'minimum body motion' because I want to introduce as few errors as possible into the throw. I believe strongly that any swaying of my body will either mess up my accuracy or require some kind of compensating motion that will lead to a style that will break down under pressure. In the past, I have stood with almost all my weight on my forward foot with my rear foot just touching the floor, and leaned WAY forward. This was my way of dealing with my own uncertainty about hitting the target reliably. I have found that the distance gained by leaning forward was more than offset by the loss of accuracy in this shaky stance. When I moved to a more stable stance, I found that I could adjust quite easily to the new distance from the board, and my groups tightened up right away.

Grip:
It is important to release a dart so that it is pointing perpendicular to the board. What I saw when a dart was released at an angle were two things:

1. The dart oscillated as the air had the normal effect on the flights. This could be side to side, up and down, or some combination, depending on the angles at release. This was what I expected and what makes basic sense.

2. Whenever the dart was pointed in any direction other than straight forward, it tended to move slightly in that direction. If I released it pointing to the left it tended to go left, then, as it straightened out and oscillated to point right, it started to go right. By the time it hit the board, it was again pointing left and going left. These oscillations were around the center of mass, I'm assuming, so you could say that the dart stayed mostly on target all the way, but there is a problem with this thought. I'm interested in where the point hits the board. If the dart is pointed either left, right, up, or down, the point will be off target compared to what I want. I've tried to figure out how far off it can be, and I've found that even small amounts of oscillation can make the point hit the width of a double off target. This is not something that I scientifically measured, but it was enough to convince me that my goal
should be a clean release, without oscillation of any kind.
 

Other opinions:

My theory has at times been the following: When you throw the dart, grip it at it's center of gravity and imagine that that part of the dart is the only part thatexists. In other words, hold it comfortably, but forget about what angle the shaft is at (but be sure that that angle is consistent). It's almost like you are throwing a rock at the board. Wayne brings up avery good point- in the process of straightening out, the dart will oscillate a small amount and go slightly in the direction it is pointed. You can imagine that if you are consistent, you will automatically, intime, learn how to compensate for this motion. BUT! As we all know, the more things you have to compensate for (i.e. extra leg motion) the worse off you are.

My conclusion is the following: I believe that if the dart is held almost straight to the board at the time of release, the oscillations will be VERY SMALL, and also the veering off of the dart will be VERY SMALL. So I will try toincorporate a grip that points the dart more towards the board. (When I try to point the dart exactly at the board I find that there is a lot of tension in the wrist which cannot be good).

Try keeping your arm and release straight. Make sure you are following through when you release the dart and not pushing or snapping your throw. The position of your thumb is also something to watch our for as it will effect the way you release your dart. Finally, go to your board and experiment with how you're throwing keeping these things in mind. Don't worry too much about where your darts are going, rather 'how' they're going for now until you find out what your doing (or not doing) to cause them to wobble.

 I have noticed that I need to have a very relaxed throwing hand. A little tension in that hand can make for some sideways pressure (caused by a finger or thumb) during the release of the dart. Once my hand is relaxed while releasing the dart, then I watch for the position of the thumb and the follow-through that Bob has talked about. Remember that the dart is light enough that small changes in your grip and release will definitely have an effect on the flight of the dart through the air. Stance is an important part of a good game, but a change in stance doesn't tend to produce wobble, at least not in my experience.

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10. Where can I learn more?

Darts American Style
by Fred Holmes

Lone Star Publications; 2nd ed edition (1989)
The Crafty Cockney - The Official Biography of Eric Bristow
by Deryk Brown.

Queen Anne Press (1985)
The Book of Darts
by Jack McClintock.

Random House, New York 1977.
Darts World (magazine)
published on the first day of each month by World Magazines Ltd, 28 Arrol Road, Beckenham, Kent BR3 4PA

telephone 020-8650-1080
Rates are in English pounds - 2.95 monthly.
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11. What's going on in professional darts?

Check out the British Darts Organisation (BDO) website for up to date info on the BDO.
or...
The Professional Darts Corporation(BDO) website for up to date info on the PDC.

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12. So who's the world champion?

Trina Gulliver, having been No. 1 on eight occasions, including currently being No. 1, is clearly the best female player in the world. However, it is more difficult to determine the best male player since the inception of the Professional Darts Corporation(PDC). The top 16 BDO players in 1993 disagreed with some aspects of the organisation, so they split to form the PDC. Originally formed as the World Darts Council(WDC) they were forced to change their name as it wasn't considered the world governing body - that was the WDF. The players from the PDC are not included in the rankings because the BDO, which is the British governing body, is the one that is registered with the WDF. Tony O'Shea is listed in the top position in the BDO, yet, he has never even won a grand slam event. The true champion in this authors eyes, and everyone else that knows anything about darts, is clearly Phil Taylor, who has won an unbelievable 16 times. 2 with the BDO before the split and 13 of the 16 years the PDC has been around.

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13. How do you play the x01 games?

By far the most popular darts games are "301", "501", and other, higher, "x01". In both 301 and 501 the basic principle is subtraction of your score from the initial score of either 301 or 501, the winner being the first to reduce his score to exactly zero.

The following rules were provided by Winmau with one of their dart boards:

GENERAL RULES OF DARTS

1. Each side starts with 301 points. The method of scoring is to subtract each score from the remaining total. The score 301 [and 501] is used mainly for games between two individuals. For team play the opening score should be increased to 501, 701, or 1001 depending on team size.

2. Tournament games are usually started straight, but as an alternative, can be played by starting with any double.

3. The first to reduce his score exactly to zero is the winner.

4. To finish, a double (or bullseye) which exactly reduces the score to zero must be thrown.

5. For the purpose of Rules 3 and 4, "Bullseye" counts as double 25. [50]

6. If a greater score is thrown than is required to reduce the remaining score exactly to zero, then none of the three darts count for that throw and the score remains as it was before that particular throw was taken. [Did anybody not know this was called a "bust"?]

7. Each game is called a "leg". Three legs make a match and the ultimate winner is the player who first wins 2 legs. This can be varied.

Generally, when two individuals are playing, 301 is played with the double-in rule while 501 is played straight-in.

A Double-Out Chart

A double out chart is a collection of possible finishes or out-shots usually for three darts. Memorization or at least familiarity is recommended to improve a player's competitive edge.

There will always be disagreement from someone about whether a given three-dart out is the best choice, but this one seems to be reasonable.

Suggested Three-Dart Finishes
170  T20-T20-D25   128  T18-T14-D16    93  T19-D18
167  T20-T19-D25   127  T20-T17-D8     92  T20-D16
164  T20-T18-D25   126  T19-S19-D25    91  T17-D20
161  T20-T17-D25   125  T18-T13-D16    90  T18-D18
160  T20-T20-D20   124  T20-T16-D8     89  T19-D16
158  T20-T20-D19   123  T19-T10-D18    88  T16-D20
157  T20-T19-D20   122  T18-S18-D25    87  T17-D18
156  T20-T20-D18   121  T20-T15-D8     86  T18-D16
155  T20-T19-D19   120  T20-S20-D20    85  T15-D20
154  T20-T18-D20   119  T19-T10-D16    84  T16-D18
153  T20-T19-D18   118  T20-S18-D20    83  T17-D16
152  T20-T20-D16   117  T20-S17-D20    82  D25-D16
151  T20-T17-D20   116  T20-S16-D20    81  T15-D18
150  T20-T18-D18   115  T20-S15-D20    80  T16-D16
149  T20-T19-D16   114  T20-S14-D20    79  T13-D20
148  T20-T16-D20   113  T20-S13-D20    78  T14-D18
147  T20-T17-D18   112  T20-S20-D16    77  T15-D16
146  T20-T18-D16   111  T20-S19-D16    76  T20-D8
145  T20-T15-D20   110  T20-S18-D16    75  T15-D15
144  T20-T20-D12   109  T20-S17-D16    74  T14-D16
143  T20-T17-D16   108  T20-S16-D16    73  T19-D8
142  T20-T14-D20   107  T20-S15-D16    72  T20-D6
141  T20-T19-D12   106  T18-S20-D16    71  T13-D16
140  T20-T16-D16   105  T19-S16-D16    70  T18-D8
139  T20-T13-D20   104  T20-S12-D16    69  T19-D6
138  T20-T18-D12   103  T17-S20-D16    68  T20-D4
137  T20-T15-D16   102  T20-S10-D16    67  T17-D8
136  T20-T20-D8    101  T20-S9-D16     66  T10-D18
135  D25-T15-D20   100  T20-D20        65  T11-D16
134  T20-T14-D16    99  T19-S10-D16    64  T16-D8
133  T20-T19-D8     98  T20-D19        63  T13-D12
132  T20-T20-D6     97  T19-D20        62  T10-D16
131  T20-T13-D16    96  T20-D18        61  T15-D8
130  T20-T18-D8     95  T19-D19        60  S20-D20
129  T19-T16-D12    94  T18-D20

        T= TRIPLE D = DOUBLE S = SINGLE
The usual rule when playing more than one game is that the loser of the diddle starts first in the second game. If you're playing more games, rediddle is usually required. Some play "mugs away", which means loser goes first on the next game.

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14. OK. Now I'm ready for a more interesting game.(:-)) How do I play American Cricket?

The game of Cricket differs from the games just described in that there is an element of strategy used against the opponent rather than just individual scoring subtractions. Let's take a closer look at it:

a. The purpose of the game is to "close" (or to make it impossible for one's opponent to score points) the numbers 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, and the bullseye by scoring three hits (usually called "marks") in each of these designated areas of the board. These numbers, including the bullseye, may be closed in any order. A dart in the triple or double counts as three or two hits respectively.

b. When three hits have been scored in a number, that number is "closed" and additional hits score points only if the opponent has not yet scored his three hits in (ie; "closed) that number.

c. Your opponent cannot receive points on a number you have "closed", but can prevent you from scoring additional points by scoring three "marks" thereby "closing" it too.

In more depth:

Cricket is a 2 or 4 player (team) game. The object is to "close out" with the most points. You close a number by hitting it three times: either three singles, a single and double, or a triple. Once a player closes a number, if he (or she, but from now on I'll say "he") hits it again and his opponent has not closed it, he scores that many points. The numbers involved are 20,19,18,17,16,15 and the cork (bull).

Let me try to walk you through a game. This is really hard without a board to show you on! We shoot for "diddle" or closest to cork; I win (Hey, my game, I win). The scoreboard is set uplike this:

                John      You
                   20
                   19
                   18
                   17
                   16
                   15
                   B
There are no requirements for getting "in," like in x01 (i.e., no double required). I shoot two 20's and one 5. I put two slashes next to the 20 in my column to mark my two hits. Traditionally, they form an X. You shoot and hit a triple 20, a single 20, and a 19. You put an X and then circle it in your column next to the 20 and a / next to the 19. You have also scored 20 points so you write 20 in the points area in your column. I shoot a 20, a 19, and double 19. I have now closed out both the 20 and 19. Now you can't score any more 20s because I have them closed and I can score on the 19s because you still have them open. You would try to close them on your next turn. The game is over when one person closes all their numbers including Bull and has more points. Ties are not allowed. The person who closes all numbers first wins if he has the same or more points than his opponent.) If no points are scored the first person to "close out" wins. You might want to start by playing without points to get the feel for the game.

You can play with many variations: "no slop" which means that you must close out the numbers in succession, i.e. 20, then 19. etc. and darts which "waft" into (hit without meaning to) numbers don't count; Reverse Cricket which is kind of stupid but after a few beers sounded great one night, instead of hitting the 20s on down, start with the 1s and work your way up the board to the 20s. WARNING this takes forever but is REALLY good practice."

Cricket is a really popular league game. There are many strategies involved so feel free to ask any questions about the game even if you think they're stupid!

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15. How are dart boards made?

MAKING DARTBOARDS

Ever wonder how they get those thousands of tiny bristles stuffed into a dartboard? Before the invention of the bristle dartboard, the boards were made of wound paper or wood. The wooden boards required daily soaking to prevent splitting and smelled bad. The original manufacturer of bristle dartboards used this characteristic of wooden boards to name his company - Nodor ("no-odor").

To make today's tournament dartboards, manufacturers start by cutting out the backboards which are made from high quality particleboard 5/8ths of an inch thick. Next, the bands of steel which go around the board and hold it together are prepared. Nodor, for example, coat their bands with a black leather-like material to cut down on the reflectiveness of the bare metal.

The main ingredient in dartboards of today is the sisal or hemp which the English dartboard makers import from Africa. The sisal fibers are cleaned and braided into long skeins which are formed into a paper-covered tube approximately 3 inches in diameter. The tube is then cut into 1 inch thick wafers. A total of 51 or 52 wafers are used in the construction of 1 dartboard. The steel bands and a lot of pressure are employed to squeeze the sisal wafers into a perfect circle. Then, glue is applied to the particleboard and the whole affair is put together.Holding pins are mechanically inserted through pre-punched holes in the band.

At this point the board is fully formed but it's surface is pretty rough. High speed sanders are used to smooth it out and prepare it for the next stage, the silk screening of the red, green and black Sections of the board. The "white" or blond sections are the natural colour of the sisal and are not touched. After the dye or ink has dried, the wires are installed with those defining the doubles and triples rings first. The clips or hooks holding the number ring are hammered into the board and, finally, the number ring is installed.

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16. Dart Trivia

- Some dart players in England think throwing darts can get boring, so they take some six inch nails and use them instead. Joe Hitchcock used to love to beat "the champs" in this fashion. One of his favorite tricks was to "nail" a button from between someone's outstretched fingers.

- The late Jim Pike, a darts legend in England before most of us even threw one, was such a marksman that he could shoot a cigarette from someone's mouth with a dart - AND STICK IT IN ANY DOUBLE.

- The best flights in the world are made from turkey feathers. So who's the "turkey" now?

- The average speed of a dart hitting a board is around 40mph (64k/h).

- London, 1937. The late and great Jim Pike went around the board on doubles, retrieving his own darts, in the time of 3 minutes 30 seconds. He did this shooting from a distance of 9 feet.

- Can you score more than 180 with 3 darts? - Turn 16 to the top of the board and it becomes 91. Three triples give you 819.

- There are more pubs with dartboards in the center of New York than there are in the center of London.

- Years ago dartboards were made from elm wood. The numbers and wedges had to be carefully painted on and the spider (wires) had as many as 100 staples holding it to the board. To keep it from cracking, the careful pub owner would soak in a bucket of water or spillage from the beer taps over night. This activity spawned the popular misconception that soaking a loose dartboard in water will prevent darts from falling out. While this is true it will also considerably shorten the life of the board. The boards we use are made of tightly packed fibers of hemp or sisal. When these are moistened, they swell and will bulge, causing the fibers to fall out. The best way is to let natural moisture in the air tighten the board for you. This, however, can take some time. If you've got a really bad board, steam it gently or hang a moistened rag over it to let it "breathe" the moisture slowly.

- At an exhibition match at the Gipsy Stadium, in England, in July 1977, Muhammed Ali faced former Welshchamp Alan Evans. With Evans scoring only on triples, Ali won hitting a bullseye on the way out and immediately proclaimed himself darts champion of the world.

- On February 21st, 1989, at Buckingham Palace, London, Eric Bristow became the first dart player to receive the coveted Member of the British Empire award (M.B.E.). Mr. Bristow admitted he was nervous meeting the queen, saying, "It was more nerve-racking than any TV final." This gives him the right to have the letters M.B.E. present after his name.

- We've all heard of people playing darts for money or a beer, but this tale's got a different twist. It's a known fact that singers Tom Jones and Englebert Humperdinck are old friends and like to play darts. When on tour they've been known to appear at various pubs all over the world looking for a game. During the 1970s, they purchased a 3,000-acre ranch and settled for the fishing rights by playing a game of darts. Just for the record, Jones won.

- Scotland's No. 1, Jocky Wilson hit a 24-dart 1001 leg against American Bud Trumbower in March of 1987, at Eastgate U.S. Marine Base in England: 180-140-140-140-81-100-100-120. Jocky scored an incredible 600 points in his first 12 arrows and capped the leg with a fine 60-20-40 game shot to average 41.7 points per dart.

- On November 11, 1975 at the Broomfield WMC in Devon, England, international star Cliff Inglis tossed a magnificent 19-dart 1001 game, smashing all previous records to date: 160-180-140-180-121-180-40. Cliff averaged an unbelievable 52.68 points per dart despite getting lucky with his first dart, hitting a D20 instead of the triple.

- All-County Welshman Leighton Rees, on December 18th, 1976, finished a game of 3001 in 141 darts, connecting on only the single and double bulls and closing with a double bull. Leighton converted 34 double bulls and 52 bulls while just 55 darts went astray during this epic leg.

- Tony Elleson, at the Now Inn Crumlin in Gwent, England, scored a perfect double start/double finish 301 game in June of 1987. While not so unusual in his feat perhaps, but after his first throw he broke a shaft retrieving his darts and literally had to sit down for five minutes and dig out the remains before finishing his game. Certainly the stoppage of play did not affect his concentration: D20-60-60-60-57-D12.

- On June 19,1987 at the Fishing Boat Inn in Northumberland, shooter Tab Hunter (no, not the movie star!) recorded a brilliant 23 dart 1001 leg:100-180-140-125-140-100-140-76. He averaged a fine 43.5 points per dart, ending the final 76 in two.

- Duncan Swift, playing out of the Felilxstowe Dock Sports and Social Club, Surrey, scored 493,470 points to capture the 24 hour solo record in May of 1987. While shooting and retrieving the darts himself, Duncan hit an incredible 123 180s, 643 140s and used a total of 18,369 darts for a fabulous 26.86 points per dart average.

- In April of 1988, Stephen Wagg set the 12 hour solo record for scoring double and single bulls at the Thorncliff Cricket and Social Club in Sheffield, England. Stephen registered 961 double bulls and 3,335 single bulls for a score of 131,425. He tossed a grand total of 9,714 darts for a 13.52 per dart average.

- An eight-hour record for scoring bulls and double bulls was set by Birmingham players George Perry and Tony Hodgkiss at The Seventh Trap Public House in December of 1987. The two, averaging 16.19 per dart, hit 1,406 double bulls and 4,247 single bulls for a total of 176,475 points, vbreaking the old record of 1,048 double bulls and 3,308 single bulls.

- In June of 1978, All-World John Lowe captured a 1001 leg in 22 darts:140-180-140-100-140-140-125-D18. John averaged 137 per throw or a grand 45.6 per dart enroute to this memorable game.

- Pat Irwin of the Mitre hotel, playing in a double start/double finish 501 match, hit a 170 in (Dbull-60-60) and a 170 out (60-60-Dbull) in the same leg, in April of 1987.

- In a special pairs 3001 challenge match against Steve Brown and Gene Raymond, London county leaguers Reg Harding and Dave Lee slugged an 86 darter, just 11 darts short of the world record:

41-35-140-125-85-85-140-180-180-80-100-100-100-100-180-55-100-100-140-140-100-100-100-100-45-82-96-32. The pair hit 3 maximums enroute to a 34.8 per dart average over the course of the challenge.

- Probably the most notable individual effort occurred on October 13, 1984 in the quarter-finals of the MFI World Matchplay Championships. The match featured British stars John Lowe and Keith Deller with Lowe hitting the first televised nine-dart perfect 501 game in the history of the sport. For the record he went:180-180-141 and collected (eventually) a cheque for 102,000 pounds for his efforts. (Ironically, due to complex tax laws, Lowe could not pocket a penny from the jackpot until two years later, as the currency sat in a British bank waiting for final approval.)

- Paul Lim of San Bernadino, Calif. threw a perfect 9-dart 501 leg at the 1990 EmbassyWorld Championships. Because he did it before the TV cameras he received 52,000 British pounds ($88,000 US) for his remarkable achievement.

- Big Cliff Lazarenko fired his first 9-dart perfect 501 game at an exhibition at the Aberlynon Leisure Centre. Using 25-gram titanium tungsten darts, he threw two 180s and a T20, T19, D12 for the 141 out in the last match of the night.

- In the most perfect of perfect 501 games, Roy Blowies, playing at the Widgeon's Pubin Calgary, Alberta, Canada in late 1989 achieved his 9-darter by doubling in on the bullseye first. He scored 161(dBull-T20-T17), 180,160(T20-T20-D20).

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