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Darts

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A dart hitting a bullseye.

Darts is a very simple game to understand but incredibly difficult to play. The object of the game is to throw miniature spears (darts) at a circular board which is divided into sections, each of which have ascribed to them a varying points value (see below).

The game is mostly played in pubs in the UK, where all the best players are. You also see dart boards in various other places1, notably the back of American teenagers' bedroom doors which acts as a pretty effective reminder to visitors to knock.

The dart board is circular, and divided into 20 segments numbered from 1 to 20 (but not in sequential order). Each of these segments has two small areas which can improve one's score; trebles, about half-way to the centre of the board; and doubles, at the outside of the circle. Darts thrown into these areas score, not surprisingly, treble or double the value of the segment number. Right in the centre of the board are found two small concentric circles. These score 25 for the outer and 50 for the inner - the inner circle is known as the bullseye. A few regional boards, with different layouts, still survive.

Darts are thrown from a raised line (the oche, pronounced 'ockey') which is 7 feet 9¼ inches from the board. Each player has three darts and players take turns to throw.

The standard game of darts is 501, where each player tries to reduce their score from 501 to zero. This must be achieved by ending on a double segment.

There isn't any strategy to speak of - just scoring as many as you can, then hitting a double to finish. Tactics do have a part to play, however, when deciding how to attempt a possible finish. A good example of this is a 126 finish. This can be achieved by hitting treble 20, 16 and bullseye (which counts as a double). But if you miss the treble 20 (hitting a single) you can't finish 106 in two darts. So, better to try treble 19, single 19, bullseye. If you miss the treble 19 first dart, you can have another go with the second.

Like boxing, darts has more than one World Champion. Great heroes and characters of the past of this marvellous game include Eric Bristow - 'the Crafty Cockney', John Lowe, Jocky Wilson, Keith Deller and Bobby George. The real Champion, at the time of writing, is currently Phil Taylor. The British Darts Organisation continue to run their own World Championship, which lesser players enter.

It must also be noted that for years, British TV viewers not only thrilled to the tension and climax of championship darts, but also to the truly inspired commentary by Sid Waddell, an intellectual Geordie2 with the common touch. Among the plethora of commentating gems attributed to this great man are the following couple:

It couldn't get any more exciting if Elvis walked in and asked for a bag of chips!
The greatest comeback since Lazarus!
1One of the more unusual places that a darts board has been spotted (by the Researcher of this very entry, in fact) was in the picnic area of the Semliki game reserve, Western Uganda, in the 1970s. The board was in unplayably bad condition, but apparently this mattered little as no darts were provided.2A Geordie is someone from Tynesdie or Newcastle in the north east region of England, UK.

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