Darts: a game where participants compete with one another by throwing small arrow like devices at a target that is round and has numbers and sections and an inner bull with an outer bull and so on. Darts now refer to the standard game with a specific bristle board design and a set of rules. Rules that are general to the game and rules that govern games like, “501,” “301,” and “Cricket.”

Darts is a traditional pub game that was and is commonly played in the United Kingdom as well as other places in Europe and across the pond here in the America’s.

Wikipedia tells hits history in a terse form, i.e., “The dartboard may have its origins in the cross-section of a tree. An old name for a dartboard is "butt"; the word comes from the French word but, meaning "target". In particular, the Yorkshire and Manchester Log End boards differ from the standard board in that they have no treble, only double and bullseye, the Manchester board being of a smaller diameter, with a playing area of only 25 cm across with double and bull areas measuring just 4 mm. The London Fives board is another variation. This has only 12 equal segments numbered 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10 with the doubles and triples being a quarter of an inch wide.”

There have been a variety of darts created over the years but the most common today is the tungsten dart. There are electronic darts but for this blog and for my efforts in tossing darts I remain a steel dart fan and enthusiast. I am recommending a book for novice darters but only because it appealed to me and my studies and rest assured most of the dart books out there are outstanding. In short, find one if this one does not fit your needs and get it. I can tell you when I started to play over twenty years ago, before I laid down my darts in 96, I tossed darts for several years without knowing some very important and critical mechanics, etc., of the dart game. As I take up once again my steel darts I have found a fountain of information to help make the game both enjoyable and competitive. Enjoy, diddle for the middle and let the darts fly!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Maddening Dart Arts (Where is darts today)

Dart Arts Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

It is maddening and complex and simple and just plain frustrating but it is the dart arts. Darts in America are often thought of as a “game” played by lower class manual labor types who use it as a means or excuse to drink, smoke and haphazardly play a simple child’s game. Alas, this is so far off the mark that it is … wait for it … MaddenING!

Darts are considered a Olympic Qualified Sport, i.e., possibly able to get the Olympic Committee to consider it as an Olympic Sport in 2024 … but until then, what?

Lets get back to basics, darts can be maddening and frustrating because to play the sport requires so many variables that just one can throw off one’s aim to miss a high score for a low score of say one point or five points vs. twenty. I can tell you, personally, that one of my greatest frustrations is when I practice and score high then transition to a game or competition then end up throwing really bad darts with intermittent good ones. Grrrrrr, maddening!

If you take the time to read some of the other articles in this blog you can get a sense of the complexities and strategies and tactics involved in the dart arts. To give an example an article long ago tried to explain this concept in the dart arts, I quote, “Darts players face strategic decisions on virtually every throw, and they need to subtract with calculator quickness to determine the proper number to aim for. Beyond that, each championship-level match is psychological, as in tennis or golf, in which the one who succumbs to pressure first usually loses.” - NYTimes, dtd February 1, 1985

Today, American Darts seems to me to be stagnate and possibly in decline. In Europe, where darts attract a large audience and provide large purses, darts is on sport television and the game of choice is 501, both single-on and double-on games. Here in the U.S. the game of choice seems to be Cricket with 301 being a kind of middle game where Americans play all three - best two out of three - for tournament and league competition. The Europeans play much longer and more legs and matches/sets (player must win a number of sets composed of a number of legs, to win a match) to win place as to what the consider “World Champion Darts.” 

I actually watch the matches from sky-sport television when they are released on PDC’s Youtube site. One winner, after twelve hours of play, finally won the competition with first place. Now, that is twelve hours of play with appropriate breaks between either matches or a set of legs, etc. That is a physical and psychological challenge to say the least.

Then as the quote describes, a player must not just master the art of the dart throw but develop and implement proper strategic abilities and decisions on the fly, i.e., at every dart thrown, mathematically calculate also on the fly and then remain accurate in the throw while dealing with adrenal stress-conditions and effects (explained in other articles on this blog). 

The real challenge is for an observer to perceive the challenge and difficulty of the dart arts because, on the surface, it seems easy enough. After all, the made a game for kids. Note: that game never caught on because it was never accepted that the game is difficult so when kids fail to do well even after playing for a while and practicing is because they could NOT hit the target. 

Even adults will scoff until they actually pick up a set of darts, stand at the oche line and toss them at a target. They assume that it is just about hitting the bulls but fail to see that if so why have all those pies and scores and both the double and triple rings, etc. If it were like archery then you have the rings and bull with a goal of hitting as close to the bull as possible BUT in the dart arts you have to play the long game, score high points, then the short game, hit a three dart out combination or close out the 20’s, 19’s, 18’s, 17’s, 16’s and 15’s by hitting three darts in the pie or one dart in the triple or one dart in the double and one in the pie. Oh, and remember that until closed either darter can hit a closed score area to earn points that an opponent must exceed while closing out that number, etc. See, even this terse and simplistic explanation of the games gives the impression that it is not just a kids game, it is a sport and an art.

Oh, add in also that in 301, and some 501 games, you have to ‘double in score’ to start scoring, i.e., to begin scoring you first have to hit a double ring score to start. Double out is standard in all 501 and 301 games. It creates a great deal of adrenal-stress-conditioned effects that overall change the way the game is played.

So, you see, at least initially and fundamentally, that the sport/art of darts takes a lot of training, practice and playing to achieve some semblance of expertise that leads to winning. It takes a consistent, disciplined and psychological toughness to play well, to throw well and to score well enough to place let alone win league and tournament competitions. 

I spent some time recently returning to the game and with the evolution of the Internet I found it disturbing and disappointing that the dart arts here in the America’s has lost ground and interest. I am witnessing more and more loss of players with no potential new players taking up the game. I also feel that the techno-evolution that is happening today is taking away the challenges of darts for the more exciting and satisfying and gratifying video games played on TV’s, Computers, iPads, Laptops, and cell phones. The only redeeming quality is perceived as the actual gathering together of real human beings, in person, standing up and playing the sport of darts but then the convenience of playing some video game alone or on-line against others seems gratifying yet there is seldom a gathering of actual humans who can see one another, talk with one another, get a social connection with one another and then communicating at a level still unobtainable through technology, i.e., facebook, twitter and other social media software systems. 

There is something, to me, more tactile and visceral that one gets from close social human contact even in the type of dart arts played, i.e., steel tip darts vs. soft tip electronic games. Hmmm, another article on the steel vs. soft-tip?

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