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!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

DART ARTS: It's About the Thrill

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

We have all heard people say it's about "the thrill of the chase or the thrill of the game" but for the first time I experienced the thrill of the toss.

The toss of the darts in some most awesome darts; mine, my partners and the team we were competing with in last nights league of the dart arts.

You really have to experience it to truly get that feeling and I understand now how addictive that can be.

I could feel that positive rush and the connection it makes with other dart'ists. I hesitate to say the worn out meme, "It was tantamount to good sex!" 

It was, dare I say, a seminal point as it marked my exceeding the skill level I had those many years past when I first took up the tungsten. In those days I was adequate and yet put away what I thought then as childish things. It was just a game.

Today, as a more mature dart'ist whose research has uncovered that the dart arts, are an art form equal to other sport oriented art forms like gymnastics, golf and martial arts.

It has its philosophy, it has its heritage and it has its physiokinetic principles that make it a real mental, physical and spiritual (not religious in nature but the spirit of competition, etc.) experience.

When I am in the zone, it has a meditative effect that allows me to toss the proverbial perfect dart(s). As I experienced tonight's dart art challenges I achieved a state of mind and body that was contentment; a placid state of contentment. It inspired me to seek enlightenment through the art of darts, to play to the perfection of the dart arts and the mastery of a dart'ist.

Feeling the excitement of the mutual connection brought about by good, solid, darts it opened the door to the next phase instilling that sense of achievement and accomplishment I sought when I decided to take up the arrows after over twenty-five years.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

DART ARTS: Cricket

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

“Cricket is one of the most well known dart games in the USA. It's the 8-ball of the dart-world -- everybody knows the object of the game.” - Josef Burger, http://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~bolo/darts/cricket.html

To my mind, the art of the cricket darts is a challenge and frustrating gambit of strategic tactics that make the game a discipline. A discipline of points and numbers, i.e., in Cricket the dart’ist must close out a set of numbers before his or her opponent. Sounds bit easy doesn’t it yet when you find out the “Rest of the Story” you find that once you close a number every dart thereafter in that number is a score, until your opponent closes out that same number. 

The Mark: when you hit three darts in the number’s singles pie; when you hit two darts in the double ring; or when you hit just one dart in the triple ring you have closed that mark. Depending on how the three darts land, i.e., single pie, double ring or triple in any number of combination you can close a mark and accumulate points. 

The idea is to close out all the marks, i.e., 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15 and bulls. In this game once points comes into play you have to close out your marks while equaling or exceeding the points accumulated by your opponent. 

If you are real good and a bit lucky you can play a solid game of Cricket 8, i.e., close out the board faster than your opponent in just 8 darts tossed, i.e., T20, T19, T18, T17, T16, T15, D25 and 25. Yep, easy isn’t it yet it ain’t that easy. Hitting anywhere else on the board results in a missed opportunity to win in a perfect 8 dart game or at least as close to a perfect game as can be achieved. 

STRATEGIES: You should build your own game, your own strategies and stick to that in order to play well and win Cricket. A good strategy could be to close the 20’s and score points. Many of the more aggressive Cricket players do that because it puts you into the “Following mode” where you have to switch to the next number to close and start scoring your own points. Once you begin scoring you can always leave the third dart to use in closing the number your opponent is using to score on you, it all depends. 

Once you equal them in points or exceed their point level you can go back to using one, two or three darts to close other numbers. I like to, when possible dependent on the skills of my opponent, is to score with at least one dart while continuing to close with the other two. Again, it depends and here is where you begin to realize that strategies and tactics are much more involved in Cricket than in the ’01’ games. 

Here is a link that provides other examples of how to play Cricket and remember that it is critical to the dart arts discipline of the Cricket Match to find your own game and stick to it. A couple of personal points:
  • Don’t follow your opponent, always play your own game - stick with it.
  • Don’t get caught up in the bull chase.
  • Point the heck out of your opponent especially if you are spot on in targeting your numbers.
  • When you can, disrupt the chain of thought of your opponent, try shifting to bulls somewhere along in the game. Cricket aficionados like to follow a pattern of 20’s, 19’s, 18’s, 17’s, 16’s, 15’s and Bulls except in situations where a need to shift to another number say to score big so when you shift to the bulls and hit them solid it sometimes can distract the adversaries mental game.
    • I once was far behind in a match so I shifted to the bulls then  hit them consistently scoring big causing a far superior dart’ist to chase me. Granted, I finally made a rookie mistake and he pounced to finally kick my keister to win the match but you get the point. If I had been a bit better dart’ist I could have outscored my opponent allowing me to go back and start to close those numbers closing the door to scoring for my opponent.
  • Remember, scoring high off the oche line means your opponent has to shift to a scoring mark and often is force to split tosses between points and closing. Switching targets for what ever reason can be boon or bust you out of your game on. 
  • Remember, being behind in Cricket, or any other ’01’ game for that matter, does not spell the end, you can still win the match and game if you play your darts right. Keep the pressure going to keep your opponent off his or her game!
  • Remember about “Chasing;” it is reactive and in any conflict or competition your actions are superior to a reactive state of mind and darts. Your are reacting to what the other person is doing and it is better strategy and tactics to force your opponent to react to your darts. Chasing often requires split darts, don’t split your darts. Get in control, play your own game regardless. Create breathing room so you can play your own game consistently. 
  • Remember, if you have greater accuracy on certain numbers you may want to jump on them and close them out quickly so you can point up. If your opponent is a better dart’ist, try this and throw them off their game. Many dart’ists have certain expectations of the game and how most play it, so throw a monkey wrench into the game and play on!
  • If your opponent is a really solid consistent dart’ist make sure you play to your level. In some cases in lieu of aiming for the treble ring, aim for the larger pie so three in the bed close out that number. If you miss by small margins you have a 50-50 chance of hitting a treble or a double and remember, you can hit to either side lower numbers as well - be careful but be adventuresome too!
The referenced site, see link above, has a lot of very good information on the game and that will assist you in laying a foundation of strategies and tactics that will win those Cricket matches, so go for it and “Game ON!”

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dart Arts Chalker

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

The Chalker is the title used to designate the dart arts score keeper. The Chalker holds a position of importance whose expertise and professionalism can effect the dart'ists ability to throw good darts.

Standing up at the chalk board with their back to the dart'ist holding as still as water on the calmest day waiting for the arrows to land with a solid, "Thunk," using there peripheral vision to see the score ready to quickly calculate the total as the next, "think," resounds in his or her ears.

The Chalker must achieve the speed of a math savant so they can quickly, "Chalk," the score on the board while standing just to the side so the dart'ist can quickly see his or her score in preparation for the next go-round.

  • Chalker’s come from the ranks of dart’ists.
  • Chalker must be accepted by all parties.
  • Chalker holds the responsibility of the games he or she scores.
  • Chalker announces the score before the darts are removed. All scores stand after the darts are removed.
  • Chalker records the scores of each turn and calculates the cumulative score as the game progresses. 
    • No dart is to be touched by dart’ist, another dart’ist, the Chalker, the team captains, or a spectator until the Chalker makes a decision as to the score. 
  • Chalker is to refrain from smoking, drinking or making comments in the performance of Chalker’s duties. 
    • Chalker is to stand motionless facing the chalkboard at a slight angle to see the dart board and is to remain in that position until the last dart hits the board.
  • Chalker’s will come from each team sharing the duties equally. 
Chalker Scoring:
  • Chalker will decide the winner for the middle determining who starts first. 
  • Chalker is to speak only when a player asks for the number of points scored or remaining or if a dart is in a double/triple ring especially when it is close to the wire. 
  • Chalker will NOT advise a player as to how the play the round especially the double required to out for the win. 
  • Chalker records the score, the dart’ist must verify his or her own score BEFORE removing his or her darts. 
  • Chalker and players have till the next dart’ists next throw/turn to change or adjust scores on the board. 
The Chalker Etiquette:
  • Chalker must assume a stance at the score board as follows:
    • Stand in a position close to the score board so that the board can be seen at the oche line by dart’ists; stand at a slight angle to face toward the score board and see the dart board clearly.
    • Stand in a semi-position of attentive posture with hands held by the side or in front of the lower half of the body.
    • Stand as still as possible with no movement or other distracting motions or sounds that may disrupt the toss by the dart’ist at the oche line. 
    • Remain still as indicated until the last arrow hits the board.
    • Calculate accurately as quickly as possible, enter the score with the running cumulative total so the dart’ist, both the one who just finished tossing his or her darts and the one approaching the oche line so dart’ists can quickly calculate and decide on strategic tactics of the game.
    • Resume, unless the circumstances and situation dictate, the original Chalker stance ready position for the next round of arrows to be tossed at the board. 
    • Chalker remains quiet except when asked by the dart’ist at the oche line to inform him or her of the dart thrown status/score according to the rules governing the Chalker/Scorekeeper.  
Let me continue by providing an example, I chalk a lot in our local league and as a beginner I made some Faux-Pas that disturbed a player causing, in all probability, his or her missing an intended target. As my experience level increases I understand a lot better how, for some, small distractions can be … distracting. First was an unsolicited notification as to what he had scored with the last thrown dart and second, was a small movement of my head and upper body, to better see where the dart struck to calculate the score to that point, it was the second toss, that caused concern by the dart’ist. Both are against the Chalker etiquette of the game and as you can tell by reading this article, led to this article.   

When you leave the league level and enter into the professional levels you will find this Chalker to Dart’ist relationship critical to the discipline and violating the rules and etiquette could or may result in a loss that spells out economic ramifications of great importance. This is why I write this, to remind me of Chalker Etiquette and Rules as well as train and practice of myself for that time when I may enter into the realm of the professional dart’ist.

Trivia: the reason I refer to the scorekeeper as a Chalker is because in the steel tip game many still use a standard chalk board and a Chalker is a metal device that holds the chalk, to keep the chalk off your hands, but it should be noted that many devices and applications exist that will provide you automated score keeping. It is prevalent in electronic dart games but traditionally the Chalker in steel tips relies on the mind to calculate the scores, etc. Traditionally the Chalker position assists the dart’ist is using math skills to keep in the mind the scores necessary to gain quick end game successes. Electronic scoring tends to leave a lot out of the game so that the player can focus exclusively on his or her darts and winning. In my mind, the game is a collection of variables that the dart’ist must control consistently to hit the perfect dart, score the highest score and to quickly get to an out or close the cricket game faster than his or her opponent. There are many arguments for and against such techno-devices to assist in the game but the human challenge, for me, is critical to being a dart’ist and not just a person playing a game for fun and social gatherings. When you are at a tournament and after hours of participation you are challenged in mind, body and especially spirit to remain in a high state of accuracy and consistency while manipulating your darts, the scores, your strategies and the various tactics necessary to achieve mastery of the dart arts. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Play the Board

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

It's a mind challenge in the dart arts. The mechanics, or physiokinetics, are the easy part and the hard comes in maintaining the mechanics in a consistent way while a constant barrage of external stimuli attacks you constantly.

  •     the ebb and flow of the competitive environment.
  •     The noise.
  •     The rhythm and cadence of each dart'ist.
  •     The all critical adrenal stress-conditions.
  •     The durinal internal clock in relation to the time of the game.
  •     The mind-set and more important mind-state at the oche line.

This is why I personally use the mind-state of playing the board. I approach the oche line observing the board and the scoreboard - my score only. I glance at the other score only to use that info to gauge what strategy I might take while maintaining control, I.e., I make sure I play my OWN game regardless.

I focus on the physiokinetics of MY game, I check the board and then I focus on tossing the perfect dart with perfect form letting the external distractions fade off into a place called, "Dev-null."

Develop a mind-ability that allows you to create a focus that places you and the board inside a vacuum-like bubble where you have the board, the scoreboard, the oche line, you and your darts then relax in a positive way so that your entire body along with the mind and spirit of a dart-ist can toss perfect arrows. This should be your destination in the training, practice and application of the dart arts. 
Play the board, ignore the rest!