Indoor target game. It is played by throwing feathered darts at a circular board with numbered spaces. The board, usually made of cork, bristle, or elmwood, is divided into 20 sectors valued at points from 1 to 20. Six concentric rings, ranging from an inner bull's-eye to a narrow outermost ring, determine scoring. The official throwing distance in most countries is 7 ft 9.25 in. (2.37 m), though variations extend up to 9 ft (2.75 m). In Britain, darts is normally played in pubs.
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Darts refers to a variety of related games, in which darts are thrown at a circular target (dartboard) hung on a wall. Though various different boards and games have been used in the past, the term 'darts' usually now refers to a standardised game involving a specific board design and set of rules. As well as being a professional competitive activity, darts is a traditional pub game, commonly played in the United Kingdom (the first country to officially recognize darts as a sport), across the Commonwealth, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries, the Faroe Islands, the United States and elsewhere.
Modern day bristle Dartboards were invented by Nodor in 1932, where they replaced the plasticine dartboards which needed to be soaked overnight, and which a strong odor of plasticine. When Nodor invented the new bristle dartboard it did not smell, so was named No-Odour (NODOR). Modern dartboards are made of sisal fibers; low quality boards are sometimes made of coiled paper. However, there are several types of sisal fibre that are used in dartboards today, originating from East Africa, Brazil and China. It is readily accepted that dartboards using East African sisal are by far the best quality and withstand far heavier play due to the fibres superior make up. A regulation board is 18 inches (45.72 cm) in diameter and is divided into 20 sections. Each section is separated with several types metal wire, or a thin band of sheet metal that separates the sections. The best dartboards in the world have the thinnest wire separating sections so that the darts have less chance of hitting these wires and bouncing out. The numbers indicating the various scoring sections of the board are normally made of wire, especially on tournament-quality boards, but may be printed directly on the board instead.
There is speculation that the game originated among soldiers throwing short arrows at the bottom of the cask or at the bottom of trunks of trees. As the wood dried, cracks would develop, creating "sections". Soon, regional standards emerged and many woodworkers supplemented bar tabs by fabricating dart boards for the local pubs.
The numbering plan generally in use today has a 20 on top; however, a great many other configurations have been used throughout the years and in different geographical locations. By most accounts, the numbering layout was devised by Brian Gamlin in 1896 to penalize inaccuracy. Although this applies to most of the board, the left-hand side (near the 14 section) is preferred by beginners, for its concentration of larger numbers. Mathematically, removing the rotational symmetry by placing the "20" at the top, there are 19!, or 121,645,100,408,832,000 possible dartboards. Many different layouts would penalize a player more than the current setup; however, the current setup actually does the job rather efficiently.. There have been several mathematical papers published that consider the "optimal" dartboard.
The standard dartboard is divided into 20 numbered sections, scoring from 1 to 20 points, by wires running from the small central circle to the outer circular wire. Circular wires within the outer wire subdivide each section into single, double and triple areas.
Various games can be played (and still are played informally) using the standard dartboard. However, in the official game, any dart landing inside the outer wire scores as follows:
The highest score possible with 3 darts is 180, commonly known as a "ton 80" (100 points is called a ton), obtained when all three darts land in the triple 20. In the televised game, the referee frequently announces a score of 180 in exuberant style.
Although playing straight down from 501 is standard in darts, other variations exist, notably "doubling in", where players must hit a double to begin scoring, with all darts thrown before said double contributing nothing to their score. Other games that are commonly played differ in their scoring methods. These include "Round The Clock", "Jumpers", "Killer" and the more complicated "Cricket" and "Tactics".
In "Round the Clock", players must hit each numbered section in turn, finishing with a bull to win. Far from being a beginner's game, Round The Clock is a good training game since it practises targeting all areas of the board, a skill which is essential when finishing a classic leg.
In Killer, a number of players "own" a number on the dartboard (often selected by throwing a dart with their non-playing arm) and compete to build up "lives" (by hitting that number) until a threshold is reached (usually 4 or 6) before attempting to "kill" other players by removing the lives they have built up (by hitting those other players' number) until a single player is left.
Of the two professional organizations, the British Darts Organisation (BDO), founded 1973, is the older. Its tournaments are often shown on the BBC in the UK and on SBS6 in the Netherlands. The BDO is a member of the World Darts Federation (WDF) (founded 1976), along with organizations in some 60 other countries worldwide. The BDO originally organized a number of the more prestigious British tournaments with a few notable exceptions such as the News of the World Championship and the national events run under the auspices of the National Darts Association of Great Britain. However many sponsors were lost and British TV coverage became much reduced by the early nineties.
In 1992 a breakaway organization was formed, initially known as the World Darts Council (WDC) but shortly after known as the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). The PDC tournaments have a considerable following, although due to their coverage on subscription-based Sky television, the PDC World Championship has lower TV viewing figures than that of the BDO.
The PDC tournaments often have higher prize money and feature the leading player in the history of the game, 13-time World Champion Phil Taylor. The highly successful BDO player Raymond van Barneveld switched to the PDC and won the World Championship at his first attempt in 2007.
Both organizations hold other professional tournaments. The BDO organize the World Masters and many Open tournaments. They also organize county darts for their 64 county members in the UK including individual and team events.
The PDC's major tournaments are the World Championships Premier League, UK Open, Las Vegas Desert Classic, World Matchplay and the World Grand Prix. All of these are broadcast live on Sky Sports television in the UK. They also hold PDC Pro Tour events and smaller category events around the UK. As of 2007 the PDC have introduced two new televised major tournaments - the US Open (to be broadcast on Challenge TV) and the Grand Slam of Darts (to be screened on ITV).
There are two Dutch independently organised major tournaments the International Darts League, and the World Darts Trophy which as from 2007 feature a mix of BDO and PDC players. Both organizations allocate rankings to the tournaments.
The WDF World Cup for national teams and a singles tournament has been played biennially since 1977. The WDF also organize the Europe Cup.
Over the next decade darts coverage expanded with many major tournaments appearing on both ITV and BBC through the 1970s and early 1980s, but the cancellation of ITV's World of Sport show in 1985 meant they had to cut back on darts coverage but despite this they still showed the World Masters until 1988. The BBC also cut back on their coverage to the extent that one major event was still broadcast on either channel by 1988 - the World Championship.
With the creation of the PDC and expanded coverage of the BDO on BBC, darts has since grown again. There are again several major tournaments broadcast in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.
In Europe, Eurosport broadcast the Lakeside World Championships, having signed a three-year contract in 2006, and that year also broadcast the Finland Open, the BDO British Internationals, the BDO England Open and the BDO British Open. There has been no Eurosport coverage of Open events thus far in 2007.pula In the UK, The Lakeside and the Winmau World Masters are currently broadcast by BBC. However it wasn't until 2005 that viewers were able to see every dart thrown live at the World Championship. This was the year that BBC introduced interactive coverage on its BBCi service.
In the Netherlands, SBS6 broadcasts the Lakeside (since 1998), International Darts League, World Darts Trophy and the Dutch Open. RTL 5 broadcast the Dutch Grand Masters in 2005. Some of these tournaments can also be watched on the internet for free using a live stream, depending on contractual restrictions (external links: SBS Streams and Watchdarts.com stream )
The PDC's Premier League, UK Open, Las Vegas Desert Classic, World Matchplay, the World Grand Prix and the Irish Open are all televised live and in their entirety in the UK by satellite and cable broadcaster BSkyB on Sky Sports. Dutch station, Sport One, DSF in Germany and several other tv stations across the globe also broadcast the PDC events.
The PDC launched the World Series of Darts for the first time in the United States in 2006. Its $1 million prize showcased professional darts in the United States. Unfortunately the programme was not a ratings success and was taken from its peak time broadcast slot on ESPN after just a few weeks. The tournament was replaced with a US Open event in 2007 which was screened in the UK on digital television channel Challenge TV.
The PDC have also confirmed that a new Grand Slam of Darts event will be broadcast on ITV1 and ITV4 in November. This represents the first major darts tournament to be covered by the ITV network in almost twenty years.
The Grand Slam of darts went ahead in November 2007, with Phil Taylor beating Andy Hamilton in the final. It was broadcast jointly by ITV1 & ITV4.
In the professional game, betting is prominent with many of the big bookmaking companies sponsoring events (particularly within the PDC). Sky Bet (World Grand Prix, Premier League), Stan James (World Matchplay), Blue Square (UK Open) and Ladbrokes (World Championship) are all title sponsors of major PDC events.
On FSN broadcasts in the United States, the logos for Ladbrokes are pixelized out and digitally obscured, along with any audible references to Ladbrokes, due to American laws and policies against online gambling.
For a list of famous players' nicknames see: List of darts players nicknames
|Current World Champions |
Multiple World Champions
|Former single-time BDO World Champions |
There are a number of regional variations on the standard rules and scoring systems. Round the Clock is a variation that involves hitting the numbers in sequence . Jumpers is a variation played in Asia .
There are also a number of games regarding placing pictures of famous people onto dart boards.
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