is a form of throwing sport
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 standardized 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 recognise darts as
a sport), across the Commonwealth, the Netherlands, Ireland, the
Scandinavian countries, the United States, Canada and
Before the First World War, pubs
in the United
Kingdom had dartboards made from solid blocks of wood, usually elm.
They had to be soaked overnight to heal the holes made from the
darts, and it was a messy business for the publican, although darts
was a popular game. This changed when a company called Nodor, whose
primary business was making modeling
(which has no odor, hence the name Nodor) made a
dartboard. Their model of dartboard was not a great success until
someone came up with the idea of making a dartboard from sisal
fibres. Small bundles of sisal fibres of the
same length were bundled together. The bundles were then compressed
into a disk and bound with a metal ring. It was an instant success,
as the darts made little or no damage to the board - they just
parted the fibres when they entered the board; this type of board
was more durable and required little maintenance.
Modern dartboards are made of sisal fibers; cheap boards are
sometimes made of coiled paper. However, several types of sisal
fibre are used in dartboards today, originating from East Africa,
Brazil and China.
A regulation board is 17¾ inches (451 mm) in diameter and is
divided into 20 sections. Each section is separated with metal wire
or a thin band of sheet metal. The best dartboards have the
thinnest wire, so that the darts have less chance of hitting a wire
and bouncing out. The numbers indicating the various scoring
sections of the board are also normally made of wire, especially on
tournament-quality boards, but may be printed directly on the board
Height and distance
In the standard game, the dartboard is hung so that the bullseye is
from the floor: eye-level for a six-foot (183 cm) person. The
(IPA: /'ɒki/) - the line behind which the
throwing player must stand - is generally from the face of the
dartboard measured horizontally. This is the recognized world
standard as set by the World
and is used in most areas. However there may
be a measurement error (such as measuring from the wall, rather
than using a plumb line
to measure from
the board face). The diagonal distance from the bull's eye to the
oche will be , when horizontal measurement from the dart board face
is not easily done.
The London 5 board or narrow 5's board set up is slightly different
from the standard board. The height is set at 5 feet 6 inches
to the center of the bull and the oche is at 9 feet from the face
of the board.
The origin of the term "oche" is explained by various
The first theory surmises that there was a brewery called "Hockey
and Sons" or "S. Hockey and Sons" in the West Country of England.
This brewery supplied bars with bottled beer, and the crates used
to deliver the bottles were exactly 3 feet long. One English pub
owner then made the 9-feet rule by using three "Hockey & Sons"
beer crates (3 x 3 feet) as a distance marker. Many people also
believed this is how the phrase "toeing the hockey" came about,
which added more validity to the theory. However, according to a
statement made by the Brewery History Society in the 1990s, no
records of a brewery called "Hockey & Sons" can be found.
The second theory traces the term's origin to darts competitions
held in the 1920s by an English newspaper, "News of the World".
Allegedly , this newspaper was the first to use the word "hockey"
for the throwing line in their tournament rules. "Hockey" is
derived from the Old English word "hocken" which meant "to spit" .
It is said that spitting competitions were held in the bars of
English public houses, and that the "hockey line" was determined by
the length that a given player could spit from a position with his
back to the dartboard.
The dartboard may have its origins in the cross-section of a tree.
An old name for a dartboard is a 'butt', which might imply that the
bottoms of wine barrels were the original dartboards; but the word
in fact comes from the French word butte
, meaning target.
In particular, the Yorkshire and Perrigo Manchester Log End boards
differ from the standard board in that they have no treble only
double and bullseye, The Perrigo Manchester board being of a
smaller diameter, with a playing area of only 25cm across with
double and bull areas measuring just 4mm. 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 trebles being
a quarter of an inch wide.
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
The standard numbering plan 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 penalise 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
, or 121,645,100,408,832,000 possible
dartboards. Many different layouts would penalise 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
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:
- Hitting one of the large portions of each of the numbered
sections, traditionally alternately coloured black and white,
scores the points value of that section.
- Hitting the thin outer portions of these sections, coloured red
and green, scores double the points value of that section.
- Hitting the thin inner portions of these sections, roughly
halfway between the outer wire and the central circle and again
coloured red or green, scores triple the points value of that
- The central circle is divided into a green outer ring worth 25
points (known as "outer", "outer bull", or "iris") and a red inner
circle (usually known as "bull", "inner bull" or "double bull"),
worth 50 points. The term "bullseye" can mean either the whole
central part of the board or just the inner red section. The term
"bull's ring" usually means just the green outer ring.
- Hitting outside the outer wire scores nothing.
- Any dart that does not remain in the board after throwing (for
example, a dart that hits a wire and bounces out of the board or
drops out with the impact of a later throw) also scores nothing.
Variations on this rule exist - some judge that a dart which
obviously hits a scoring section but then subsequently drops out
will count if caught before it hits the floor or if it rebounds
behind the throwing line before touching the ground it may be
thrown again. In professional rules, a dart's tip must be touching
a scoring section for the dart to count. Despite some house rules,
hitting the inside of a wire number around the edge of the board
does not score any points.
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
The sport of darts is usually contested between two players who
take turns in throwing up to three darts. Starting from a set
score, usually 501 or 301, a player wins by reducing his score to
zero. The last dart in the leg must hit either a double or the
inner portion of the bullseye, which is the double of the outer
bull, and must reduce the score to exactly 0. Successfully doing so
is known as "doubling out" or "checking out" (see the Glossary of darts
for more darts
terminology). A throw that would reduce a player's score to less
than zero does not count, his turn ends, and his score is reset to
what it was before that turn. (Sometimes in friendly games a player
is allowed a dog's chance by "splitting the eleven" if he has a
remaining score of 1: this requires placing a final dart between
the legs of the number 11 in the normally non-scoring part of the
board.) Since the double areas are small, doubling out is usually
the most difficult and tense part of a leg. Longer matches are
often divided into sets, each comprising some number of legs.
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
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 involves
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
the British Darts
(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
1976), along with organizations in some 60 other countries
worldwide. The BDO originally organised 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 organisation was formed, initially known as the
World Darts Council (WDC) but shortly after known as the Professional Darts
(PDC). The PDC tournaments have a considerable
following, and have considerabely higher TV viewing figures than
that of the BDO, more commonly known as the Bad Darts
The PDC tournaments often have higher prize money and feature the
leading player in the history of the game, 14-time World Champion
. The highly successful BDO
player Raymond van Barneveld
switched to the PDC and won the PDC World Championship at his first
attempt in 2007.
The BDO and PDC both organise a World Professional
. They are held annually over the Christmas/New
Year period, with the PDC championship finishing slightly earlier
than the BDO tournament. The BDO World Championship
running since 1978; the PDC
started in 1994.
Both organisations hold other professional tournaments. The BDO
organise the World Masters
many Open tournaments. They also organise county darts for their 64
members in the
UK including individual and team events.
The PDC's major tournaments are the World Championship
, 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
, and the World Darts
which as from 2007 feature a mix of BDO and PDC players.
Both organisations allocate rankings to the tournaments.
The WDF World Cup
teams and a singles tournament has been played biennially since
1977. The WDF also organise the Europe Cup. Shirley Welker is
currently the reigning WDF Champion.
Darts first appeared on British television in 1962 when Westward Television
Westward TV Invitational to the south-west of England
. In 1970, ITV
broadcast the News of the World
and from 1972 the Indoor
, which featured a darts tournament.
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
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
With the creation of the WDC/PDC in 1992/93, darts gradually
returned to television with Sky Television covering the new
organization's World Championship and World Matchplay events from
1994. Sky's coverage continued to increase throughout the 1990s,
with more new events added. The PDC's World Championship
, Premier League
, UK Open
, Las Vegas Desert Classic
, World Matchplay
and the World Grand Prix
televised live on Sky.
The BBC finally began to expand their darts coverage in 2001 when
they added the World Masters to their portfolio. 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
Darts has continued to grow again on television and there now
several major tournaments broadcast in the UK, Europe and the rest
of the world. Dutch station, Sport One, DSF in Germany and several
other tv stations across the globe also broadcast the PDC
In Europe, Eurosport
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 since
In the Netherlands, SBS6
has broadcast the
Lakeside (since 1998) and the Dutch Open. They also shown the
and World Darts
, however they are now defunct. RTL
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
has also tried to break into the television market in the United States by introducing the World Series of Darts in 2006.
It had a
$1 million prize to showcase 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
event in 2007 which was
screened in the UK on digital television channel Challenge TV, with
showing the 2008 tournament.
returned to darts coverage in November 2007,
showing the inaugural Grand Slam of
- its first major darts tournament coverage in almost
twenty years. They also added a second PDC event in October 2008
with the new European
. Setanta Sports
also televised darts tournaments for the first time during 2008 by
showing several BDO Open events and the new League of Legends
In places where alcohol
consumed, English law
has long permitted
only on games of skill
, as opposed to games of chance
, and then only for small
apocryphal tale relates that in 1908, Jim Garside, the landlord of
the Adelphi Inn, Leeds,
England was called before the local magistrates to answer the charge that he had
allowed betting on a game of chance, darts, on his premises.
Garside asked for the assistance of local champion William Bigfoot
Anakin who attended as a witness
demonstrated that he could hit any number on the board nominated by
the court. Garside was discharged as the magistrates found darts,
indeed, to be a game of skill.More recently, in keeping with Darts'
strong association with pubs and drinking, matches between friends
or pub teams are often played for pints.
In the professional game, betting is prominent with many of the big
companies sponsoring events
(particularly within the PDC). Sky Bet (World Grand Prix, Premier
League), Stan James (World Matchplay), Blue Square (UK Open) and
(World Championship) are all
title sponsors of major PDC events.
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
For a list of famous players' nicknames see: List of darts players
Other famous and notable players
- Martin Atkins
- Joey ten Berge The
- Andy Boulton
- Stephen Bunting The
- Dave Chisnall
- Steve Coote
- Dick van Dijk
- Albertino Essers The
- Peter Evison The Fen
- Darryl Fitton The
- Bobby George Bobby
Dazzler / Mister Glitter
- Shaun Greatbatch 9
- Robbie Green
- Paul Hanvidge Polly
- John Henderson
- Edwin Max Mad
- Ross Montgomery The
- Glenn Moody Mr
- Phill Nixon
- Alan Norris
- Tony O'Shea
- Davy Richardson The
- Gary Robson
- Niels de Ruiter The
- Robert Wagner
- Garry Thompson
- Mike Veitch The
- Scott Waites Scotty 2
- Tony West The
- Brian Woods
- Gary Anderson
The Flying Scotsman
- Barrie Bates
- Ronnie Baxter The
- Jamie Caven
- Mark Dudbridge
- Tony Eccles The
- Andy Fordham The
- Andy Hamilton
- Terry Jenkins The
- Wayne Jones
- Mervyn King
- Adrian Lewis
- Colin Lloyd
- Steve Maish Mr.
- Peter Manley One
- Wayne Mardle Hawaii
- Chris Mason
Mace the Ace
- Kevin McDine
- Wes Newton Av
- Colin Osborne The
- Denis Ovens The
- Kevin Painter The
- Roland Scholten The
- Kirk Shepherd Karate
- Andy Smith The
- Co Stompé The
- Alan Tabern The
- Robert Thornton
- Vincent van der Voort
- Remco van Eijden
- Michael van Gerwen
- James Wade The
- Mark Walsh
- Alan Warriner-Little
- Mark Webster
- Simon Whitlock The
- Tony Brown
- Richie Davies Lamb
- Alan Evans
- Mike Gregory
- Rod Harrington The Prince
- Paul Lim The Singapore
Slinger(made the 1st World Ch'ship 9-darter)
- Marshall James
- Rick Ney
- Dave Whitcombe
Other darts games and variants
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.
is a variation played in Asia.
There are also a number of games regarding placing pictures of
famous people onto dart boards.
A regional variant still played in some parts of the East End of
London. The board has fewer, larger segments, all numbered either
5, 10, 15 or 20. Players play down from 505 rather than 501, and
stand further (9 ft) away from the board.
, despite the name, is a regional
USA variant of the game (most U.S. dart players play the
traditional games described above). This style of dart board is
most often found in eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware,
Maryland, and parts of New York state.
Shanghai is a darts game of accuracy. Hitting doubles and triples
is paramount to victory. This game may be played with 2 to infinite
number of players. The standard version is played in 7 rounds. In
round one players throw their darts aiming for the 1 section, round
2, the 2 section and so on until round 7. Standard scoring is used,
and doubles and triples are counted. Only hits on the wedge for
that round are counted. The winner is the person who has the most
points at the end of seven rounds (1-7); or you can score a
Shanghai and win instantly. To score a Shanghai you have to hit a
triple, a double and single of the number that is in play.
Dart board history
- http://hammersdarts.wsnw.net and
-  Bangkok Jumpers League
- East London Advertiser Fives still alive in
-  Dart Games: Shanghai