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Equal Darts

Equal darts


How much of an advantage is playing from the first position? At the highest level of competition in steel tip 501, winning against the darts still occurs with some regularity due to the difficulty of the game and the exhaustive length of matches but in soft tip 501 this situation is becoming a detriment to the game, as I believe it will to steel tip eventually.


Way back the game being played was 301 and as the skill level of shooters increased something had to be done about the advantage of playing from the first position so the folks in UK lengthened the game to 501. Next they lengthened the game to 1001, and in some instances 3001, but soon dropped that approach in favor of extending the length of matches by playing more games of 501. They are still looking for a way to overcome the advantage of going first while testing the ability and consistency of the competitors.


The way a high level competitor gauges how well they play is different in soft tip than in steel tip.

For comparison’s sake we’ll leave how ending the game is accomplished (D in D out, O in D out, O in O out) out of this and concentrate on the part of the game of getting the score down.


When competing in steel tip its how many big scores you make that defines whether you get first chance at the win. When competing in soft tip its how many darts you miss that defines whether you get first chance at the win. This may sound the same but it is not. Three turns is the best it gets in steel tip: 180; 180; 141 and four turns is as good as it gets in soft tip: 150;150;150; 51.


Why not go for a three turn game in soft tip? The bull’s eye is large enough that it is much easier to hit eleven consecutive bulls’ eyes than to hit eight consecutive triples. The bulls’ eye is so much easier to hit than the triple twenty that it has become the preferred scoring area. A top shooter, on their game, is as likely to hit a perfect game as not. A solution might be to play split bull so scoring 50 becomes much more difficult because the double bull is only about the size of a dime but that has not been the way things have gone so far. So the situation for soft tip competitors remains, and a shooter who decides to go for a three turn game will put themselves at to much of a disadvantage to take a chance.


In steel tip, the battle seems to have gotten to how, when and which person shoots for the bull to decide who gets the advantage of going first. It’s a sign of how competitors see the significance of being first which is a measure of the skill level of the competitors. This battle occurs at tournaments but not so much in league play in America. The skill level of local players hasn’t risen to the point where going first really shows its advantage. Finishing 501 where each competitor has two or three turns at the double negates the advantage of going first. Being the first at the double is only an advantage if the person hits the double. Once a competitor going first misses the double, it becomes a struggle to see who can hit the thing and having been the one who first had the opportunity is not significant.


Back to defining who gets first chance at the win through skill at scoring. In soft tip the difference is, more often all the time, one dart; the one which misses the bull. It is important to not miss a dart in soft tip because the likelihood of competitors both having that level of skill is common.

In steel tip the difference is, most often, hitting a big score one more time than the competitor because the likelihood of both competitors having that level of skill is limited by the highest scoring area, triple twenty, being as difficult as it is. Hence – the measure in soft tip is how many darts you miss and the measure in steel tip is how many darts you hit.


This means the separation between winner and loser in soft tip is much narrower than in steel tip. Between two equally skillful, high level competitors, being first becomes nearly the deciding factor for who wins and has begun eroding the whole thing about who is better at the game. Steel tip may be facing this same situation in the not to distant future and may already have at the professional level.


I believe being first should not be so important to the outcome of a contest. The determinant for winner or loser should be skill at the entire game. There are many more people capable of soft tip four turn games than there are those capable of three turn games in steel tip so this detriment to competition is more pronounced in soft tip.  


So- what would happen to competition if we were to eliminate the advantage of going first? I submit this would be a very interesting prospect. The fact that the person being second in order of play would have the opportunity to tie, or beat, the person in the first position, because they used fewer darts to reduce their score to zero, would add a level of drama to competition which is currently not there. This would make the contest much more interesting, don’t you think?


Now to explore how, or if, this could even be done. Let’s start with soft tip since that is the game most in need. The current machines can not accommodate the change; they are programmed so that as soon as a score is reduced to zero the game is over. This makes the difficulty and cost of reprogramming the computer an obstacle. Before considering the reprogramming obstacle a conversation needs to begin concerning whether soft tip people would even want the change to occur, and that conversation might be very trying.


The concept of equal darts is not one which very many people have ever heard of, let alone considered playing. The situation of having ties, where the whole game would need to be re-played, is foreign, and as with everything different there will be those who will object on those grounds alone. It’s always been this way so that’s how it should always remain will certainly be the mantra of many.  But the conversation should begin. In soft tip there may even be a chance equal darts could be added as another option programmed into the machine. After all, soft tip is American and Americans are into changing and modifying and trying to improve things.


The situation with steel tip is better – and worse. There is no machine to change and no cost involved so the switch to equal darts would only take the will of the people playing the game, and this it the better part. But – there is that ‘tradition’ thing that so many people get hung up about, which is the worse part. I imagine there will be a whole bunch of people who will reject any such change out of hand simply because it is not how the game is played. Any attempt to improve/ change the game will be met with resistance but I believe the removal of the advantage of going first should be discussed. Or, to put this another way, the person using the fewest darts should win the game.


Just think how the out shot thinking would change. For an example: with both competitors having fifty left how would your approach change if you were shooting first?


Where do you stand? Do you think it is better to try to improve the game or stick with the game the way it is? Are you even willing to consider such a thing as equal darts?




My feet hurt – I gotta sidown

My feet hurt – I gotta sidown


I recently bought a new pair of walking shoes. I do this every seven or eight years, whether I need them or not.


Since I’ve been seventeen I’ve worn shoes sized 8 ½ D. So imagine my surprise when the sales person asked if I would mind if she measured, after I said 8 ½ is the size shoe I wanted, just to be sure. I bit my tongue and said nothing, but – this person doesn’t think I know what size shoe I wear? Give me a break!


Surprise!! I looked at the measuring thingy and it showed my foot was size 9 ½?! The sales person looked up at me as I absorbed the news that I really didn’t know what size shoe I wear. She said she’d get the size I needed and be right back. There’s a trick to this – for sure! Feet don’t suddenly get bigger. It’s probably that they charge by the size now, or the shoes are made according to some model where every ones’ feet are smaller, or something. You can’t trust shoe sales people.


I again bit my tongue (I was getting tired of this exercise).  She could tell I was, ah – quizzical, and explained, in a non demeaning tone, that this happens quite often where a person’s arch weakens, the arch flattens out, and the foot gets longer. I took my teeth off my tongue.


A person’s feet can get bigger as you get older? Who knew?


So – what’s this got to do with darts you ask? OK, fair question.


I talk about eliminating distractions from the job at hand while on the oche and it doesn’t matter what the distraction is. One of the reasons I’ve quit playing darts so much is the bottom of my feet have hurt after standing for a period of time; which became a huge distraction. ‘Course the fact that my darts started flying like sausages (stolen from Dartoid), and I don’t feel like doing anything about it, has something to do with it too.


It wasn’t super disabling pain, just the nagging; – my feet are sore – kind of discomfort. I got to thinking about where I can find a seat and this gets in the way of wanting to compete or even watching darts matches. It interferes with being able to enjoy the competition because finding a seat where you can actually see what’s going on is not an easy thing to do. Which is certainly the case when watching LODs and tournaments.


Put this together with my observation that quite a few dart people who are a bit long in the tooth appear to be quite often looking for a place to sit and you come up with the answer to the “what’s this got to do with darts” question.


So – maybe as your longevity gets longer your feet do too, your shoes don’t fit and your feet hurt? Or maybe it really doesn’t have anything to do with longevity and it’s just that a person gets afflicted with plantar faciitis. Now there is name that’ll scare a person silly but isn’t really all that serious. We all have these plantars in our feet. It’s a ligament like band running from your heel to the ball of your foot. If your foot flattens too much or if it flattens too little the plantar can swell or ache and make a person downright bitchy, and distracted. But lucky for us dart nuts it is a distraction which can be eliminated without much hassle, most of the time. Get some shoes that fit your feet and go walking so your feet can fix themselves. They do that you know? ‘Course there are those times when it might be something more and a doctor needs to be involved but I’ll leave that alone.




Fortitude; Heart; Opportunity: Darts.  

        Sport offers unique opportunities for an individual to experience the “thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” even when the level of prowess is neophyte. From the youngest to the oldest among us that special feeling of preparing for the competition and competing provides a good and necessary addition to our lives; even at the amateur level.

        Everyone who participates in any sport, no matter how serious the commitment, is limited by their abilities. Those with significant limitations need the sport to be modified in some manner in order to participate equally; most of the time. But there is a sporting endeavor which is not like that. 

        People with physical limitations join the legions of amateurs who are devoted to this sport, and follow its own bit of professional activity, because they learn there is also something more, something special about it. And that something special is that they are not so outstandingly different that they require special consideration. That sport is Darts.

        The struggle to be as good as can be is impressive enough when observed in general but in darts the heart exhibited by those with physical limitations gets barely noticed during play of the game. Spectators have their eyes glued to the dart board; eagerly await the landing of the next dart. Who is shooting and how they are doing it is not as important as where the dart lands. That is why taking a moment to appreciate the fortitude and heart of the physically limited player may not happen so often. And that is a most impressive part of the dart game.   

        There is such a broad range of prowess among darts enthusiasts that everyone can find a level at which they can compete. Participation in the effort to get the most from a person’s innate ability through nurture and training is a shared experience. All participants recognize everyone is struggling with some degree of physical limitation and the limitation is measured only by how close the dart lands to its intended target.

        As many as twenty million people have Darts as part of their life, just in America. Among these people are many who have extraordinary limitations but enjoy the added dimension to their life that Darts offers. So I pause here to recognize the fortitude and heart of all those to whom we Darts people may not ordinarily pay all that much attention. Here are the stories of four of them.


Wayne Crook is 61 years old and was introduced to darts while serving in the military during the early 1970s. The sport has intrigued, frustrated, excited, and challenged him for more than 35 years; even through difficulties.


A back injury made picking up darts from the floor difficult. His range of motion was limited to the point that picking up darts became embarrassing and he left league competition. A second uncorrectable back injury made picking darts up from the floor impossible and his dart playing days in public were over for a few years, but he continued to play at home.  He figured out ‘how-he-could’ instead of dwelling on ‘why-he-couldn’t.’


On top of his existing difficulty the driver of a crew cab truck going about 50mph ran a stop sign and crashed into Wayne’s vehicle. The result was the total destruction of Wayne’ Blazer and, almost, him.


The most significant injuries were to his spine which made it so, among other things, attempting to raise his head caused total loss of feeling and control to his right arm (he’s right handed). 


It took three months of recovery and rehab before he could walk unassisted and when he stood at the dart board he could only raise his head high enough to see the lower half of the board. All feeling and control of his right arm was lost. Fine motor skills like throwing darts and signing his name had to be relearned.


Regaining his dart game became his goal and its improvement became the measure of his recovery. He was starting from scratch and a darts learning program became his Rehab Program. His time was spent in wrist- finger thrust exercise, stroke development, and dart grouping practice.  He began with two 10 minute sessions at the dart board every day.  In two months his endurance improved and he went to 20 minute sessions. He became able to stick the darts within a circle of 2” or less. A month later he could raise his head enough to see the entire dart board and feeling was regained in his right arm. He has progressed to two sessions of 25 minutes with one of them being a specific drill regimen designed to perfect accuracy.


“My goal is to achieve the accuracy and endurance I require to take on an open tournament. I believe this accident was simply an inconvenience that has provided the opportunity to make my game even better. Semper Fi, Wayne Crook”


Jim Chatterton was sponsored for Darts. Traveling to tournaments around the nation he won the American Darts Organization ranking of fourteenth place. He suffered a brain stem stroke and remained hospitalized for several months. His whole world collapsed. His diagnosis for walking again was pretty slim and he was also diagnosed with Gerstmann’s syndrome. There are many factors involved with Gerstmann’s syndrome, but the main ones are:

unable to read or write; unable to distinguish between different fingers on the hand; permanent loss of sight on the affected side; unable to distinguish from right to left.


The effects are permanent for Jim. He was wheelchair bound and entered intense therapy at a local neurological rehabilitation unit.


At home, alone and safe from the embarrassment he felt, he began throwing darts again. He slowly got used to his eyesight problems. His accuracy returned – albeit painfully slowly – and he had to relearn all the mathematical shots. He realized that all finishes are the result of patterns, and he still knew the patterns. Using this method he was able to quickly re-establish all of the mathematical shots back into his damaged brain.


It was a year later, after he got home, that he went out to play darts. His left side was still paralyzed; he was in a full sized leg brace and had a hemi-walker to keep him stable. His left arm would not work and he was unable to hold anything in his left hand. He had people pass his darts to him one at a time and somebody else retrieved them from the board. 


His arm gradually began to regain some strength, and he is now able to grip items like darts, knife, fork, etc. with little problem. He is unable to raise his arm very high as his shoulder is constantly sore, but he is able to work around this problem. His eyesight never improved, and never will. He has sight through one half of his right eye only. He is unable to read or write and has massive problems with anything remotely to do with mathematics. He has found methods and tricks to get around just about every problem he has. He has software in his laptop that reads and writes for him and his cell phone has photographs of all his contacts.


He made his return to serious competition with appearances in four tournaments Following the fourth tournament he collapsed at the airport when he returned home. He was ill because he pushed his body too hard. He was very disappointed and did not play darts for over a month.


Two months later he attended another tournament and he came home determined to have one more go at Darts aimed squarely at the top end; which is where he believes he belongs. 


He began to practice again with the Professional Darts Corporation’s tournament in Chicago his goal. He joined an on-line darts learning program and received some valuable insight into what correct practice is all about, and more importantly learned about the benefits of rest and recuperation. In short, he is listening to his body and being more professional in his approach to life in general and in his approach to darts in particular.


“Darts is my main focus in life. It is the spur that is driving me to improve physically and mentally after my stroke. I am determined to get back amongst the top echelons of players, both here in the USA and back home in England (I am British, moving to the USA in 1999).” 

Jim Chatterton



Glen R. Huff.


Glen was born with Cerebral Palsy, and he walks with the aid of two canes. 


He first got into darts while in College at Western Washington. They had a student recreational center with an assortment of pool and snooker tables, pinball machines, and 1 coiled paper dartboard on a corner wall of the room. He’d already tried his hand at the other recreations and decided to give darts a try since he was not good at pool, pinball, etc. He gave Darts a try and liked it right from the start.


After graduating from WWU he moved back home, discovered the local dart league, and got involved right away.  He’d never had a sport growing up and Darts and Darts league were the first activities he found that gave him an “in”, in that he could participate to the best of his ability, and be accepted by his peers. His own particular stance setup and throw is different from the optimal style due to his legs being less stable than a non-handicapped person.  He is short, at 5 ft tall, which has always made it harder for him to get the darts to the top of the board consistently.  


He has over 50 books on darts in his darts library. Although he has a long way to go to get his own physical consistency and performance where he would like it to be, he is seeing improvements in his game from using what he found in one of his books. That improvement has brought a lot more enjoyment to the game for him.


He says he’s been very fortunate in that he’s made many wonderful friendships thru the sport of Darts, not only in his local league, but with folks halfway around the world where the common love and appreciation of Darts was enough to get a

friendship started. Since 1987 he has traveled once a year to Las Vegas to watch the Las Vegas Desert Classic Dart tournament, and as a pub-league player it’s been a real thrill for him to see up close the professional dart players play. The chance to chat with them, and get photographs and autographs, has been quite an experience over the years. One

year at the Las Vegas Desert Classic, World Champions Phil Taylor, and Bob

Anderson gave him the darts they used, which was a real thrill for him. He is someone who collects dart sets, dartboards, books on the game, and tapes of darts matches. Getting such sets from the pros, and getting to meet them has been something which he’ll always treasure. 


“I’ll continue playing darts, whatever my level of ability, because it has given me so much over the years. One of the things that’s kept me participating in darts for 25 + years, is the fact that anyone can do it,  men can play women,  short players can play taller players, young  players can play older players, and language differences are not a barrier,  it’s truly a great sport for all. I have always wished to get as many folks playing the game as possible; my thought being if I can play it, then anyone can play it. 

Glen R. Huff.”


Eileen Willis

Eileen started playing darts in 1976, still plays the game and she is Captain of her dart team. She’s had two incidents of injury during that time; an automobile accident and a fall at work. The automobile accident caused her seven months of recovery from face, breast, wrist, arm and pelvis injury but she didn’t miss many of her dart team’s matches through whole seven months. She sat on a stool and took her turn while others fetched her darts for her.


The fall has been another thing altogether. The damage to her lower back put her in a brace and caused her to use a cane. She took physical therapy but not being able to walk or stand well eventually cost her job and put her on disability. Over time she recovered enough that she can walk without the cane but the injury has brought on arthritis in both hips and both knees. Prior to the accident Eileen played darts seven days a week but she cut back severely after.


Since everyone has off days for one reason or another her dart team mates see her as no different from everyone else. They care about her personally but see no other affect from her limitations. Each person shoots their darts as best as they can on each turn at the dart board.


Eileen doesn’t see her limitations having effect on her dart prowess. She believes she competes against the dart board not the competitor and all limitations leave her mind while she is shooting her darts but when it comes to walking the 7’9” to retrieve the darts they come back.


She recalls being at the top rank of players as her high peak and intends to return to that level. She calls it going from peak to peak.


“My darts go with me everywhere; weddings, funerals, baby showers, everywhere. And I don’t care how old or decrepit I get I’ll still be playing darts. Eileen Willis”


George Silberzahn

Author: “How To Master The Sport Of Darts”



The Ideal Dart League

The Ideal Dart league 

After creating one, running several, playing in a bunch and interviewing leaders of a dozen American dart leagues, I discovered that not one had a regular training, coaching or teaching program. Players are mostly left to their own devices to “get better” at the sport. The reasons were plain: none of the leaders thought darts was complicated, intricate, or sophisticated enough to have such a thing as training and people playing the game didn’t think they needed someone to show them how to “throw” a dart. In addition, league leaders don’t have the time to think this through.


I’ve also discovered there’s practically no conversation or exchange of ideas between leagues and organizations, many of which were struggling with issues that others had long since resolved.

Both of these conditions, lack of training/teaching programs and little or no conversation, come from the profoundly provincial mind set of most of the league leaders. There is practically no discussion or exchange of ideas between leagues, and absolutely none between darts businesses which call themselves leagues or associations or organizations. No one was talking to anyone. They mostly view others in the sport as what – competitors?


I offer below what I call the Ideal Dart League which includes things I’ve found to exist in successful leagues and of which others may not be aware. These are conditions already being enjoyed by some leagues and address some root causes of difficulties within leagues but are not intended to be a cure all .


1. The Ideal Dart League will have a Board of Directors which oversees the activity of the entire league.

     There will be rules/ bylaws which address league wide issues.


2. The Ideal Dart League will have divisions within the league when membership exceeds 150.

     Each division will have a Board of Administrators which oversees the activity of that specific division.

     There will be rules which address division specific issues.


Issues which are among those within the juristiction of the League BoD


Size of the league and divisions;

A. No more than 150 players in the entire league or be divided into semiautonomous divisions composed of no more than 150 players in each division, each with its own leadership in the form of a Board of Administrators.


League wide competition activity

B. A period when activity is largely suspended which lasts two months each calendar year and is most preferably during the summer months.




Elections of League Directors

A Board Of Directors will be elected by league members in good standing no sooner than every two years at the mid period of league activity. They assume office during the suspended activity period following their election.


The Board of Directors:

     1- decides general rules and enforcement procedures concerning revenue issues, player/ team/sponsor conduct, legal status.

     2- collects, disperses and accounts of league finances and ensures that officers who handle money are bonded and the league is in compliance with not for profit organization regulations.

     3- supplies minutes of meetings, which follow Robert’s rules of order, submitted to all league members through Division Administrators on a regular basis.

     4-  writes rules of conduct for all members with expulsion as one penalty for infraction of the rules for membership of individuals, teams and team venues which includes enforcement provisions.

     5- recruits venue owners and players.

     6- conducts a league wide party at which recognition & awards are presented but there is no darts competition and every member of every Division is offered the opportunity to attend with one guest.

     7- establishes league wide rules for day to day operation of the league which include the following:  a grievance procedure for Divisions to bring member complaints to the BOD for resolution when Division rules are not applicable.

      8- A growth program which includes:

     * a player development program to help maximize member’s enjoyment of the league, division and sport of darts;

     * a venue support program to ensure the business advantages of darts is appreciated by venue owners;

     * competitions which are specifically designed to encourage participation by the recreational members of the league in addition to the routine type which are geared to the more serious competitors.

     * a division designated “social club” which has no formal structure, schedule or rules, intended to provide a place(s) and time for individuals who are looking to enjoy darts outside regular league play.

     * a division for electronic machine competition which is handicapped, and preferably, steel tip type.

     9- A forum for membership concerns which include:

     * divisions established with geography as the first determinant and competition as the next.









Some issues within the juristiction of a Division BoA


Elections of Administrators

A Board of Administrators (BOA) will be elected by  that division’s members not sooner than every two calendar years to oversee division competition.


Scheduling of competition

A schedule for regular season competition will be created which includes open dates for make up of matches which were postponed. There are no forfeits.


The BoA will create and administer rules governing when, where, which games and competition format. They will create and administer a set of rules which pertain only to that division’s competition activities and which include:

     1- Scheduling of regular season competition;

     2- A provision for postponement of scheduled matches, but no  forfeits;

          a. captains are granted the authority to negotiate conditions for playing a match instead of postponement.  

          b. if agreement can not be reached the match is postponed. 

     3- Rules concerning minimum team size only – no maximum limit;

     4- A grievance procedure through which members may bring complaints for resolution;

          a. enforcement procedures, for only that division, concerning violations of rules governing conditions for match play.

     5- Rules which require every player to participate in a minimum number of games per match and none which inhibit or prevent team captains from deciding which team members may play in which game or with which team member.

     6- An objective method of ranking individual players by skill and accomplishment. These statistics shall be used to balance competition between teams/divisions and not be used for handicapping players or teams unless the whole division uses handicapping.

     7- Accomplishment awards for individuals, teams and sponsors;

          a- These awards are to be presented to individuals, teams and sponsors, with fanfare, at the annual party run by the league BOD.

          b- Accomplishment awards are not to be monetary.

          8-  Contracts stipulating the responsibility of being a league member, team captain or venue owner, signed by the league/division member, team captain or venue owner which includes, for a member, requirement to help with league activities such as tournaments and league parties.

          a. rules defining the penalty for breaking a contract, e.g.: cancellation of matches at the venue, match schedule being recinded for the team.