Darts is a game in which darts are thrown at a target hung on a wall. It is commonly played in pubs in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries and elsewhere.
Points are awarded for hitting the various sections. Hitting a white or black section gives points equal to the number aligned to that section. Hitting the outer red or green sections is worth double points, hitting the red or green section inside that is worth triple points. The outer ring in the centre of the board is worth 25 points, the inner ring (also known as "The Bull" or "Bullseye") is worth 50 points. Hitting outside the layer of doubles merits no points.
Dart boards are usually made of sisal fibers and each section is lined with thin metal wire. The numbers are normally made of wire. Regional variations on the standard board still exist in some parts of Staffordshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire. In particular, the Yorkshire board is identical to the standard board save that it has no treble ring and has a single, inner bull. The dartboard itself may have its origins in the cross section of a tree.
The center of the dartboard is hung 173 centimeters (five feet eight inches) from the floor, and the oche, or throwing line at which the players' foot is placed, is 237 centimeters (seven feet nine and one quarter inches) from the face of the board, though a few British pubs set it at eight feet or eight feet six inches.
Darts is usually contested between two players usually playing a certain amount of legs, in which they have to reduce their score from 501 (or 301) to zero. The players take turns to throw three darts at a time. The last dart in the leg must hit either a double or the bullseye and must reduce the score to exactly zero. Sometimes matches are decided by who wins the most sets, each containing an odd number of legs.
There are two main versions of the game at a professional level, in the 1990s a breakaway version was formed with the influence of Sky Television. The Sky version has a higher prize money and a better quality of players, but critics would say it is less prestigious than its traditional counterpart, which when televised is shown on the BBC. The PDC however has a higher overall standard of play and is more professionally run, while the "BBC version" is run by the British Darts Organisation (founded 1973) who organises all British darts players, except for the few professionals of PDC. The BDO is a member of the World Darts Federation (founded 1976) alongside with some 60 other countries worldwide. The WDF World Cup (for national teams) is played bi-annually since 1977.
The main traditional event is the World Professional Darts Championship.
On premises where alcohol is consumed, English law has long permitted betting only on games of skill, as opposed to chance, and then only for small stakes. An 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 and 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.
- Bounce-Out - Where the dart bounces back off the board or the wire, thus scoring no points.
- Bust - Scoring too many points in a three-dart throw, thus gaining no score for those three darts.
- Checkout - The final turn of throwing darts in a leg.
- Maximum - A score of 180 achieved in one turn of three darts.
- Maximum Checkout - A checkout of 170.
- Nine Dart Finish - Checking out from a score of 501 with nine throws of the darts (the minimum possible number that can be used).
- Oche - The point from which players throw the darts.
- Outshot - Alternative name for checkout.
- Shanghai - A checkout involving a treble, a single and double in the same section.
- Shanghai 20s - A checkout involving treble 20, single 20 and double 20.
- Ton - A score of 100, sometimes means any score more than 100.
- Ton-80 - A score of 180.
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