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Life / Sport / Darts
Watch or play darts in the UK
  How to play / vocabulary
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An introduction to the game of darts.

Winmau Professional Darts Set
Manufacturer: Winmau

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Darts is a popular game in the UK. It is often played in a pub, recreation centre, or in someone's home.
Although it is an easy game to play it is a game of skill which is hard to master.
In recent years a professional game has developed, and some of the tournaments are shown on television.
Championships are usually knock-out competitions, meaning that only the winner of a game goes on to play in the next round.

There are currently two rival World Professional Darts Championships in January each year.
One is organised by the British Darts Organisation and takes place at Lakeside (Frimley Green), and is usually shown on BBC2 television.
The other is organised by the Professional Darts Corporation. It is usually shown on Sky Sports (a subscription channel).

Players take turns to throw 3 darts at the board.
When they throw the players must stand behind a line called the oche (pronounced "ockey", sometimes called the toeline). This is a distance of 7 feet 9¼ inches (2.369 metres) from the dartboard.
There is no score if a player's foot goes over the oche when throwing the darts.

The score for each dart depends on the section of the board which it hits.
Wires divide the board into segments, marked with the following numbers (starting at the top and moving clockwise):
20 - 1 - 18 - 4 - 13 - 6 - 10 - 15 - 2 - 17 - 3 - 19 - 7 - 16 - 8 - 11 - 14 - 9 - 12 - 5
On the outside there is a ring in which the score is a double, scoring twice the number shown for that segment.
Because of its position on the board, double 20 is usually called double top.
Half way inside there is another ring in which the score is a treble, scoring three times the number shown for that segment.
In the centre of the board is a small circle surrounded by another larger circle. A dart which hits the outer ring (known as the outer bull or iris) scores 25.
The small circle in the centre is called the bullseye (often called simply the bull) and scores 50. It is also considered to be a double.
There is no score for a dart which misses the board, hits the outside of the board (beyond the outer double ring), or falls out within 5 seconds.

The most common game of darts is 501. Each player takes turns to throw 3 darts, and the total score from these is subtracted from that player's total, starting at 501.
The first person to get the score down to exactly zero wins that leg. The final dart must be a double (or the bull's eye).
A set is usually the best of 5 legs (in other words, the first person to win 3 legs wins the set).
The first player to reach the target number of sets (usually between 3 and 7) wins the match.

At the start of a match, both players are given one dart. Whoever throws closest to the bullseye throws first in the first leg.
Players are usually allowed to throw six darts each as a warm-up before the match starts.
The start of play is announced with the phrase game on.
If a player throws first it is called his (or her) throw. If he wins he holds the throw, and the leg is said to go with the darts. If not, the other player breaks the throw, or wins against the throw.

In the early stages of each leg the players usually aim for the treble 20.
The highest possible score with three darts is 180 (three darts in the treble 20), known as a maximum.
The crowd will applaud any player who scores this, and will often hold up a special sign with 180 written on it.
140 is a common score for top players, who may throw two treble 20's and one single 20.
One treble 20 and two single 20's gives a score of 100, which is also known as a ton.
An announcer calls out the score after each player has thrown. If a mistake is made and is corrected, this is known as a check.

If a finish is possible within three darts, an announcement of the required total is made before the throw starts (for example, "Tony requires 141")
Finishing (by reaching exactly zero, with the last dart a double) is also known as checking out.
The highest possible check-out is from a score of 170 (treble 20, treble 20, and then a bull's eye).
In some tournaments a special prize is given to the player who achieves the highest check-out.

The lowest number of darts a player needs to finish a game is 9 - this is known as a 9-dart finish.
One way to achieve this is to throw 7 treble 20's, 1 treble 15 and finally a double 18 (501=7x60+45+36).

If a player throws a score which is too many, all three darts from the throw are ignored and there is no score (it is said that the player is bust).

A dartboard

A maximum score: 180 (3 x triple 20)

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World Championship:
British Darts Organisation:
Professional Darts Corporation:
BBC Sport darts:
Sky Sports Darts:
Bobby George:
Wikipedia article about darts:

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