THE GAMES

The game of Darts has many variations. The normal practice is play either as Singles, Pairs or Team games.
I will list a few of the more popular games and their variations. If you know of any other games, or variations of those I've listed then please contact me on fred@dartsforall.co.uk

General

The Board Set up

The board set up is really quite simple. Mount your dart board on a wall or an easel with the centre of the Bullseye 5 feet 8 inches from the floor.
Place the oche or toeline 7 feet 9.1/4 inches from the front of the board. (It is essential that you remember to take into consideration the width of the board when making this measurement, a normal bristle dart board has a width of approximately 1.1/2 inches)
There are a few rules which are common to all games unless otherwise stated.
To decide who shoots first, both players or team captains will either call on the spin of a coin, throw for the Bullseye or draw coloured balls from a blind bag, the winner going first and then alternate thereafter.
A turn consists of three darts and the player must shoot/throw from behind the the oche/toeline.
The point of the dart must be touching the board to count, darts that miss the board or bounce out do not count and may not be re-thrown, however a player may pick up a dart should he/she accidentally drop it.

As I said, there are many variations in all of the games depending on what part of the Country, or even what Country you come from so ask before you play to clarify any local rules which any particular pub may be using.
Sometimes rather than making a draw for who goes first it may be quite common to use the term "Mugs Away" meaning the loser of the last leg throws first, this is one example of variation.

The 301, 501 etc.

The most popular of our games is of course the singles whether it be 301 or 501, in the event of pairs or teams games this may be increased to 701 or 1,001. In the pairs or team games, players within that team must take turns at throwing at the board. The order of a turn may may decided by the drawing of names, or the team captain allocating where each player is to be placed within that team.
In the event of a games consisting of more than one leg then these legs must be of an odd amount 3 - 5 -7 for example, after it has been decided who will throw first in the first leg the start of each game, thereafter will alternate between the two Players - Pairs , Teams. .
Some longer games may consist of sets, a set is a mini game of normally 3 or 5 legs and the first to reach the required number of legs wins that set e.g. first to 2 or 3. A game may consist of many sets but again must be of an odd number in order to decide a winner.

The object of the game is to reduce your score from the allotted starting total (?01) to exactly zero. In all the ?01 games the player must finish on a double, (starting on a double is optional) as the game proceeds and a finishing shot (this is a shot which may conclude the game within the allowed three darts) is left on the board if the players score exceeds that required, as explained previously, in one format that is called Burst and no score is recorded, so the player returns to the score which was required before he/she threw his/her three darts. (Note: a Bullseye counts as a double 25 and may be used to finish or start a game)

Cricket / Micky Mouse

This game is called Cricket uses the numbers 15 -20 or 11 - 20 the outer Bull and the Bullseye. In various other darting circles it may be known as Micky Mouse.
The object is for a player to hit each number and the bullseye three times. Doubles count as two hits and triples as three.
The first player to hit a number three times owns that number and it is said to be opened. Further hits on the opened number by the player who has opened the scoring, score that number of points until the opponent also hits that number three times, then the number is removed from the game.
Once a player has opened or closed all the required numbers and the outer and inner bull and has equal or more points than his opponent then that player wins.

Variations on this game

Many players add doubles and triples to the required numbers and either score them as a separate category or the player can choose if they have hit a treble whether or not they take the hit as a treble or as three of that number.
This variation can be played either as easy or hard rules. In the easy rules any double or triple counts. In the hard rules only the doubles and triples of the numbers 11 - 20 can count. In both variations the Bullseye may be called as a double.
One other variation is the addition of a miss category, if none of the players darts count, place a mark next to the miss category, once a player has recorded three misses then his opponent gains points by one of the following methods. Either an agreed amount, say 20 is awarded each time the player fails to hit an opened number or if a player fails to hit an opened number and his darts are in a scoring segment of the board, say tow of the darts are in the number 10 and one dart is in the 15 whilst the players was attempting to hit double 15 then 35 would be added to their opponents score.
This continues until the opponent has also recorded three misses, then the category is removed from the game as usual.

Variation

This next game is not so much a variation in the game of Cricket but an entirely different game, although still bearing the name Cricket.
This game may be played with two individuals or as a team game.
First of all it is decided by whichever means you wish who is to be the Bowler and who is to be the Batsman, after this has been decided the Bowler throws first and then alternate thereafter.
The rules are quite simple. At the start of the game there are 10 chalk marks put up on the board, hereafter referred to as wickets.
The Bowler then throws first at the inner or outer Bull the inner counting as two wickets and the outer counting as one wicket, the idea is for the Bowler to remove the 10 wickets as quick as possible as in the normal game of Cricket.
On the alternate shots the Batsman must try to score as many runs as possible. This is done by throwing at the scoring segments of the board which in this game are the large sections of the numbers and the doubles and trebles. In order to score runs the Batsman must first of all score 40 and all points scored over 40 with three darts, are the scored number of runs.
Here are some examples of scoring :
First dart 20, second dart 20, third dart 5 total runs scored 45 - 40 = 5 runs.
First dart treble 20, second dart 20, third dart 20 total runs scored 100 - 40 = 60 runs
Total runs so far 5 + 60 = 65
First dart 5, second dart 20, third dart 5 total runs scored nil as the total scored does not exceed 40
Total runs so far 5 + 60 + 0 = 65

And so on until the Bowler has run out all 10 wickets.
There is on more way that a wicket may be taken and that is by the Batsman himself.
It is obvious to build up runs you may wish to try to hit the trebles to give a score of over 40 however there is a penalty of one wicket deducted if the Batsman throws a dart in the smaller section of the numbers, i.e. inside the treble wire, so it is a risk the Batsman takes if they wish to try for the trebles.
Once all 10 wickets are gone the roles are then reversed and the Batsman becomes the Bowler and vice versa.
The length of the game may be varied by the number of innings you decide to play, it is normal to play two innings with both players or teams Bowling and Batting twice around.

Golf

Golf uses the numbers 1 - 18 as it represents an 18 hole golf course. Players alternate turns at the number 1 ascending to number 8.
A Triple scores a hole in one, A Double is a Birdie, the area between the Bullseye and the Trebles wire is a par three. The area between the Trebles wire and the Doubles ring is a bogey four and a complete miss is a bogey five.
All players play the 18 holes and the lowest score wins the game.
Each player has three darts at each hole but only the last dart thrown counts, example : should your first dart hit the small segment of the number one then you have a par three, however you may take a chance and try for the treble with your remaining two darts, BUT should your last dart miss the number one altogether then you record a Bogey 5, the choice is yours to stick or throw again.

Variation

Again still played on the numbers 1 - 18 and again players alternate their turns at each number until reaching the 18th hole. All numbers are considered par three's.
It is the scoring method that changes in this version of the game.
A players first dart thrown hitting Treble 1 still counts as a hole in one but if the player only hits two big ones with his/her three darts then they continue throwing until the required number of three hits has been achieved, that players score is then recorded as the number of darts they took to finish off that number i.e. 2 big 1's and a miss, the next three darts a miss and then a big 1 with their second dart would record a score 5, the player must then stop throwing and the next player takes his/her turn.
The scoring in this variation of the game is one for each segment hit with each dart, a hole in one, a double and a scoring segment would record a birdie, (the player only using 2 of their 3 darts)

Round the Clock

This is often the first game that most players learn as the rules are indeed very simple.
The basic idea is quite simply to get round the board as quickly as possible by hitting the number 1 then 2 then 3 and so on until reaching number 20 using a few darts as possible.
This game may be played either by yourself as a form of practice or between two or more players.
If the game is played between more than one player they must take turns in firing at the board.
To play the game : The first player starts and his first dart hits number one, he then goes for number 2, if he misses with his second dart he may throw his third dart at the 2, on his next turn to the board he/she will then be throwing at number 3. The first player to get to number 20 is the winner.

Variations

There are many variations to this game, a popular one is if all three darts score e.g. 1, 2 and 3 then the same player continues to throw until he misses. So it is feasible that if the first player is very good then no one else will get a shot at the board.
Another variation is that doubles and triples skip you two and three numbers respectively. e.g. If the player is shooting at 10 and hits double 10 his next shot would be at 12 bypassing the 11 because of hitting the double.
In some games the Bullseye is also included.
Another variation in order to make the game that little bit harder would be to go round the board on either just the doubles or the trebles.

Assassin

A game for 2 - 10 players.
To begin the game each player must throw at the board with the opposite hand to their throwing hand (right handed player throw with their left and vice versa) The number hit by that player is their number (each player must have a different number - if a player throws and hits a number that is already taken then that player must throw again) Once everyone has their own numbers the game may start.
Order of play is decided by going for the Bull (the nearest first and the farthest away throwing last)
Each player then throws alternate and must hit their own number 5 times, once a player has done this they then become an Assassin and can then go for the other numbers on the board in doing so reducing the number of lives an opponent has (it is common to start with 5 lives) all scoring segments including doubles and trebles count as one hit.
Once a player has lost all their lives they are eliminated from the game until there is only one player left.
It is important to note that during the game should there be two Assassins and one assassin hits another Assassins number then that player ceases to be an Assassin an must hit their own number a further 5 times before they can regain the status of Assassin.

Killer

Very similar to that of Assassin.
The difference being that only the doubles count on this game.
The method of getting your numbers, order of play and number of lives are the same as Assassin.
BUT the Killing method is different.
A player must only hit their double once before becoming a Killer, they may then start killing off their opponents by hitting their doubles. This variation is slightly more difficult than that of Assassin.
The rule regarding the Killer losing a life still applies, once a Killer has had a life taken off them they must hit their own double again before once more becoming a Killer.
As the numbers are obtained by the players throwing with their opposite throwing hand, the numbers can be quite varied, so playing this game can indeed be a great form of practice of hitting doubles that you may never deliberately leave in an actual game, but can quite often end up on.

Variation

Blind Killer :
Again the method of obtaining numbers is by the same as is the order of throw to Killer and Assassin, but this time the numbers that are chosen are not necessarily your number. The numbers are wrote down on pieces of paper and each player draws a number without letting their opponents know which number they have (of course as no one knows which number belongs to who in this game then you do not have to hit your own double first to become a Killer)
From the start of the game everyone is able to kill other players, only in this game you do not actually know who you are killing.
The lives are marked off the board and it is only when a number has no lives left does the owner of that number own up to it and is eliminated from the game.
This is a great game for the player who likes to study as he/she has got to try and work out whose double is who and if they can afford either to take one of their own lives off or make a serious effort at looking as though you are trying to score on your own double in order to put the other players off your scent and make them go for a different double.
One other variation in this game is that a couple of dummy numbers are often included i.e. if there are 5 players then 7 numbers are selected, this again makes the game of interest as you try not only to work out whose number but also which are the two dummy's so as not to waste your darts at numbers which serve no purpose.
This game again is played only on the doubles.

Burma Road / Halve it

This is a popular game and is quite often included in a Pentathlon as one of the disciplines.
The scoring method in this game is to include :
20's - Trebles - 19's - Doubles - 18's - Three separate colours - 17's - 61 - 16's - Outer Bull -15's - Inner Bull.
To decide the order of throw the players either Bull Up or Spin a coin.
The first player throws and tries to score as many as possible on the 20's, the play then is alternate.
After both players have gone for the 20's they then go for the Trebles, then the 19's and so on until reaching the Bullseye.
The scoring method is player 1 scores 40 on the 20's then if they score on the trebles say hitting a treble 20 they add 60 to their score making their total score 100. However should they fail to hit a treble then their score is halved from 40 to 20. (When scoring on trebles and doubles, three separate trebles and doubles must be hit, if a player hits treble 20 with his/her first dart then treble 20 again with their second dart, the second dart invalidates the first dart and no score is made)
The scoring on three separate colours is done by a player throwing at three colours, say Black, White and either Red or Green, if this is achieved the total scored by those darts is added to the total score so far gained by that player.
Failing to hit the three separate colours or having a bounce out constitutes a miss and that players total score at that point is halved.
61 : This is quite self explanatory the player must score exactly 61 using all three darts. Scoring more or less than 61 or scoring 61 with less than three darts constitutes a miss and the players total score is halved.
Outer Bull counts as 25 and three hits would add 75 to that players score, two hits 50 etc. a miss would halve the score.
Inner Bull the same as outer only each dart scores 50.
An example of the game would be : Player one score 40 on the 20's (40) then misses the trebles (20) scores 76 on the 19's (96) scores 72 on the double (double 20 & double 16) (168) scores 54 on the 18's (222) misses the three colours (111) and so on.

Big Un's & Little Un's

This is a game which has many names and many variations regarding just exactly what segments of the board may be used.
I can give you my version in which any area enclosed by a complete wire may be used.
For example : any of the recognised scoring area's and also the ring of the 8's & 18's - the noughts on the 20's & 10's - the enclosed area of the 4's & 14's and the enclosed area's of the 6's, 9's, 16's and 19's.
The game may be played with 2 or more players and the idea is for the following player to hit whatever the preceding player has left on the board.
The Game :
A draw for order of player is done in the usual manner and it is decided on how many lives each player is to have for the game, the player who is drawn last throws at the board with the opposite hand to their playing hand (as explained in an earlier game) therefore, hopefully hitting a scoring section of the board, for this example, say the small section of the number 1.
The first player in the game then starts the game proper throwing with their correct hand and has three darts at trying to hit the small 1, should the player miss with all three darts then they lose a life and continue to throw until they either hit the small 1 or lose all their lives.
If the player hits the small 1 then they have their remaining darts to leave something for the following player, whatever section of the game which is in play the player hits with their next dart is what the following player must go for, if player one hits the small 1 with their last dart they then have all three darts to leave something, if they have two darts left after hitting the small 1 then they can try to hit one of the more difficult sections of the game, say the ring of the number 8 with their second dart, but! should they miss then they must hit something with their last dart otherwise they lose a life, (careful how you do this because it is possible to try for a difficult section of the game then have your last dart bounce out therefore costing you a life, the choice is yours) if the player fails to leave anything with their last dart they then have all three darts to try to leave something for the following player.
If player number one hits the small one then hits the outer Bull with their second dart, then the third player must then go for the outer Bull and so on.
If the second player loses all their lives without hitting the small 1, then the third player goes for the small 1, if a player loses all their lives i.e. the bounce out without leaving anything for the following player to hit then once they are out they then must throw at the board with their opposite hand until they Do leave something for the next player to go for.
The winner is the player remaining after all the other players have lost their lives.
As I said this game does have other names and different playing sections (sometimes only the scoring sections of the board are used) it pays to check this out in a strange venue.

 

Tips & Bad Habits...

There are a number of common ones, including:
LEANING way over the line to get closer to the board. This one is a real loser, since leaning robs the darter of stability. The feet and legs should be positioned in a solid, comfortable, and relaxed stance, with weight distributed to both feet. Excessive leaning places nearly all of the body weight on one foot, tiring the shooter in long matches and damaging accuracy in the short run.
The few inches gained by leaning over the line are simply not worth the huge loss of balance and stability, plus leaning lowers the shoulder, forcing one to throw upwards, fighting gravity. Leaning also usually means tensing the major muscles of the body to preserve balance. This often results in a jerky release and poor follow-through, since the body is already off-balance.
A number of long-time players report back, knee, ankle, and foot pain, from spending many years standing on one foot while playing darts. Even in the short run, leaning to throw will cause minor pain in the small of the back. Especially for older players, a firm stance will stop this discomfort, both while playing and the next morning! If someone argues the point with you, think about this.. In what other sport would you drink a six-pack of beer, stand "tiptoe" on one foot, and try to compete in an accuracy competition? In every other competitive sport, accuracy begins with a solid stance!
LUNGING or lifting the back foot off the floor during the toss to get a harder throw. Lunging is one of the worst habits, as it affects the entire body and throw. Lifting the foot even partway from the floor deprives the body of good balance during the crucial moment of follow-through. The strength required to reach the board with any normal dart is minimal, and for best accuracy should be provided only by the fingers, wrist, and forearm.
Missing the board or hitting too low often cause beginners to think that more power is needed. This is rarely true, as one can tell by the fact that the missed darts usually stick in the wall, which is quite a bit harder than a bristle dartboard. The problem lies with the accuracy of the throw and follow through. Even small children can be taught to throw accurately without lunging or using the shoulders in a throw.
HOLDING THE DART SIDEWAYS, or in any other position than level and pointed at the board. Skill at darts, or any other target sport, means being able to perform the same motion exactly the same way, time after time. Common sense, as well of years of studies in other sports, show that all non-essential motion should be avoided and discarded from the routine. In Darts, this means that if the dart is to strike the board at a level attitude (nearly always the best), it should be held and thrown from a position as close to level as is possible. Any other position (such as point-up, point-down, or sideways) means extra motion of all the hand and wrist muscles to correct the initial starting position. Pure wasted effort... and usually futile, since the dart will likely leave the hand at an angle and wobble all the way to the board. The darts also may stick in the board at odd angles, especially after a long period of play when concentration starts to slip a little.
THROWING THE DARTS, it is unnecessary and even dangerous,to throw a dart with excessive force, as a dart thrown too hard may hit a wire or other object and bounce clear across the room to hit someone. Dartboard wires get bent and the bristles crushed from this type of abuse.
This method is also hopelessly inaccurate, as all of the major strength muscles and very few of the fine control muscles are used. A dart should never be thrown so hard that the front of the dart barrel touches the bristles. If this happens when a dart is thrown normally, then the dart point is too short and should be changed.
SPINNING the dart as you release it to add stability. WRONG! This is wasted effort at best, and can actually make your game worse by causing uneven release.
Most darts flights are not shaped to properly induce spin, and the darts actually fly for too short a distance (about 5 feet) for aerodynamic spin to be a stabilizing factor anyway. Spinning the dart is often done inadvertently, and is a symptom of uneven release. As the hand opens, if the thumb leaves the dart before the fingers, the dart will roll sideways off the fingers, causing the dart to spin. All parts of the hand should leave the dart at nearly the same time to ensure level flight. To achieve this, make opening the hand a positive motion, and open the fingers and thumb rapidly to an extended position, ending up pointing at the target. This will also help keep the flights from touching the fingers as the dart leaves the hand.