Tuesday, June 25, 2019

A Rare Monday Night Outing

I happened upon a shoot last night!  I was in the mood for onion rings so I decided to grab a set of darts, more or less randomly, and head down to Cooper's since I knew they have four boards up and I'd be likely to find, if not some friendly competition, at least a free board to throw on.  As luck would have it I came upon Monday Singles League which was quite a fun time.  I placed third, which surprised me greatly since I felt like I was having an off night.  In fact, I do not believe I hit a single ton until my last set, and then I hit several (but no maximums, sadly).  But that their place scored me 15 bucks which was enough to cover my entry fee and the onion rings :)

The format was a Round Robin with 2 legs of SIDO 501 per round.  There were eight of us, and here is how my night went:

It started out quite fun because during warm ups I saw my buddy Jeff who was down for playing a non-standard game as way of warm up.  I taught him how to play traditional english Cricket (also known as Wickets & Bats) and I think he enjoyed it, although the game did not last very long.  He won the cork, chose bats, and on my first turn opened with four wickets!  As you can see form the score board below, I was able to surpass his score before he hit any of his 10 wickets, but I hope he enjoyed the game and will want to play it again!

My first two rounds were against Jeff C and Karim on the side of the house that did not have iPads for scoring, so I have to rely on memory for those matches,  I do not remember them exactly, but I know I did not hit any big numbers and I won one each against those two opponents.

My third round was against Michael Bird, who when I first saw him in the bar I absolutely recognized but then could not remember his first name.  I knew I had been seeing him around league for a long, long time but it did not dawn on me until a bit of conversation with him that he actually used to be on my Ballard Station House team!  My brain has been removed from darts for so long that I couldn't even remember my old teammates :\  Anyway, we also split the round.  In the first match my only good hit was a 95, and my 20 out, other than that I had nothing to show.  In the second game I threw rubbish and then had several shots at the out until he took out 10 for the win. 3-3 on the evening thus far.

Next I was up against a new gentleman also named Mike who played well but I took both games off him.  My outs were 25 and 48 respectively, and neither one of us put up any numbers.  Now I was up 5-3.

Next I was up against Ronny, and I also won both games.  In the first I hit a lonesome 95 and took out a 14, and then in the second I hit my first 100 for the evening (I was wrong before), and also a 98.  I took out 32 for the win.  This put me up 7-3 so far.

Next up I was up against Jeff L who is the areas surest shot and the hardest to beat.  He is cool, calm, and collected on the oche and a swell fella.  He is also president of the league and devotes himself selflessly to it.  He took both games, but I made him earn them, at least.  In the first game I had no tons but I hit a small scattering of 60's keeping my PPT at 49.9 for the game. In my last round I was sitting on 102 and ended up busting with exactly 102:

The way that worked was like this:  with 102 left I decided to go 60, 10, 32, but on my first dart hit a single 20 leaving 82.  So I then decided to go 50, 32 (like the pros haha) but hit the 25 instead.  Without bothering to do the math I threw at the single 19 to crack it, but flubbed into the triple 19 instead leaving me with an exact bust. I was an ass and should have done the math.  After the 25 I had 57 left and had I realized that would have aimed for a 17.  An unlucky triple in that bed would not have busted me :P

While that was aggravating, it was also my last opportunity to win the game as Jeff took won on his next time up.  In the second game my PPT was even higher at 53.9, and that ended up being higher than Jeff's but he still won.  I did have several shots at the out, so if I had been more "on" I would have had a satisfying split.  That round put me at 7-5 for the evening.

Last round was against another new guy named Jason.  He is a good shot and we split the round 1-1. In those two games I had two 100's and a 125. I took out 10 in the first game for the win and he took out his 9 in the second. I ended the evening 8-6 which was enough for 3rd place!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

18 gr Halex UFO's

These darts are another random surprise that came to me in the mail from my father.  They are a Halex coated brass dart with a funky barrel design.  I think they initially intended that the scallop be nearer to the point of the dart, and I suspect they are marketed as a soft tip dart, but tough t say without seeing the packaging new.  As you can see, my preferred configuration is the reverse. The scallop goes in back where my fingers go, and to heck with soft tips.  I am a steep tip player :)

Also, back in the day (like 15 years ago) I bought a set of what were then called "Fancy Conversion Points" and I have struggled to find a really good home for them on any set of darts.  They are thick at the base, have a funky, coppery color to them and are anything but streamlined.  It makes them hard to home.  However, I think they present really nicely on this set of darts.

As currently configured they throw rather well and I really enjoy them whenever I break them out.  They are a modern enough dart that they really should not be considered UFO's and once I find a good picture of their original packaging online I will be able to identify them more precisely.  Their current configuration:

Points: Fancy conversion points
Barrels: copper-coated brass
Stems: short aluminum
Flights: dimplex coal crackers

Monday, June 17, 2019

16 gr Coated Ringed UFO's

I am quite lucky.  My father will go to auctions and buy up any dart related stuff and send it to me when he sees it (which is not that often, actually).  So from time to time I get random darts stuff in the mail.  I love it all and I greatly appreciate the random gifts (thanks dad!).  The below is one such prize.  I am pretty sure they were wearing plastic points when I got them but I cannot remember for sure.  Sadly, their original packaging was included so I don't really know what they are.

All I know about these darts is that they are 16 grams, a coated brass, and that they were probably intended for soft tip play.  I know they are brass for two reasons:  first, the size to weight ratio rules out any denser metal.  Also, inside the 2ba stem hole you can see that the raw metal is brass colored.

Wearing hammerhead points the darts are quite a nice addition to my collection.  They fly well as configured and the grip is not overly aggressive.  I have posted these darts to dartnutz.net's UFO section hoping someone can identify them.

Friday, June 14, 2019

18 gr Bottelsen Gap Hammerheads

Funky little darts.  They are an 18 gram version of their "The Gap" Hammerhead darts and they were intended as a soft tip dart but as I do not play soft tip I convert everything :)  As the barrels are quite short, I can easily dress them in my favorite stems: Twin-Grips, which I only have medium length of anymore.

The darts as pictured have an old set of hammerhead points in them, the medium Twin-Grips, and smooth poly coal-crackers. 

When I get in a groove with these darts they can really fly.  To my knowledge I have never ton-80'd with them but I have hit many, many high tons.  As currently configured that fly straight and true, hitting the board parallel to the ground and they slim barrels have no problems crowding into a treble bed.  The problem I have with them is that the placement of the scallop in the barrel is too far forward for my grip and I end up placing my index and thumb behind the scallop, which just feels weird every time I do it.  I love the weight and the slimness of the barrel though, and especially the length of the barrel.  I wish I could get these exact same darts but with the scallop moved to the back of the barrel so that it coincides with my grip a little better.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

22 gr Harrows Power Point Eric Bristow

These are some special darts. Most importantly they throw quite well, but also they are nice looking and as far as I can tell, a little bit hard to find these days.  I knew I loved them from the very first time I laid hands on one.  Back in the day, in my early days of league play, the owner of the bar that sponsored my team(s) had a set.  He offered to sell them to me.  I asked if I could throw them and sure enough, the very first dart was a double bull.  Just like that.  A B Leaguer like me suddenly made it look easy, with these Eric Bristow Power Points!  Foolishly I did not buy them.  This set I picked up much later.

Last night my neighbor and I went for darts and beers as we are wont to do, and I brought these and another set of darts.  I offered him the choice of darts and he chose the others so happily I threw these all night.  I did well.  When I play with him, because he never plays darts and I always do, his 01 games are SISO, and mine are DIDO with the added complication that I have to "Bull In" each round before I can score for that round.  I hit a lot of bulls last night :)

The Power Point line has always had a nice looking nose, and the second pic below kinda shows it off.  Most other screw-in MP systems have a collar that has flats on two sides giving the nose a definitive imperfect mechanical look but not these.  The only other MP system that I thought looked better were basically anything produced by Jeff Pickup (who, incidentally, invented the Power Point system and sold it to Harrows).

These darts also have better barrels than others in the Power Point line in my opinion.  They are thinner, for one, but also, they seem to have a higher grade tungsten for them to be so skinny and yet to weigh in at 22 grams.  The others (previously) are an 80% line and while I never have owned any they did not appeal to me visually with one exception:  the Power Point Dimplex, which I found to be too aggressively knurled, and not a good throwing dart.  The modern Power Point line is 90% I believe and they do not visually appeal to me either.

I have been dressing these beauties in medium, standard Condor stem-flights and that seems to be a good configuration for these darts.  They angle up in the board slightly, but not too badly.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Jeff Pickup Interviews

Blogging simply because I didn't wanna lose track of these videos.

I regret that I never actually got to meet Jeff Pickup, although he has made several sets of custom darts for me over the years.  I would dearly have loved to learn some tips and tricks from him on a lathe too!  I do not have a lathe, nor am I likely to in the near future, but someday I'll be carrying forward his fine tradition of darts innovation.

Someday :)

22 gr Dart World Pro Point 80's

These are some interesting darts.  They definitely have some con points and some pro points (haha, see what I did there?).  On the pro side of the equation I'd say that they are very grippy for lightly knurled darts, if you're into that sort of thing, and the esthetic is there too.  These are unquestionably nice looking darts.

As you can see in the second picture, the collars for the moving points are extraordinarily low profile, almost indistinguishable from the barrel of the dart.  The action is sluggish, however.  In fact, I very strongly suspect that the collars incorporate an embedded o-ring inside that the point itself slides across.  If I am not mistaken this is the exact same mechanism that was invented by Jeff Pickup and eventually sold to Harrows for their Power Point line.  I am tempted to get some needle nose pliers and try to unscrew one of the collars but I do not want to mar the darts.

The grip is great.  The knurling is fine but the grip that comes with them is very grippy.  I have been using smooth darts lately like old copper tungstens, but back in the day I was very interested in finding darts with knurling exactly like this one.

The case is a pretty typical darts case for the era that these were produced, but I am glad I have the case for them.  I don't know what they were trying to do with that 'T' in the logo for the line but it looks like a half effort.  Still, the darts themselves are quite nice, even if the action in the points is too sluggish.  When you pull moving point darts from a dartboard the typical behavior is that the points will automatically pull out to set position at the same time.  Not these.  You have to manually pull the points on each dart once you have them in hand again.

Friday, June 07, 2019

The Various Dart Games and How to Play Them

This is another old darts book that I got I don't know where.  It probably would have sat forever unread if I hadn't had a recent reinterest in darts. Written in the mid 1930's it is chuck full of things that are no longer true, but it is a fun, if short read nonetheless.

The book has its own dust cover, even tho it is a paperback and the pages, the scant 84 of them, are thick.  Also, the print is not small.  All of these factors contribute to this book being a fast read.

Here are a few tidbits that I found of interest:

The first thing that strikes me about this book is that the author refers to darts as something that used to be tawdry if not outright stigma carrying (due to the game's tight association with public houses), but then goes on to discuss how darts have become this country-wide phenomenon in which virtually everyone (like, everyone) plays. "Don't be surprised if you receive and invitation to darts and dancing," the author claims.

I also quite enjoyed the author's incredibly verbose description of what it means to bust.  It seems obvious to me, but perhaps at one point in time the concept of none (of the three darts in the round) counting if you exceed your remaining score was difficult to understand. "If the total does go further, a peculiar condition comes into force."  The author carries on for several paragraphs, and even touches on the idea that busting deliberately is not foul play as some believe but rather a smart tactic available to a savvy player.

In this book and others I have seen some interesting terms used for the bull: "dosser" and "woozle", for example.

The book offers up some interesting rules for club play as well (what we'd refer to as leagues in America, perhaps).  Among them:

  • Visitors always throw first (in modern leagues the visitors merely get to choose between a 'see' and a 'show').
  • The "hockey" is 9 foot.
  • No gambling allowed.  I find this interesting because (in America, anyway) the darts legends were notorious for money games.  It was part and parcel with early darts culture.
  • The scorer should tell the thrower what they have left but not what double to aim at unless the thrower asks.  I find this interesting.  In modern leagues the chalker is strictly forbidden to tell the thrower what they should aim at even if they are on the same team!
This book, in a marked departure from every other thing I have seen written on the subject, talks about the importance of aiming.  It even suggests that when aiming you aim a little bit above the spot you are hoping to hit, and that you angle your dart slightly upward in your hand when aiming.  This is an odd departure and I think most darters can tell you aiming is ineffective and awkward.  Better to focus on the target and let eye-hand coordination deliver the dart to the target.

Also, in agreement with at least one other source I have read states that it is bad form to continue throwing your darts after a bust.  Once you bust, you retrieve whatever darts are in the board and surrender the oche to your opponent.  

Interestingly, the book states that asking to borrow darts is considered ill manners and is something you just don't do.  I find this odd, and slightly contrary to what I understand of the British character: congenial, friendly, always willing to help and ready with a smile.  I have borrowed darts to darters on league nights on many occasions.  I have even borrowed them to opponents!  I see no problem with it, and while I don't see myself ever needing to borrow darts (because I have so many) I equally cannot see myself ever refusing to share darts with someone in a pub.  Also worth noting, there are American dart games (played mostly in churches these days) in which a communal set of darts is used throughout the game.

I love the section that talks about dart care and how to replace a feather flight. An excerpt: "New flights are not difficult to cut from feathers gleaned from the kitchen when a chicken is being prepared by the cook. All that is necessary it to look at the old flight and to select a piece of the feather, taken from the chicken, cutting it to correct shape."  Fascinating!

The vocab learned in these old books is always fascinating too.  Here are a couple worth noting:
  • 'Dosser' - the bull (inner and outer combined)
  • 'Suffering' - when a player seems to hit all around their target but never on the target, they is said to be suffering.
  • 'To Crack' - refers to the need to even up an odd score before going out.

Here are the games the book covers:

Round the Clock
This one is largely the same as of other descriptions of the game in other books with this exception: even though the doubles and triples in the 1 thru 20 beds count as singles for 1 through 19, to win the game the player must either hit the Double 20, or the Inner bull.

Same as in other books.

Same as in other books, but this version suggests the number of wickets needed is negotiable.

Shove Ha'penny
This book offers up some interesting difference for this game.  First, if you go over the number of hits you need in any bed all of your opponents benefit from the extras, not just the next one on the chalkboard.  Also, all the other descriptions of this game that I have seen state emphatically that one must throw the winning dart and cannot receive it as a "shove" from your opponent.  In this version, however, that is not true.  You can end up winning the game on your opponent's turn, if they are unskilled in their throwing.

As in other descriptions I have seen, the score is added up from zero to something (usually 50).  Otherwise it is the same game.

Lastly the book covers a several games that are not darts games at all even though they seem to be at least in part pub games:

Shove Ha'Penny.  This seems to be a combination of miniature shuffleboard, and American (darts) cricket.  You play by trying to slide three pennies into each of 9 bands on a small wooden board. If I am ever in England, I will definitely want to seek out this game and have a go at it.

Bagatelle is a small version or species of billiards in the sense that you are shooting small balls with a cue on a small board.  Corinthian Bagatelle, on the other hand seems to be a miniature, wood-based pin ball.  More games I'd like to try.

I was curious enough to seek out some youtube videos on how to play them:

Anyway.  Nice read.  I hope I can find more old darts books like this one!

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Rotational Modified Doubles

I have tried many practice routines, even recently, and I seem to always come back to this one as my favorite.  I call it "Modified Doubles" because it is mostly a way to practice doubles, but it includes 60's practice as well.  It goes like this.

The first dart of every round is thrown at the 60 segment.  If you hit it, you stay on it, hoping for a ton-80 but being happy with any high ton.  So even if you hit a single one with the next dart, you still aim at the 60 because you could still hit a 121.  Basically, hitting the triple 20 with your first dart earns you the right to stay on them for the entire round.

If you miss the 60 with the first dart then you work on the doubles with the other two darts.  I mark the double with a map pin so that I can remember which double I am working on between sessions.  This is important because I treat this like a never-ending game coming back to it session after session picking up where I left off.  When working on the doubles I basically adhere to two different rules:  stay on the double until you hit it, and only then move on, and work through the doubles in the following order:

  1. Clockwise, starting with 1
  2. Counterclockwise starting with 20
  3. Ascending order starting with 1
  4. Descending order starting with 20
  5. Optimized order (more on that later)

Last night's session was a good one.  I hit several 140's and did well on the doubles, at one point hitting the Doubles Trick pictured below. (A Doubles Trick is hitting three different doubles which were specifically aimed at (no slop, in other words)).

An astute reader will note, however, that a Doubles Trick should not be possible in this practice routine.  Why?  Because as stated previously, the first dart is always aimed at the 60.  So how did I hit one this time?  Because I fucked up and forgot to throw at the triple 20!  That's okay.  Ain't no one perfect.  you can also see in the photo how I use a map pin to mark what double I am supposed to be aiming at.  In the shot pictured, I was working my way through the doubles counterclockwise, and was on the double three.  I hit it, then proceeded to hit the double 17 and the double two in succession, making the Doubles Trick.

As almost two-thirds of the darts are thrown at the double ring this is mostly a doubles practice routine.  It tosses in 60's as an element but guards against target fatigue by always moving on to doubles when you miss the 60, and staying on the 60's when you do not.  So this is the basic routine.  What are the variations?

Rotational Modified Doubles is when you do this same routine but you rotate through multiple sets of darts while you are doing it.  Since I have so many sets, and I quite like all of them, I tend to throw more Rotational Modified Doubles than anything.  What triggers a change of darts?  This is certainly up to the thrower, but for me it occurs when I hit a Triple-20, even if I have not hit any doubles with that particular set of darts.  This is because I value the 60 so highly, probably, and I have so little success with it (in the grand scheme of things).  I almost always rotate through tens of sets, if not my entire collection, and sometimes I randomize the sets I use using my slew of multi-faceted dice.  Sometimes I pull down just three sets and use those the entire session, especially if I think those are the ones I'll be using in league.

Bonus Rounds is another variation I almost always use and it means that if I hit a double with a set of darts, I am entitled to spend the entire next round aiming at the Triple-20, even if I do not hit it with my first dart.  This variation only applies to when I am rotating as it helps to keep the rotation moving. Otherwise there is the risk I'll stagnate on a single set of darts if I am hot on the doubles but cold on the 60's.  For every double I hit without hitting a 60 adds another bonus round, cumulatively, up to three bonus rounds (never more).  So if I have hit two doubles with a set of darts I have two (back to back) bonus rounds at the Triple-20.  If I have hit three doubles then I get three, back to back to back rounds at the Triple-20.  If I hit the 60 early then the bonus rounds are aborted and I rotate to a different set of darts.

Flipping is another variation I use but it only applies to Rotational Modified Doubles and Bonus Rounds.  Essentially, it means that if I have hit a fourth double without ever having hit the Triple-20, then I "flip" the ratio of 60's to doubles.  It works like this:  if I hit a fourth double with a set of darts and I do not hit a Triple-20 during my three bonus rounds, then from that point forward I throw my first two darts each round at the 60 and only the last dart at the double ring.  It is yet another variation specifically contrived to help the rotation of darts sets rotating.

Bulls is another variation I use and the idea is simply that instead of practicing 60's with the doubles, I practice Bulls with the doubles.  So the first dart of every round would be at the inner bull, staying on the bull if I hit the red eye, moving on to doubles if I do not.  The reason I require an inner bull to "stay on the bulls" is because the bull is a much bigger target than the Triple-20, and I am better at hitting it (more confident, in other words).  Thus if any bull counted then I would be spending too much time throwing bulls and too little time throwing doubles.  All other rules apply to this variation, including Bonus Rounds and Flipping, etc.

On Optimized Order:  previously I mentioned that I have a special "optimized order" that I sometimes do the doubles in.  The order is:

  • 16, 8, 4, 2, 1, 20, 10, 5, 12, 6, 3, 18, 9, 14, 7, 19, 17, 15, 13, 11
This order prioritizes the most profitable doubles and then follows through on their halves. The best doubles are in this order: 16, 8, 20, 12, 4, 18, 14, 10, etc., but instead of doing them in strict order, I group them in the major division-by-two groups, so 16 and all its halvings, 20 and all of its halvings, etc.

On Map Pins:  Map pin are an extremely valuable and quite simple tool for the darts practicer.  I use them constantly, and in many different ways.  The way I use them with this practice routine is that I use a different color pin for each of the five different doubles orders, as such:

  1. Clockwise, starting with 1 . . . . . . . . . . .(GREEN map pin)
  2. Counterclockwise starting with 20 . . . . (RED map pin)
  3. Ascending order starting with 1 . . . . . . (BLUE map pin)
  4. Descending order starting with 20  . . . .(YELLOW map pin)
  5. Optimized order (more on that later) . . (WHITE map pin)
In so doing, I can com back to the routine after a several day hiatus and know where I left off.  Anyway.  That's my favorite practice routine.  I hope you enjoy it.