Friday, November 22, 2019

A Happy Ending for an Unhappy Dart

Back in the early days of my darting life, in the early aught's, as they are called, there were fewer online options for darts, fewer companies selling them (I think) and darts were a hell of a lot less, well, blingy.  But even in those days there were the highly regarded "expensive" darts that everyone more or less fantasized about having.  For us, those were the Bottelsen GT Hammerhead, the Laserdarts Black Widows, and the Laserdarts Black Eagles.  All were in the neighborhood of about $150 at the time, if I recall correctly.

Years passed, and then one night a teammate shows up to league sporting a set of Black Eagles.  I was impressed and envious at the same time.  After the match was over he let me throw them some and wouldn't you know it, I couldn't miss.  I didn't hit a Ton-80 or anything, but I do know I hit mostly anything I aimed at.  In fact, my memory may be a bit hazy on this but I am about 80% certain that my very first dart was aimed at, and hit, the inner bull.

I bought a set the very next day.

Years more passed.  The Black Eagles served me well for quite a long time but eventually my finicky dart preferences moved on to other sets in my collection and the Eagles got shelved. But then more or less on a whim, in October 2019, I break them out again and take them to Monday Night league where two things happen:  I hit a Ton-80 with them, and then later in the evening, one bounces out, hits the floor, and the stem snaps off right at the barrel, leaving the threaded portion inside and nothing to grip to turn it out.

This is not an uncommon occurrence.  Stem breakage is a fact of life for the darts aficionado, and we all (most of us anyway) carry a tiny tool called a stem extractor to remove those pesky broken stems from threaded darts, like this one:

I've never had it not work before when needed, so I was surprised this time when it couldn't even gain purchase in the broken stem.  It was like trying to dig into hard glass or something.  So I reverted to a few other ideas that I have known about but never really had to use.  My next attempt at extracting the stem was to superheat a tiny screwdriver and insert it into the stem, let it cool and then unscrew the stem like any regular screw.

No love.  All I accomplished with that tiny screwdriver was to chew up the middle of the stuck stem.  The stem itself refused to budge.  So my next move was to  go online for advice, and the good folks over at had plenty of suggestions, including this:

The L-Style Bull Extractor.  I bought one and tried it, but while I do not doubt that it is a fine stem extractor (after all, it is highly lauded), it did not work in my case.  In fact, it basically hollowed out the stem as you can see in the photo above, and that left me with a quandary.  So then I thought, "okay, what I need is a screwdriver that is the exact width, minus maybe a hair, of the inside of the dart's stem hole.  I did my best to measure it and it seemed to be about 4 mm.  I sought out my computer repair screwdriver kit and found a 3.5 mm and 4 mm.  The 4 mm was too tight a fit so I super-heated the 3.5 mm wide one, rammed it into the broken stem, let it cool and gave it a turn.  But again, no spinning, just more disintegration.

In the end I decided to drill it out with a 5/16th bit:


The bit seemed to fit in there almost perfectly, but I eased the drilling as much as I could be cause I was very worried about permanently ruining the threads of the dart.  After all, the darts are not just expensive, but at this point carry sentimental value for me as well.  It seemed to work though, and got out all of the material except for the plastic that was still in between the threads.

So I went online and bought a 2BA Taper Tap, and a Tap Wrench:

This set up is what I used to clean out the remaining plastic material. I honestly do not know why I have never bought one of these before, given my love of darts as a hobby.  You'd think I would have by now but I guess I never really needed one before this incident.

Worked like a charm:

The happy ending is of course that the Black Eagles came with me to Wednesday night league for the last match of the season and I won all but one of my games; scored a Hat Trick to win a Cricket game in spectacular fashion; and in general performed well.

The other happy ending here has to do with Cosmo, the maker of the stem that was broken off inside my dart.  Cosmo makes the Fit Flight line of stems and flights which I happen to be a big fan of. The fact that it was a Fit Flight stem broken off inside the barrel is immaterial (see what I did there?) because really any stem can snap off the way this one did.  The stem I was using may have been a tad more fragile for various reasons, but it is certainly not Cosmo's fault.  After all the stem was purchased at least 4 or 5 years ago so that could contribute. But also it was a mostly transparent stem, or at least translucent.  The reason this is relevant is because of the material needed to make a transparent stem.  A rep from Cosmo Europe hopped on the thread where this was being discussed and offered some insight into the change in materials (normal nylon cannot be made transparent).

Then, in an act of terrific generosity, sent me a replacement set of stems!  But not just any stems.  He sent me their new titanium stems which retail for about $85.  And this was despite my acknowledgment on the forum that Cosmo was in no way at fault for the random stem break!

I am very happy with Cosmo darts, and especially the rep from Europe who not only participates on dart forums but also engages in a friendly and generous manner with customers.

So there you go.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

A Happy Ending to League

Last night was the last match of Fall 2019 B League (at least for me - my team might play a make up match next week and I will not be on hand for it).  It was a great night form start to finish: I had a quality warm up game against a teammate with a 92 finish, I won most of my games in the match, even if I didn't have a single drop of tonnage, and after the match I proved the adage 'there's no music in a piano'.  I had a wonderful evening and it was a nice way to end my B League experience.  My team lost last night, but only barely, and it would have been our first and only match win had we won even one more game last night.  But alas.  I have been back in league for two full seasons now and my team has finished dead last both seasons, with only a single match win between them.  That's okay.  My goal was to have fun and raise my own game a little bit and I think I may have done both of those!

Here is how the night went:  When I arrived the only other player there was an opponent named Jeff, with whom I have shared a few non-standard games in the past, and I was hoping he'd be down for a game of Shove Ha'Penny or Golf or something but he just wanted to warm up.  Then my teammate Cory arrived and we played a couple of warm up games.  The first was a 21 darter for me in which all of my scores were at least 60, and which had a 92 finish (that you can see below) in the style of S20, T12, D18.  My first dart aimed at the double was a hit and that was happily more portentous than our next warm up game.  The next game we played I went 125, 100, 85, 43, ... and it went down from there.  We both ended up at double 1 and spent too many darts at it to count, and we ended up aborting the game because everyone else had arrived and needed to warm up.  Happily, that turned out to be the only instance of my finish truly suffering this evening.


Then the match started. I captained for the team last night since our normal captain was traveling. I played two singles games and won them both, and five doubles games and won four of them. The team game was also a win, making the evening one of my best in terms of personal win loss ratios, even if I was severely lacking in tonnage.

My first singles game was a 401 against their captain Ori, and I won, but only because I missed my out one fewer times than Ori.  It was middling scores all the way down. Once I was at 80, I went 20, 20, then missed the double 20 into the double 5 leaving 30.  Then I missed outside with all three darts next round, but hit the double 15 with my first dart next round.  I had four missed shots at a double but I do not think my finishing suffered, and while it was a B League caliber game, it was a happy win.

My second singles was a Cricket game against Bill, whom I will be seeing in Metro League soon.  I won the game handily.  I had a 2.5 average, no dead rounds, and I hit the bulls when I needed to, finishing them off in 2 rounds with an inner and an outer in the last two rounds of the game.

My first doubles was a 501 with Cory. Not a great game on my part. I ended up with 69 and left my partner with 32, which he halved next round. Then I missed the double 8 three times outside next round and then he took it out first dart his next visit.  Three misses is not suffering exactly, but who knows how that would have gone had he not hit it.  My next doubles was another 501 with Chris and this was my only loss for the night. I threw low scores all game until I hit a 94 to leave my opponent 44. He whittled that down to 20, which I missed outside with three darts.  Then he whittled it down more to 4, which I then missed outside with all darts.  Then we lost.  However, I will say my shots at those outs were close with every dart.  It did not feel like suffering at the time but by the numbers I have to admit it was.  My last doubles 501 was with Julia.  No tonnage, but the finish was nice.  I was left with 90. I missed the triple 20 into the single with my first and second darts, leaving 50, and then missed the inner bull game shot by several inches into the 17, leaving 33.  Next visit she whittled that down to 14, and I hit the double 7 with my first dart my next time up.  That was a nice little win for us.

Doubles Cricket went swimmingly.  My first was with Cory.  Not a single dead round between us, I hit one 5 mark round, and Cory went bull, double bull for the win in the last round.  Good stuff.  My last Doubles Cricket was with Chris and it was a thing of beauty. No dead rounds for either of us, and in my last visit I hit a Hat trick for the win.  It felt wonderful.  So wonderful, in fact, that I took a pic (below).  Happily, that wouldn't even be my best Hat Trick of the evening.

The team game was uneventful for me.  No tonnage, and when left with a 20 I could only whittle it down to 4, which Cory took out during his next visit.  However, that win in the team game was enough to allow us to lose the match by only one game.  We had already lost though, as we went into that game 9 to 11.  The final score sheet:

After the match a dude name Nate showed up and wanted to play a game so I obliged him.  We played no-slop, no-points cricket, 20-down.  I won that handily but throughout the game he was asking me a lot of questions like how to stand, the difference between darts, etc.  I explained to him that the dart itself makes absolutely no difference whatsoever.  He was throwing very, very cheap brass bar darts and I was throwing the 24 gram Laserdarts Black Eagles that I'd been leaning on all night.  $3 darts against $125 darts (which were wearing Fit Flights, adding to their value). But to emphasize my point about there being 'no music in a piano,' I swapped darts with him and said "Watch."  I then promptly threw another Hat trick (seen below) with the $3 bar darts.  He was impressed, and my point was not just made, but proven: the darts themselves don't matter.

It was a great way to end the season.  A wonderful night all around!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Steel Arrow

Just happened across this lovely blog with a lovely name:

There seems to be a lot of great content!!

Monday, November 18, 2019

51st Ton-80

I have thrown these darts quite a bit in the last month or so, including more than one instance in which they were the only darts I took with me to league.  Finally hitting a maximum with them after shying away from them a bit is a nice way to move past them a bit.

They are my 22 gram One80 Revenges, wearing tweenie Fit Flight stems and standard Fit Flights.

23 gram Elkadart Steve Beatons

Originally I thought these darts were Voks due to the spring loaded point. As it happens, tho, they probably are not.  One person at believes they are Steve Beatons and this was seconded by someone who was selling a set on ebay and listed them as 


I don't know for sure but I am willing to go with that.  Of course, if something is listed as "mega rare" on ebay, that means it most certainly is not.  Still, other than my set, this is the only set of them I have ever seen.

As they are currently configured, they are wearing their original spring loaded steel tip point and medium length, standard condor stem-flights.

D1, D1, D1

A nice little Doubles Trick that occurred in last nights practice session:

You can see from the red pin above the double 1 that only the first and second darts were supposed to be aimed at it.  A red pin signifies that it was the last double in the counterclockwise doubles circuit.  After red, comes the yellow pin which means that I then work through the doubles in numerical order, ascending, which means that the second dart should also be aimed at the double 1.  Since I also hit that, on a lark I threw the third dart at it as well, hitting again, for a nice little Doubles Trick.

These came off the 22 gram Smart Darts, wearing tweenie pear Condors.  Between this and the recent maximum I hit with them, I am increasingly liking these darts!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Tyrion, FTW

Last night we visited the Incredibulls at the Old Peculiar, and they did not fall short of their name.  They brought their A Game and won the match 16-5.  Two of those wins were very satisfying wins for me, but I must say, I felt like I was mostly throwing rubbish during the night.  The Incredibulls are a swell team full of nice people and I like them immensely.

Here is how the night went: I played two singles games and won one, I played four doubles games and won one, and we lost the team game.

My first singles game was a 401 against Tre.  It was an unremarkable, B-Leaguey kinda game, and I whittled my score down to zero with low numbers until I took out 39 for the win.  The one thing I am happy about with this game is that I hit the double 16 with my second dart at it.

My single Cricket match was against Tom, who is a swell darter.  We were both throwing well, but I could not overcome his dominant performance.  He opened with three 20's and I responded with three 19's.  Then he tripled in the 19's and score 40 points on me.  I chased him the rest of the game. I had one dead round and one 5 mark round but the rest was only average play.  In the end I hit the bulls when I needed to (with a single and a double in two rounds), but then so dis he.  He won 212 to 160, but had he not also been hot on bulls that would have been a nice win for me for sure. 

My first doubles match was a 501 with Julia and we lost.  This was not a bad effort at all. I had back to back tons within it, and then when left 80 by my partner I went 20, 20, and then missed the double 20 inside to leave 20, but my partner never had a shot at it as they took out their own 20 to win in the next turn. My other doubles 501 was with Chris, also a loss.  The game consisted of middling scores, and I had one shot at a 72 out but could only reduce it to 20 before the other team won.

My first doubles Cricket was with Cory and it was a highly satisfying win. It was a point war between their 20's and our 18's.  I never had a dead round in the match and I also only had one round in which I hit fewer than 2 marks.  Several triples and 4 mark rounds and in the end I did not miss the bulls.  My last dart was a double bull for the win and the final score was 428 to 340.

My last doubles Cricket was with Dani, and it was a loss. I hit mostly one and two marks and only had one dead round.  However, again, I was on target with the bulls, but it was not enough to win. They wrapped it up quickly and won 18 to 0.  The team game was rubbish.  I hit 21, 41, 21, 41 and then had a shot at the 34 for the win but missed outside with the first two darts and then wired it on the inside with the last, cutting it in half for my teammates. I never had another throw during that game.  Frustratingly, after the match I hit a spate of tons and ton-40's.  WTF?

The darts I used were the 22 gram One80 Revenges, which I have been favoring lately.  I am thinking about switching it up for next week.  Several times during the night I found myself wishing I'd brought more than one set of darts because sometimes your throw gets hinky and you want a couple of correction rounds.  Next week I'll bring more.  Maybe the Dark Thunder's and the Superalloy GT's. We'll see :)  Also, as you can see, the Revenges are sporting the new titanium spinners that Cosmo Darts sent me gratis recently.  They spin nicely and they are attractive to boot.

Also last night one of the opponents brought their dog, Tyrion, and he hung out on a nearby bench during the match.  A sweet, docile little fella.  He provided a much needed dog fix throughout the night as I lost my sweet girl over seven months ago.  Frequently between games (or even throws) I would sit on the bench next to him and pet him.  I wish I'd gotten a better pic!

Anyway.  My performance was lackluster last night (if I am being generous) but Tyrion and the good company of mine and the other team made it a good night.

Thursday, November 07, 2019

5 Count in Bulls

This is the closest I have come to a Deadeye in a long time.  This was actually my very first throw of the night during a team practice get together, and it came in the first throw of a Cricket match in which I decided, completely on a lark, to employ the Kristian Strategy.

I hit one or two other four counts in the bulls during the night, and at least once with two darts being in the inner bull.  Worth noting:  my opponent won the Cricket game by one point.  He was as on fire as I was.  It was one of the best Cricket games either of us had ever thrown.

This 5 Count came off my 22 gram One80 Revenges, configured with tweenie nylon Fit Flight stems and standard Fit Flight flights.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Embracing Cricket Chaos

I went to the Sunday Shoot at Kate's this week, which is a doubles blind luck event and got partnered with a guy that had a very unusual Cricket strategy.  I noticed during our first match.  I do not remember the exact circumstances of the game, but if I recall correctly, both I, and the other team, were following standard Cricket strategy where we start with the 20's and worry about not being behind in points.  However, when it was his turn he stepped up to the oche and completely disregarding the scoreboard proceeded to throw his three darts at the bull.  I thought it odd, and I assumed he was a novice player (not entirely true), and then suddenly felt like a rookie myself for not having bothered to discuss strategy with my partner before the shoot.

As it turns out I was in a funny mood.  My darts have not been flying well in the last couple of weeks anyway and I'd already committed myself to having fun, and not worrying too much about whether I win or not.  So I asked him: "Whatcha doin' with the bulls there?"  He proceeded to outline his strategy.  He doesn't panic if he gets too far behind in points because he knows that most people simply cannot hit the bull when they want to, and for the most part, at least in B League, this is certainly true. And it was mostly true on Sunday as well.  I chalked more than one utter painful Cricket match in which neither team could close their bulls round after round after round.  So I told him, "Okay.  Sound like a great plan." And we proceeded to employ exactly that strategy for the entire shoot.  It didn't always work, but mostly it did.  On two occasions our opponents decided to also hit the bulls early and when they did, we lost. 

The most noteworthy of those occasions is when we were in our playoff game for first place.  Corker's Choice was the theme of the day so when we lost the cork for the play off leg our opponents chose Cricket.  They opened the game with four 20's and I responded with three bulls. Once they caught wise to our strategy they quickly closed the bulls and we were unable to catch up to them in points (the lid being on our honey pot and all) and we lost the playoff leg.  But we won 2nd place and we were quite happy with it.

So there you have it.  I don't think I would ever employ this strategy on my own, especially not against a good player, but if I ever play with him again I most certainly will.  At first, momentarily, I resisted this strategy as a completely bad idea but once I embraced it, I embraced it fully and had fun with it.