Monday, May 06, 2019

The Little Red Book of Darts

I have had this book in my "will probably never read but it is about darts" pile for I don't know how many years, and so I finally broke it out and started reading it. On the whole, I do not recommend it unless you get it for free or for next to nothing.  The book is a scant 100 pages, mostly cartoons, and the rest is divided into: 80% dry (and very family-safe) humor, and 20% a listing of games.  For me, the humor didn't work, but then, to be fair, my sense of humor is quite different from the average dart player, prolly.  Some may find the book downright hysterical.  I found tremendous value in the section that lists out games, however.

Also, in the section pertaining to the rules of the game I found two tidbits that struck me:

  1. The book asserts that once you have busted in an 01 game, you are NOT allowed to throw your remaining darts, and in fact, it is considered rude to do so.  This is a reversal from what I have always believed, which is that the player who approached the oche with three darts is entitled to throw those three darts no matter what.  I shall have to look this up in the ADO rules and see what they say about it.
  2.  It validates the notion that is the chalker makes a mistake, it is the player's responsibility to catch it before they surrender the dart lane to their opponent, else the chalker's mistake stands.  This is quite hard for many players to swallow, and I have seen some soreness over it. But it is absolutely true.  I would take this a step further and that is: if you pull your darts out of the dart board, that means you are accepting the chalkers recording of your score no matter what it is.  Your opportunity to correct the chalker ends when you pull your darts.

Click to Embiggen
Now onto the good stuff, the new games I learned about in this book:


Two Players.  Take turns throwing at the inner bull (the "50") until one player hits it.  once it is hit the player now has control of the ball and can score goals.  A double (any double) is a goal.  It is now the other players sole concern to wrest control of the ball away from the opponent, else he cannot score goals.  you can only score goals if you have control of the ball.  First player to ten goals wins.

Hm.  My first thought is that at my level of play (B League) the first person to hit that coveted 50 is going to score ten doubles long before the other player can hit the 50.  This might have to be lightened up a bit so that any bull gains control of the ball.

Cricket (Wickets & Bats)

This tired old book, written a good 40 years ago, calls the game I have always known as Wickets & Bats by the name of Cricket, which as we all know is a staple of league play through out America. Here is how the book says to play Wickets & Bats: 

One player chooses to start with wickets (the bull), and the other starts with bats (scoring).  The player scoring builds the highest possible score they can before the other player hits ten bulls.  Once this is done they trade places and now the player who was throwing bulls must build a higher score than his opponent before they hit ten bulls.  The game is played until either: the person currently throwing bulls hits ten of them, or, the player shooting for score surpasses the score of the bull-shooter.

I have played this game many times to great delight.  However, the one deviation from this description is how points can be scored.  In one version I have played, you can only score points on doubles.  In another version, you can score points anywhere, but you discard your first 40.  So if you hit a 41 you score 1 point.  If you hit a 59 you score 19, etc.

Shove Ha'Penny

I have no idea how to pronounce that, although I am guessing it is a contraction of 'half penny' which probably is (or was) a coin in Britain. And I further speculate that it is called this because if you score more than you need to in this game then you give that excess to your opponent for his benefit.


I have played Fives, with a rather non-trivial difference to the rules, many times with teammates, workmates, and other leaguemates. I'll explain the variation we always use in a different post. Wait, this whole game deserves its own post. 


Two players. One is trying to close "sectors", the other is trying to score.  Once all the sectors are closed they trade places and go through this process again.  The person with the highest score wins. 

The details in the book are not rich, and I have several wonderings.  For starters, are there 21 sectors in the game, or 62?  I suppose this would depend on the appetite of the players, but my guess is that each entire number wedge is one sector, and the bull is one as well, making 21.  The book also implies that only one dart is needed to close a sector, but I think this also depends on the appetite of the players.  On the whole this seems like a fun game and I will introduce it to my teammates.

Closed Shop

Closed shop sounds interesting but in practice I don't think it will be very compelling. In this two player game, both players are trying to generate the highest score possible. Once a player scores 3 times in any bed, however, it is closed to everybody. So if I go first, hit a triple 20, a single 19 and a double 19, I have scored 117 points, and my opponent cannot use those beds to score. The best they can score on is 18's and down (or bull, which can only be scored twice).  It seems like there would come a point where, there is no way the player behind in score could catch up with low beds.

Round the Clock

This one seems a little too basic.  Any number of players can play.  You must hit a double to start scoring, and then you have to get one dart in each bed 1 through 20. First to hit the 20 wins.  Doubles and triples do not count as anything more than a single as you only need one dart in each bed to progress.  You do not play bulls in this game.

Any number of players, and highest score wins.  You go through all the beds, 1 - 20, except bull, scoring as many points as you can in that bed.  Any interesting caveat of this game though, is that if you manage to score a shanghai (a single, a double, and a treble) you automatically win, and the game is over.  Also interesting are a couple of variations that make it more challenging: 

  1. Harder variation #1: you must shanghai in order: single, double, triple.
  2. Harder variation #2: If you score zero on an odd numbered wedge (after the 1) you are eliminated from the game.

Halve It

Very similar to the pub game we all know and love called 41.  Some differences though.  Any number of players can play. Instead of playing around the entire board on doubles, you only use 11 targets that are negotiated by the players.  Could be, for example: "20's, 19's, any treble, 17's, 16's, any double, 15's, 14's, inner bull, 12's, 11's". Or anything. You go through the targets in order, one round per target scoring as much as you can in each one.  If you miss entirely, you halve your score.  You cannot go below zero, and the game is started with zero points per player.  Most points wins.


Killer reminds me of a game we used to play with billiards. Basically you have your home sector which will hopefully stay alive. There is nothing you can do to protect it, necessarily, but it is yours. Any number of players can play (up to 20), and your home wedge is determined by a throw of your opposite hand. Right handlers have to deliver a dart to the board with the left hand until it sticks in a numbered sector, in other words. Then, using your normal hand your job is to kill all your opponents' sectors before they can kill yours, last player standing wins. You earn the right to destroy by hitting your own double, then a double in an enemy sector is one kill, a triple in an enemy sector is two kills. The book doesn't say how many "lives" a player has, I would imagine that is determined by the appetite of the players. 10 would be a fair place to start!  It is not clear whether you have to hit your own double fresh each round, or if once per game is enough. Again, might be a variable determined through negotiation with the other players.

No comments: