Darts in a dartboard
|Highest governing body||WDF|
|Nicknames||throwers, arrows, tungsten, dartsmith|
|First played||approx 1860s United Kingdom |
655 WDF ranked players|
679 PDPA ranked players
|Team members||Team events exist, see World Cup and PDC World Cup of Darts|
|Mixed gender||Separate men's & women's championship although no restrictions on women competing against men.|
|Type||Target sports, Individual sport|
|Equipment||Set of 3 darts, dartboard|
|Glossary||Glossary of darts|
Darts is a sport in which small missiles/torpedoes/arrows/darts are thrown at a circular dartboard fixed to a wall. Though various boards and rules have been used in the past, the term "darts" usually now refers to a standardised game involving a specific board design and set of rules. As well as being a professional competitive game, darts is a traditional pub game, commonly played in Britain and Ireland, across the Commonwealth, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the Scandinavian countries, the United States, and elsewhere.
- 1 Equipment
- 2 Scoring
- 3 Games
- 3.1 Other games and variants
- 3.1.1 Round the Clock
- 3.1.2 20 to 1
- 3.1.3 Around the world
- 3.1.4 American darts
- 3.1.5 Archery darts
- 3.1.6 Audio darts
- 3.1.7 Cricket
- 3.1.8 Dartball
- 3.1.9 Dart golf
- 3.1.10 Fives
- 3.1.11 Halve it
- 3.1.12 Killer
- 3.1.13 Lawn darts
- 3.1.14 Moving Target
- 3.1.15 Shanghai
- 3.1.16 Seventeen Skunk
- 3.1.17 Darf
- 3.1.18 Ice Breaker
- 3.1 Other games and variants
- 4 Darts organisations
- 5 Professional play
- 6 Television
- 7 Betting
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Further reading
- 11 External links
Darts were historically used in warfare in ancient history; skirmishers used darts of varying sizes, similar to miniature javelins. It was the practice of this skill that developed into a game of skill. Before the First World War, pubs in the United Kingdom had dartboards made from solid blocks of wood, usually elm. They had to be soaked overnight to heal the holes made by the darts, and it was a messy business for the publican, although darts was a popular game. This changed when a company called Nodor, whose primary business was making modelling clay (which has no odour, hence the name Nodor), started producing clay dartboards in 1923. The clay dartboards never caught on, and Nodor switched to making the traditional elm dartboards that were popular at the time. Their model of dartboard was not a great success until someone came up with the idea of using the century plant to make a dartboard. Small bundles of sisal fibres of the same length were bundled together. The bundles were then compressed into a disk and bound with a metal ring. It was an instant success, as the darts did little or no damage to the board—they just parted the fibres when they entered the board; this type of board was more durable and required little maintenance.
Quality dartboards are still made of sisal fibres; less expensive boards are sometimes made of cork or coiled paper. However, several types of sisal fibre are used in dartboards today, originating from East Africa, Brazil, or China. Despite widespread belief that some dartboards are constructed using pig bristles, camel hair, or horse hair, there is no evidence that boards have ever been produced commercially from these materials.
A regulation board is 17 3⁄4 inches (451 mm) in diameter and is divided into 20 radial sections. Each section is separated with metal wire or a thin band of sheet metal. The best dartboards have the thinnest wire, so that the darts have less chance of hitting a wire and bouncing out. The numbers indicating the various scoring sections of the board are also normally made of wire, especially on tournament-quality boards. The wire ring on which the numbers are welded can be turned to facilitate even wear of the board. Boards of lesser quality often have the numbers printed directly on the board.
In the late '70s, companies devised and began producing electronic dartboards. These dartboards have electronic scoring computers that are preprogrammed with a wide variety of game types. The board is made of plastic facings with small holes. The holes slant out, allowing the plastic-tipped darts to stick inside. When a dart strikes the board, the section makes contact with a metal plate, telling the computer where the player has thrown. These "soft-tip" darts and automated boards greatly increased the game's popularity in the United States.
Illumination should be arranged to brightly illuminate the dartboard and minimize shadows of thrown darts. The main supply for the illumination should be protected against accidental piercing, or placed away from the board.
The dartboard may have its origins in the cross-section of a tree. An old name for a dartboard is "butt"; the word comes from the French word but, meaning "target". In particular, the Yorkshire and Manchester Log End boards differ from the standard board in that they have no triple, only double and bullseye, the Manchester board being of a smaller diameter, with a playing area of only 25 cm (9.84 in) across with double and bull areas measuring just 4 mm (0.157in.). The London Fives board is another variation. This has only 12 equal segments numbered 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10 with the doubles and trebles being a quarter of an inch (6.35mm) wide.
There is a speculation that the game originated among soldiers throwing short arrows at the bottom of a cask or at the bottom of trunks of trees. As the wood dried, cracks would develop, creating "sections". Soon, regional standards emerged and many woodworkers supplemented bar tabs by fabricating dart boards for the local pubs.
It is generally said that the standard numbering plan with a 20 on top was created in 1896 by Lancashire carpenter Brian Gamlin, though this is disputed. However, a great many other configurations have been used throughout the years and in different geographical locations. Gamlin's layout was devised to penalise inaccuracy. Although this applies to most of the board, the left-hand side (near the 14 section) is preferred by beginners, for its concentration of larger numbers. Mathematically, removing the rotational symmetry by placing the "20" at the top, there are 19!, or 121,645,100,408,832,000 possible dartboards. Many different layouts would penalise a player more than the current setup; however, the current setup actually does the job rather efficiently. There have been several mathematical papers published that consider the "optimal" dartboard.
Initially the missiles were simply cut down arrows or crossbow bolts. The first purpose-made darts were manufactured in one piece from wood; wrapped with a strip of lead for weight and fitted with flights made from split turkey feathers. These darts were mainly imported from France and became known as French darts. Metal barrels were patented in 1906 but wood continued to be used into the 1950s. The first metal barrels were made from brass which was relatively cheap and easy to work. The wooden shafts, which were now threaded to fit the tapped barrel, were either fletched as before or designed to take a paper flight. This type of dart continued to be used into the 1970s. When the advantages of using plastic were realised, the shaft and flight became separate entities, although one piece moulded plastic shaft and flights were also available.
Modern darts have four parts: the points, the barrels, the shafts and the flights. The steel points come in 2 common lengths, 32mm and 41mm and are sometimes knurled or coated to improve grip. Others are designed to retract slightly on impact to lessen the chance of bouncing out.
The barrels come in a variety of weights and are usually constructed from brass, silver-nickel, or a tungsten alloy. Brass is cheap but light and therefore brass barrels tend to be very bulky. Tungsten on the other hand, is twice as dense as brass thus a barrel of an equivalent weight could be thirty percent smaller in diameter. Tungsten is very brittle however and so an alloy of between 80 and 95 per cent tungsten is used. The remainder is usually nickel, iron, or copper. Silver-nickel darts offer a compromise between density and cost.
Barrels come in 3 basic shapes: cylindrical, torpedo, or ton. Cylindrical barrels are the same diameter along their entire length and so tend to be long and thin. Their slenderness makes them better for grouping but because they are long, the centre of gravity is further back. Ton shaped barrels are thin at either end but bulge in the middle. This makes them fatter than a cylindrical barrel of equivalent weight but the centre of gravity is further forward and so theoretically easier to throw. Torpedo shaped barrels are widest at the point end and taper towards the rear. This keeps the weight as far forward as possible but like the ton, gives it a larger diameter than the cylinder.
The shafts are manufactured in various lengths and some are designed to be cut to length. Shafts are generally made from plastics, nylon polymers, or metals such as aluminium and titanium; and can be rigid or flexible. Longer shafts provide greater stability and allow a reduction in flight size which in turn can lead to closer grouping; but they also shift the weight towards the rear causing the dart to tilt backwards during flight,requiring a harder, faster throw. A longer shaft will however make the dart less responsive and increase the chance of "wobbling".
The primary purpose of the flight is to produce drag and thus prevent the rear of the dart overtaking the point. It also has an effect on stability by reducing wobble. Modern flights are generally made from plastic, nylon, or foil and are available in a range of shapes and sizes. The three most common shapes in order of size are the standard, the kite, and the smaller pear shape. The less surface area, the less stability but larger flights hamper close grouping. Some manufactures have sought to solve this by making a flight long and thin but this in turn creates other problems such as changing the dart's centre of gravity. Generally speaking a heavier dart will require a larger flight.
The choice of barrel, shaft, and flight will depend a great deal on the individual player's throwing style. For competitive purposes a dart cannot weigh more than 50g including the shaft and flight and cannot exceed a total length of 300mm.
The WDF uses the following standards for play:
Height - The dart board is hung so that the centre of the bulls eye is 5 ft 8 inches (1.73 m) from the floor. This is considered eye-level for a six-foot man.
Distance - The oche (line behind which the thrower must stand) should be 7 ft 9¼ inches (2.37 m) from the face of the board. If the face projects outward from the wall, due to the thickness of the board and/or a cabinet in which it is mounted, the oche must be moved back appropriately to maintain the required distance.
The regulations came about due to the United Kingdom and the rest of the world playing at different lengths, with 7 ft 9¼ inches (2.37 m) being the compromised length.
The standard dartboard is divided into 20 numbered sections, scoring from 1 to 20 points, by wires running from the small central circle to the outer circular wire. Circular wires within the outer wire subdivide each section into single, double and triple areas. The dartboard featured on the "Indoor League" television show of the 1970s did not feature a triple section, and according to host Fred Trueman during the first episode, this is the traditional Yorkshire board.
Various games can be played (and still are played informally) using the standard dartboard. However, in the official game, any dart landing inside the outer wire scores as follows:
- Hitting one of the large portions of each of the numbered sections, traditionally alternately coloured black and white, scores the points value of that section.
- Hitting the thin inner portions of these sections, roughly halfway between the outer wire and the central circle coloured red or green, scores triple the points value of that section.
- Hitting the thin outer portions of these sections, again coloured red or green, scores double the points value of that section. The double-20 is often referred to as double-top, reflecting the 20's position on the dartboard.
- The central circle is divided into a green outer ring worth 25 points (known as "outer", "outer bull", or "iris") and a red or black inner circle (usually known as "bull", "inner bull" or "double bull"), worth 50 points. The term "bullseye" can mean either the whole central part of the board or just the inner red/black section. The term "bull's ring" usually means just the green outer ring. The inner bull counts as a double when doubling in or out.
- Hitting outside the outer wire scores nothing.
- A dart only scores if its point is embedded in or is touching the playing surface. This rule applies to any dart that lands in such a way as to be partially or totally supported by others that have already hit the board.
- When a standard board is used, any dart whose point does not remain in contact with the playing surface until being collected by the player does not score. This includes darts that bounce off the board for any reason, that fall off on their own, or that are dislodged by the impact of later throws. However, when an electronic board is used, fallen/dislodged darts do score as long as their impacts have registered on the board first.
The highest score possible with three darts is 180, commonly known as a "ton 80" (100 points is called a ton), obtained when all three darts land in the triple 20. In the televised game, the referee frequently announces a score of 180 in exuberant style. A "quad" ring appeared briefly between the triple ring and the bull in the 1990s, leading to a potential 240 maximum (three quad-20s), a 210 maximum checkout (Q20-Q20-Bull) and seven dart finishes from a 501 start (five quad-20s, triple-17, bullseye), but was swiftly dropped from professional tournament play after only two years. One make of this board was the Harrows Quadro 240.
Skill level and aiming
Assuming standard scoring, the optimal area to aim for on the dart board in order to maximize the player's score varies significantly based on the players skill. The skilled player should aim for the centre of the T20 and as the player's skill decreases, their aim moves slightly up and to the left of the T20. At σ = 16.4 mm the best place to aim jumps to the T19. As the player's skill decreases further, the best place to aim curls into the centre of the board, stopping a bit lower than and to the left of the bullseye at σ = 100.
There are many games that can be played on a dartboard, but the term "darts" generally refers to a game in which one player at a time throws three darts per visit to the board. The throwing player must stand so that no portion of his/her feet extends past the leading edge of the oche, but may stand on any other portion and/or lean forward over it if desired.
The most common objective is to reduce a fixed score, commonly 301 or 501, to zero ("checking out"). The final dart must land in either the bullseye or a double segment in order to win. A game of darts is generally contested between two players, who take turns. Each turn consists of throwing three darts. When two teams play, the starting score is sometimes increased to 701 or even 1001; the rules remain the same.
A throw that reduces a player's score below zero, to exactly one, or to zero but not ending with a double is known as "going bust", with the player's score being reset to the value prior to starting the turn, and the remainder of the turn being forfeited.
In some variants (called a "northern bust" in London) only the dart that causes the bust is not counted. That is felt by some to be a purer version of the game, as under the normal rules, as explained above, a player left with a difficult finish, e.g. 5 and one dart remaining will often deliberately "bust" it in order to get back to the easier finish that they had at the start of their go. For example, a player with 20 at the start of their go could miss the double 10 and get a single, miss the double 5 and get a single, leaving them 5 and only one dart remaining. Their best option is to deliberately bust it to get back onto double 10. Under the "northern bust" they would remain on 5.
A darts match is played over a fixed number of games, known as legs. A match may be divided into sets, with each set being contested as over a fixed number of legs.
Although playing straight down from 501 is standard in darts, sometimes a double must be hit to begin scoring, known as "doubling in", with all darts thrown before hitting a double not being counted. The PDC's World Grand Prix uses this format.
The minimum number of thrown darts required to complete a leg of 501 is nine. The most common nine dart finish consists of two 180 maximums followed by a 141 checkout (T20-T19-D12), but there are many other possible ways of achieving the feat. Three 167s (T20-T19-Bull) is considered a pure or perfect nine dart finish by some players.
Other games and variants
There are a number of regional variations on the standard rules and scoring systems.
Round the Clock
"Round the clock" is a variation that involves hitting the numbers in sequence, known as "around the world" in Australia and New Zealand. "Jumpers" is a somewhat swifter and more exciting variation of Round the Clock believed to have originated amongst the British ex-pat community in Asia.
20 to 1
20 to 1 is a Dutch variation of the "around the world" darts game that differs significantly. This game uses the standard 20 number dartboard with the triple and double rings. In Dutch it's called "Van 20 naar 1". 20 to 1 is typically played between 2, 3, 4 or 5 players, or 2 teams of max 5 players. The goal of 20 to 1 is to be the first player or team to throw all numbers in consecutive order from 20 to 1 and win the game with outer or inner bullseye.
Around the world
"Around the world" is a game whereby each player must hit consecutive numbers on the board in order to proceed to the next round. In a one on one battle the winner is the person to reach the last number or bullseye. In a team competition the winner is the first team to reach the last number or bullseye after the round is complete or each member of each team has thrown that specific round.
American Darts is a regional USA variant of the game (most U.S. dart players play the traditional games described above). This style of dart board is most often found in eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and parts of New York state.
This is played in exactly the same way as a regular game of darts, but using recurve or compound bows to shoot full length arrows from a distance to hit a 60 cm or 90 cm paper target face that looks like a dartboard. These are commercially produced, but usually only in black & white.
A variant of traditional darts played using a blindfold. Often played by people with visual disabilities. Typically a talking electronic dartboard is used to speak the numbers hit, keep score and announce who is throwing next.
Cricket is a widely played darts game involving a race to control and score on numbers between 20 and 15 and the bullseye, by hitting each of these targets for three marks to open or own it for scoring. A hit on the target counts as one mark, while hits in the doubles ring of the target count as two marks in one throw, and on the triples ring as three. Once opened in this manner, until the opponent closes that number with three marks on it of their own, each additional hit by the owner/opener scores points equal to the number of the target (which may also be doubled and tripled, e.g. a triple-20 is worth 60 points). The outer bullseye counts as 25 points, and the inner as 50.
Dartball is a darts game based on the sport of baseball. It is played on a diamond shaped board and has similar scoring to baseball.
Dart golf is a darts game based on the sport of golf and is regulated by the World Dolf Federation (WDFF). It is played on both special golf dartboards and traditional dartboards. Scoring is similar to golf.
This is a regional variant still played in some parts of the East End of London. The board has fewer, larger segments, all numbered either 5, 10, 15 or 20. Players play down from 505 rather than 501, and stand the farthest (9 ft or 2.7 m) away from the board of any mainstream variation.
“Halve it” is a darts game popular in the United Kingdom and parts of North America where competitors try to hit previously agreed targets on a standard dart board. Failure to do so within a single throw (3 darts) results in the player losing half their accumulated score. Any number of players can take part and the game can vary in length depending on the number of targets selected. The game can be tailored to the skill level of the players by selecting easy or difficult targets.
"Killer" is a 'knock-out' game for two or more players (at its best at 4–6 players). Initially each player throws a dart at the board with their non-dominant hand to obtain their 'number'. No two players can have the same number. Once everyone has a number, each player takes it in turn to get their number five times with their three darts (doubles count twice, and triples three times). Once a person has reached 5, they become a 'killer'. This means they can aim for other peoples numbers, taking a point off for each time they hit (doubles x2, triples x3). If a person gets to zero they are out. A killer can aim for anyone's numbers, even another killer's. Players cannot get more than 5 points. The winner is 'the last man standing'.
Moving Target is a darts game for two or more players in which each round, one player serves as the "setter" to set the target, and each other player is a "scorer" and tries to score points. The role of "setter" rotates from player to player each round. The first player to reach 21 points (or any other predetermined number of points) wins the game. In each round, the setter throws two darts to set the target for the round. The target is equal to either the sum or the difference of the two darts thrown by the setter. Doubles and triples do not count for these two darts. A bullseye thrown by the setter counts for 25. For example, if the setter throws a bullseye and a five, the target is either 30 or 20 (25 + 5 = 30 and 25 – 5 = 20). Once a target has been set, the scorer has three darts to equal the target and score points. Each dart is considered individually. Doubles and triples do count for this dart, so there may be multiple ways to hit the target. A bullseye thrown by the scorer counts for either 25 or 0. A scorer can score between 0 and 9 points per round. If the scorer hits a target number with a single, the scorer gets 1 point. If the scorer hits a target number with a double or a single bullseye, the scorer gets 2 points. If the scorer hits the target number with a triple, the scorer gets 3 points. If the scorer hits the target number with a double-bullseye, this is called a ZARTRON! A player who scores a ZARTRON! gets 3 points and skips their next turn as setter, allowing an opportunity to score again right away.
Shanghai is a darts game of accuracy. Hitting doubles and triples is paramount to victory. This game is played with at least two players. The standard version is played in 7 rounds. In round one players throw their darts aiming for the 1 section, round 2, the 2 section and so on until round 7. Standard scoring is used, and doubles and triples are counted. Only hits on the wedge for that round are counted. The winner is the person who has the most points at the end of seven rounds (1–7); or who scores a Shanghai, which wins win instantly, a Shanghai being throws that hit a triple, a double and single (in any order) of the number that is in play.
Shanghai can also be played for 20 rounds to use all numbers. A Fairer Start for Shanghai: To prevent players from becoming too practiced at shooting for the 1, the number sequence can begin at the number of the dart that lost the throw for the bullseye to determine the starting thrower. For example; Thrower A shoots for the bullseye and hits the 17. Thrower B shoots for the bullseye and hits it. Thrower B then begins the game, starting on the number 17, then 18, 19, 20, 1, 2, 3, etc. through 16 (if no player hits Shanghai).
A reverse form of unscored Cricket, beginning with the bullseye. Once any player has cleared the 17, any players who have not cleared bullseye are eliminated.
Objective is to have the lowest score at the end of the game. Six rounds of darts, the first five are scored at their value (missing the board is 30 points), while the sixth round is one dart that subtracts from the current total.
Objective is to be the first team to reach a score of 150, with only 1-12 counting towards a player's score. Doubles and triples of 1-12 still count, though throws must single in and out. Scoring a bullseye (an ice breaker) will put everyone’s score back to zero. Only three ice breakers can be scored per game. Geoff Quinn is credited as the inspiration for this game of darts.
Of the two professional organisations, the British Darts Organisation (BDO), founded 1973, is the older. Its tournaments were often shown on the BBC in the UK. The BDO is a member of the World Darts Federation (WDF) (founded 1976), along with organizations in some 60 other countries worldwide. The BDO originally organised a number of the more prestigious British tournaments with a few notable exceptions such as the News of the World Championship and the national events run under the auspices of the National Darts Association of Great Britain. However, many sponsors were lost and British TV coverage became much reduced by the early nineties.
In 1992 a breakaway organisation was formed, initially known as the World Darts Council (WDC) but shortly after known as the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). The PDC tournaments have a considerable following, although the PDC World Championship attracts lower TV viewing figures than that of the BDO due to the BDO World Championship being free to view on the BBC. However, due to the BBC picking up the inaugural Champions League of Darts set to begin on 24 September 2016, they will no longer be broadcasting the BDO World Championship.
The PDC tournaments often have higher prize money and feature the leading player in the history of the game, 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor. The highly successful BDO player Raymond van Barneveld switched to the PDC and won the PDC World Championship at his first attempt in 2007.
Amateur league organisations
The American Darts Organization promulgates rules and standards for amateur league darts and sanctions tournaments in the United States. The American Darts Organization began operation January 1, 1976 with 30 charter member clubs and a membership of 7,500 players. Today, the ADO has a membership that averages 250 clubs on a yearly basis representing roughly 50,000 members. l
The BDO and PDC both organise a World Professional Championship. They are held annually over the Christmas/New Year period, with the PDC championship finishing slightly earlier than the BDO tournament. The BDO World Championship has been running since 1978; the PDC World Championship started in 1994.
Both organisations hold other professional tournaments. The BDO organise the World Masters and many Open tournaments. They also organise county darts for their 66 county members in the UK including individual and team events.
The PDC's major tournaments are the World Championship, Premier League, UK Open, World Matchplay, World Grand Prix and the Grand Slam of Darts. All of these are broadcast live on Sky Sports television in the UK. They also hold PDC Pro Tour events and smaller category events around the UK.
Two Dutch independently organised major tournaments, the International Darts League and the World Darts Trophy introduced a mix of BDO and PDC players in 2006 and 2007. Both organisations allocated rankings to the tournaments, but these two events are now discontinued.
The WDF World Cup for national teams and a singles tournament has been played biennially since 1977. The WDF also organise the Europe Cup.The PDC has their own world cup competition, the PDC World Cup of Darts.
Professional darts players
Multiple-Time World Champions
- 16 Phil Taylor The Power (2 BDO, 14 PDC)
- 10 Trina Gulliver The Golden Girl
- 5 Eric Bristow The Crafty Cockney
- 5 Raymond van Barneveld Barney (4 BDO, 1 PDC)
- 4 Lisa Ashton The Lancashire Rose
- 3 Martin Adams Wolfie
- 3 Anastasia Dobromyslova From Russia With Love
- 3 John Lowe Old Stoneface
- 3 John Part Darth Maple (1 BDO, 2 PDC)
- 2 Gary Anderson The Flying Scotsman
- 2 Glen Durrant Duzza
- 2 Michael van Gerwen Mighty Mike
- 2 Ted Hankey The Count
- 2 Adrian Lewis Jackpot
- 2 Dennis Priestley The Menace (1 BDO, 1 PDC)
- 2 Scott Waites Scotty 2 Hotty
- 2 Jocky Wilson Jocky
One-Time World Champions
- Bob Anderson The Limestone Cowboy
- Steve Beaton The Bronze Adonis
- Stacy Bromberg The Wish Granter
- Stephen Bunting The Bullet
- Richie Burnett The Prince of Wales
- Rob Cross Voltage
- Tony David The Deadly Boomerang
- Keith Deller The Fella
- Andy Fordham The Viking
- Francis Hoenselaar The Crown
- Christian Kist The Lipstick
- Jelle Klaasen The Cobra
- Scott Mitchell Scotty Dog
- Leighton Rees Marathon Man
- Les Wallace McDanger
- John Walton John Boy
- Mark Webster The Spider
Both the WDF, BDO and PDC each maintain their own rankings lists. These lists are commonly used to determine seedings for various tournaments. The WDF rankings are based on the preceding 12 months performances, the BDO resets all ranking points to zero after the seedings for their world championship have been determined, and the PDC Order of Merit is based on prize money earned over a two-year period.
Darts first appeared on British television in 1962 when Westward Television broadcast the Westward TV Invitational to the south-west of England. 1972 was a big year for darts when ITV started broadcasting the News of the World Championship. Also in 1972 was the start of The Indoor League, which featured a darts tournament, although it was only shown in the Yorkshire Television region in 1972. The Indoor League was shown across Britain on the ITV network from 1973 onwards. Over the next decade darts coverage expanded with many major tournaments appearing on both ITV and BBC through the 1970s and early 1980s to such as extent about 14 tournaments were covered. In 1978, the World Championships started and were covered by the BBC, the BBC innovated with the split screen showing the throwing of the dart and where it hit the board. However the cancellation of ITV's World of Sport show in 1985 meant they had to cut back on darts coverage but despite this they still showed the MFI World Matchplay and the World Masters until 1988. The BBC also cut back on their coverage after 1988 to such an extent that only one major event was still broadcast on either channel by 1989, the World Championship and this contributed in the split in darts.
With the creation of the WDC/PDC in 1992/93, darts gradually returned to television with Sky Television covering the new organization's World Championship and World Matchplay events from 1994. Sky's coverage continued to increase throughout the 1990s, with more new events added. The PDC's World Championship, Premier League, UK Open, Grand Slam of Darts, World Matchplay and the World Grand Prix are all televised live on Sky. The BDO held on to the contract with the BBC to continue with the BDO World Championship and this was the only tournament shown on free to air television in the UK between 1994 and 2001 apart from the showdown between PDC Champion Phil Taylor and BDO Champion Raymond van Barneveld in 1999 which was shown on ITV, BBC finally began to expand their darts coverage in 2001 when they added the World Masters to their portfolio. However, it wasn't until 2005 that viewers were able to see every dart thrown live at the World Championship. This was the year that BBC introduced interactive coverage on its BBCi service. BBC continued to cover the BDO tournament exclusively until 2012–2013 when ESPN UK started covering the evening sessions while BBC had afternoon session, after the acquisition of ESPN UK by BT Sport, BT dropped the Darts in 2014 but started covering the evening sessions again in 2015. Setanta Sports also televised some BDO events in 2008–2009 and the inaugural League of Legends. Eurosport covered the BDO Finland Open, the BDO British Internationals, the BDO England Open and the BDO British Open in 2006–2007 but dropped coverage of these tournaments however they then returned to Darts in 2013 covering the Winmau World Masters, they have since expanded their coverage to cover the new BDO major the World Trophy from Blackpool and existing tournaments in the BDO such as the 6 Nations, England Open, Scottish Open and Northern Ireland Open.
ITV returned to darts coverage in November 2007, showing the inaugural Grand Slam of Darts — its first major darts tournament coverage in almost twenty years. They continued covering this until 2010 when Sky Sports took over the rights, ITV also showed the European Championship in 2008 and Players Championship since its inception. ITV then increased its coverage in 2013 by signing a deal to cover 4 PDC tournaments per year, the Players Championship, European Championship, UK Open and new tournament the Masters and it was increased to 5 tournaments in 2015 to cover the World Series Finals.
Darts has continued to grow again on television and there now several major tournaments broadcast in the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. Dutch station, Sport One, DSF in Germany and several other TV stations across the globe also broadcast the PDC events. In Europe, Eurosport broadcast the Lakeside World Championships, having signed a three-year contract in 2006.
In the Netherlands, SBS6 has broadcast the Lakeside (since 1998) and the Dutch Open. They also shown the International Darts League and World Darts Trophy, however they are now defunct. RTL 5 broadcast the Dutch Grand Masters in 2005. Some of these tournaments can also be watched on the internet for free using a live stream, depending on contractual restrictions.
The PDC has also tried to break into the television market in the United States by introducing the World Series of Darts in 2006. It had a $1 million prize to showcase professional darts in the United States. Unfortunately the programme was not a ratings success and was taken from its peak time broadcast slot on ESPN after just a few weeks. The tournament was replaced with a US Open event in 2007 which was screened in the UK on digital television channel Challenge TV, with Nuts TV showing the 2008 tournament.
In places where alcoholic beverages are consumed, English law has long permitted betting only on games of skill, as opposed to games of chance, and then only for small stakes. An apocryphal tale relates that in 1908, Jim Garside, the landlord of the Adelphi Inn, Leeds, England was called before the local magistrates to answer the charge that he had allowed betting on a game of chance, darts, on his premises. Garside asked for the assistance of local champion William "Bigfoot" Annakin who attended as a witness and demonstrated that he could hit any number on the board nominated by the court. Garside was discharged as the magistrates found darts, indeed, to be a game of skill. More recently, in keeping with darts' strong association with pubs and drinking, matches between friends or pub teams are often played for pints of beer.
In the professional game, betting is prominent with many of the big bookmaking companies sponsoring events (particularly within the PDC). William Hill, Unibet, BetVictor, Coral and bwin are all title sponsors of major PDC events.
In the past when Fox Sports broadcast tournaments in the United States, the logos for betting houses such as Ladbrokes were pixelated out and digitally obscured, along with any audible references to them, because of American laws and policies against online gambling; however other US broadcasters usually carry overseas darts tournaments without any edits other than for timing and narrative purposes, and Americans usually cannot visit the sites for betting houses outside of redirection pages.
- Darts world rankings—current ranking lists for BDO and PDC
- Darts tournaments—previous winners, history and information
- Darts players profiles
- Nine dart finish—the "perfect" game in darts
- High dart average—average score achieved with all three darts thrown
- Glossary of darts
- Pub games
- Bullseye—a British game show based on darts
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