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  • There are records of darts being played aboard the Mayflower on her way to discovering America in 1620.

  • The modern game, though, can be said to date from 1896 when Brian Gamlin of Bury, Lancashire, started the present numbering system . the first rule were brought out in the 1920s by a group of publicans, who formed the National Darts Association.

  • The World Professional Darts Championships started in 1978 and, despite a recent dispute between some players and the British Darts Organization, has remained the sport’s leading tournament.


  • The distance between the bull in the centre of the dart board and the floor should be 5 feet 8 inches. In tournament darts this area will be on a well-lit stage above the audience, who will be at tables drinking and eating as play continues.

  • Players throw their darts from the edge of a raised wooden strip called the ‘oche’, pronounced ‘ockey’. This is 7 feet 9.25 inches from the board.


  • Most regular players have their own favourite set of three darts made from a variety of materials, tungsten being the latest craze. They have sharp points so they stick in the board. The ‘flight’ used to be made of feathers, but is now stiff cardboard or plastic.

  • There are no rules about the weight, length or materials to be used in the manufactured of darts. Both men and women play competitive darts.


  • The board is divided in bicycle-wheel style into 20 segments with an odd number next to an even one around it in clockwise direction. There are two circles around the board. One on the outside doubles the score of the segment the dart lands in, and games often have to start with a player throwing a ‘double’. An inner circle trebles a score (known as a treble).

  • At the centre of the board is a red circle known as the bull and worth 50 if hit (known as a bull’s-eye). The circle around it is worth 25. The highest score possible with three darts is 180.

  • Darts is scored backwards. Players in tournaments start with 501 and deduct from it their three darts as players have to decide quickly which numbers they need to hit to get ‘out’ as soon as possible. Matches are the best of three games. Non –tournament matches can start at 301.


  • Born in London’s East End in 1957, Eric Bristow adopted the nickname of the Crafty Cockney. Between 1984 and 1990 he won the World Professional Championships four times, as well as four World Masters in the same period, and four World Cup titles.


  • In one relay session, from 28 February to 2 March 1986, eight players from the Gardener’s arms, Ipswich, scored 1,000,001 points. The score included 180 180s! The throwing distance covered was close to 65 miles.

  • Multi-millionaire British pop singer Engelbert Humperdinck is a darts fanatic. In the 1980s, while performing in Las Vegas, he invited a group of British and world champions for a series of games backstage. It is said that Humperdinck won a number of matches!

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