Darts in a dartboard
|Highest governing body||WDF|
|Nicknames||throwers, arrows, tungsten|
|First played||approx 1870s|
|Registered players||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|
|Olympic||Not ever recognised as an Olympic sport|
Darts is a form of throwing game in which small missiles are thrown at a circular target (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 sport, darts is a traditional pub game, commonly played in the United Kingdom, across the Commonwealth, the Netherlands, Belgium, Republic of Ireland, the Scandinavian countries, the United States, and elsewhere.
- 1 Equipment
- 2 Scoring
- 3 Games
- 4 Darts organizations
- 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 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.
Recently, some companies have produced 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.
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 treble, only double and bullseye, the Manchester board being of a smaller diameter, with a playing area of only 25 cm across with double and bull areas measuring just 4mm. 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 triples being a quarter of an inch wide.
There is a speculation that the game originated among soldiers throwing short arrows at the bottom of the 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.
The standard numbering plan with a 20 on top was created in 1896 by Lancashire carpenter Brian Gamlin. 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.
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.
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 fletching 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 center of the bulls eye is 5ft 8in (1.73 m) from the floor. This is considered eye-level for a six foot man.
Distance - The oche should be 7ft 9¼in (2.37 m) from the face of the board. Note that this is the face of the board, and should not include the distance to the wall (if the board protrudes from the wall)
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.
- Any dart that does not remain in the board until it is collected by the player (for example, a dart that hits a wire and bounces out of the board or drops out with the impact of a later throw) also scores nothing; exception should be noted if play is on any electronic board: darts falling out are counted.
- A dart only scores if its point is embedded in or is touching the playing surface. A dart that hits the board side on or at an angle but does not fall off because it is held in place by two other darts, for example, will score either equal to where its point touches or not at all.
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.
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 reduces their aim moves slightly up and to the left of the T20. At σ = 16.4 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 darts generally refers to a game whereby the player throws three darts per visit to the board with the goal of reducing a fixed score, commonly 501 or 301, to zero ("checking out"), with the final dart landing in either the bullseye or a double segment. 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. 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" is a variation that involves hitting the numbers in sequence, known as "around the world" in 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.
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 and their friends. Typically a talking electronic dartboard is used to speak the numbers hit, keep score and announce who is throwing next.
Cricket (also called Killer in some countries) is a widely-played darts game involving a race to capture numbers between 20 and 15 plus the bullseye by hitting the mark three times. Once "opened" in this manner, each additional hit scores points until the opponent "closes" that number with three hits of their own.
If a player hits for example: Double 20, Then two marks are taken from that number, Or if a "Triple" is hit then this "opens" and "closes" that number in one dart.
If all numbers have been closed and the player is on bull, then generally if the player hits "bull" then this will "open" and "close" with one dart. equally the player can hit the "25" mark three times.
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. You cannot get more than 5 points. The winner is 'the last man standing'.
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 you can score a Shanghai and win instantly. To score a Shanghai you have to 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 practised 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).
Played as normal Dart, except the throw distance is 4 meters and using the Bullseye 1 to 10 points system. Most Dartboards have a bullseye on the other side with circular fields of 1 to 9, and bullseye is 10.
Amateur League Organizations
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.
Of the two professional organisations, the British Darts Organisation (BDO), founded 1973, is the older. Its tournaments are often shown on the BBC in the UK and on SBS6 in the Netherlands. 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.
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.
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 World Champions
- 16 Phil Taylor The Power (14 PDC, 2 BDO)
- 8 Trina Gulliver The Golden Girl
- 5 Eric Bristow The Crafty Cockney
- 5 Raymond van Barneveld Barney (4 BDO, 1 PDC)
- 3 John Part Darth Maple (1 BDO, 2 PDC)
- 3 John Lowe Old Stoneface
- 3 Martin Adams Wolfie
- 3 Anastasia Dobromyslova From Russia With Love
- 2 Adrian Lewis Jackpot
- 2 Ted Hankey The Count
- 2 Jocky Wilson Jocky
- 2 Dennis Priestley The Menace (1 BDO, 1 PDC)
Former One-Time World Champions
- Bob Anderson The Limestone Cowboy
- Steve Beaton The Bronze Adonis
- Richie Burnett The Prince of Wales
- Tony David The Deadly Boomerang
- Keith Deller The Fella
- Andy Fordham The Viking
- Jelle Klaasen The Matador
- Leighton Rees Marathon Man
- Les Wallace McDanger
- John Walton John Boy
- Mark Webster The Spider
- Christian Kist The Lipstick
- Scott Waites Scotty 2 Hotty
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. In 1970, ITV broadcast the News of the World Championship and from 1972 the Indoor League, which featured a darts tournament. Over the next decade darts coverage expanded with many major tournaments appearing on both ITV and BBC through the 1970s and early 1980s, but 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 World Masters until 1988. The BBC also cut back on their coverage to the extent that one major event was still broadcast on either channel by 1988—the World Championship.
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 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.
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, and that year also broadcast the Finland Open, the BDO British Internationals, the BDO England Open and the BDO British Open. There has been no Eurosport coverage of Open events since 2007.
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 (external links: SBS Streams and Watchdarts.com stream)
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.
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. Setanta Sports also televised some BDO events. In 2012, the BBC shared coverage of the BDO World Championships with pay-TV sports channel ESPN. Sky Sports continue to screen major PDC events, including the World Championships, Premier League Darts and Grand Slam of Darts. ITV4 broadcast two PDC events, the Players Championship Finals and European Championships.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (April 2012)|
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). Sky Bet (2012 - NOW McCOYS) (Premier League), Bodog (World Grand Prix), Stan James (World Matchplay), Blue Square (2012 - NOW SPEEDY SERVICES - Equipment Hire) (UK Open) and Ladbrokes (World Championship) are all title sponsors of major PDC events.
On Fox Sports broadcasts in the United States, the logos for Ladbrokes are pixelated out and digitally obscured, along with any audible references to Ladbrokes, because of American laws and policies against online gambling.
- 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
- Glossary of darts
- Pub games
- Bullseye—a British game show based on darts
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- Facts about "Bigfoot" Annakin
- Darts in England 1900 - 1939 a social history
- Murder on the darts board Irwin, Justin (2008). Murder on the Darts Board. Anova Books. p. 123. ISBN 9781906032043.
- Chaplin, Patrick (2010), Darts in England, 1900-39: A Social History, Manchester: Manchester University Press, distributed by Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 978-0-7190-7803-3. Scholarly history showing how darts figured in publicans' efforts to improve their establishments, and how the sport moved from a working-class pursuit to gain middle- and upper-class players.
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