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darts

darts evolved from throwing spears or shooting arrows. Hand arrows were a useful weapon, known as ‘dartes’, and this was one of the few games that medieval and early modern governments did not feel obliged to prohibit. It is possible that the modern dartboard developed from the cross-section of a tree trunk, brought indoors for practice. There were of course many local variations, including the use of blowpipes. The standard clock-face became established in the late 19th cent., and paper flights to fit the darts were patented in 1898. In 1908 a court action at Leeds held that darts was a game of skill rather than chance and could therefore be played in pubs, without offending the laws against gambling. In the 20th cent., two world wars (with much killing of time) followed by the spread of television helped to popularize the game, which has been controlled in Britain by the National Darts Association since 1953.

Nicholas J. Bryars

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darts

darts Indoor target game developed in 15th-century England. Three weighted, metal-pointed darts are thrown at a board 2.4m (8ft) away. The standard board divides into 20 even wedges, with a triple scoring band in the middle and a double scoring band on the outside, fanning out from two small circles in the centre (the bull, worth 50 points, and around it the ‘25’). Starting with a certain number of points (usually 501), the object is to reach zero, finishing with a ‘double’.

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