Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Playing darts for trophies!

Think you’ve seen it all, not even close. It’s amazing the things people do! Who would’ve thought a simple game of darts, only a hobby to some people, would be a league tournament. At least I didn’t expect it. It’s real & I had the opportunity to witness it. It was quite an experience.
It all started with a comment from my manager about him going to a Dart night. I was not sure what a dart night meant. When he started explaining, I almost fell out of my chair. Why? Well, for one, I had never heard anyone playing darts seriously. And second, I did not know that there are professional leagues in USA, where teams compete throughout the year for a spot in the playoffs and ultimately the finals. And the most amazing thing was that my manager was part of a team playing in New Jersey Dart league. (Don't believe me, check here.)
There are prizes distributed at the end of the season to the top teams. It includes a plaque with inscriptions on it & money too. Very interesting.

Entering a tournament.
First there has to be a team of about 8 people, who can all play the game of dartboard. A team will need only 6 people to play in a competition, but it helps in having some reserve players. With this a team can enter a tournament.

How is the league played.
It’s played in bars in towns, which have bars/pubs where the games can be played. Every team has a home pub assigned to them. Once a week, the team plays at home pub and the next week, they visit another team. Each team plays with a minimum of six members. They have a captain. The captain has the same responsibilities as captains in any other sport. The visiting captain writes the names of his players, one below the other, on one column of a sheet of paper. This list is covered up & then the home team captain writes the names of his players on the next column. When this is done, the sheet is uncovered & the names opposite to each will play each other.

Format of the game.
The teams play for 24 points on an evening. There are 6 doubles matches & 12 singles matches. Each doubles game win fetches 2 points, and each singles game 1 point. The team scoring most points wins.
In a doubles game, 2 players from a visiting team play 2 players from the home team. In a singles game, 1 player from the visiting team plays 1 player from the home team.
These competitions are held once a week. They begin with the preliminary rounds, then the playoffs & then the finals. The top teams form the Platinum League. My friend was a Platinum player last year. The next best teams form the Gold League, followed by the Silver League & the Bronze League. Each player & each team is rated.

Amazing things.
There are professional kits for darts, complete with a case to hold darts, plastic fly’s on the rear side. A new dartboard is used at each competition. How do you think the scores are kept? On a sheet of paper? Not at all. There is an electronic board to keep scores! As the competition progresses, things become so intense that players yell when they loose, kick things, curse themselves, just like in cricket matches. They cheer each other. What else do you think is involved here. There’s a lot of strategy involved in scoring the requisite points. There are terms like Hand Eye Coordination, Arm Control etc. Now that’s serious!

Why do people play this.
Apart from having fun, there are many gains here. You get to meet different people. There are all types of people who play this. I met a cop, a small construction company owner, some college kids etc. These are average Americans, the common people. You get to know their perspective, their opinion on things. It’s quite interesting. They are very unlike us, who are always behaving & doing things politically correct. These average Joes are far away from that. They are real people doing their thing with no bother whatsoever. You get to forget everything for a while & enjoy an evening, which is a great stress buster & rejuvenator. Moreover, you get to see different places as the competition moves to different venues. It is also a good break from the routine.

This was one great experience. I don’t know what am I going to see next. I’m sure there are a lot of amazing things to be seen.

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