Around the clock (also known as around the board and around the world) is a darts game that beginners start playing in order to familiarise themselves with the board, learn where all the numbers are and also not have to worry about the mathematics of scoring before they move on to more advanced games like 501.
The reason I’m writing this article (and why I know a thing or two about this game in particular) is that I actually play around the clock in a league (Manchester slip up league). It’s played on a Manchester board which is arguably the most difficult board to play on in the world, especially when it comes to hitting doubles!
While around the clock darts is a game that is ideal for beginners it’s also a great practice game or just a game for fun for the more advanced and accurate player as well. I’ll cover the more advanced strategies and game options later in this article so that you can make around the clock into a practice game for the more advanced player.
How to play around the clock darts? To play around the clock darts you will go around the board in numerical, sequential order meaning you’ll need to hit number 1, followed by 2, followed by 3… and so on all the way to number 20. Once you hit 20 you can finish on the bullseye if you want to but the key point is you can’t move onto the next number until you hit your current number.
As you can see, that brief two sentence answer basically summarises the game of around the clock darts and hopefully, you can see what a simple concept it is. As with most games however, there are more advanced aspects and rules once you are familiarized with the game.
Therefore in this article, I’ll run through the basics and rules for around the clock darts but also give some advanced strategies and practice games that will also help you take your 501 game to the next level.
Around the Clock Rules
The rules of around the clock darts are very straight forward, you can’t advance until you hit your current number and the first player around the board wins. Around the clock, around the world and around the board are all names for essentially the same game but I’ve seen some strange rules on the internet in relation to each of these.
Some are complicated and involve adding up a score whereas others say you should treat it quite literally like a clock means that after you hit the number 1 you then move on to 18 which is the number alongside it and move around the board in a literal clockwise manner.
As someone who has played this game since childhood and plays ‘around the board’ in a league I even get confused reading some of the rules that people recommend for this game online so can only imagine how a beginner feels which is why I want to write this article in the first place.
How to Play Around the Clock Darts
Around the clock dart is a simple game that can be played individually or with 2-4 players (the more players the longer the game could take to finish so I’d recommend 4 players max). The basics of around the clock darts are the following:
- Decide who goes first by flipping a coin or throwing 1 dart and the closest to the bullseye starts (use a left hand if you want to make it fairer)
- Players will have 3 darts per throw to go around the board in sequential order starting with the number 1
- You can’t move on to the next number until you hit the current number
- A typical throw could, therefore, be a player scoring 1, 2 and missing the 3. On the next throw, this player will now start at 3 and you can’t advance until you hit it.
- Players will continue moving around the board in sequential order until they get to 20
- Getting 20 will win the game at the most beginner level, for a more advanced level you can set the rules so that to win the game you need to hit the bullseye after hitting the 20
- Scoring will depend on the rules you set prior to the game, therefore, to advance you need to hit the single number (this excludes the doubles and trebles) so for beginners, it’s best to allow all sections to count. Therefore if a player hits the double or treble 1 then they can still advance to the number 2 (note this essentially negates doubles and trebles and just considers them a part of the original number)
As you can see there is nothing overly complicated about around the clock darts, you simply follow the numbers around until you get to 20 and then have the option of simply winning when someone hits all numbers or you can have it so you hit all numbers followed by the bullseye.
Advanced Around the Clock Darts Rules
Around the clock is simple which makes it great for beginners however, it can also be one of the best practice games (that doesn’t actually feel like a practice game) for those looking to bring up their accuracy across the board.
By adding in some advanced rules you can move this out of the territory of a game for fun and into a serious practice game to sharpen your skills.
Handicapping is the best way to play when your training partner, friend or group is not the same playing standard that you are (or vice versa). If one player is significantly better than the other then there is no fun or benefit for either player.
I’d always recommend finding someone better than yourself to practice with as this will help raise your own playing level however for a general game, it’s best to adjust the rules as much as you can so that all players have an equal chance of winning.
There are a few ways you can do this;
- One player could get a headstart and therefore have fewer numbers to hit in order to try to win the game
- The better player could be placed with a handicap that could mean they can only go around the board by hitting the double or treble of each number making it much harder.
- The worst player could get an extra throw if they hit 3 consecutive numbers in a single throw, therefore if in their first throw they hit 1,2 and 3 then they can go get another throw while the second player has to wait.
- If there are three players you could do 2 vs 1 meaning that the team of 2 will get more throws than the single-player (which should be the better player). For this, the pair will get 3 darts each before the better player gets to throw meaning the pair will have twice as many darts each turn to even the odds.
These are just a few handicap possibilities from the top off my head and from past experience, you could also think about your own handicap rules in order to make games fairer and more competitive.
Doubles and Trebles
Having doubles and trebles active during the game is my favorite aspect of around the clock darts and it’s with these additions that it goes from a fun game of throwing single numbers to an intentional practice game that will see you improve your accuracy on the lower numbers.
With doubles and trebles active it means that they count for the value of the double or treble and not just the value of the single number. As an example, if you hit double 1 on your first throw then double 1 counts a score of 2 and therefore you will immediately advance to the number 3.
If you hit treble 1 then this value is 3 and therefore you will move on to the number 4 with your next dart. Having the doubles and trebles active makes games much more competitive and will allow you to improve your accuracy on these lower numbers that don’t often get practiced on much.
A typical game of around the clock would take a minimum of 20 darts to complete, with doubles and trebles active you could go around much quicker making it a great game for the more advanced players.
An example shot for a top-end player could be treble 1 with the first dart (putting them on 4), double 4 with the second dart (putting them on 9) and double 9 with the third dart leaving them on 19. Here you can see that a top player can go around in just 3 darts.
Another example shot would be double 1 with the first dart (putting the on 3), treble 3 with the second dart (putting them on 10) and double 10 with the third dart winning the game!
The rule is whatever value you hit it puts you onto the number after, a treble 6 is a value of 18 which means you go onto the next number which would be 19. A treble 7 however, has a value of 21 which isn’t possible and therefore this will only count as a single 7 and you will go on to 8. A double 7 however would still be a viable shot with a value of 14 putting you on 15 with your next dart.
Once you pass the number 10 however the doubles and trebles are all values higher than 20 meaning that they only count for the single value. Therefore if you hit double or treble 11 you will still only move onto 12 which is why it’s important to make use of the doubles and trebles early on to get an advantage.
These additions will make games go by far too quickly for a good level player which brings us onto the final advanced rule change for around the clock and that is finishing the game.
Finishing in around the clock darts usually ends once a player reaches and hits the number 20, it’s a straight race and a typical extension of this that you’ll find is after hitting the number 20 you then need to hit a bullseye.
A bullseye requires a bit more accuracy and therefore in a close game, it doesn’t matter who reaches the 20 first as the bullseye will then prove more challenging the finish. This would be how an intermediate level player would finish a game.
For more advanced players and those looking to use it as a practice game you can add another layer to this and that is hitting a double/treble after hitting the 20 and then finishing on the bullseye. To do this you will need to make a note of any double that has been hit up to and including the number 10 and for a more advanced version also include a treble that has been hit up to and including 6.
Therefore to use the example from earlier a player hit double 1, treble 3 and double 10 in their first throw. Hitting double 10 means that they have now hit the value of 20 and therefore need to hit a double/treble and then bullseye in order to win the game.
To decide this you simply make note of the first double that was hit and the first treble, in this example it was double 1 and treble 3. If no doubles or trebles have been hit then you will use double 1 and treble 1 as the default.
I’ll now give an example game to show how a single player could go around the board with all of these rules and win (I’ll make them a good player so that the example is quick..)
- Throw 1 – double 1, 3, double 4
- Throw 2 – double 9, 19, 20
The first double was double 1, as not treble has been hit then the treble is also 1
- Throw 3 – double 1, treble 1, bullseye
Now if you can win a game that quickly you should be playing at a professional level but that brief example can show how you can work your way up to an advanced practice game and make the finishing require more difficult steps.
First, include a bullseye finish once you hit 20, then add a double followed by a bullseye once you are a more accurate player and finally work your way up to a double, followed by a treble and finally a bullseye to win.
Around the Clock Example Game
Here’s a quick video example of how you can play a basic game of around the clock. I’ll do a basic version where you go around in single numbers and then a more advanced version where you make use of the doubles and trebles.
As you increase your skillset and accuracy you’ll find that around the clock goes from being a fun game that you can play with a partner to a serious practice game that allows you to focus on hitting the lower numbered doubles.
This is an important skill to learn and can be the difference between finishing a checkout in 3 darts to getting stuck on the double and finding yourself all the way down on double 1 (by which point your opponent will likely win the game).
As an example if you leave yourself on double 20 but score 20 then you are now left on double 10, the more doubles you miss and the lower the number you need to finish on the more likely it is that your opponent will catch you up and tie-down the double. Therefore it’s important that you get some practice on the lower doubles and around the clock is an excellent and fun game in which to do this.