Darts games have been modified and invented over the years taking into consideration the number sequence on the board. The way the numbers are ordered on a dartboard heavily influences the type of game you can play but have you ever wondered, “why are dartboard numbers in that order”?
Is there a mathematical reason? Are there any advantages or disadvantages? Can the order be improved or optimized?
In this article, I’ll cover the questions above and see if there is a good reason why dartboard numbers are in their particular order.
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A Brief History About Modern Dartboards
Darts is a game that originated in France a long time ago. It first reached the UK before it became popular in the other parts of the world. During the late 1880s, dartboards were made with softwood or elm. Later on, the addition of numbered sequencing has made its way to almost all the dart manufacturers.
One of the most popular mysteries about dartboards is their numbering sequence. Many mathematicians tried to come up with how this sequence was made and why it is numbered that way. Let’s find out more about the dartboard number sequence in this article.
Is There A Pattern To Numbers On A Dartboard?
The numbers below are the numbers found in a dartboard arranged in a straight line. This famous dartboard pattern starts from the top and covers the board’s circumference clockwise. Some credit Brian Gamlin for coming up with this sequence, while some attribute it to Thomas Willian Buckle.
20 1 18 4 13 6 10 15 2 17 3 19 7 16 8 11 14 9 12 5
New players would often wonder why the modern dartboard uses a very random numbering sequence. And it’s kind of true; this sequence might seem random at first glance. But in reality, it achieves two great things: removing the chance of lucky shots and punishing bad aims.
The Lucky Newbie Shots
There are millions of different possible arrangements that can be made with a standard 20-segment dartboard. We can even arrange the 1-20 numbers in an ascending form in a clockwise manner. However, sequences like this are not optimal for playing darts, especially in 301, 501, as well as both English and American Cricket modes.
For example, the dart sequence uses an ascending numbering sequence (1 2 3 4). Even if you’re aiming for 2, there is still a big chance that your shot will land to either 1 or 3. If you’re really bad at aiming, you might even get a 4, which is larger than your initial target.
It would be more problematic on large scores (17 18 19 20) because you will always get a high score even as an average (or bad) player.
Basically, new players are rewarded for their bad aim. Meanwhile, the more experienced players don’t have as much of an advantage when they are more accurate and consistent throwers. The standard numbering sequence fixes this problem by distributing large points evenly along with other smaller numbers. This way, the chances of getting a lucky newbie shot are reduced greatly.
Does The Standard Numbering Sequence Work?
Apparently, this sequence is very effective in doing its supposed purpose. In fact, you can tell if someone’s a newbie just by their first three darts. People who are new to the game commonly get 26 when trying to get treble 20 due to the number arrangement because 20 is between 5 and 1 (2 50 1).
Another thing that usually happens during amateur plays is the “Wanker’s fifty”. This term is coined crudely to describe a person’s 50-score play by hitting a single 20, 18, and 12 with three darts. It happens when the player tries to get treble 20, but his or her darts are flying somewhere else.
Any Mathematical Explanation?
Unfortunately, no one is not able to crack out the reason why the sequencing has been laid out that way. However, attempts at optimizing the board have been made throughout the years. For example, Professor of Mathematics, David Percy from the University of Salford was able to make a version that has an odd-even-odd distribution to improve the efficacy of the system behind the sequencing idea.
What Do The Numbers On A Dartboard Add Up To?
Overall, the sum of dartboard scoring options is 210. If you remove the 20 and the 3 center panels, it would only have 187 working total. Although it seems trivial, this knowledge can be detrimental in deciding the most efficient way to score the right points and win the game.
Ignoring the center parts, the left-side of the board totals 101, making it an appealing option for big scorers. On the other hand, the right side has a total of 86, far lower than its left-side counterpart. Hence, if you want more scores for three darts, a feasible strategy is to focus your points on the left side.
Since scores in darts are achievable via different means (you can get 9 points by singles or treble 3), you can use this knowledge to find out where your best angle is. Each darts player has different preferences and capacities. Some would fare better on the left side of the board, while others do well on the right-side.
This half-technique is one of the easiest methods to start with. However, take note that the darts game is very flexible. Each player can make their own technique that will work better with the style of playing. You can make a method that will utilize the parts where you have the highest accuracy.
Why Are Dartboard Numbers In That Order
Now that we’ve had a chance to look through the sequencing of numbers on a dartboard, does anything give a definitive reason as to why they are in that order? The answer is, not really.
We know that they are not in what would be an “optimal” sequence because a Professor of Mathematics has done the research (surprisingly). There is also not an obvious pattern other than the fact that no two numbers side by side add up to a total greater than 25 which severely restricts the chance of players scoring heavily through luck.
Therefore, the dartboard numbers in the modern game are numbered in that order as it allows for a more competitive game. Top players are punished with lower scores if they miss the intended segment like 20 or 19 and beginner players cannot win based on getting some lucky shots.
The different types of dartboards in the past have had different designs and number orders but for the modern layout, the only real reason why they are in that order is to test players skill while minimizing the chance of lucky shots and this works for more competitive games at all levels.
How To Get Better Accuracy In Playing Darts?
A good darts player is not only a large-point scorer. They should also have high accuracy in other dartboard areas to finish three-dart combinations without a problem. Here are some overlooked factors which can help in improving your dart throw accuracy.
Check Your Dart Grip
Each player has a different way of gripping the dart. A standard way to grip a dart is to place it between the index finger and thumb, while the middle finger supports the weight. Don’t grip it too hard or loosely; just enough to make it travel in a straight flight.
Stand Still And Avoid Unnecessary Movement
While throwing your three darts, avoid changing position or moving around. You should practice being aware of your position and posture. Some examples of this are when newbies lift their back leg before making a shot. This movement doesn’t just make them lose their focus. It also gives instability to the throw.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
And last but not least, you need to keep practicing. If you play and practice regularly, you will find out the best stance and grip that works perfectly for you. Even a 20-minute session for a couple of days will help you become more proficient in the game.
When we first look at a dartboard, the numbers are not in sequential order and beginners can take weeks or even months just learning where the numbers are naturally. If you’ve wondered why dartboard numbers are in their specific (seemingly random) order, it’s mainly to ensure good players are punished for bad shots and so that beginner players cannot win based on luck.
The order promotes skill and while it might not be the optimal order according to the maths, it certainly serves a purpose for making competitive and fair games, especially for 501.