Darts in the UK - Article 2

Cricket, the dart game as it is played in the US, is virtually nonexistent here in the UK. For those of you that haven't played this game, it is a dart game that has a heavy strategy angle to it. You can actually influence what your opponent will shoot at, as your actions directly affect their strategy and tactics. In the US, the game is referred to as just 'Cricket', but I've also seen reference to it as 'American Killer Cricket' or 'Killer Cricket'. Past issues of the US dart magazine, Bulls Eye News, have printed Cricket strategy articles from a retired top American player - Tony Payne. The articles were titled, 'Thermonuclear Cricket'. If you want to learn how to play 'winning' Cricket, read these articles. For those of you who have played this game for a long time, you already intuitively play this way. For those of you who are just learning to play, I'll sum it up for you, don't play catch-up, 'point' your opponent soon and often, playing 'nice guy' Cricket and not 'pointing' somebody for fear that you'll offend them or hurt their feelings is dangerous, they'll end up pointing you first and you'll find yourself and playing 'catch-up', and finally, the only people who complain about 'pointing' are generally the people who lost the game, think about that one for a minute, in other words, don't get mad about it, just do it. Cricket is a strategy game, it has its rules, and scoring 'points' is part of the rules and an important part of the game. While one can take it too far and use 'points' to humiliate others, that's just bad sportsmanship. When good Cricket players 'point' each other, it is out of respect for the opposition's potential for good play and you know that you need to do this to beat them. When good Cricket players do this to less accomplished players, it can be taken too far. Nobody likes to be humiliated. I have a good memory and I have gotten back at everyone that has had the 'nads' to do this to me in the past when I was just starting out. As the saying goes, 'What comes around, goes around'. Use good judgement as to how many 'points' you need to stay comfortably ahead of your opponents. Enough said.

Some may argue that there is also strategy in 501 (ie outshots). I'll grant them that much, but I would argue that 501 is mainly a race, it's you against the board and you against yourself, every dart that hits 'real estate' from the doubles down to the dbull counts as a score, 'stray' darts count, everything counts (unless you bust your out). In Cricket, if your dart(s) hit one of the non-designated Cricket numbers, you get nil - nada - zilch - the big fat zero - you might as well throw off the board as this has the same effect.

I recently played some UK locals in a game that they called 'Cricket'. An explanation of the game goes like this: One person (or team) throws at bullseyes until you hit 10 of them, while your opponent throws at 20's (or any number) to score points. The people scoring points could only count those points in a turn that were greater than 40, for example, three single 20's equals a combined total of 60 points, but only 20 points are recorded as the first 40 points did not count. This makes it a little more challenging for the person shooting to score points. This process continues until the person shooting the bulls hits 10 of them. Once this is achieved, you switch and you start shooting for scores and your opponent shoots to get 10 bulls. Once both sides have had their turn shooting for scores and shooting for 10 bulls the game is over. The one who scores the most total points wins. I've played this game back in the US, but we called it something different (somebody reading this is sure to remember the name and post it in this thread). Although it was fun, it is not a game that you'll find in major tournament competition here in the UK.

One thing that I've noticed about dart boards that I've played on at pubs in the UK, is that the bullseye is always 'relatively fresh' and in good shape. I reason that this is largely due to the lack of (American) Cricket. No matter how bad the rest of the board looks, the bull is always in reasonably good shape. In the US, a well used board may have only been rotated a couple of times and the bullseye will already be in terrible shape. Cricket is extremely popular in the US in both league and tournament play. In US tournaments, whether it's Singles or Doubles or Blind Draw events, you will always find that Cricket will have more entries than 501 events. Look back at entries in any tournament results and you'll see what I mean. Which now brings me to an interesting personal observation.

I firmly believe that one of the major reasons that US players are not quite at the level of the UK counterparts in 501 is because of the game of Cricket. UK players (non-US players for that matter) focus on only one game, and it's 501. Treble 20's (and sometimes T19s if T20's are blocked) and doubles are the major focus and relatively little else matters. Is this good or bad? Well it depends on how you look at it. If you want be successful at the 'World' level, you are measured by how well you play 501. Those of you in the US can look towards the ADO events where you have opportunities to qualify for the US National team (or US Ambassadors as they are now called) and represent the USA and travel around the world to play in International events (Winmau Masters, Pacific Cup, etc)....in all cases, the game played is 501. If Cricket is so popular, why is it that only 1/2 (or fewer) of the US tournaments have a 'Singles Cricket' event? Why is it that there is always a Singles 501 event? As a US based player that has no aspirations of playing anywhere but the US, should you care? Well that's up to you and you can determine that for yourself. These are only observations of one person who has witnessed a dramatic difference in the level of 501 play between the US and the UK.

Nevertheless, I still like Cricket and I miss it.

End of Part II

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