Sunday, December 29, 2019

Another knockout & another day of mixed feelings

So its the festive season which means that local pubs across the country will be looking to get the local darting communities in the venue by offering a darts knockout. This is not un common at all, you tend to find at this time of year darts knockouts pop up in most places as i type this blog there are about to be two more knockouts set to start registration locally to me. 

So its a good opportunity for players to see where they are at after what in most cases will be a break in play in the local leagues, but you will also get the pro players turning up who are looking just for some practice ahead of attending the Q School or looking to re start the BDO season (if that goes ahead!) and then you will get those who have seen darts on the TV and fancy a chuck to see what its all about.

So with me coming back to playing only this year and been out of action for 4 months with my injury this was to be only my second knockout i have attended this year, was i coming into the day playing well. not at all, i had lost my last 2 league games  which i played which was over 3 weeks past since i played and thew a competitive dart, i had been missing doubles that i know i can take out and the frustration of the game was starting to eat away at me a little. The dart knockout at The Cuckoo in Barlaston was a good opportunity for me to network and chat to others about DartsInStoke as well as have an enjoyable afternoon playing darts.
I had not been the venue before but i know the reputation of the venue was very good and they had 6 boards in the venue to be used, 6 board most pubs have 3 but we are using 6 boards possibly so i felt the day would be smooth running's. The venue itself is a lovely place nice beer at decent prices, and the boards were set out well 3 to the far end where they would normally play pool i guess, 2 more at the end of the bar and one more which was tucked away in a corner by the door. The organiser had decided to leave one board for practice which was by the door on arrival, good move no one likes a darts ko where you cant practice.
When i walked in the venue it was as expected lines upon lines of players waiting to throw their practice darts, some q's can have up to 6 or 7 players waiting to have the chance to throw you three darts and then wait maybe a minute and half before you throw again. Some players use this opportunity to spot there throwing points on the oche on each board where as others pick the board they do not want to be on due to poor light or perhaps its close for people walking past all these factors can effect the way people line up to practice. 
Myself i had been at home on my own board doing my own practice my normal routines, 100 darts at the 20, followed by 30 darts and seen what my highest score can be, and then finish on some double practice games like Bobs27 or 420, i always try and practice more on just my throw as when you practice doubles you cant practice the pressure you are under when your at the board and need to hit D18 or D3.

Back at the venue i went via my normal attending a comp routine, first get a beer and see how it tastes and what price its going cost, then find the control desk and register this event was £5 entry which is the norm i think for most pub darts knockouts these days. After that you have the hardest decision to make do you join a q for a chuck or loiter with intent at the bar, i choose to do the later and stood at the bar chatting with folks i had not seen for years, i felt my practice at home was enough for me today and i was also feeling confident with my throw that i did not see the reason for throwing darts and then waiting minutes to throw again.

So 1:30 comes along and the draw has been made, its now a nervous wait to see if you have to mark one of the first 5 games, this is normally done via either the folks who got a bye or as volunteer markers, on this occasion it was the folks with the bye, this would then also give you a good indication of when you were drawn normally the folks with the bye are near the bottom. The event had 50 players so they needed to whittle it down to 32 and we see the pre lim games start, these can be a pain for a player if you go out in the pre lim its frustrating as you cant even say you went out in the main rounds but this is the way of the game sorry to say. 
The chaps i attended the event with went on early and both won their opening games which then put them into the last 16, i however were still waiting for my fist game to come up. If you recall from my last blog of a knockout i attended i had to wait nearly 2 hours to play my game and that was with only 20+ players this event had 50 players i was getting worried that history would repeat and as it past 3:30 i was correct i still had not played, i had stood around now for 2 hours, at one point i even decided to join the snake to get some practice darts in, just to remind my brain what i was here to do. If i had sat down it would have been the end for me my legs were already starting to hurt from been on them for now nearly 5 hours if you include my practice at home, i had only one other thing to do drink and chat and watch football. 
I plan my next blog to be about drinking and darts i see players get better with drink and others like myself not see any benefit and then there are them folk who after 2 pints can even see the bloody board. With me i just drink and try and keep my mind active i play chess, i use to take a book with me and read but on this occasion i decided not to take a book so played chess on my phone whilst waiting, and then at 3:43 i hear them words 

"Board 2 Steve Rushton Shaun Rogers, Board 2"

Ok now i and my opponent were both sure he said board 4 but it was 2 he assured us, we arrive at the board to start our warm up. I dont do this normally i like to place my drink down get a beer mat and place it in a place i can return after my throw and flip it, strange but it helps me to concentrate for some reason between throws i have done it for years, it use to help i dont think it does anymore. I had my 9 practice darts and wanted to now play, if you hit a big finish in practice or a 180 it counts for sod all at the end of the day so i dont tend to go for them. As i turned back around there was still no marker, how hard is it if you loose stay and stand by your board ready to mark the next game, its not rocket science folks. Then as i was just sorting my mat and pint out a bloke appeared and said them words every dart player dreads to here

"I will do my best but im not to cleaver!2

Well unless we have Rachel Riley or Carol Vorderman marking who is but we all try and help and do our best but we all know the basics at least (or you would hope) we threw for bull and i started the match, good start and hit a 85 to open with, however my opponent who i recall from my previous darting days hit a 125 he was a damn fine player i knew i needed to keep pace on scoring to stand a chance and then hope the doubles gods were with me. But it was to be a distraction that knocked my rythem out and that was to be the marker, he had been putting my scores on my opponents side and vice versa I had not had that done on me before.
I know i should but i dont tend to look at my side of the score board until i know in my head i'm on around 200 points but on this occasion my opponent was constantly correcting the man with the pen, this is not me been bitter it might sound it but its not it just knocks you out of sync when you come walking back from the board and they are correcting scores or making sure that scores are put on the right side. 
Then in leg 2 the best one of them all, my opponent starts and hits a very nice 180 so lets see 501 take away 180 is.. 411 is what the marker put down he wrote down 411, now i'm coming up to throw and i have seen this and fair play to the chaps behind me they were not going to say anything until i had thrown but i have seen this now do i correct him now or after i have thrown, should i correct him its not my job to do so, but at the same time if i dont now then he will have to work out what ever i have hit and then replace the other score so i said 
"check that mar mate"
And my opponent told him it was 321 as he was usnure what the score was, so i stepped back up and hit 45 would it have been better if i had not looked and just thrown who knows.

After this i decided to try and get my rhythm back but it just did not happen for me, the constant start stop was annoying, i had let this get inside my head and then when i thought in leg 3 i was on around 174 i looked and was only on 297 i looked at my scores above and he had but me a 25 down and a 26 when the scores i hit were 45 and 66 so help me god, i could have said something there and then i guess but they were many darts back so where was the point.
My opponent took out a lovely 85 to win 3-0 and i shook the markers hand and got the expected 
"sorry about that"
Ahh what ever i wanted to say, but no me been me i went dont worry happens to us all.

I then stood by the board with my pen and eraser ready to mark the next game. Marking the game after you loose is embarrassing sometimes, the players playing on this board know that you lost just and are out but they are not going to console you nor is the folks you come with you pay your money you take your chance you now need to concentrate on the mark giving them the best game experience possible and then you can walk away and think what went wrong with you today.

All in all the game i marked was very good, shame the chap had a bounce out on bull to make it all level, you dont mind games that go the distance but we all prefer a 3-0 mark. This was not to be my only mark of the day, when i went to watch the chaps i come with i marked the board for one of them and that game was a pleasure to mark also, irony was the chap who beat me was playing again so soon after perhaps a 10 or 12 minute wait between games, if only, but the guy he lost to was on fire with a 17,13 and 16 darts leg to win the match, i even had something never done before i polite ask for a score check, normally you just get "whats that score" or "whats that leave" but this was a true gent of darts, "can i get a score cheek please young man" restores your faith in darts etiquete a little.

Once this was done it was time to thank the organiser of the event which i always try to do, having run darts knockouts myself i know how much time you have to put in and effort to get things going right. Its not there fault i have to wait 2 hours to play, if you have a load of slow players in the pre lim games and early 1st round matches it can be a nightmare and when scores are been put in worng and folks have to correct stuff also when players win and go for a fag or the bar for a drink and dont inform them they have won its difficult and hard to get a good flow going. However the control desk did there job perfect for me, moment a board is free next game was on it straight away. 
I would happily attend the venue again for another darts knockout and im sure with the facilities the venue had there will be more darts knockouts been held at The Cuckoo Pub in Barlaston and as always DartsInStoke are more than happy to help support with advertising of these events.

So thats me done for 2019, what a roller-coaster year its been for me, from leaving football to come back to darts, then leaving darts when i did my injuryy to getting the love for the game back now, who knows where 2020 will take me hopefully i will see more wins and play more competitive games, what ever happens you can be sure the DartsInStoke blog here will be getting the brunt of my joy or frustration.

Till we chat again,  Happy New Year to you all, enjoy your darts and mind that oche folks.

Twitter - @wayupna - @dartsinstoke
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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

How did i get started

I was thinking back the other day to when i picked my first set of darts up and what i did to get myself submerged into the world of darts. 

It was whilst watching the 2007 Grand Slam of Darts on TV that i caught the bug for the game of darts, the week after i went out and brought a set of darts from ASDA yes a supermarket was where my first set come from. They were just a steel set of darts which were probably about 26 or 28g in weight they were a real heavy dart i recall. I then brought a board and im not ashamed to say the board i got was a cheap double sided board with more staples than a normal office stapler can hold.

Yes this above is similar to my first ever dart board, i recall setting it up in my front room much to my wifes dismay i think. The darts i had brought would make such a noise when they hit this board and leave such a hole it was terrible but it was my starting point in the game. 
At night after work i would walk across my local pub The Albert Inn where i would use the board they had up the corner of the pub which to be honest was worse than my cheap board but it felt good just trying to play darts. After a few weeks playing on my paper board i went out and for some reason i brought a cheap electric soft tip board, well i say for some reason the main reason was because of all the holes in the wall. The soft tip board was nothing special like we have on the market today (i.e. The Target Nexus), you could only play 501 and just by yourself there was no playing the computer or a 2 player game just 1 mode of 501, however the darts were really light and it didnt feel fun to play and again the e noise was terrible. 

I then had to make the decision did i enjoy playing darts, Yes i did so that meant one thing and one thing only create a proper set up in the living room and play properly. Bare in mind at this time i was only playing at home also not for a team or anything like that i just enjoyed playing darts, when i got in from work it was a good way to unwind and also allowed me space from having to watch the normal TV shows that are always on.

So as you can now see from the picture above i had mounted the board to a piece of wood which i had felted brought a surround and to the left was also a white board. My computer was to the right which i also used still for scores using no1 scoring software ( link on the website - this set up really helped me out it was not as loud as we felt it was but im sure our old neighbors would not agree with me. This set up then allowed me to practice on a regular basis and eventually give me the confidence to approach my local pub and ask them if they had a space in the darts team, the week later after i asked i was signed and won my first ever game in the league and the rest is well history and lead to where im at today.

So i have gone from the days of using a paper dart board with heavy darts to a pro set up for a non pub player to where i'm at now where when i moved into my new house i selected the wall that used to be our old outhouse to be my throw, and because im now better than i was 10 years ago (or at least i think i am), as you will see below i dont bother with the surround anymore and the throw i have created is a very nice throw.

The tablet next to my board allows me to practice against a computer algorithm using the MyDartsTraining app (again a link on DartsInStoke) as in the old house i have 3 spot lights that shine just onto the board and no where else in the house which allows for the best lighting option on the board. I have a drop in oche in the kitchen floor and im not sure if the wife even knows where the holes are for the oche, but if she ever does wear high heels in the kitchen i could be in alot of trouble.

Darts can consume your life, i use to play 4 nights a week and attend knockouts with friends at the weekends but now im at just 1 night a week where i want to still play 2 or 3 nights but the money tree at the end of the yard does not keep producing purple vouchers for me to go out 3 nights a week. However when i have a bad day or just want to escape the daily grind i can shut my kitchen door drop in the oche and practice and play as many legs of darts that i wish too.

So thats how i started out and how i got to where im at today, let me know in the comments how you started and what was your first board and set of darts.

Till we chat again,  enjoy your darts and mind that oche folks.

Twitter - @wayupna - @dartsinstoke
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Monday, December 16, 2019

Where's the Point

Now you might be thinking from the title this is going to be a blog post about me moaning that my darts are not going well and im hitting the 5 n 1's too many times in a match, well its not that will be in a future blog so you have been pre warned about that. This is about the points in your darts and why i feel its good to change them regular and also to hopefully get some good comments and feedback from other dart players if they agree with me.

So i had never changed my points on my dart until this year, yes i have had the same set of darts since 2009 and whilst i have been playing over the years i have never changed my points, the darts i use are Phase5 darts from Phil Taylor and unicorn. For years all i have done is rough the points up and sharpen them on a regular basis but then i started to notice many bounce outs and also the way my darts were entering the board did not feel right anymore. Naturally i looked at my darts and said its time for a change and brought a new set of darts, with new very sharp points which also had a little extra grip to them. The way i hold my dart my index finger tends to touch the point so the grip on the points was a welcome addition to the darts as i then had another point of reference as tio where to hold the dart. 
With my new darts i started to throw well again and see a little form come back in to my game, but then after a few months had passed the same demons come back to me the darts were not sitting right and they were falling out more. I spoke to some friends in the darting community and was told change your points then they clearly are not doing the job, but they were still sharp from me constantly roughing them up they were of good size still so i didn't see the need to change them again. However after playing in the local and spending more time picking up my darts i thought yeah lets change them and see what happens. I went out and via the DartsInStoke account purchased a dart re pointing tool, now locally to us here in Stoke there is no where you can get points changed no shops locally tthat sell points, so i purchased the tool for myself and also purchased some points, and purchasing points for your darts is not like purchasing pants or boxers, there are hundreds of differnet types and designs and feels and lengths it must have been how the wife feels when she goes to buy shoes i guess.

I eventually purchase the Target Pro Play Diamond Steel tip points in 32mm link to follow ( so after they arrived i decided to change my points in the new darts, not my original phase 5 darts but my new darts which were Andy Fordham darts, i followed all the instructions and was nice quick and simple, however when i started to practice i had the same issue as what Peter Wright had a few weeks back at the Player Championships my point stayed in the board what is this, this has never happened to me before, i then began to repoint the dart and yes it happened again. So after seaking advice from the community i was informed to drop a touch of super glue onto the end of the point but i didn't want this to happen again so i now proceed to re point my Phase5 darts with these points. I dropped a little glue on the point end and inserted them into my Phase5 darts and they were a good fit. My Phase5 darts now had new points for the first time since the great one had passed them to me all them years ago.
I stepped up to the board and they felt great but these are the darts i had not been using recently and last time i had they kept bouncing out so this was on my mind but i threw them at the board and like they had never left my hand a lovely 140, these were to be my darts moving forward. The points felt great as well on my index finger and they helped to weigh the dart into how i drop them into the board.

So my mind set now is that if i start to see the darts not sitting right and bouncing out again should i just look to sharpen the points or for the cost of just around £4.50 change my points, at worst i might change them 3 or 4 times a year so the cost is not going to be massive across 12 months.

I guess its all down to you as a player and how you approach the game from a psychology point of view, for me now if my game is not going well i will look to change my points and see if that helps to improve my game, so if your darts are not sitting right in the board and if you are having too many bounce outs i would suggest a change of points to you before you seek any other line of advice. 

Till we chat again,  enjoy your darts and mind that oche folks.

Twitter - @wayupna - @dartsinstoke
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