Check It Out! - Part 1

Some of you out there will know the old saying, "Treat every day as your last, and one day you'll be right." Well, my darts philosophy is a variation on that. "Treat every shot as your last." That's what this series is all about.

"Instead of starting to count when you reach 150 or so, the brain should be activated closer to 300"

Just as there are strategies in cricket, there are strategies in '01 - particularly when it comes to finishing. Obviously, the top boys know their outs and how to set them up, but there are many, many players that struggle in this department.

Darters worldwide look up to the British as the best in the game. We are good, but I believe that ability-wise there is little difference between the Brits, Americans, Canadians, or anyone else for that matter. It comes down to two things: experience and playing the correct shots.
In recent years, a whole new way of thinking on outshot setups has evolved in the U.K. Instead of starting to count when you reach 150 or so, the brain should be activated closer to 300.

Okay, I can hear you guys saying, "Hey, I'm only a league shooter. This doesn't apply to me!" Sure it does. You're exactly the kind of player this is aimed at.

The objective here is to give you more opportunities to win a game. The more opportunities you have, the more you are going to win. It's a simple concept, actually.
Over the next few months, I'll be discussing ways to leave a finish, particular combinations to leave a better finish, and the outs themselves. Naturally, it's impossible to go into every option of every shot, but the large majority of one, two and three dart options will be discussed. First, there are a few points which you need to remember:

  • Don't worry if people say you are trying to make your opponent look small. You're not.
  • Don''t worry when you're sitting on tops (D-20) and the enemy finishes 92 with SB, S17, DB! Take it as a compliment.
  • Don't worry about throwing at one of your least favorite doubles - they're all the same size.
  • Don't be afraid to follow your instincts.
  • Don't, however, let your instincts force you into reckless shots.

Outshots can be divided into three categories:
  • Must shots
  • Advisable shots
  • Let's give it a thought shots

All of these apply when your opponent is on a double, or any number that can be finished. (Remember, treat every shot.)

To illustrate, I'll recall for you the Keith Deller vs Eric Bristow final of the 1983 World Championship. The match was tied at 5 sets all, and Deller was up 2-1 in the final set (a 3-1 score would win the match). Bristow was looking at 121, Deller at 138. Bristow shoots S20, T17 and now has 50 left with one dart to throw. Now, perhaps Bristow was thinking, "Keith's back on 138 - I should get another throw," and Bristow tossed S18 to leave D16. Deller stepped up and three darts later (namely T20, T18, D12) it was all over.

Let's look at some other examples. Back at the Budweiser Easy Money Open, Chad Sylvan and I had reached the top eight of the '01 doubles. We're on a double and Jim Coakley (a great player, incidentally) stood on the oche facing 90. First dart for T18 missed and went fat. Second dart for T12 also went fat. S20 set up D20 for their next handful, but there was no next handful.
The shot should have been S20, S20, DB. Just a simple single, single, double. No triple required, but a T20 first arrow gives you two shots at D15. It matters not that you love D18. if you don't have a dart at it. Make sure you give yourself a dart at a double - and hopefully, it will be the only one you need.
There's a happy ending to that tale. The following week at the Lucky Strike Filters Blueberry Hill Open, Coakley got his revenge on yours truly. It went 2-zip in the top four of the singles. Nice one, Jim!

Now to the second example - the semi-final of the 1990 Swiss Open. I was up against another top Brit, Paul Reynolds, and he was nicely poised to take the first leg. It was my shot. Needing 132, I threw DB, DB, D16, thank you very much.
I figured that Reynolds wouldn't give me another turn, so to play the percentages, the first dart must be at the cork. Double bull leaves 82, and if there is enough room, it makes sense to stay there. If you only pick off a single on your first dart, 107 is still possible with two darts.
Anywhere else on the board with your first one and you need two triples and a double, instead of single, triple, double.

Finally, a midgame situation: You've shot two darts, and you're now sitting on 188. T20 is fine, but S20 - yuk! A 168 requires more than three darts to finish. Switch to 18's, and the triple works, but a single still leaves a finish. I hear you again, "You don't expect me to take out 170." Maybe not, but you've got a darn sight more chance on 170 than on 168!

I went through this with a guy who reckoned he had more chance of hitting T20 with his last dart (and 128 out), than checking the 170. Looking a turn further, a player thinking that probably wouldn't choose the correct shot for 128 (S18, T20, DB - more details in a later issue), assuming he found T20.
Therefore, he would need four perfect darts (T20, T20, T20, D4), whereas a S18 means that only three darts out of the four need be perfect (S18, T20, T20, DB). Think about it.

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