Friday, July 28, 2006

Sweeps Treats

The second Paul Williams Darts Sweepstakes has come to a close and once again this time around I have won some very awesome prizes from the sponsors. The first is a Unicorn dart surround, and for those of you American darters who are not sure what that is, the Brits have an alternative method to the backboard which is the most common wall protecting device used in America (well... maybe the cabinet is the most common). See this pic:


The surround, or at least the idea behind it is significantly different than the backboard. I like my backboard quite a bit I think I did a good job on it, and I like the idea of mounting my dartboard directly to it. I think it also protect a huge area of wall, and since it has a thin commercial grade carpet on it, no holes show when I hit it. I don't know if that will be true with the surround. I am told they last for years but if the rubber that is used is self healing is another matter entirely. The idea behind the surround is that you attach your dartboard directly to the wall, and then place the tight fitting surround around the board. I think when we move back to Seattle I will try the Unicorn Surround instead of the backboard but for now I will stick with my current method. This is nothing against the brits or the surround of course, it is just I have the backboard up already.

Nonetheless, thanks a million to Unicorn for the awesome donation to the Sweeps prizes!!

The second Item I got was a Tee-Shirt from Gazza at GSDarts.com. GSDarts is the sponsor of Paul Williams and is a terrific place to buy your darts supplies for several reasons. The first and foremost of which is that his shipping rates to the United States are absolutely terrific. He doesn't try to make a profit on the shipping and the shipping rates and speed of delivery is better than many of the big online darts suppliers in the united states.


As you can see from the above pic I got a tee shirt (scroll down to the bottom) from him but also I got a Winmau Dartboard Wall Clamp! (again, scroll down most of the page) I am very excited about it and I hope to install it today in fact. The tee-shirt was a large, which was a nice surprise. Usually give away tee shirts are extra large (or larger) because they don't wanna have to have multiple sizes. Once I submitted a pretty good tip to a computer related site (I'd just gotten my first MCSE or something and was excited about it) and they sent me this tee shirt which was huger than huge. Seriously. But on the upside, I used that shirt to wash my car for years. The 3inabed tee-shirt actually fits me.

Thanks a million Gazza!!

The sweeps themselves are quite a lot of fun. The fact that prizes come along with it is just icing on the cake. The fact is I have gotten a tremendous amount of joy from it and the sweeps have really opened my eyes to the wider world of darts. I now know who the big names are in the sport and I have an interest in watching the player in action, in Blackpool or anywhere else. I still like baseball better as a spectator sport, but then they don't show that much darts on TV in the US. But baseball.. I can watch my choice of ten or more games everyday.

Nonetheless, I find myself following the Unicorn sponsored players and the british darts tournaments and I have Unicorn and GSDarts to thank for that, at least in part. So for them to donate these prizes to the Paul Williams Sweeps is quite a boon to the sport as a whole.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

27 gram GT3's - TRADED!!


These are nice darts. Great feel nice throw and one day, if I ever start to prefer heavier darts again, I will throw them more often and practice with them. They are 27 gram moving point GT3's by Bottelsen, with the black coating. The coating hasn't worn off as much as they have on my GTs, but with use I am sure it will. Exact same size and shape as the GT's but with three sets of angled grooves in the barrel for texture, and likely that is where that extra gram went. I bought these darts for $30 from a bar owner in Seattle. A long time ago he offered to sell me them for $30 and I declined, then a year later he tried again but for $50. I reminded him of the $30 offer and bought them. I am glad I did.

He must haave bought these before Bottelsen started threading the back end of the barrels. When I bought them they were completely smooth (inside) and would only take a puch-in type stem. So I borrowed them to aa friend who broke off a tap inside one trying to thread them for me. I figured they were a lost cause at that point so forgot about them. Then one day I decided to see if Jeff Pickup could make a duplicate to replace the one that had a tap stuck in it. He did me one better. He bore out the tap and then threaded them for me!

Here is the break down of them as pictured:

Points: Standard Hammerhead MPs
Barrels: 27 gram GT3's with Black Coating
Stems: Black Medium GT Screw-in
Flights: Black Poly Pears

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Darts Policy: OOoOO

OOoOO stands for: Odd Out on Odd Only.

Most people I know and with or against whom I play league matches will take a shot at any double for the out regardless of the wedge they are shooting at and regardless of the number of darts they have left. They figure, you have a chance to win, so take it. I agree with them in part that if you CAN win in that round you SHOULD, but not in a reckless manner, and not in such a way that you are left with an odd number, holding a single dart. See below for details.


The above pic tells a story, and outlines what I consider to be a good darts throwing policy. Funny that this policy should be acronymizable into a string of O's. O's play an important role in our language and literary history, as well as in software.

In the realm of software for instance there is a really awesome and full featured office suite (doc writer, spreadsheets, etc) called OpenOffice.org which is often shortened to OO.o. This program is completely free and allows you to not have to shell out hundreds of your pretol dollars for expensive software. It is far better to be able to drive around your ridiculously large SUV and have enough money to feed it.

Another interesting significance rendered by the letter O is the possible discovery of the real author of the Shakespeare plays. There is a scholar out of the University of Washington that has used linguistic analysis to discover that the real author of the bards plays is none other than the little know Edward de Vere. Don't ask me the role that O plays in this discovery. Rather just trust me on it.

And even more interesting is that the letter 'O' is homyniminous to the utterance that escapes the lungs of us who are slow to understand, "oh". And this brings us full circle to the idea that you shouldn't shoot your second dart at an odd numbered wedge for the out because, when I am looking at an 18 out (double 9) and I am standing there at the line with a single dart in each hand, I think: "Oh." And I step back for a second and reconsider my options. If I miss into the fat single I am left with an odd number (9), a lonely single dart to do it with, and that is just impossible. Better to spend that second dart setting up a better out. Look at the picture above again and I will tell you how it came to pass. I was looking at a 32 out with three darts in hand. I shot the first at the double 16 and missed into the double 7. Ouch. This left me with 18 and two darts. If I were to have shot the second dart at the double 9 and missed into the single I would not have been able to go out that round, so what I decided to do was to shoot my second dart at the blade between the single 6 and the single 10, knowing that either result would leave me with a decent out. I hit the single 10, and so with my last dart I was able to take out the 8 by hitting the double 4. Long winded but easy to follow I hope.

So what does odd out on odd only mean? Well, if I am looking at an out that requires hitting the double of an odd numbered wedge, I will only shoot at it if I am holding an odd number of darts (1 or 3), and not an even number of darts (2). If I have 18 left with three darts, sure, take the shot. If you miss inside then you have two darts to take out 9. If you miss outside then you have to move on to a different out strategy. And like wise, if you are holding a single dart in your hand and you can win by hitting any double on the board, then shoot with confidence. You should always always take the shot regardless of the wedge. So this is the essence of my policy I call OOoOO (pronounced "Oooh.").

And guess what? As you can see from the above pic, I hit my out so it paid off. As fate would have it, just a few hours later I was again looking at 32 out, and missed into the double 7. What are the chances? I again hit the single ten, and again hit my double 4 out to finish. Here is the second occurance:

Your friend….the Bullseye!

The bull can be a powerful ally or a ruthless enemy. Being able to hit the bullseye on command is very important. Each match is started off with a diddle. The player closest to the DB wins and gets to decide on the start of the match.

Shooting at the bull early in a Cricket match can be a huge confidence builder. If I have the darts at the start of a match and hit the T20 with the first dart I might consider going after the bull. If I was able to hit DB, SB with the remaining two darts I am now in control of the two largest scoring sections per dart on the board.

Inexperienced players leave the bull as the last option in a Cricket match and loose because they fall behind in the points and can’t recover. I’ve lost count at the number of games I lost because my opponent was a better bull shooter than myself. This was one of the things I knew I had to work on to improve my game.

The practice game I’ve been using is 100@BULL. You throw 100 darts at the bullseye and keep track of the number of times you hit the SB, DB and MISS. My personal best is slowly increasing. Right now it is at 54. With the amount of practice I’ve been putting in my confidence has grown about hitting the bull when I need too. I use VBA’s Excel program to keep track of the darts. You can find a link to the file in the Downloads section on http://www.sewa-darts.com.

Pictured is a 6 BULL I hit during a practice game of 100@BULL. Throughout the course of the day I played this practice game 6 times. This was during my 5th game. The darts pictured are a set of w-grip’s from Atlanta Darts. Configured with short nylon shafts with rings and white Ruthless RX4 flights.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Not For Lack of Space

Last night during 60s practice I hit this nice shot. It was two darts in the 60's with one dart in hand, but the two that were already in there were very nicely aligned. Not only were the first two darts stacked vertically on the far left of the treble, right just inside the wire, but they were also leaning out just a little bit, so their flights were not obstructing the treble at all! What a great set up for a Ton-80!! How could I miss, the treble was wide open!?!


I missed. The shot turned out to be a ton-40. Still a good score but I would have dearly loved for that to be my fifteenth ton-80. In fact the third dart hit the twenty bed just under the treble so I removed it for this shot to be taken. Its flight was completely obscuring the triple and I felt the blog would be better served with it out of there. It seems I have been hitting better over all scores lately ever since I decided the first practice priority (see this post) should be the Sweet Spot. So I don't even bother with doubles now until I have hit my 20 60s for the day. If I have time for doubles then great otherwise no worries I'll get em sometime. In fact I started in on the Paul Williams Challenge yesterday and found that I was hitting my doubles within the first three darts, so despite the shift in focus, my doubles do not seem to be suffering.

There is a concept in sports called 'Training to Specificity'. This basically means that the best way to train for a sport (any sport) is to play that sport. If you wanna become a better mountian climber you have to climb mountains. Pumping iron in the gym may be good for you and increase your strength and metabolism, but it is not good training for climbing mountains. If we were to apply this concept to darts then it would stand to reason that the best way to train for darts is to play actual games of darts against actual opponents. If this is true then I am doomed of course and all my practice routines and priorities are right out the window. But I can easily see how it would be. I think it is also important to train to the various levels of pressure in darts as well. For example, playing against your buddy whom you've beaten a gazillion times is not the same as playing against that one sandbagger in league who is known to be almost unbeatable. So you have to find a way to train for that. Playing against a superior, unknown opponent would be a good way to do it, but how? Travel the bars seeking out games? Most of the bar players out there barely know the rules. I think the best way to get better at darts when you are new is to play in leagues because then you have a wealth of people who care about their dart game to play against. And then once you have risin to the top 10% in B League, move on to A League. (This is what I plan to do. If my former teammates do not wanna have a B team again this year I am going to try to find my way onto an A League team.)

So what if an A League player wants to train for tournaments? My best guess is that the best way to train for that higher level of pressure, which is generated in part by a higher level of play as well as in part by a higher level of spectation, is to attend as many LotD's as possible, and hopefully as many tournaments as possible. Of course this is all speculation. I am still a lowly B Leaguer thinking forward. Somday perhaps through you may see me on TV! Haha until then cheers and hasta verte christo mio.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The One That Got Away

This one is for kdog.

Sunday night and I am just hanging with the dog and grooving on this here Johnny Cash.

John Henry said to his captain, A man ain't nothin' but a man.
But if you'll bring that steam drill round, I'll beat it fair and honest.
I'll die with my hammer in my hand but I'll be laughing
'Cuz you can't replace a steel driven man.


Flipping through some old pics I saw on that reminded me of kdog's last comment. This pic is how I think of his balancing act shot that 'got away'. I have had this shot for a long time. I do not remember when I had this happen but I stashed it away in a folder somewhere and just figured I'd blog it eventually. I have a lot of shots like that. The longer I wait though the less topical they become and the less I remember the circumstances or why I took the shot in the first place.


The pic above for example. I don't shoot with the GT's as much as I used to. They go in and out of fashion and these days I mostly shoot with my 16 grammers but I have had out my 12 gram darts in the last few days. Another clue that really dates that photo is the Sprialine flights. I used to be really hot on the Spiraline flights but not so much anymore. Perhaps I will get back into them someday but for now I am stuck on my Dynastar system. I sent some Spiralines to my buddy Barn in Seattle and he ended up wanting more of them (at the time - not sure about now) and just a few weeks ago I sent some to mcvickj. I am anxious to see his opinion of them.

Also take a look at the board. That is my old bandit. I hang an Eclipse now. Take a look at the bullseye in this secong pic. You can really seee the wear in it. The Eclipse is quite pristine compared to it.



This is a nice picture though. A good tight grouping in which one dart slips off the others and is caught by the flight. Just hanging there not wanting to fall to the floor. As if it were afraid of the certain death the distant floor represents.

John Henry told the captain, Tell the kind folks don't worry.
That ain't nothin' but my hammer suckin' wind! (It keeps me breathing.)
A steel driver's muscle I intend.

Friday, July 21, 2006

A Well Balanced Dart

Tossing 60s practice I hit one of these "Balancing Acts" which for me are far more rare than even a robin hood. You can aim for a previously thrown dart, afterall, but you cannot aim for a balancing act.


These are my 24 gram Mega-Thrusts from Bottelsen, with standard hammerhead points and a Dynastar back end. I am still waiting for my low profile conversion points so I can make these fixed point without them being ugly. I am infinitely patient. I guess.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

20 gram GT2's


I have traded these darts away to Wazza in exchange for some customs he had made for his soft tip days. Although these are no longer a part of my collection, I wanna leave the picture up.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Care Package

I received a care package this morning from my friend Beni Petris all the way from the Swiss Mountains! The care package contained two awesome things: A Euro Board and a record with some dart related songs on it:


The Euro board is quite special for several reasons. First, it is a bristle board of the highest quality. This is special because normally when you see promotional boards or anniversay boards from banks and non-dart companies, etc. they are of the cheaper paper-wound variety so that they can print both sides. This one is bristle. The second reason it is special is because it is a twelve bed board numbered one through twelve. This is unheard of. The only other twelve bed boards I know of are the Ipswitch and London 5's boards and they are numbered 5, 10, 15, and 20, times three. Thirdly, I am pretty sure this is a limited edition board, which makes it pretty rare. A good find. Thanks Beni!

The record is the most awesome thing I have ever seen. I put it on as soon as I opened it this morning. The small record, 45 RPM, has two songs (one on each side). The Side A song is the very peppy and up beat BDO Theme Song "180" which inspires an involuntary jig when listened to.

"One hundred and eighty, one hundred and eighty,
Everyone tries for the maximum score..."

Side B has a more lilting and slower tempoed Bobby George Theme Song, which starts:

"One hundred and eight,
That is what my life is all about..."

Both are fun songs. I hope to find their digital versions someday. Both items will be blogged in much more detail when I have more time!

The guy who sent these to me is the very same guy who got me interested in collecting dart boards in the first place. I discovered the wonderful variety of dartboards the first time when I say his page dedicated to his boards. I happen to know that he has many more boards than he is showing on his page because I have seen his ebay moniker pop many times in auctions. So everyone please visit his awesome collection and then write him (find his contact link) and tell him to post all his boards!

Thanks Beni for the awesome package and I hope all is well for you in the Alps!
Zeeple

Monday, July 10, 2006

New Boards Coming In


I have not posted in quite a while. This is for many reasons the first and formost of which is the awesome weather, and not the least of which is the tireless adventurousness of my dog, Sequoia.

There is also the fact that my darts interest has been ebbing low lately. :(

However some exciting news. I have had a number of really interesting boards come in lately that I have not blogged yet and hope to blog soon. Here are some of the boards I have received, and have in my possession waiting for a blog entry:

1. Winmau Casino 301
2. Snooker by Marks & Young
3. Harrows Quadro
4. Blade MX by Unicorn
5. Unicorn Eclipse Pro

And I am also waiting for a Blue 12-Bed Euro Board which my friend Beni Petris sent me from Switzerland.

One reason I am holding off on blogging these boards is because I want to be able to mount them and take good pictures of them. And I will soon be getting some sort of fancy Wall Clamp from either Unicorn or Winmau courtesy of the sweeps over at www.paulwilliamsdarts.co.uk. Thus I won't bother until I have that also in my posession (also to blog about).

More to come!