Electronic Darts

by Paul Backer

I'm writing this because I feel that electronic darts is getting some negative coverage. Some, not all, steel tip darters seem to have an elitist attitude. Hey, darts are darts. I can understand this attitude, but don't think electronic darts is inferior. I don't like excessive noise when I play. I would love to blow away jukeboxes with a sawed off 12 gauge when the game is on the line and I'm on the hockey. But, in the same situation, I love to hear the sound of those bells, or tunes when the darts sink into the triple zone. I play in Europe. When I was in America, I noticed the size of the zones and bull was a considerable bit bigger than a regulation size board. Here, we play on an electronic board the same size as a sisal board. Interesting to note is that a darts variation called, "American Darts" is shown on Eurosport. This board is the American board. I personally don't like it because it is only people shooting at the bull. There is a variation I do like to watch, "speed darts". This is a game of 901 played against the clock. The last time I watched, the record was at less than 55 seconds!! Yes, with a double out. Try it, if you're not impressed. I'd like to see a chalker keep up with that. In fact, if you can't do it in less than two minutes, you lose, unless your open has the same problem.

Why do I like electronic darts? I'm not saying that I dislike steel tip, its just there's not a lot of opportunity here. It's electronic or nothing. (Yeah, I know, you like soft tip, but as a male, I like to say electronic. Even if it is more difficult to spell.) My first board was sisal and I still have it. When my wife is trying to sleep, I still practice on it. There is room enough in this sport for both. Steel tippers, don't forget: electronic darts is bringing a lot of new players into the sport. This is something that only benefits everyone.

Is electronic darts safer? That plastic tip is not as sharp as a steel tip, but I think you could still put an eye out if you tried. Everyone likes an element of danger. Electronic darts can be very dangerous. I remember one time when I had just started playing. My friend and I were playing some locals in a bar on the second floor. My friend wasn't a very confident player. I forget who won, but my partner hit a triple 17. (Remember, we had just started playing.) He was so happy he ran up to the machine to give it a hug, jokingly of course. I t could have been the beer, or the rum, or even an uneven floor. But, the machine tipped and fell into the window. Luckily for the pedestrians walking past, and my friend's wallet, the window stopped this machine from falling out the window and smashing onto the street below. I'd like to see a sisal board do this! [Note: a week later we returned, and the pane of glass had broken. A short time later this machine was moved to a new location.]

Score keeping: If you live where I do, the country that brews the best beer in the world, a plum brandy called Slivovice, and other local favorites, score keeping can be a problem. Electronic boards reduce this problem to a few simpler problems, such as: " I thought there was only one machine in this bar. Which one should I aim at?" "Oops, sorry, I was shooting at your score." and "Whose turn is it anyway?" (A common strategy here is to buy your opponent a shot before the next game. As everyone is wise to this tactic, it becomes, "Only if you have one too.")

Feeding the machine: Yes, it is annoying to keep feeding coins into the machine. It gets pretty expensive after a long night. But, it has brought darts into many a bar that would never have thought about putting up a dartboard. My organization is very good about returning a lot of this money in the form of tropheys and prizes. It also keeps our entry fees low. So, maybe this evens out in the long run.

Refereeing: This varies from place to place, but the machine is the final judge is giving way here to a human call when the dart is obviously sticking in the double20 and the machine reads a double 1. Yes, in electronic darts it is possible to get a 180 without a single dart sticking in the board. But, they all hit there at one time, or the machine wouldn't have registered it. It is possible to have a score of 40 when one dart is sticking in the 20 and one in the 5. A dart hits another dart so the machine registers what it "feels". Is this fair? Well, it's been said again and again (by steel darters too) darts is a game of finesse; not power. Of course, this doesn't happen very often, but when it does, consider it a lucky break. What about when a player forgets to pushes the reset button? This doesn't happen in steel tips and it's the call of the organization. I hate those machines without a button. The electronic sensor you have to wait for. It really slows the game down. That is one thing I like about electronic darts, it's a little quicker.

Does electronic darts take away from the human element? If you were really worried about the human element, you wouldn't be reading this here, would you? Sure, you don't need a chalker. Who wants to keep score anyway? I've read column after column on this site, and I get the real feeling that being a chalker is no ones idea of a good time. Electronics free up the chalker and allow him to keep playing. When you're hot; you're hot. That means keep on playing. Besides, it's a lot less risky cussing out a 6-foot tall dartboard than a 6 foot tall human who may weigh more than two machines!

To each his own: I like electronic darts. Yeah, I can remember Pong, and I have seen what has sprung from it. My son is a computer game addict. We all like computers. They help ease life. With all the mistakes I've made in spelling and grammar on this letter, a whole forest would have died. Thank God I could correct on screen. Don't worry; you still have to throw the dart at the target. You have to hit the target. The beer is still the same.

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