Patrick Chaplin:

Why 501?

The very first games of darts consisted of throwing three darts and the highest score with those three darts won the game. But then things became a little more sophisticated.

The original '01' game of darts was 301 and was scored on a cribbage board. Cribbage (or more commonly 'crib') is an old English pub card game where scores derived from the value of cards were recorded by pegging holes on a wooden 'crib board.'

Cribbage board (Crib) and cardsEach side of the crib board has two rows of thirty and one extra hole at each end. To win the game players had to achieve a given number of circuits of the board (60 holes) plus the one extra hole representing 'home', making 61. Any game played on the crib board has to be a multiple of 60 - plus 1. For example 'twice round' would be 120 (plus 1), 'three times round' 180 (plus 1)

In the early days of modern darts the score, to enable scores to be fairly recorded, was defined as 'five times round' the crib board, that is a total of 300 (60 x 5) plus 1 - 301. At every stage of play the players could see where they were in terms of score by looking at the crib board

When chalking was introduced and as more people began to play, later versions of the game were anything -01, (601, 701, 1001, 1,000,001 etc) but this is how it all started

Also, if the -01 wasn't there it would make darts terribly boring as good players would just keep hitting 20s. With the -01 it means that players have to move away from the 20 bed - at least for a short while - in order to win the game.

 

© Patrick Chaplin 2007

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