The Official Bar Guide to Darts by Patrick Chaplin, Ph.D, Darts Historian
Review by Dan William Peek
The sport of Darts owes a great deal to Dr. Chaplin and that debt of gratitude is compounded by the high degree of value presented in his latest book, The Official Bar Guide to Darts.
What pleases me most about this book, as an author who has written fairly extensively on the history of Darts, is that the book dignifies the sport of Darts in a way that no similar predecessor publication has.
The language of the text is very clear and accessible to a general readership – there are no arcane references or humor. The content expertly encompasses the theory and practice of the sport. The illustrations are professional and exact – unlike the “stick figure” and recycled linear diagrams of many books and articles on the sport. And the cover of the book is simply outstanding, conceptually and graphically. All in all, Patrick Chaplin’s, The Official Bar Guide to Darts is an excellent, elegant and necessary book.
This book is necessary because it represents one of the crucial components of any organized sport – an expert examination, which straightforwardly articulates an explanation of the sport as a whole.
In my opinion, this critical component has been hitherto missing from the sport of darts. One of the reasons that the media in America has consistently failed to report on Darts, or if doing so has chosen to treat the sport as a humorous pub novelty, is that the editorial staff simply knew nothing of the sport. This book could go a long way toward the education of the general public and the mainstream media in the ways of the sport of Darts.
I will not enumerate the many things I learned from my read through of Dr. Chaplin’s book, except to mention that for the first time in my nearly two decades of studying the sport, I have an understanding of how the (to me, impenetrable) Brit version of cricket works. I’m truly grateful for the clarification – at last I can get on with my life.
Any exceptions I take with the book are mere quibbles. That being noted, I would have liked to have the Civil Rights laws, in England and the USA, of the 1960’s credited in the chapter about women and darts. In my judgment these laws had more impact on women gaining access to the sport in our two countries, than any other force. As Dr. Chaplin points out, in 1930’s England, the male dominated darts establishment simply expelled the few women who had found their way into the sport. The civil rights laws rendered such discrimination much more difficult to sustain.
I also was somewhat troubled by the inclusion of the word “official” in the title. This term usually means that some governing or sanctioning body has conferred its authority upon the work. In the book’s front matter, Dr. Chaplin mentions that the WINMAU Dartboard Company has provided “continuing sponsorship of my ongoing research”. But there was no mention that I found of an “official” status of the book.
However, as a fellow author familiar with the practices of publishers, I am going to hazard that Dr. Chaplin’s publisher held final responsibility for titling the book– they most often do. And that the copy editor assigned to punch up the prose of the book’s title rejected such modifiers as “Greatest” and “Perfect” (both quite appropriate). And settled on “Official”.
Had I been that copy editor, I might have chosen “Forget About the Rest – Seriously”, or “Only One Anyone Will Ever Need”. I would have been, no doubt, over-ruled, perhaps even told to seek employment in another field – but I would have been right.
In my opinion, The Official Bar Guide to Darts is the only book on the theory and practice of the sport of Darts that anyone will ever need. Forget About the Rest – Seriously.
Dan William Peek
(Dan William Peek lives in Columbia, Missouri, USA. He is the author of To The Point: The Story of Darts in America (Rocheport: Pebble Publishing, 2001)).
A review of “The Official Bar Guide to Darts” Patrick Chaplin, PhD;
Sterling Publishing Co. inc. 2010
By George Silberzahn
I am flattered, and daunted, that Dr Chaplin, THE Doctor of Darts, would ask that I review his book, especially now that I’ve seen this work. The physical size is surprising 7” X 5” and 182 pages, I expected something greater in size, and after reading it I’m impressed that so many aspects of the game/sport could be covered in such a compact book.
This work grew from his 100,000 word manuscript and he deals in exhaustive detail with as many aspects of the game/sport as one can imagine. From the derivation of the dart itself; to the proper way to stand, grip and throw a dart ( he devotes nine pages to these topics); to how a person should dress to participate and he even details some “practice” games a person may use to improve their skill. But that is only one small part of Dr. Chaplin’s effort. He covers fifty four different topics as well as six appendices.
The good Doctor explains a bit of how Darts came to be and grow in America. He dedicated a page and a half to this subject alone and drew from the work of American authority Dan William Peek’s work “To the Point: The story of darts in America.” .
He mentions five American males as part of the sport: Jerry Umberger, Conrad Daniels, Joe Baltadonis, Al Lippman, who traveled and played in U.K. and, to my pleasant surprise – me, who did not.
In a work of this size there are bound to be some over sights and regrettably one of them happened to be that he put my home town of Gibbstown, in Pennsylvania, instead of New Jersey where it actually is, but stuff happens.
In the “Legends of the game” section he has a brief bio of Stacy Bromberg – American – and four other female players, as well as thirteen males, one of whom is Johnny Kuczynski – another American.
Being an historian, Dr. Chaplin writes historically and this work mainly draws upon those who have participated in times earlier than this 21st century, except for the bios.
For anyone interested in learning about Darts, this is a must read.
© 2010 George Silberzahn
(George Silberzahn has written many books on darts, some of which have been reviewed on this website, his latest being Darts from beginning to End (2009). An acknowledged expert of the sport of darts George, an accomplished darts player, has spent much of his life passing on his knowledge of darts to players across the globe.)