Dartweek 14 represented the start of the second half of the Dart Club calendar year. Would things turn out to be a game of two halves? As is often the case with sporting events when the first half is a thriller, the second half can be a killer. Often the athletes are spent and the take a more precautions approach to proceedings. Maybe Dart Club would be like an old record – perhaps you the reader are too young to remember, but long player records or LPs as they were known, would invariably start off with the band’s more famous numbers, then there would be a few fillers, then side B would start with a corker but that’s all you’d get probably…….erm this analogy is really going no where. Who knows how the second half of the year would go? Dart Club would just have to wait and see, but one thing was for sure, Dart Club would be all right, the worst thing you can do when playing darts is worry about darts so the 12th rule of Dart Club is: don’t worry about darts.
The previous Dart Club had been held at a relatively inaccessible venue for some. The Dude, for one, was not best pleased: “Here,” he said with his slightly comical West Country sounding accent, “According to rule 7 the pub must be inside (or at least within five minutes walk) of the Circle Line, but most of the venues have been in the West End or the City, the Circle Line goes quite far west, why don’t we have some out there?” OK good idea the Dude, we did have one dartweek five near Lancaster Gate, but apart from that the farthest West travelled has been Great Portland Street. So the co-chairmen put their faith in the Dude (whose motive for a westbound Dart Club were obvious as he lives in South Kensington) “You sort it,” was the Bull’s response. “OK,” said the Dude, “I will”.
Just to give you the reader a bit of background, the Dude works in the same office as the Bull and Finishered. He looks like a hobbit, which could be good for the book, since we still lack a wizard to drive the plot, maybe the introduction of Bilbo Baggins lookalike might help shift units. As everyday passed by the co-chairmen would ask the Dude whether he had found a pub, maybe nearer to where he lives “Yeah, yeah,” he’d say, “It’s taken care of”. But no matter how hard the co-chairmen pushed the location of the next meet could not be ascertained. And there was a reason. The lying little hobbitboy had failed to even bother looking and had in fact enlisted one of his salesmen friends to book somewhere. And where exactly was the venue, how far west had the Dude managed to get after such a vociferous complaint? The Black Horse, Rathbone Place, just off Oxford Street, about four roads up on the right after Tottenhamhotspur Court Road. Cheeky little fecker.
Still there is nothing actually wrong with the Black Horse, it is pretty reasonably priced, they stop serving grub a bit early, but there is an upstairs with not one, not two but three pool tables. And not three, not two, but one dartboard. It is strongly suggested that should you want to play darts in the Black Horse, drop them a line and book it, because the upstairs room gets completely packed. If you are really lucky, like Dart Club was, you’ll get to see the bloke that used to deliver sandwiches to the Bull and Finishered’s office. He is called Sandwichman and sports a stupid bandanna.
To start off the proceedings the Bull and the Finishered actually teamed-up to play the first new game of the night, they took on the Dude and his salesman friend (the bloke who actually booked the pub), Dart Club virgin the Daddy at a game of frogger. Now frogger is based on the classic video game of the mid-1980s. The idea in the video game was safely guide your frog across first a busy road, then a river (by jumping from log to log (avoiding the crocs and sinking lily pads). The more frogs you get across the faster the cars on the motorway and the fewer the available logs and lily pads to. Suffice to say, darts frogger is ever so slightly different.
It’s a game for single players or doubles, in however big a group you fancy, but bear in mind it takes a while. It takes a while ‘cos it concentrates on hitting very precise areas. First a player must hit any double, he must then hit the outer segment of that target, he must then hit the treble area of that target, then the inner segment, then the 25 then the bull’s-eye. Phew! Just over half-way over, now things start to get exciting. Once a player has made it into the middle he must make it back out again, first by hitting the 25, then the inner segment of any number, then the treble of that number, then the outer segment of that number and to win the game the double of that number.
It took a while for either pairing to get off the mark, but the Dude struck first with a double top, it wasn’t too long before the Finishered got him and the Bull off the mark with a double six, one of his personal favourites. Then his team mate the Bull hit the outer six and the treble six. The Dude then hit the outer 20. With one team racing in from 12 o’clock and the other coming in from 3 o’clock things were looking fairly evenly matched, until the Bull struck an inner six and then the 25. The Finishered and the Bull were racing ahead but had the hurdle of hitting bull’s-eye while their opponents needed the relatively easy task of treble 20. The Finishered eventually struck first, the co-chairmen were halfway across and then the Finisihered struck the 25, with the Dude and his salesman pal the Daddy still needing treble fookin 20. No chance, the Bull hit inner 16 (his personal favourite), and as it turned out the Finishered quite liked the look of 16s, he hit first the treble 16, then the outer 16 and with the salesmen chasing shadows he closed the game with a sophisticated darter’s double 16. Game the chairmen!
Now a few more dartclubbers had arrived Dart Club decided to play a few friendly games of 301, they’d earn a few Dart Club Ranking System points before the next unique game. They thought it only proper to await the arrival of the Clinician. For once again Dart Club played host to a 30th birthday, the last being in dartweek 7 at the Bull (since closed down – but outside the Circle Line so that’s OK). After a few games, one of which saw the Specialist beat the SpecialistA in a kind of second rate name-off challenge, the Clinician showed up and birthday boy beat his ranking table rival the Black Bomber – perhaps he let him win as a birthday treat, though the Clinician did well as everybody in the boozer sang “happy birthday to you” to him, mid-game.
The next unique game to be held at Dart Club was Play Your Darts Right. Loosely based on the 80s classic TV quiz (can you spot a pattern developing or what?) Play Your Cards Right, hosted by the very manly jawed, toupee wearing comedy TV host genius and not disgraced racist Bruce Brucey Forsythe. The TV show was fun for all the family. One married couple would take on another married couple (fuck knows why, but they were always married couples) in a quiz. When a couple got a question right they had to say whether or not the next playing card, pre-shuffled by Dolly Dealers, would be higher or lower than its predecessor. When they guessed correctly five cards in sequence they won or something like that.
Now Dart Club does not posses Dolly Dealers or indeed a pack of playing cards (although one or two jokers are always present – sweet jesus that was week, sorry). Dart Club does, however, always posses darts and always has a dartboard handy. And it is always more than willing to stage what is really just a thinly veiled excuse for yet another weak darts pun based on a TV/video game classic, hastily cobbled together as some sort of game. So, Play Your Darts Right sees each player take a turn at the oche, throwing his lead dart the darter must say whether he will score higher or lower with his next dart, if correct he throws a third dart and says whether that dart will score higher or lower than its predecessor. If correct the player progresses to the next round. If incorrect the player is out. Simple. If the dart misses the player is out. If the dart bounces off a wire and out this is a zero score (so if he said “lower” he’ll be OK). If all players progress, the person with the lowest score with his three darts is out. Last one in is the winner.
Each player placed a quid in the kitty, it would be winner takes all and with 20 people playing that made the maff on winnings fairly easy. Still multiplying any number by one is never that much of a problem. But saying whether you will throw higher or lower than just two darts also sounds very fucking easy, you’d be surprised, no less than 11 dartclubbers exited on the first round, including amongst other the Black Bomber and the Aristocrat.
The second round was slightly less of an embarrassment, although not for the Finishered because he was one of only two players to fall by the wayside. The third round saw three exits including birthday boy the Clinician. Now things were getting tight, only five players had guessed eight correct higher or lowers. The next round saw two more exits, the Dude and the Specialist, then with only three players left all guessed correctly but the Hammer was forced out, despite guessing correctly whether his two darts would be higher or lower than their predecessors, he scored less than the Bull and the Fist. Once again the Bull and the Fist found themselves playing off for the glory, and once again the Bull was victorious, beating his evil nemesis the Fist and scooping 20bigones.
But the night was young and Dart Club decided to play Dublin winner stays on, this game was briefly outlined in the very first chapter so it is fairly apt that it should be replayed at the start of the second half of the Dart Club calendar year. Here’s a quick re-cap on Dublin: Players stake £1, in a game of 101. Nearest bull’s-eye starts. Players must hit a double to start and a double to finish. If one player finishes before the other starts the stake is doubled. That’s a lotta Dublin. With the winner staying on. Quite a few games were played, but the funniest was the opener, in which the Fist tried to avenge his earlier Play Your Darts Right loss against the Bull, but the Bull scored a double 10 first , the Fist missed, then the Bull got two straight 20s and finished on double top without the Fist scoring, so was Dublined in emphatic stylee.
All that remained of the night was for the Finishered to walk away with the n01 challenge money with a ten dart finish on a game of a fiver-in 301 – quite an achievement and one that the pissed-up Finishered couldn’t remember until the next day. He was pretty certain that he neglected to pour his winnings (25quid) back into darts, flagrantly ignoring rule 2. Still the night was full of flagrant rule ignoring or rather rule making. For unbeknownst to the co-chairman someone at Dart Club had written on the Dart Club folder (a kind of folder thing that that the chairmen carry around that includes the DCRS table, previous chapters and other related darts paraphernalia) a new fucking rule!!!!!!!!!!!!
Someone, who will go unnamed because we don’t recognise the handwriting, had written a new rule 12. Someone wrote Rule 12 Make up the rules to preserve your power over scratching out the rules. A clear reference to the when the Finishered had scratched out a suggested rule that Dart Club would live forever. Now, no one wants to live forever, you try asking Freddie Mercury, go on try. You won’t be able to, sadly he is no longer with us, but in an ironic kind of way he will always be with us for he famously sang the song Who Wants to Live Forever? Not him, clearly. Dart Club, as much as we’d all like, will not live forever. Indeed, it was scheduled to live for exactly 26 dartweeks.
Anyway, to stop this kind of misbehaviour and mischief rule 13 has been introduced. Rule 13 states: only the Finishered and the Bull are allowed to make up the rules at Dart Club.
With only 12 dartweeks left can the Finishered hold on to the top spot?
1 (1) Finishered 498 (454)
2 (2) Fist 435 (424)
3 (3) Bull 377 (353)
4 (4) Clinician 328 (323)
5 (5) Bomber 296 (293)
6 (6) Danny Boy 275 (275)
7 (7) Aristocrat 231 (228)
8 (8) Dude 197 (189)
9 (9) Sting 172 (172)
10 (10) Specialist 120 (105)
Oh, yeah – and the Light finally put in his second appearance. We knew he’d be back.